Jerusalem was not Israel’s first capital. Shiloh was-for at least a century.
A high plains village nearly half a mile above sea level and thirty miles north of Jerusalem, in Israel’s hill country, Shiloh was where Joshua and the Israelites pitched the tent of God, or the worship center called the tabernacle. This is where the Israelites came to offer sacrifices to God and to celebrate religious holidays.
The term divination, as used in this passage, refers to attempts to control evil spirits, to penetrate the mysteries of the universe, or to foretell the future by using magical acts, pronouncing superstitious incantations, or interpreting natural signs. Today we refer to such practices as “the occult.” “Black magic” was a prominent feature of pagan religious systems in Bible times. But God prohibited the Israelites from participating in these practices. Seven different types of divination are mentioned in this passage.
Cattle were primarily a measure or symbol of wealth in biblical times. They were both familiar and significant, good characteristics for symbolic use. Among his livestock, the wealthy Job had a thousand oxen (Job 1:3). Cattle not only provided meat, milk, leather, and other by-products, they were the main animal workforce in ancient agricultural societies. Oxen (castrated bulls) pulled plows as well as wagons. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (BULL/CALF)→
Cruel and degrading punishment sometimes inflicted on conquered peoples in biblical times. The Philistines put out Samson’s eye’s (Judg 16:21). Nahash offered to make peace with the people of Gilead on the condition that he put out the right eye of every man in the city and thus bring disgrace upon all Israel (1 Sam 11:2). After executing King Zedekiah’s sons in his sight, the Babylonians put out his eyes (2 Kings 25:7). Scripture records such events as cruelty, not as examples to follow. Continue reading DEFINTION OF THE DAY (GOUGING THE EYES)→
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those words would have made a good motto for Israel during its period of the judges. The seemingly endless cycle in which the Israelites found themselves went like this: The people of Israel would rebel against God, so God would allow their enemies often the Philistines-to mistreat them. After serval decades of oppression, the Israelites would call out to God for help. Then God would send a judge-a military leader-to deliver them from their enemies. One of the last of these judges was Samson. Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (SAMSON: A STRONG AND WEAK MAN)→
On its own, the ark was little more than an interesting piece of furniture. But the ark held the Ten Commandments and symbolized God’s presence. Any attempt to see power in the ark itself (as in the popular Indiana Jones films) is tantamount to idolatry. The people of Israel made this mistake frequently. They assumed that possession of such a powerful instrument as the ark gave them some control over God Himself, since God was obligated to guarantee the success of anyone (or any group of people) possessing it. Continue reading IF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT WAS SO SPECIAL, WHY WERE THE PHILISTINES ALLOWED TO HAVE IT?→
We should note at the outset that in the era before clocks and precise record keeping, numbers were often an estimation. Three and five signified a little, and forty a lot more. That is not to say that forty was never an accurate number, only that precision was not the intent of biblical authors. Continue reading BIBLE SIGNS & SYMBOLS (FORTY)→