Shiloh, Home of the Mishkan
North of Bet El, east of the road from Bet El, south of Levana…(The Book of Judges)
North of Beit El in the beautiful Shomrom, on the mountain peaks of Binyamin, amidst olive trees and vineyards is the most exquisite juxtaposition of the ancient and modern, sacred and mundane that you will find in Israel. The ancient village of Shiloh, 3000 years old and home to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) for 369 years, rests peacefully alongside the modern, prospering and growing town of Shiloh founded in the 1970s. A trip to Shiloh is a step into the ancient past and into the future, as your eyes scan from Tel Shiloh, the holy resting place of the Mishkan, to the homes, nursery schools and yeshivot of today’s Israelites, building and strengthening the Land.
When you walk around ancient Shiloh, you can still feel the soul of the Mishkan. Its exact location on the Tel is not known, but it is enough to just close your eyes and imagine the very place Hannah stood, praying fervently for children, where the Tribes gathered to receive their portions in the Land, where Samuel HaNavi heard the voice of G-d, or where three times a year—Pesach, Shavuot and Succot—the Israelites would come from all over the land to offer korbanot. In fact, you can still see, embedded deeply into the earth, the footpaths worn down by the thousands of pilgrims that came to Shiloh in those days.
Shiloh still maintains the artifacts and spirit of its ancient past. Just last week, an ancient stone altar was unearthed. Archeologists believe it to be thousands of years old, from a time somewhere between when Am Israel first entered Israel with Yoshua ben Nun, and the destruction of the first Temple. In other words, it was constructed and utilized sometime between the years 1200 BCE and 600 CE.
Shiloh is easy to access, only 40 minutes by car from Yerushalayim. The festival days continue to bring thousands of visitors. On these days, the place is alive with music, food, education and entertainment for the entire family. But, Shiloh is a worthwhile destination any time of the year, and be sure to spend some time in the new state-of-the art visitors center where you can learn the rich, intense history of this very special spiritual heart of Israel.