Shiloh

Wednesday, Jan. 4                                   

The word “Shiloh” is a problem.  Gen. 49:10 (KJV).  “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.”  The NIV translates it “The sceptre . . .  until he comes to whom it belongs.”  Both translations represent a logical conclusion from the Hebrew text.  The word “Shiloh” is  a correct rendition of the Hebrew, but what does it mean?  What was Jacob (or the author, Moses) attemptying to communicate?  To make it more difficult, the words “scepter” and “ruler’s staff” are symbolic.  What do they symbolize?  Then you have “between the feet” to deal with.  Other passages seem to relate to this verse—Ezek. 21:25-27, Num. 24:17—passages that could either help or hinder  translation.  So what does “Shiloh” mean?  Attempts to answer this question go back centuries.  Both Luther and Calvin posted their conclusions—which don’t  totally agree.  Though there are minor differences, there is a strong concensus on the core meaning.  First, it has nothing to do with the city of Shiloh.  The Hebrew word refers to a person.  The accepted view is that “Shiloh”  refers to the Messiah, who was from the tribe of Judah.  He would rule as leader of not just the tribe of Judah, and not just the nation of Israel, but the entire world.  It reminds me that Jacob was not the only non-Biblical author that received direct revelation—Noah, Samuel, Mary and Joseph, and many others—even foreign kings such as Nebuchadnezzer, who had to eat grass a few years before he “got the message.”   And by the way, it’s OK to stick with the word “Messiah.”  Just use “Shiloh” when you want to impress somebody.

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