Joshua 18:1
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
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(1) At Shiloh.—Seilûn (sheet 14), about ten miles due south of Shechem, in the territory of Ephraim. The inheritance of the tribe of Judah was determined in Gilgal. The assignment of the central part of the country to Ephraim and Manasseh brought the leaders of Israel into that district, and as soon as the position of Ephraim, Joshua’s tribe, was settled, the tabernacle was set up there. For the situation of Shiloh, see Judges 21:19.

Joshua 18:1. The whole congregation of the children of Israel — Not only their elders, and heads of their tribes, who represented the people of Israel, and are sometimes meant by the whole congregation; but, as the expression may here very well signify, the whole body of the people, who, it is probable, accompanied the ark, in order to fix it in a new situation. Assembled together at Shiloh — A place in the tribe of Ephraim, about fifteen miles from Jerusalem, situate upon a hill in the heart of the country. And set up the tabernacle there — Which had now remained seven years with the camp at Gilgal. No doubt if was by God’s order that it was removed hither, for he was to choose the place of its residence, Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:14. And, it is probable, he made known his will in this respect by the oracle of Urim and Thummim, and by giving some extraordinary token of his accepting their sacrifices there. For when he made choice of mount Zion, an angel ordered the Prophet Gad to direct David to set up an altar in the threshing-floor of Ornan, and there God answered by fire, 1 Chronicles 21:18; 1 Chronicles 21:26. It would have been too far, after the division of the land, for all the tribes to go up to Gilgal to transact all that the law required to be done at the tabernacle, and now indispensably necessary to be performed there, although, while they sojourned in the wilderness, they did not observe these rules. This place was very convenient for all the tribes to resort to, being in the centre of them, and likewise very safe, being guarded by the two powerful tribes of Judah and Ephraim. And being in the lot of the latter tribe, to which Joshua belonged, and in which he probably fixed his stated abode, it was both for his honour and convenience that it was placed here; that he might have the opportunity of consulting God by Urim as often as he needed, and might more easily finish what remained to be done in the division of the land. Here, it is thought, the tabernacle remained for the space of three hundred and fifty years, even till the days of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:3. Archbishop Usher, however, only reckons the time to be three hundred and twenty- eight years. Shiloh was the name given to the Messiah in dying Jacob’s prophecy. So the pitching the tabernacle in Shiloh, says Henry, intimated to the Jews, that “in that Shiloh whom Jacob spoke of all the ordinances of this worldly sanctuary should have their accomplishment in a greater and more perfect tabernacle.”18:1 Shiloh was in the lot of Ephraim, the tribe to which Joshua belonged, and it was proper that the tabernacle should be near the residence of the chief governor. The name of this city is the same as that by which Jacob prophesied of the Messiah, Ge 49:10. It is supposed by some that the city was thus called, when it was chosen for the resting-place of the ark, which typified our great Peace-maker, and the way by him to a reconciled God.After all overt resistance was overcome, the tabernacle with its sacred contents was removed from its place of safety at Gilgal, in a corner of the land near the Jordan, to a central place, Shiloh, the modern Scilun, which is two or three miles east of the main road, and rather more than half way between Jerusalem and Nablous. Its choice as the national sanctuary may indeed have been determined by Joshua, no doubt under divine direction Deuteronomy 12:11, because of its insignificance, in order to avoid local jealousies, as well as because of its position in the very center of the whole land, and perhaps also because of its seclusion. Its very name ("rest") was probably bestowed at this juncture when God had given the people rest from their enemies. The tabernacle with its contents continued at Shiloh during the whole period of the Judges, until its capture by the Philistines. Shiloh 1 Samuel 4:3-4 seems to have fallen into desolation at an early date Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 26:6. CHAPTER 18

Jos 18:1. The Tabernacle Set Up at Shiloh.

1. the whole congregation … assembled together at Shiloh—The main body of the Israelites had been diminished by the separation of the three tribes, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh into their respective allotments; and the country having been in a great measure subdued, the camp was removed to Shiloh (now Seilun). It was twenty or twenty-five miles north of Jerusalem, twelve north of Beth-el, and ten south of Shechem, and embosomed in a rugged and romantic glen. This sequestered spot in the heart of the country might have been recommended by the dictates of convenience. There the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But "the tabernacle of the congregation was also set up there," and its removal therefore must have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (De 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than three hundred years (1Sa 4:1-11).The tabernacle is set up in Shiloh, Joshua 18:1. The remainder of the land described, and divided into seven parts, for the seven tribes which as yet had no inheritance, Joshua 18:2-9. Joshua casts the lot at Shiloh, Joshua 18:10: the first comes out for Benjamin, whose borders and cities are described, Joshua 18:11-28.

Set up the tabernacle of the congregation there, by God’s appointment, as is manifest from Deu 12:5, &c.; Jeremiah 7:12. Hither it was removed from Gilgal, partly for the honour and conveniency of Joshua, that he being of the tribe of Ephraim, and seating himself there, might have the opportunity of consulting with God as oft as he desired and needed; and partly for the conveniency of all the tribes, that, being in the heart and centre of them, they might more easily resort to it from all places. Here the tabernacle continued for above three hundred years, even till Samuel’s days, 1 Samuel 1:3.

And the land, or, for the land, because these words contain a reason of the former action: the particle and is oft used for for, as hath been showed.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh,.... The whole body of the people, men, women, and children, as well as the camp, Joshua 18:9; at least all that had not received their inheritances in the land. Hither they came from Gilgal, where the camp and tabernacle had been ever since their passage over Jordan; but now the land being in the main subdued, that was too far off both for the camp and tabernacle, and therefore they moved further into the land, and nearer Jerusalem, where in time the tabernacle was to be placed. The place they assembled at, Shiloh, was in the tribe of Ephraim, of which tribe Joshua was, and whose lot and inheritance was now fixed, and it was not far from Jerusalem, about two leagues. Jerom says (u) it was ten miles from, Neapolis or Shechem, in the country of Acrabatena; and that there were scarce any ruins of it to be seen in his day, only an altar demolished was shown (w). It seems to have its name from the peaceable condition the land was now in, and very likely was now given it on that account:

and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there; no doubt by the appointment and direction of God, signified to Eleazar the high priest, either by a voice, or by Urim and Thummim; and the removal of it seemed necessary, partly that because several camps which surrounded it were now broken up and settled in their cities, as Reuben, Judah, and Ephraim; and partly that it might be near where Joshua, the governor of Israel, resided, Ephraim being his tribe; and also since Gilgal, on the borders of the land, was too far off for the people to resort to the tabernacle, and therefore it was, proper it should be more in the heart of the country: when this was done, cannot certainly be determined; Kimchi says it was fourteen years after the Israelites came into the land of Canaan; and so says (x) their chronology; but it is highly probable it was before that time, and not longer than seven or eight years at most; here the tabernacle continued, according to the Jewish writers (y), three hundred sixty nine years, even unto the times of Samuel, when for the sins of the sons of Eli it was removed. Eupolemus (z), an Heathen writer, speaks of the holy temple being fixed at Shiloh by Joshua:

and the land was subdued before them: the far greater part of it, and all so as to have no disturbance from, or war with, the inhabitants.

(u) De loc. Heb. fol. 94. I.((w) Comment. in Soph. c. 1. fol. 94. I. Epitaph. Paul. fol. 59. L. (x) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 32. (y) Maimon. in Misn. Zebachim, c. 14. sect. 6. Bartenora in ib. sect. 7. Seder Olam Rabba, ut supra. (x)) (z) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 30. p. 447.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the {a} tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

(a) For they had now removed it from Gilgal, and set it up in Shiloh.

Ch. Joshua 18:1-10. Erection of the Tabernacle at Shiloh

1. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel] The descendants of Judah and of Joseph had now taken up their respective inheritances, the one in the south, the other in the north of the country. But “the murmuring,” it has been remarked, “of the children of Joseph, and the spirit from which it proceeded, gave sad indications of danger in the near future. National disintegration, tribal jealousies, coupled with boastfulness and unwillingness to execute the work given them of God, were only too surely foreboded in the conduct of the children of Joseph. If such troubles were to be averted, it was high time to seek a revival of religion.” Dr Edersheim’s Israel in Canaan under Joshua and the Judges, p. 94. The camp at Gilgal, therefore, was broken up, and the people removed to Shiloh, which was situated within the territory of Ephraim, Joshua’s own tribe.

The whole congregation of the children of Israel. This formula often recurs. Thus in Exodus 16:1 we read, “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin;” and again, Exodus 16:9, “And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel.” Sometimes it is more brief, “the congregation of Israel,” as in Exodus 12:3, “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel.” Sometimes more briefly still, “the congregation,” as in Leviticus 4:15, “And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord.” The Greek word here used is the same as that used by our Lord, Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build My Church.” Originally it denoted an assembly of persons called out from among others by the voice of a herald, as, at Athens, for the purpose of legislation. It is applied to the Israelites, as being a nation called out by God from the rest of the world, to bear witness to His unity, to preserve His laws, to keep alive the hope of Redemption, and to exhibit the pattern of a people living in righteousness and true godliness. Hence, St Stephen says of Moses, that he was “in the Church (or congregation) in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina” (Acts 7:38); again, David says in Psalm 22:22, quoted in Hebrews 2:12, “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church (or congregation) will I sing praise unto Thee;” and again he says in Psalm 26:12, “My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord.”

assembled together at Shiloh] Few places in respect to situation are described so accurately as Shiloh. In Jdg 21:19 it is said to have been situated “on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.” “In agreement with this, the traveller at the present day, going north from Jerusalem, lodges the first night at Beitîn, the ancient Bethel; the next day, at the distance of a few hours, turns aside to the right, in order to visit Seilûn, the Arabic for Shiloh; and then passing through the narrow Wady, which brings him to the main road, leaves el-Lebbân, the Lebonah of Scripture, on the left, as he pursues the ‘highway’ to Nâblus, the ancient Shechem.” Smith’s Bibl. Dict. It was one of the earliest and most sacred of the Hebrew sanctuaries. “Its selection,” observes Dean Stanley, “may partly have arisen from its comparative seclusion, still more from its central situation. The most hallowed spot of that vicinity, Bethel, which might else have been more naturally chosen, was at this time still in the hands of the Canaanites (Jdg 1:23-27); and thus, left to choose the encampment of the Sacred Tent, not by old associations, but according to the dictates of convenience, the conquerors fixed on this retired spot in the heart of the country, where the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes; and there the Ark remained down to the fatal day when its home was uprooted by the Philistines.” S. and P. p. 232. “It was a central point for all Israel, equidistant from north and south, easily accessible to the trans-Jordanic tribes, and in the heart of that hill-country which Joshua first subdued, and which remained, to the end of Israel’s history, the district least exposed to the attacks of Canaanitish or foreign invaders.” Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 162. Here (a) “the daughters of Shiloh” were seized by the Benjamites (Jdg 21:19-23); here (b) Samuel spent his boyhood in the service of the Lord, and as an attendant upon the aged Eli (1 Samuel 3:19-21); here (c) the wicked conduct of the sons of that pontiff occasioned the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, and Shiloh from that day forward sank into insignificance (1 Samuel 2:17; 1 Samuel 4:12), for the Lord “forsook the tabernacle” there, “the tent that He had pitched among men; He refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim” (Psalm 78:60; Psalm 78:67). “Shiloh is a mass of shapeless ruins, scarcely distinguishable from the rugged rocks around them.… No one relic could we trace which in any way pointed to earlier times among all the wasted stone-heaps which crowded the broken terraces. So utterly destroyed is the house of the ark of God, the home of Eli and of Samuel. ‘Go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My Name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel’ (Jeremiah 7:12).” Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 161.

the tabernacle of the congregation] i.e. the tabernacle, or, tent of meeting. The phrase has the meaning of a place of or for a fixed meeting. This thought comes out in Exodus 25:22, “there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat;” in Exodus 30:6, “before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee;” and especially in Exodus 29:42-43, “This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee: and there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.” “Not the gathering of the worshippers only, but the meeting of God with His people, to commune with them, to make Himself known to them, was what the name embodied.” See Smith’s Bibl. Dict. After the catastrophe when the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, the Tabernacle was removed (i) to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1), and (ii) when that place was destroyed by Saul (1 Samuel 22:19), to Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4).

was subdued before them] The word rendered “subdued” denotes to “tread under the feet.” Comp. Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;” and Jeremiah 34:16, “But ye turned and polluted My name, and caused every man his servant … to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.” The verse seems to imply that immediately after the conquest of the land, it was the intention of the Israelites to set up the sacred Tent, but that this purpose could not be carried into effect until the tribe, in the midst of which the Lord had intended it to stand, had received its inheritance. See Keil’s Commentary.Verse 1. - Congregation. The word signifies a body of persons gathered together at a spot before indicated. The LXX. renders by συναγωγή. The idea is evidently that of an assembly gathered together for some specific acts of worship. This passage teaches the duty of a national recognition of religion. Whatever evils there might be in Israel at that time, the absence of a general and formal acknowledgment of God was not one of them. When that public acknowledgment of Him ceased, the downfall of the nation was at hand. It was the absence of such acknowledgment that was the ruin of Israel, while the hypocritical and purely external recognition of God by Judah was equally offensive in God's sight. Assembled. Literally, was summoned; by whom, we are not told. But this general gathering to set up the tabernacle was at once an act of due homage to Him by whose power they had done so many great deeds, and also the establishment of a centre of national life. As long as the worship of God was maintained in its purity, the unity of Israel would be preserved, in spite of the twelve-fold division into tribes, and without the need to introduce the monarchical power. When fidelity to the outward symbol of Israelitish unity, the tabernacle at Shiloh, relaxed, then dissension and weakness crept in, and Israel became a prey to her enemies. A remarkable instance of an opposite character meets us in the history of our own country. The prey of various unconnected Teutonic tribes, the island was one vast scene of anarchy and confusion, until the great Archbishop Theodore came over and founded a National Church. It was this religious unity and cooperation which tended to harmonise the conflicting forces in the land and steadily pioneered the way to an union of the rival tribes under one head. Without attempting to say whose fault it is that this religious unity is lost, or how it may best be reestablished, it surely is the duty of every patriot and every Christian to cooperate to the best of his ability and knowledge, with all the forces that he sees tending towards unity, and both pray and labour for the coming of the day when men may once more "with one mind and with one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," and be willing to meet together "with one accord in one place." Shiloh. In Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 14, we find God prescribing that only in a place chosen by Himself shall the public worship of the congregation be paid to Him. Thither were all the males to resort three times a year. It is obvious how such a regulation tended to keep alive national feeling among the Israelites. The reason for the choice of Shiloh (which was probably made by Urim and Thummim, the case being important enough for such a decision) is to be found in its central position, five hours south of Shechem, and eight hours north of Jerusalem. Its situation is minutely described in Judges 21:19. It is difficult to understand why; since Shiloh must have been well known to all the dwellers in Israel at that time, unless it was to explain to those who were not acquainted with the localities in the tribe of Benjamin the reason for the selection of Shiloh, namely, that it lay close by the road between Bethel and Shechem (see, however, note on Joshua 24:1). The place has been identified. It is the modern Seilun, but only a few ruins remain to mark the place once so famous in the history of Israel, where Eli abode, where Samuel spent his early years. Rejected by God Himself, as the Jewish Psalmist relates with patriotic pride (Psalm 78:60, 67-69), it fell into utter neglect, and even in the days of Jeremiah it seems to have become a by word (see Jeremiah 7:12, 14; Jeremiah 26:6, 9. Also Pal. Expl. Fund, Quart. Paper, Jan., 1873, where an account, with a plan, is given of the place in its present condition. There are a few rock-hewn tombs there). Whether it was named Shiloh on account of the word used in Genesis 49:10, it is impossible to say. The name appears to signify rest, and was an appropriate name to be given to the visible symbol of rest from warfare which Joshua had obtained for Israel (see Joshua 11:23; Joshua 14:15; Joshua 21:44; Joshua 22:4). The difficult passage in Genesis 49:10 is not of course included in this interpretation of the meaning of the word Shiloh. Congregation The word here differs slightly from the word translated "congregation" in the first part of the verse, but it comes from the same root. And the land was subdued before them. That is, the land in which the tabernacle was set up. We know from the next verse that the land as a whole was not subdued. The Manassites were unable to exterminate the Canaanites from these six towns, and the districts round; but when they grew stronger, they made them tributary slaves (cf. Joshua 16:10).
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