1. In pronouncing a blessing upon Judah, the dying patriarch Jacob said: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the people will belong.” (Gen. 49:10) Beginning with the rule of the Judean David, power to command (the commander’s staff) and regal sovereignty (the scepter) were the possessions of the tribe of Judah. This was to continue until the coming of Shiloh, indicating that the royal line of Judah would terminate in Shiloh as the permanent heir. Similarly, before the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, Jehovah indicated to the last Judean king, Zedekiah, that rulership would be given to one having the legal right. (Ezek. 21:26, 27) This would evidently be Shiloh, as the name “Shiloh” is understood to signify “He Whose It Is,” or, “He to Whom It Belongs.”
In the centuries that followed, Jesus Christ is the only descendant of David to whom kingship was promised. Before the birth of Jesus the angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) Therefore, Shiloh must be Jesus Christ, “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah.”—Rev. 5:5; compare Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12.
Concerning the ancient Jewish view of Genesis 49:10, a Commentary edited by F. C. Cook (Vol. I, p. 233) notes: “All Jewish antiquity referred the prophecy to Messiah. Thus the Targum of Onkelos has ‘until the Messiah come, whose is the kingdom;’ the Jerusalem Targum, ‘until the time that the king Messiah shall come, whose is the kingdom.’ . . . So the Babylonian Talmud (‘Sanhedrim,’ cap. II. fol. 982), ‘What is Messiah’s name? His name is Shiloh, for it is written, Until Shiloh come.’”
2. A city located in the territory of Ephraim and “north of Bethel, toward the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and toward the south of Lebonah.” (Judg. 21:19) The suggested identification for Shiloh (Khirbet Seilun, about ten miles [16 kilometers] NE of Bethel) fits this Biblical description. The site occupies a hill and, with the exception of a valley on the SW, is surrounded by higher hills.
After the tabernacle was set up at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1) the apportioning of the land to the Israelites was completed from there. (Josh. 18:1–21:42) Following the division of the land the tribes E of the Jordan erected an altar by that river. Viewing this as an act of apostasy, the other tribes assembled at Shiloh to fight against them. However, when it was explained that the altar was to be a memorial of faithfulness to Jehovah, peaceful relations were maintained.—Josh. 22:10-34.
Later, twelve thousand valiant Israelite warriors undertook punitive action against the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead for failing to join in the fight against the Benjamites. However, four hundred virgins of Jabesh-gilead were brought to Shiloh and later given to the Benjamites. The Benjamites were also instructed to get other wives from the daughters of Shiloh, carrying them off by force as the women participated in the circle dances associated with the yearly festival to Jehovah held at Shiloh.—Judg. 21:8-23.
During most, if not all, of the period covered by the book of Judges, the tabernacle remained at Shiloh. (Judg. 18:31; 1 Sam. 1:3, 9, 24; 2:14; 3:21; 1 Ki. 2:27) Shortly before High Priest Eli’s death the Israelites, while fighting the Philistines, removed the Ark from the tabernacle and transferred it to the battlefield, trusting in its presence to give them victory. However, Jehovah allowed the Philistines to capture the Ark. As it was never returned to Shiloh, this signified that Jehovah had forsaken Shiloh, since the Ark represented his presence. (1 Sam. 4:2-11) The forsaking of Shiloh is alluded to by the psalmist (Ps. 78:60, 61; compare 1 Samuel 4:21, 22) and is used in Jeremiah’s prophecy to illustrate what Jehovah was going to do to the temple at Jerusalem.—Jer. 7:12, 14; 26:6, 9.
In the tenth century B.C.E. the prophet Ahijah lived at Shiloh. (1 Ki. 12:15; 14:2, 4) After the assassination of Gedaliah, in 607 B.C.E., certain men from Shiloh (either from the city or the region) came to Jerusalem to sacrifice.—Jer. 41:5.