News from Archaeology (Via

For decades archaeologists have been searching for evidence to support the hypothesis that Shiloh served as a religious center in ancient times. Now, a stone altar dated to the Iron Age—the period of Israelite kings—was accidentally exposed during a dig conducted by an archaeological staff officer of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

Until today, archaeologists believed that after the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant, as described in the book of Samuel, they destroyed the city and Jewish settlement there ended. The altar’s discovery suggests that some Jewish settlement continued there even after the death of Eli the high priest.

Shiloh was the location of the Israelite sanctuary during the times of the judges. In the days of Joshua, the Ark of the Covenant was located at Gilgal but it was transferred to Shiloh before Joshua died. The city was conquered by the Philistines. At that time the sanctuary was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines. If the altar confirms that the site is the location of Shiloh, then this discovery will help archaeologists study the religious life of Israel during the period of the Judges.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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