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Besides the Biblical-era city what is "Shiloh", is the time of Shiloh yet to happen? Is Shiloh a person, battle or other event?

It seems to have a connection with Genesis 49:10:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, as long as men come to Shiloh; and unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.

(= JPS 1917)

  • The Septuagint reads ἕως ἄν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν. – Lucian Jan 22 '18 at 14:03
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Hamilton points out the flaws in reading 'Shiloh' as a person's name:1

Without emending the Hebrew text in any way, one may read this line as "until Shiloh comes." But this reading is strange for several reasons. First, it combines a feminine subject ("Shiloh") with a masculie verb ("comes"). More importantly, what would such an expression mean? As a person, whom would Shiloh represent? Elsewhere in the OT Shiloh is only a place. Why represent an individual by a city, and why represent someone in a message to Judah by a city that falls within the territory of Ephraim?

Several scholars mention the common view that 'Shiloh' is the name of or referent to the messiah, and they even indicate this was 'common' in ancient Judaism, but Lanchester disputes the plausibility and popularity of this intepretation by saying 'it rests on nothing earlier than a fanciful passage in the Talmud'.2

Hamilton and De Hoop3 both point to one possible interpretation that Shiloh is in fact referring to the city, and the passage may be read as 'until he comes to Shiloh', so that the text becomes a prophecy about a Judean ruler (i.e. David or his descendants) consolidating the northern tribes into their kingom. This is criticized, however, because 'the people of Israel never did become monotribal although they were for a while a united kingdom'.

Davidson summarizes another option, followed by the NEB:4

the N.E.B. rendering, so long as tribute is brought to him, involves a redivision of words, but makes good sense in context and continues the thought expressed in the first half of the verse. Judah's power will last so long as others are prepared to recognize it and continue to pay the tribute that vassals ought to pay to their overlord.

The Septuagint supports this reading of the text, having translated the passage into Greek as ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, 'until the things stored up for him come' (NETS).

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, page 78, gives a footnote saying the 'obscure' passage 'appears to predict rule for Judean royalty until Judah's Davidic descendants achieve universal dominion'. It connects the passage to Numbers 24.17 and Psalms 2 and 110, all pertaining to a highly optimistic perspective of Judah's monarchy, and so concludes the passage 'must be preexilic'.


1 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50 (1995), 659.

2 H.C.O. Lanchester, The Books of Genesis 25-50 (2014), 108.

3 Raymond De Hoop, Genesis Forty-nine in Its Literary and Historical Context (1999), 126.

4 Robert Davidson, Genesis 12-50 (1979), 305.

  • Helpful discussion! Rashi makes a brief comment; if you're so inclined, you could have a look at Treves (1966) and Frolov (2012) to fill things out. – Dɑvïd Aug 8 '16 at 20:02
  • @Davïd, They seem to address the reality of a Shiloh but not his appearance. – Witness Aug 9 '16 at 8:52
  • Always passed too quickly over this, always reading it as the city (only LXX making me doubt that now) – since I do not have your refs handy: are some of them corroborating that city, pre-exilic and Joshua 18:1 might be read in connection? – LаngLаngС Jan 26 '18 at 19:56
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Great question.

Numerous interpretations of the word “Shiloh” have been put forth over the years ranging from “tribute” to “messiah”, but I find none particularly convincing. The word שילה here (the ketiv and its variant the keri) is spelled the same exact way the city of Shiloh is spelled throughout the OT (see for example Jeremiah 26 where both variants שילה and שילו are found), there is no good reason to think then, that the reference here is to something other than the city of Shiloh. Just because we don’t have a clear understanding of this ambiguous phrase, we have no right to fabricate our own interpretations of this well-known word and alter its simple meaning.

My theory is that “the time of Shiloh”, refers to the destruction of the temple and the disintegration of the kingdom of Judah, and the clause, “until the time of Shiloh cometh”, was added by an Israelite scribe during the Babylonian exile in order to vindicate the prophecies of the bible that seemed to be inconsistent with the reality in Israel at the time.

Background: Jacob prophesized that Judah will forever rule Israel, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,” this was indeed fulfilled during most of the Israelite monarchy--since the time of David there has been a continuous Davidic line that ruled over Judah, but once they have been exiled this prophecy seems to have remained unfulfilled. In order to vindicate this prophecy the Babylonian scribes added the clause, “until the time of Shiloh comes” to make it clear that this prophecy was not intended to be forever, only as long as the Israelite monarchy will thrive.

Now we turn to the word “Shiloh”, how does it connote destruction? My hypothesis is that at least in the end of the kingdom of Judah the word “Shiloh” became synonymous with destruction. Evidence to this effect is scant but it can perhaps be gathered from a few lines in Jeremiah 26:5-7,

and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse[a] among all the nations of the earth.

And then again verse 9,

Why do you prophesy in the Lord’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?”

The evidence is not particularly convincing, but we do see that the destruction of the tabernacle of Shiloh evoked images of destruction and dread to the Israelites, as we see Jeremiah effectively employs it here to his advantage to unnerve the people of Israel, so it does make sense that the word Shiloh itself would eventually come to denote destruction. Furthermore, the Israelites in Babylonian captivity would have been very familiar with this chilling prophecy, and would’ve understood the reference of Shiloh in Genesis as relating to Jeremiah’s prophecy of doom, so the choice of wording here, on the scribe’s part, was clearly intended to evoke these old prophecies, and the reference to the destruction of the temple would've been sufficiently clear to the audience in Babylonia.

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Worthy of note is the fact that in the Hebrew text the Masoretes added a 'qere' in the margin, i.e., a text-emendation.

They suggest to read sh-y-l-w, instead of sh-y-l-h.

This makes sense, because then one can interpret this hebrew word as a combination of an ordinary Hebrew word sh-y (shay = gift, also present f.i. in Isaiah 18,7) with the suffix l-w (lo = for him).

Taken together we have three royal attributes:

  1. sceptre,
  2. the ruler's staff and
  3. the royal tribute.

So I would translate:

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he will receive his tribute and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

  • Dick I don't think the purpose of the qere here is to suggest a "tribute interpretation" as you would have it, but to clarify that this word is indeed a reference to the well-known city Shiloh. See Jeremiah 26 where the city Shiloh is spelled out with a waw, and this would have been the accepted qere in the end of the first temple period, and this is what the Masoretes intended to convey here. Nothing deeper than that. See also my answer. – Bach Dec 23 '18 at 12:54
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I am that I am and of all that I am. I would go with the Hebrew Pre everyone's translation But I am simply shylo, My name is pronounced exactly as it sounds, I am neither shy nor as lo a male. Although as many things in the text of the Bible have been removed by those (lo) lowly males whom thought themselves above the words the Lord I intended for humanity . See the letters removed as I have transformed Shiloh becomes shylo loosing the (hi) much like man's translation of the word. But note as removed is the (I) in the new spelling.. it is replaced with the Y , reminding you of the prophecY. Or perhaps Shiloh is the one, whom belongs to the one. Men really appear to have avoided evolving much since Lillith.

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See the thorough exposition of this passage in the Hertz Chumash, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs. He does not view it as a text about the Messiah. J. H. Hertz was a former chief rabbi of the British Empire.

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This is easy. The word Shiloah means "Peace" in John 16:33 Jesus told the people in him we have peace. Jesus is referred to as the prince of peace. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:11-12 refers to Revelation 2:8. Read your bible to find out more.

Genesis 49:9] Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? [10] The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. [11] Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: [12] His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

John 16:33] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Rev 2:18] And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

Hebrews 7:14] For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Hebrews 8:7] For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. [8] For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: [9] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Rev 21:24] And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25] And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. [26] And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

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Apparently, it is none of those things.

Regarding Genesis 49:10, Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “The word ‘Shiloh,’ found in some English versions, is simply an untranslated form of the Hebrew expression meaning ‘one to whom it belongs.’” Jesus is the “one to whom it belongs.”

From Tribe of Judah

This page does a great job of showcasing the confusing variations in how the verse was translated.

  • 4
    Please do not simply post hyperlinks to websites. The hyperlink is useless if/when the URL is changed or the website goes offline. Rather, copy-and-paste relevant material into your answer (and of course, cite the author). – user862 Jun 10 '16 at 8:58
  • I see no grammatical or contextual justification for this approach. – רבות מחשבות Nov 23 '18 at 0:30

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