posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 05:02 PM
There is a promise at the end of Genesis that the sceptre will not depart from Judah “until Shiloh comes”. (Genesis ch49 vv8-12)
What is meant by the coming of Shiloh?
In the history of Israel, before David’s time, Shiloh was the resting-place and home of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle that went with
In fact it’s possible that the name comes from the verb “to rest”.
This was the symbol of the presence of the God who had accompanied Israel from Sinai.
As long as the tribes of Israel had no permanent central government, the practice of common worship at Shiloh and other places was their main bond of
According to tradition, the division of the land by Joshua was carried out at Shiloh.
For most of the period of Judges, Shiloh was in the happy state of “the land which has no history”.
The routine of worship and offerings and consultation of God continued without much incident.
Shiloh comes under the spotlight again in Samuel’s time.
The two sons of Eli, the “worthless men” Hophni and Phinehas, were making themselves notorious by their abuse of power.
They would lie with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
When people came to offer sacrifice, these priests would take their share of the offering in a very arbitrary way. Their servant would come along
while the meat was being boiled, thrust a three-pronged fork into the cauldron, and pull out for their benefit whatever the fork seized.
So a prophet of God warned Eli that the priests of his line would be deposed from their work. (1 Samuel ch2)
Then came the Philistines.
The ark of the covenant was brought from Shiloh to play its part in the battle, and was then lost (for the moment) when the Israelites were
At some point Shiloh itself was destroyed, and this probably happened shortly afterwards.
For during Saul’s reign, David found the priests of the Lord serving the Presence of the Lord at Nob, which implies that they found refuge there
after being displaced from Shiloh.
For Jeremiah, the destruction of Shiloh was a moral warning.
The Lord had brought it about because of the wickedness of Israel.
The fact that the “name” of the Lord was dwelling there did not give it any immunity.
If the people of Jerusalem did not learn to mend their ways, then the Temple of Jerusalem would go the same way. (Jeremiah ch7 vv12-14)
Coming back to the opening question; what would the “coming of Shiloh” mean?
The standard assumption in modern commentating is that this Genesis passage in praise of Judah was compiled at a time when the kingdom of David had
already been established.
In other words, at a time when Shiloh had been destroyed.
Yet the commentators fail to see what seems to me to be the obvious implication.
Written at a time when Shiloh was no more, the phrase “until Shiloh comes” would mean “until Shiloh comes back”.
That is, the return of the state of affairs which Shiloh represents.
This does not mean the “bad” Shiloh of the days of the sons of Eli.
The state of Shiloh, as an ideal, was a time when God (as represented by the Ark) was ruling his people directly, without the intervention of
Therefore “until Shiloh comes” means “until there is a return to direct rule”.
The message is that the house of David will be kings as long as kings are needed, but the time will come when the necessity for kings has disappeared,
for God will rule himself.
That will be “Shiloh”. The true state of “rest” in the dwelling-place of God.
To a certain extent this is true already, from the Christian viewpoint.
When God guides his people through the Spirit which he gives them and their local ministers, this is closer to “direct rule” than when he was
governing them through kings.
But it would be fulfilled in a more complete sense by the scene at the end of Revelation, when God is “present with his people for evermore”.
In both senses, the “direct rule” of God works through Christ.
Which partly vindicates, after all, the traditional Christian assumption that “Shiloh” is meant as an oblique name for the Messiah.