When Jerusalem Gloats Over Shiloh

In the ancient world of Josiah and Jeremiah, not much attention was paid anymore to the old city of Shiloh. The folks in Jerusalem, however, did refer to Shiloh occasionally for useful ideological purposes.

Shiloh had come to a sorry end. It had been a city of northern Israel, a seat of considerable priestly authority in the early days. Because an ancient and venerable priesthood had been lodged there, the city no doubt made for itself important theo-political claims. Then, however, Shiloh had disappeared as a force in the public life of Israel. Its influence was terminated in an abrupt way.

The causes for the ending of Shiloh are unclear. The archaeologists have concluded that there was a considerable military dislocation; the ancient ruins were abandoned, never to be rebuilt. Characteristically, the Bible probes in the midst of such destruction, seeking a moral-theological dimension. The termination of Shiloh's public significance is attributed to the powerful working of God. There is only one lyrical expose of Shiloh in the Bible, but it is a full and powerful one:

Yet they tested...rebelled...turned away...acted treacherously...twisted...provoked...God heard and was full of wrath, and utterly rejected Israel, God forsook the temple at Shiloh, the tent of God's own dwelling in Israel, and delivered God's own power to captivity, God's glory to the hand of the foe. God's own people were given over to the sword (Psalm 78:56-62).

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