Tag: Beth El

Byzantine mosaic confirms the location of Shiloh

Avi Lipkin/Victor Mordecai

Military intelligence is basically the gathering of every little piece of relevant information to obtain a clear and complete picture of any given situation.

When the Jewish people began returning to the Land of Israel in earnest about 150 years ago, they immediately began searching for their roots in the land. There was no GPS or road signs to direct the returnees who were coming from from all over the world to the land that God promised us.

On a recent tour of Bethel and Shilo, my son, Aaron, CEO of Lipkintours, explained to me at Bethel that there are a number of places that point to the probability of a specific sight being the precise location where Jacob slept when fleeing from his brother, Esau, in Beersheba on his way to his Uncle Laban in Padan Aram. There is even a probability of a certain smooth rock formation which may have served as his “pillow” as mentioned in Genesis. From the water tower of Beth El one can virtually see the entire coastal area and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Mt. Hermon to the North, Jerusalem to the South and the mountains across the River Jordan to the East. These areas were promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants as an inheritance and can be seen even more clearly from Mt. Ba’al Hatzor just to the northeast of Bethel overlooking the community of Ofra, where Aaron lives.

When Jewish people started returning from the exile, they asked the local Arabs residing in Israel about the names of places where the Arabs lived. Except for Ramle, (which means sand), the only original Arabic name given to any location in Israel, all the other names of locations in Israel are taken from biblical names or crusader names. For example, Beth El in Hebrew and the Arabic town of Bitin. On the way to Shiloh, to the north, for example, their is an Arab town called Sinjeel, name after a Crusader from France by the name of St. Jille. Nablus comes from the Latin name of Naples, probably Crusaders from Italy and Naples actually originates from the Greek name Nea Poli or New City. Of course, the list is a long one.

Returning to Beth El, there is also a small building which served as a Moslem holy place, with an annex added to it from the Crusader period. This double edifice stands only a few yards (meters) away from the rock where Jacob supposed laid his head to sleep and had the vision of the angels descending and ascending the ladder.

The building is also between the “pillow” rock and what was probably an Israelite temple built to serve the northern ten tribes as their “replacement” temple for the one in Jerusalem. In a bitter civil war between the southerners (Judea, Benjamin and Levi) against the northerners (ten tribes), that temple was destroyed, but its ruins remain in place for all tourists and pilgrims, Jewish or Christian, to see. We are bringing in many tourist and pilgrims to see this and other places to make the Bible come alive!

So it would seem that the holy site of Beth El has been confirmed as the true site.

Traveling northward, my son took me to Shiloh. Here, as well, when the early settlers came to establish the modern day community of Shiloh, they asked their Arab neighbors for names and proofs of the exact location of Shiloh, and thus established the modern day community in its present location. Shiloh is the site where the Ark of the Covenant was kept for 300 years. The Prophet Samuel serve High Priest Eli there.

But the “proof of the pudding” was to be found in two Byzantine basilicas which were destroyed by Arab invaders and then a mosque was built on one of them, but that, too, was destroyed with time, and all memory of Shiloh was erased from the collective memory of the modern day inhabitants of the region until archaeologists began to dig at the ruins of the two Byzantine basilicas. And there it was! A mosaic in Greek from the site of the mosque built upon the basilica gave the final confirmation of Shiloh’s location:

“May Jesus bless the people of Silo (Shiloh).” In Greek there is no “sh” but merely “s”. Meanwhile, an entire city is being uncovered now in archaeological excavations.

The only problem now is that many Jewish tour guides and leaders are being criticized by fanatic orthodox rabbis for mentioning that forbidden Jewish name!!!