Israel's Good Name

Shiloh

In Israel, Samaria on October 22, 2017 at 2:57 PM

In the middle of September I took part in a nice day trip as part of my job at the high school where I work. The class I was accompanying was headed for Shiloh, a site I had yet to visit, the longtime resting place of the Jewish Mishkan (Tabernacle), the temporary Temple, in biblical times. Ready for adventure, we boarded our armoured bus to be driven to Shiloh, located in the Shomron, south of Tapuah Junction on Road 60.

Tel Shiloh

As I was passing my old army-time stomping grounds, I enjoyed driving through the Shomron and seeing the daily life just as I had left it years ago. We reached Shiloh and pulled into the small parking lot, disembarking beside a seemingly religiously-oriented Byzantine structure named the Dome of the Divine Presence. Its sloping walls made it quite curious looking, but there was little time for examination as I had school lads to tend to.

Dome of the Divine Presence structure

We gathered within the park, gazing down at a Byzantine reservoir and well, which was once outside a Crusader church, of which there are no remnants. Inside, past the gift shop, we broke into class groups with our own tour guides – ours was Eli Riskin, who exuberantly led us onto the first of the sites that we’d be seeing during our Shiloh trip.

Reconstructed Byzantine basilica

The first site was the reconstructed Byzantine basilica, a rough concrete structure built by a Danish archaeological team sometime between 1926 and 1932. What they were sheltering was an expansive mosaic floor with various designs and motifs, the two most interesting being a Star of David and an inscription in Greek by the doorstep which helped positively identify this site with biblical Shiloh.

Byzantine mosaic

Dillydallying a bit with my camera trying to get nice shots of the mosaics and ruins, I became separated from my group and continued on past a Mamluk mosque, also decorated with mosaic floors from the Byzantine era. A piece of a horned altar from the Second Temple period was found here, fueling the fervor surrounding the site’s religious importance.

Ancient olive oil production

From there I began the climb up the hill, Tel Shiloh, with the ruins of the ancient city exposed all around me. I kept walking uphill heading for HaRoeh Tower, the visitors centre where the lads had congregated. Along the way, at the lookout, I admired modern-day Shiloh and the glimpse of the Tabernacle Memorial synagogue, built to replicate the ancient Tabernacle at least from an architectural standpoint.

HaRoeh Tower

The school lads were watching a short film about Shiloh from a biblical perspective so I took the opportunity to visit the tiny museum by my lonesome. Exhibiting artefacts in a circular fashion in accordance with their timeframe, the museum houses some nice ancient vessels, weapons and coins.

Ruins of Tel Shiloh

At last we went down to the area that is believed to be the site of the Mishkan, based on geographic and topographic calculations. We passed the wall of the original Canaanite city and reached a flat area where the bedrock was hewn in sections. Sitting beneath a shade booth we listened to the tour guides as they explained the site to us, followed by praying Mincha.

Heading down to the supposed site of the Mishkan

Having reached the end of the park we made our way back, taking the scenic route around the western edge of the original city. Back at the entrance I checked out the Roman winepress installation and the hewn-rock graves, dated to the Second Temple period. After lunch of deli sandwiches we made our way to the buses, which afforded me a quick peek at the aforementioned Dome of the Divine Presence structure, and we were driven just across the road.

Dusty grapes

Disembarking, we took a nice hike along Nachal Shiloh, just about four kilometres of classic wadi hiking. At first we passed the Shapiro Family Vineyards of lush, albeit dusty, grapes just waiting to be made into boutique wine. When we dipped down to the trail along the dry streambed, we followed our nimble guides as we traversed the rocks. Along the way I stopped here and there to see if I could find any cool wildlife. At one point, fast movement along the top of the ridge gave away two mountain gazelles which I barely caught with my camera. Later, I found some nice birds, namely a few blue rock thrushes and my very first red-backed shrike.

Hiking Nachal Shiloh

Unfortunately, the spring we were headed to turned out to be quite choked by algae so we kept onwards, re-emerging at the end of the trail where the buses were waiting for us. Upon returning to Givat Shmuel, I met up with my frequent travelmate Adam for a evening out to the Dancing Camel brewery for the annual release party of the acclaimed Doc’s Green Leaf Party IPA, the highest rated Israeli beer according to voters on RateBeer. So ended another successful adventure.

  1. Is it typical to travel by armored bus?

  2. Those grapes are covered with a generous coating of the yeast that ensures/assures the fermentation.

    • Yes, that and dust from the path haha. There were other less dusty grapes. But you bring up an interesting point, they must wash these ones and perhaps add yeast to the mash (or whatever it’s called in wine-making). I’ve made wine twice as a youngster but only brew beer now so the terminology escapes me. Interesting point though, thanks for commenting!

  3. […] week after my trip to Shiloh I rejoined my adventurous friend Adam for yet another adventure. This time it was for some early […]

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