Archaeologist Excited by Recent Finds in Ancient Shiloh, Biblical Site of Ark, Tabernacle
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SHILOH, Samaria – Several years ago, CBN News first reported on exciting discoveries from the excavation site at ancient Shiloh.
The book of Judges in the Bible tells us Shiloh was a significant place in the history of the Israelites when they came into the Promised Land.
Today, more discoveries are emerging from the archaeological site that continue to bring the Bible to life.
In 2019, we interviewed Dr. Scott Stripling, the director of excavation going on in ancient Shiloh. This year, Stripling brought us up to speed on what's happened here since we first visited this project.
"Well, in season one our hypotheses were just formulating," he said. "We thought that we had a monumental building, up here from the period of the Tabernacle. Since then, we've come way down, five meters or so, maybe six meters in some places, and so now we can see the various structures that are here, and indeed we can now say that this is very likely the gate that's referred to in the Bible, and that's pretty big stuff.”
We asked Stripling what happened at the gate and why it was so important.
He responded, "Well, the Bible tells us that Eli (the high priest at the time) is in the gate of Shiloh when he gets the news that the Ark of the Covenant has been captured, that his sons have been killed. He falls over backward and dies in the gate. So it's a function that's mentioned in the Bible, so we were very curious if we would come across it.”
Shiloh is not only where Eli lived and died, but also the place where Joshua divided the Promised Land between Israel's 12 tribes, where Hannah prayed for a son who became the prophet Samuel, and where the Tabernacle of the Lord stood for nearly 400 years.
Stripling gave us a tour of the site and took us to perhaps their most significant discovery.
“This is where you came to connect with God," Stripling said while walking through the site.
He continued, "Jerusalem remains a pagan city for another three hundred years. The Ark is here. The Tabernacle is here, and this is where you came to connect with God."
We asked Stripling if he believed they'd actually found the Tabernacle. He answered, "I'm not ready to say I know for certain, but I'll tell you what we do have is a building that is matching the dimensions of the Tabernacle. It's from the Iron One period, which is the Tabernacle period of Eli and Samuel, and you're actually standing right now, Chris, on this wall right here.”
WATCH: Full In-Depth Report from Shiloh with Extra Footage
“So this entire area is this massive, monumental building. (It) orients east-west and it's divided on 2 to 1 ratio, like the Tabernacle was," Stripling explained.
He showed us the locations for the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant would have been if the archaeologists are correct in their theory.
At one point on the tour of the site, Stripling, said, "You're probably standing where the Ark of the Covenant was," then he asked, "How does that make you feel?"
Grasping for words, I said, "It makes me feel – well, profound, for one."
"Me, too," Stripling replied, and added, "There's a sense of awe, I just have to tell you. Professionally as an academic, I'm in awe, and then as an evangelical Christian, I'm in awe, you know, to have the privilege to be able to excavate a site like this."
“What I take from this is that God did something in history. He recorded it for us in the Bible. We have evidence of it here. One of the great things about our faith is that you can question it," Stripling insisted. "You know, God's ego isn't bruised. People have questions, viewers do – that's honest, you know. Express those, and I would just invite people to look at that evidence, and if they've bought into the idea that the Bible's mythology or it's not historical, I would encourage them to look at what we're finding here at Shiloh. Read the text, pray about it, decide for themselves. And so, this is where the Bible comes to life. This is, this is what we do. We don't just walk the Bible. We dig the Bible here at Ancient Shiloh.”
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“As we dig into the soil, we are literally seeing the evidence of what life was like in biblical times," he added.
The next stop on the archaeological tour was a nearby bone deposit.
Stripling described how meaningful the site was for the excavators. "The people working over here are doing something they'll never forget the rest of their lives. I mean, they are uncovering evidence of the (Jewish) sacrificial system. So I mean, these were animals that brought about expiation, it brought about the forgiveness of sin for people. As they connected with God in this manner, so you'll see it for yourself. The pottery and the bones. They tell an unmistakable story that matches what we read in the biblical text.”
As we stood over the site, Stripling said, "This is unexcavated, underneath your feet, and my feet is about (4 feet) of solid bone, waiting to be excavated. Bone on top of bone, on top of bone. And we have micros stratigraphy in this area so we can see that the deposition is laid down over a long period of time, just like the Bible says.”
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When asked what kind of bones would be found there, he replied, "Sheep, goat, cow – and disproportionately from the right side of the animal.”
The workers had uncovered, just that morning, jaw bones coming from the right side of the animals.
"Why is the right side so significant?" he asked. "Well, the priests are the ones who live here, and Leviticus 7 tells us that the right side of the animal is the priest's portion. So, I can't make this stuff up. You know, you got a hundred thousand bones and they're disproportionate. Give me another explanation. It just happens to coordinate with what the Bible says.”
A shofar sounds to mark the end of the workday. It signals the end of this year's dig, but the excavators expect to be back on site, digging for several more years.
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