Shiloh was an ancient city mentioned in the Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, south of ancient Tirzah.Tel Shiloh was the religious capital of Israel during the times of the Judges, and spans 4,000 years of continuous settlement starting from the 18th C BC (Middle Bronze II). Shiloh was an assembly place for the people of Israel and a center of worship. Its sacred area (Tabernacle – Mishkan) in Shiloh housed the Ark of Covenant, Table of Showbread, Altar of Incense and Golden Lamp stand.
Tel Shiloh is a place of significant beginnings for the Jewish People, and even without grand palaces or powerful walls, it is one of the most dramatic sites in the country.
There, in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim, the children of Israel brought the Tabernacle (Josh. 18:1). making Shiloh a religious center for the Israelites even before Jerusalem.
The path to the mound has a beautiful view of the valley where one of the most colorful stories in the Bible took place – the summer grape-harvest festival when the daughters of Shiloh came out dancing and the men of Benjamin sought brides from among them (Judges 21:15-23).
Visitors can stand at the exact place on Tel Shiloh where some scholars believe the Tabernacle stood. This would also be the spot where Hannah came to pray for a son. Later, she dedicated that son, Samuel, to serve in the Tabernacle. It was from Shiloh that the Ark was taken into battle and temporarily lost to the Philistines. Shiloh has a visitor center with an interesting model of the Tabernacle and an engaging audiovisual presentation.
For reservations and guided tours, call the visitor center at +972-(0)2-9944019 or +972-(0)52-720-3415
The Tabernacle (Mishkan) of Moses
The portable shrine that Moses built in the wilderness was stationed at Shiloh from the time of the Conquest until the city’s apparent destruction by the Philistines in 1104 BC.
Psalm 78:60 (NIV) “He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among men.”
Excavations at the site have found significant remains from the Middle Bronze, Late Bronze and Iron I.
During the Middle Bronze II period (2000-1600 BC) the region witnessed a large settlement wave, when new cities were founded in the high mountain area of Judea, Ephraim and Benjamin – such as Jerusalem, Shechem, Tirzah, Hebron and Bethel. One of these new cities was Shiloh, located in the fertile valley of the area of Ephraim between Shechem and Bethel. A large city was founded in Tel Shiloh during the Middle Bronze II period (18th C BC).
During the Late Bronze period (1550BC-1200BC) the settlements in the region of the high mountain deteriorated. Many of the small cities were deserted, and the region was under Egyptian control since the great battle in Megiddo (1468BC). In the time before the Israelites, the city was strongly fortified with a massive wall and glacis.
During Iron age I (1200-1000BC) the region of the high mountain area witnessed a new wave of settlement, following the conquest of the Land by the Israelites. Dozens of villages were established. After the Israelites settled here, the site was unfortified; Iron Age residences were found built into the earlier fortifications.
Following the battle of Ebenezer (~1050BC) Shiloh was burnt and destroyed. The excavators found a huge (1m) destruction layer dated to this period.
After years of neglect, the city was resettled during the 8th C BC or earlier. Several structures were found from this period. This period ended with the Assyrian conquest. Shiloh, like other cities and villages in Samaria, was destroyed.
The site was resettled during the Roman and Byzantine periods, when it reached a high point of development. Four Churches were built on the south side of Tel Shiloh, the earliest in the 4th C and the latest one in the 6-7th C AD.
Shiloh is sacred to the three religions – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – and pilgrims come to visit the ruins for the past 3,060 years. On the south-east side of Tel Shiloh are ruins of Mosques and Churches and a modern Synagogue.
Ancient Byzantine Church at Shiloh
Mosque of the Orphan Site
Three layers of mosaics (Two of which are definitely ancient churches) were found underneath and next to the “Mosque of the Orphans” (Jame Yetim). The orphan refers to Eli the Cohen’s grandson, Icabod, who was born after his father, Eli’s son, and uncle were killed in battle with the Philistines.
Location of the Tabernacle
Israel Finkelstein believes that the tabernacle was on the summit of the tell, but Asher Kaufman argues that there is not enough room given the tabernacle dimensions.
Wilson identified a “sort of level court” in 1873, 400 feet long and 77 feet wide, much bigger than any other level spot on the summit. “There is no other level space sufficiently large to receive a tent of the dimensions of the Tabernacle.”
The best preserved Iron Age structures were those built in Area C into the Middle Bronze glacis. The pottery found in these buildings is the richest discovered in any early Israelite site. The Danish expedition found 10 whole vessels; the Israeli expedition found 30 additional vessels and large pieces of many more. The most significant part of this collection are the collar rim store jars which characterize early Israelite settlements in the Hill Country.
Shiloh Visitors Center
The Visitor’s Center has created a wonderful movie presentation projected on the window so you see the historical characters on the background of Ancient Shiloh.
Shiloh is located 17km south of Shechem, and is accessible from the city of Ariel. The ruins of Shiloh are part of the archaeological park of “Ancient Shiloh”, which is located in the entrance to the modern settlement of Shiloh.
Tel Shiloh is located on a hill, 714m above sea level – about 40m above the area around it. The access to the hill is on the south side, by a road which starts from the visitor center.