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What is the meaning of the term Shiloh?

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The word Shiloh appears 33 times in the Old Testament, and all but one usage refer to a city in Ephraim, about 24 miles north of Jerusalem. Joshua, Eli, and Samuel were all associated with Shiloh, and the tabernacle was located there for a long time.

One verse in the Bible mentions Shiloh as part of a messianic prophecy. Genesis 49:10 says,
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (NKJV).
This verse is part of Jacob’s blessing of his 12 sons in which he portrays the future history of each son and each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

The blessing on Judah and his tribe contains several elements:

• Judah’s descendants would be strong and receive praise and honor from the other tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:8). This was fulfilled in David, a strong and mighty warrior and king, and ultimately by the Messiah, who came from the line of Judah.
• The tribe of Judah is likened to a lion, both young and old (Genesis 49:9). Again, this blessing has its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).
• The tribe of Judah would experience prosperity and peace and health (Genesis 49:11). This is likely a prophecy concerning the millennium. That will be a time of peace (Micah 4:2–4; Isaiah 32:17–18), joy (Isaiah 61:7, 10), comfort (Isaiah 40:1–2), and no poverty or sickness (Amos 9:13–15; Joel 2:28–29).

In Genesis 49:10, we find the reference to Shiloh. “Shiloh” (as translated by the NASB and NKJV) is someone predicted to come from the tribe of Judah. Other translations give this person’s title as “he to whom [the ruler’s staff] belongs” (NIV), “Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One]” (AMP), and “he whose right it is” (CSB). Prior to Shiloh’s coming, the tribe of Judah would continue to maintain power and strength, signified by the scepter—the symbol of authority and rule of law. This began in David, who was of the tribe of Judah, and continued to the Babylonian captivity. But, notably, the first governor of Judah after the captivity ended was Zerubbabel, who was of the tribe of Judah.

Shiloh is best interpreted as the Messiah. It is the Messiah who has the true right to take the throne and hold the scepter (John 18:36–37; Psalm 2:7–9). It is the Messiah who, at His second coming, will have the people’s obedience (Daniel 7:13–14; Isaiah 2:2). It is the Messiah, the Lion of Judah, who will rule the whole world (Revelation 11:15) and preside over a time of unprecedented blessing and peace on earth (Isaiah 11:6–13; Micah 4:1–5).

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Miscellaneous Bible Questions

What is the meaning of the term Shiloh? Is it a Messianic prophecy?
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This page last updated: July 31, 2023