"The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes
[or "until he comes to Shiloh"] and to him shall be
the obedience of the peoples" - Genesis 49:10.
The Primacy of the Tribe of Judah
After Reuben, Simeon and Levi were deprived of their birthrights, the leadership over the sons of Jacob fell upon the shoulders of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, who became chief among his brothers. He not only became the spokesman to and for his brothers (Genesis 37:26-27; 43:3-4, 8-9; 44:14,16, 18-34), but he was also made the principal delegate by Jacob their father (Genesis 46:28). Judah's descendants were first in the order of the tribes in their tents (Numbers 2:3), and in the march through the wilderness (Numbers 2:9). The tribe of Judah was the first to offer the offering on the first day (Numbers 7:11-12), and they led all the rest of the tribes in the conquest of the land of Canaan (Judges 1:1-2), and in the battles against the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 20:18). The first Judge of Israel was Othniel of the tribe of Judah ( Judges 3:9-11). "Judah is My lawgiver" (Psalm 60:7, 108:8) said the Lord, "and the Lord said, 'Judah first' " (Judges 20:18; 1:1-2) until He came to Shiloh.
The Departing of the Authority of Judah
In saying "the scepter [SHEBET] shall not depart [SUR] from Judah..." (Genesis 49:10), Jacob prophesied that Judah's sovereignty or leadership would not cease until certain things came to pass. The Hebrew word SHEBET means "rod" of authority (Exodus 21:20; Psalms 23:4; 74:2; Jeremiah 10:16; 51:19; Micah 7:14) or correction (Proverbs 10:13; 13:24; 22:15; 23:14; 26:3; 29:15). Thus, when the Lord said in Zechariah 10:11 that the "scepter [SHEBET] of Egypt shall depart [SUR]," He meant that Egypt's sovereignty would cease.
When did Judah's "scepter" of authority start to "depart" and his initial leadership begin to wane? We shall see that from the time the twelve tribes came to assemble in Shiloh, Judah's primacy declined and Benjamin's ascended to gain the ruler's scepter.
Shiloh is located about nineteen miles north of Jerusalem to the east of the road that goes up from Jerusalem to Shechem via Bethel. In the Bible it is described as being situated "on the north side of Bethel on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem" (Judges 21:19).
Following the subjugation of the land, the Ark of the Covenant which had been kept at Gilgal 1 during the conflict, was transferred to Shiloh and kept there from the last days of Joshua to the time of Samuel the seer (1 Samuel 4:3). It was in Shiloh, when at last "the land was subdued before them" (Joshua 18:10), that the final division for the land for the children of Israel took place. "Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord" (Joshua 18:10) and the lot of Benjamin came up first (Joshua 18:11-28), then the tribes of Simeon, Zebulon, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan received their lots and the division of the land was completed. Also in Shiloh, the tribe of Levi obtained by lot the forty-two Levitical cities (Joshua 21:1-41) situated among the twelve tribes. These were to be the habitations of the priests and other members of the Levite clan whom the Lord scattered among His people so that every tribe would benefit from the religious guidance and teachings of His priestly tribe. From these cities the Levites went to serve in the Tabernacle a part of each year. The remainder of the time they occupied themselves in agricultural work in the fields which adjoined their homes among the tribes. According to the instructions of Moses (Numbers 35:6-28), six cities of refuge (Joshua 20:1-9) were added to the forty-two Levitical cities given to the priestly tribe at the time of the final division of the land in Shiloh (Joshua 19:51).
There was something special about Shiloh because it was while the Tabernacle was in Shiloh that the Lord gave His people "rest all around according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand" (Joshua 21:44). This occurred in the place where the Lord said He was to set His name: Shiloh (Deuteronomy 12:5,11,21; 14:23-24; 16:6,11; 26:2; Jeremiah 7:12), a place designated by Him where He was to be worshipped by His people Israel. It was while the Ark of the Covenant was in the Tabernacle at Shiloh that all the tribes were able to assemble in peace because all the land was subdued before them, and they finally had rest in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1).
Shiloh and the Lord of Hosts
Shiloh was the original place where the Lord was honored in His title: "the Lord of Hosts" (1 Samuel 1:3,11; 4:4) who is in that designation the "God of Israel" (1 Samuel 1:11,17; 1 Chronicles 17:24, Psalm 59:5; Isaiah 21:10; 37:16; Jeremiah 7:3,21; 9:15; 16:9; 19:3,15; 25:27: 4,21; 28:2,14; Zephaniah 2:9 etc). Furthermore, it is in His title as "Lord of Hosts" that the Lord is called "King": "I have seen the King; the Lord of Hosts"; "the King, whose name is the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 46:18; 48:15; 51:57; Zechariah 14:16). "O Lord of Hosts, my King and my G-d" (Psalm 84:3); "The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory (Psalm 24:10). "I am a great King, says the Lord of Hosts" (Malachi 1:14), and "the Lord of Hosts shall reign" (Isaiah 24:23). The Lord of Hosts did reign over His people in Shiloh although they did not realize it at the time and asked to be ruled instead by an earthly king (1 Samuel 8:7,5,22; 10:19; 12:12-13; Hosea 13:9-10).
It was in Shiloh that "the Lord of Hosts" dwelt enthroned between the two Cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 1:3; 4:4; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16). And while in Shiloh, the Lord "plainly revealed" (1 Samuel 2:27, Literal Translation) Himself to Eli, something He had not done to the members of the tribe of Levi while they were still in Egypt subject to Pharaoh. Then, for a time the Lord of Hosts hid Himself because of the wickedness of the sons of Eli (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22) but "the Lord appeared again in Shiloh, for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh" (1 Samuel 3:21), when young Samuel came to maturity. And while the Tabernacle was in Shiloh, the Lord of Hosts revealed to the people what they were to do, He answered them through the use of the oracular stones found in the breastplate of the high priest: "the Demonstration and Truth (i.e., the Urim and Thummim) revealed all things in Shiloh" (Ps.Philo. Biblical Antiquities 22.9). For Shiloh was the place of "the Lord of Hosts, the G-d of Israel" who is the Revealer of all things (2 Samuel 7:27, Isaiah 21:10; 22:14; Amos 4:13), and who revealed Himself through His Word in Shiloh (1 Samuel 3:21).
From the time of Moses and the Exodus, when G-d tabernacled with His people in the wilderness (Leviticus 26:11), the specific place where the Shekhinah (the Divine Presence) rested and where it presided, was in the "mercy seat" [KAPPORETH = "covering" or "top"], the pure gold lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord had said to Moses that from "there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the Ark of the Testimony, of all the things which I will give you in commandments to the children of Israel" (Exodus 25:22, see also Exodus 29:42-43; 30:6,36; Numbers 7:89).
Ever since the Lord overwhelmed the Egyptian army at the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-31; 15:3-11), and all through the wanderings in the wilderness and the conquest of the promised land, "the Lord G-d of Israel fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:42). "The Lord your G-d is He who fought for you"; "the Lord your G-d He is the One who fights for you as He has promised," said Joshua to His people Israel (Joshua 23:3,10, see also v.9; 10:14; Exodus 14:13-14; 23:27-30; 34:11; Deuteronomy 3:22; 11:23).
Shiloh the Place of Rest
We know that when His people crossed the Jordan at the commencement of the conquest of the promised land, the Ark of the Covenant was borne to the Tabernacle set up in Gilgal. And while the Ark rested at Gilgal the Lord fought with His people Israel against the Canaanites. But when at last the land was subdued before them, the Ark of the Covenant was transported from Gilgal and set up in the Tabernacle erected in Shiloh. There, in Shiloh the people reposed at long last with the Lord for "the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about" (Joshua 23:1). Having overcome his enemies in battle, a king returns to sit in his throne and reign, receiving there the homage of his people. That was what the Lord desired from Israel when there was peace at last "and the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and set up the Tabernacle of the congregation there" (Joshua 18:1).
Long ago, while His people were still in the wilderness, Moses prophesied to them that "when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your G-d is giving you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about so that you dwell in safety; then there shall be a place which the Lord your G-d shall choose to cause His name to dwell" (Deuteronomy 12:10-11). That place was Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:12; Joshua 18:1; 23:1), "the place of rest" (Deuteronomy 12:9) from all the fighting, and the place of peace. "Shiloh...this was the resting place" said the sages of Mishnah (Zebahim 14:6 and Sifre ad loc.), and Shiloh was considered a very holy place by them (Megillah 1:11, Mishnah [Oral Law] ), because it was not only the locality chosen to be where the Lord's name was to "dwell" [SHAKEN as in Deuteronomy 12:11; 14:23; 16:2,6,11], but also to be "set" [SUM as in Deuteronomy 14:24].
The Ark of G-d, the Lord of Hosts
We know that on "the Ark of G-d the Lord, who dwells between the cherubim, whose name is called on it" (1 Chronicles 13:6), was the "mercy seat" [KAPPORETH] the holy golden lid of the Ark and actual place where the Divine Presence [SHEKHINAH] rested. If we desire to know by what name and title the Lord was called in Shiloh, the place the Lord G-d did "choose" out of all the tribes "to set [SUM] His name there" (Deuteronomy 12:5), we search the Holy Scriptures. Thus, we discover that "the Ark of G-d...the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord" (1 Samuel 3:3; 4:1,5) was for the first time called in Shiloh: "the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts who dwells between the cherubim" (1 Samuel 4:4) for it is "the Ark of G-d whose name is called by the Lord of Hosts" (2 Samuel 6:2).
The Lord of Hosts, the G-d of the Armies of Israel
It is in His title as the Lord of Hosts that "the Lord G-d of Israel fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:42,14; 23:3,5,9-10 etc.) and led His people as "the Lord of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel" (1 Samuel 17:45). Furthermore, it is as "the Lord of Hosts" that the Lord is particularly "the G-d of Israel": "O Lord G-d of Hosts, the G-d of Israel" (Psalm 59:5; 2 Samuel 7:26,27; Isaiah 48:2; Jeremiah 28:2; 29:4,25; 46:25; 48:1; Zephaniah 2:9). Yes, "the Lord of Hosts is the G-d of Israel" (1 Chronicles 17:24), just as the Almighty is "the G-d of Jacob" (Psalm 81:1; 94:7): "The Mighty One of Jacob" (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5; Isaiah 49:26; 60:16; see also Genesis 48:3; Isaiah 10:21; Book of Jubilees 27:11). Concomitantly, "the Lord of Hosts [is], the Mighty One of Israel" (Isaiah 1:24).
The Lord of Hosts, the King of Israel
The Lord G-d of Israel who fought for Israel is also "the Lord, the King of Israel...the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 44:6) who is Israel's "Redeemer" (ibid. 44:6; 43:14-15). The Lord of Hosts is not only the King of Israel but "the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:5; Zechariah 14:16), shall also be "King over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9). Thus, the prophet Isaiah saw "the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up," and heard the seraphim cry out to one another: "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:1,5).
Regarding the forces of the inhabitants of the promised land who were led by their kings, it was the Lord of Hosts, the King of Israel who "routed them before Israel and killed them with a great slaughter...and struck them down...because the Lord fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:10,14), as a "Man of war" (Exodus 15:3). Before the conquest of the land, did not Moses tell the people: "Hear, O Israel...on the verge of battle with your enemies, do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them, for the Lord your G-d is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:3,4; 31:3-6; Joshua 23:10). When there was peace at last and the land was subdued before them, the place the Lord chose (Deuteronomy 12:11) to be at rest with His people was Shiloh. It was in Shiloh that "the Lord of Hosts" who is in that designation the "King of Israel" (Isaiah 44:6; 6:5; Zechariah 14:16) chose to reign as King over His people Israel and receive homage and worship from them as "the Lord, the King of Israel...the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 44:6). Moses foresaw that the Lord was to be "King in Jeshurun 2 (a poetic name for Israel), when the heads of the people and the tribes were gathered together" (Deuteronomy 33:5), as they were in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1).
The Reigning of the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh
It was after the land was subdued by the help of the Lord that "the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim" (1 Samuel 4:4), was borne by the Levite priests to the newly erected Tabernacle in Shiloh. It was there in "the place of rest" that the Lord of Hosts, the victorious King of Israel, desired to sit enthroned among His people. For we should not forget that "the Lord reigns" when "He sits between the cherubim" (Psalm 99:1), and that He came to Shiloh to sit and reign and be acclaimed King by His people Israel in the time of peace. For, He is the same "Lord of Hosts...[who] makes wars to cease even unto the ends of the earth" (Psalm 46:7,8).
During the period of the Judges of Israel, when there was renewed conflict with the inhabitants of the land, Gideon the victorious deliverer and fifth Judge of Israel, was opportuned by "the men of Israel" to "rule over us" as a king. Gideon refused and said to them,"I will not rule over you" for it is "the Lord who shall rule over you" (Judges 8:22,23) as He indeed was doing from the time that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts tabernacled in Shiloh. And Samuel the seer - just after the people had hailed Saul ben Kish as their king - reminded the Israelites "the Lord your G-d, was your King" (1Samuel 2:12, 8:7). Nevertheless, they had demanded an earthly king to rule over them instead of the Lord of Hosts, the G-d and King of Israel.
When the Ark of the Covenant crossed the Jordan River with the Israelites at the commencement of the campaign for the possession of the promised land, the first place the Tabernacle was set up was in Gilgal. There, it remained as the central camp of the people during their seven year war of the conquest against the forces of the thirty-one kings, which were overcome by them with the help of the Lord (Joshua 12:24; Deuteronomy 7:23-24). It was when the hostilities had ceased and the land was subdued before them that the Ark of the Covenant was transferred from Gilgal to the Tabernacle set up in Shiloh: "the place of rest." For just as Gilgal was the headquarters during the military campaign, Shiloh was the place chosen by "the King, the Lord of Hosts" as a resting place in the time of peace, and where He was to reign and receive the homage and acclamation of His people. It was in Shiloh that the Israelites came to know the very fitting name and title of the Lord who fought for them, and helped them overcome the forces of their enemies. And that name was "the Lord of Hosts," the G-d of Israel and Marshal of all the myriads of His heavenly hosts ( Psalm 68:17; 2 Kings 6:17; Habakuk 3:8; Daniel 7:10) - the Lord and King of Israel.
The Ceasing of the Authority of Judah when the Lord of Hosts Reigned in Shiloh
Not until "the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim" (1 Samuel 4:4), came to Shiloh did the prominence and leadership of the tribe of Judah cease. For while the Ark was yet in Gilgal, the tribe of Judah still remained in the lead, as we read in the narrative of the first division of the land among the tribes. Because it was in Gilgal that Caleb of the tribe of Judah went to Joshua to claim and receive his promised portion (Joshua 14:6-15; Numbers 14:24,30: Deuteronomy 1:36), before the rest. And shortly after, when the land was divided by lot, the first lot fell in favor of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:1-63). But we no longer hear about Judah's tribe when the Lord came to reign and be acclaimed and served by His people in Shiloh, the place where He had set His name.
The Resurgence of the Tribe of Judah in an Evil and Rebellious Time
"Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel (in Shiloh) from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, and advanced in age: (Joshua 23:1), and "Joshua died when he was one hundred and ten years old" (Joshua 24:29; Judges 2:8). Having been exhorted by Joshua (see Joshua chapters 23 and 24), His people remained faithful and "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, and who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel" (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7). But sad to say, "another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and they forsook the Lord G-d of their fathers who had brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Judges 2:10-12). No longer did His people pay homage to Him as "the King, whose name is the Lord of Hosts" (Jeremiah 46:18; 48:15; 51:57; Zechariah 14:16), and who had set His name in Shiloh.
In that evil time the tribe of Judah came to the fore again (Judges 1:1-18) "and the Lord was with Judah" (Judges 1:19). And because the people were oppressed once more and were sold into the hand of the king of Mesopotamia, "the children of Israel cried to the Lord, and the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother" (Judges 3:9). Thus, the first Judge of Israel was a member of the tribe of Judah, and that tribe was again "first" (Judges 1:1-2; 20:18) as they were before, and remained so, until certain things occurred anew involving coming to Shiloh.
The Emergence of the Primacy of the Tribe of Benjamin
In the marvelous wisdom of G-d, it all began with the death of "a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah", who "played the harlot" (Judges 19:1,2) against her Levite husband who lived in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. After his concubine left him and went to live at her father's house in Bethlehem-Judah for four months, the husband went to search for her, having determined to win her back through tender persuasion. After he had gained her affection, the Levite tarried at her father's house until the evening of the fifth day. Then, contrary to the father-in-law's admonition that they should remain that night and leave early in the morning, the Levite abruptly left that evening with his concubine on the journey back to their home near Mount Ephraim. By the time that the sun had set, they were in Gibeah, a city in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, and there they sat down in the open square of the city because no one offered to take them into their house for a night's rest. Just then an old man came in from his work in the field that evening (he was also from the area of Mount Ephraim and a stranger too among the Benjamites of Gibeah); he brought them to his house and provided them with shelter, food and drink.
Now, as they were enjoying themselves, certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the old man's house beating on the door and saying to the host: "Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally" (Judges 19:22). But the old man refused to do so and offered them instead, his own virgin daughter along with the concubine of the Levite for them to do as they wished. When the evil men did not listen to him, the Levite then suddenly took his concubine and brought her out to them. They proceeded to rape and abuse her all night letting her go at daybreak. The woman then dragged herself to the old man's house where her master was, and fell down by the outside door. When the Levite arose in the morning and was getting ready to return to his village, he found her fallen at the door with her hands in the threshold. She made no response to his call, so he lifted her up and placed her upon his donkey and returned to his dwelling place. Entering his house, he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and dismembered her limb by limb into twelve pieces. He then sent her flesh to all the tribes in the territory of Israel, to incite them against the Benjamite men of Gibeah responsible for the outrage done to his concubine.
And so it was, that all who saw it said: "No deed like this has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day" (Judges 19:30). Then, all the people were aroused when they found out from the Levite, that the ones responsible for the vile deed done to his concubine were certain men from the Benjamite city of Gibeah. When all the men of Israel gathered together as one man against that city, they first sent envoys throughout the territory of the tribe of Benjamin demanding that they deliver up for punishment and death, the wicked men of Gibeah responsible for the crime. But the members of the tribe of Benjamin refused; instead, they gathered themselves together throughout all their cities to go to battle against the rest of the tribes of Israel.
Four hundred thousand men from all the other tribes, gathered together and encamped against the twenty-six thousand seven hundred men of the tribe of Benjamin who had barricaded themselves in the city of Gibeah. Then, unexpectedly, the Benjamites came out of the city gates and fought bravely against the massed army of Israel, and they cut to the ground twenty-two thousand men of the other tribes before returning to Gibeah. The following day, the men of Benjamin sallied forth once more against the massed army of the rest of the tribes, killing eighteen thousand of their men. But on the third day, with the help of the Lord who promised the men of the rest of the tribes victory: "the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the children of Israel destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamite combatants that day" (Judges 30:35). Then, the armed men of Israel massacred all the rest of the men, women and children of the tribe of Benjamin, setting fire to all their cities and slaughtering their animals as well. The only survivors of all the carnage and the sole remnant of the entire tribe of Benjamin, were six hundred soldiers who had hidden themselves by the rock of Rimmon, following the defeat of their forces (Judges 20:45-47).
When the rest of the tribes saw that all that remained of the tribe of Benjamin were those six hundred men, they were overwhelmed with grief and wept and went to the house of G-d and cried out to Him: "O Lord G-d of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?" (Judges 21:3). They had reason to be distressed because women were no longer available to the men of Benjamin from their own tribe nor from the daughters of the rest of the tribes, because in the assembly of the tribes they had solemnly sworn not to give any of their daughters in marriage to the men of Benjamin (Judges 21:1,7).
While they were debating among themselves what to do, some of the leaders of the tribes noted that the inhabitants of the city of Jabesh-gilead 3 had not participated in the war against the tribe of Benjamin, and had not come into the assembly to take the vow of all the tribes against the tribe of Benjamin. In reprisal, "twelve thousand of the bravest men" (Judges 21:10) from the rest of the tribes stormed the city of Jabesh-gilead and slew all the people in it except "four hundred young virgins" which they spared and "brought them to the camp at Shiloh" (Judges 21:12). At Shiloh they gave these four hundred young virgins of Jabesh-gilead as wives to the six hundred men who were the sole remnants of the exterminated tribe of Benjamin (Judges 21:9-14). But these young virgins were not sufficient to provide a mate for each of the six hundred men of the remnant of Benjamin. And as the men of the rest of the tribes had sworn an oath that none of them would give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife (Judges 21:1,7), the elders of the congregation devised a plan whereby wives could be acquired by the men of Benjamin among their daughters, without their breaking the solemn oath they had sworn by the Lord not to give them any of their daughters as wives.
The Tribe of Benjamin as the True Israel
The elders knew that every year as prescribed by Moses, all the men of the tribes with their wives and families had to convene at Shiloh, the place where the Lord was to set His name (Deuteronomy 12:5,10-12, 21). They also knew that it was customary, at the yearly festival, for the young daughters of all the tribes to take part in the maiden dances held in the fields by the vineyards of Shiloh. So when the time of the yearly festival came around, the elders of the congregation gathered together the as yet unwedded men of the tribe of Benjamin and commanded them to "go and lie in wait in the vineyards and watch; and when the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and seize each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin...and the men of Benjamin did so; they took themselves enough wives for their number from those who danced whom they caught. Then they went and returned to their inheritance and they rebuilt the cities and dwelt in them" (Judges 21:20-21, 23). Thus, the tribe of Benjamin was not only preserved for posterity by acquiring wives when they came to Shiloh,but through the resulting intermarriages with the daughters of all the tribes,the tribe of Benjamin became in itself a true congregation of Israel by coming to Shiloh. Is it any wonder that tradition says that the flag of Benjamin is a veritable rainbow containing all the colors of the rest of the tribes? (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 2.7; see also Baba Bathra 116a ; Taanith 30b, Babylonian Talmud re the intimation that the tribe of Benjamin married into all the rest of the tribes). Regarding the commemoration of the fifteenth day of Ab as a day of rejoicing and of open courtship between the youths and damsels of all the tribes, see Gemara to Taanith IV.9,10, Jerusalem Talmud ; Baba Bathra 121a, Babylonian Talmud. The celebrations of the fifteenth day of Ab, while the Temple still stood in Jerusalem, commemorated "the day when the tribe of Benjamin was allowed to reenter the community of Israel" at Shiloh-(Midrash Lamentations Rabbah, Proem X X X I I ).
The Coming of Benjamin to Shiloh
Portentous things did happen when the tribe of Benjamin came to Shiloh. First of all, it was in Shiloh that the rest of the tribes gathered together to inquire before the Lord as to which tribe of their army was to lead the attack against the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 20:18, Latin Vulgate Text 4). Then, after their defeat, it was to Shiloh that the men of "Benjamin came again" (Judges 21:14) to receive the four hundred captive young virgins of Jabesh-gilead given to them as wives by the rest of the tribes. And once more, the remnant of the tribe of Benjamin came again to Shiloh having been told by the elders of the other tribes to go and lie in wait in the vineyards of Shiloh where the maidens of the rest of the tribes went to dance at the yearly festival. Then, at the opportune time they were to come out from where they were hiding, by the vineyards of Shiloh, and every man was to seize for himself a mate from the daughters of the rest of the tribes. Thus, through the resultant intermarriages the tribe of Benjamin 5 became in itself a composite of all the rest of the tribes, and a true Israel, as it were - by coming to Shiloh.
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah...until he [Benjamin] comes to Shiloh" - Genesis 49:10
Now we know that in the mysterious wisdom of G-d, it was by "coming to Shiloh" that the tribe of Benjamin was able to bring to pass the resulting intermarriages that made Benjamin a composite of all the rest of the tribes. As the true "Israel", the tribe of Benjamin also incorporated into itself all the bloodrights and birthrights to kingship. Which is why, when the tribes demanded from Samuel a king (1 Samuel 8:5-6,10,19-20), and the Lord acquiesced (1 Samuel 8:6-7,9,22), He sent Samuel a man from the tribe of Benjamin: Saul ben Kish, whom the Lord chose (1 Samuel 9:15-17; 10:1,24; 15:17) to have Samuel anoint as the first King of Israel, according to the demands 6 of His people.
It may also be, that the idea behind the desire of all the tribes to have their own king (1 Samuel 8:19-20), came about at the time when "a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh" (1 Samuel 4:12) to let Eli (the high priest and Judge of Israel who presided over the Tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh), know that the Ark of the Covenant, which the wicked sons of Eli had brought to the battlefield, had been captured by the Philistines, who then also killed the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, in the rout of the forces of Israel.
The evil sons of Eli presumed that because the Ark of the Covenant was the place where "the Lord of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel" (1 Samuel 17:45), who fought for Israel (Joshua 23:3,5,9-10), was enthroned (1 Samuel 4:4), then all they had to do was to carry the Ark to battle and the Lord would scatter their enemies before them. But they had forgotten that the Lord's aid was contingent upon their living righteously "or else...the Lord your G-d will no longer drive out these nations from before you" (Joshua 23:12,13). And so they were killed "and the Ark of G-d was taken" (1 Samuel 4:11) by their enemies as a punishment because of their corrupt ways (1 Samuel 2:12-17,27-34).
If we search the Holy Scriptures we may find the hidden wisdom of G-d . Such as how something to do with "Shiloh" results in a loss of leadership concerning the tribes of Judah. In the time of King Saul, King David and King Solomon, who was David's son, the kingdom of Israel was made up of all the twelve tribes and their territories. King Solomon of the tribe of Judah "reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel" (1 Chronicles 11;42). And when "Solomon sat on the throne as King...all Israel obeyed him" (1 Chronicles 29:23) because he sat "on the throne of Israel" (1 Kings 10:9) and he "reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel" (1 Chronicles 11:42). There was a time when "Solomon loved the Lord and walked in the statutes of his father David" (1 Kings 3:3), for as a young man he pleased the Lord, and the Lord gave him great wisdom (1 Kings 3:12). But contrary to the exhortations of Moses and the Torah (Deuteronomy 7:3,4) his many foreign "wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his G-d as was the heart of his father David...and Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kings 11:4,6). "So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord G-d of Israel" (1 Kings 11:9) and as a punishment He told Solomon that He would tear the kingdom away from him but for the sake of Solomon's father David He would cause this to happen in the reign of Solomon's son, King Rehoboam. Sure enough, this came to pass, the kingdom of Solomon of the tribe of Judah, was torn in half and ten tribes given to King Solomon's servant Jeroboam who became their king and ruler by the agency of the Lord's prophet "Ahijah the Shilonite" (see 1 Kings 11:29-37), the man from Shiloh.
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah...until Shiloh comes and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" - Genesis 49:10
Genesis 49:10 may be rendered as in the previous section: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah until he comes to Shiloh, etc." or it may be rendered as above: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah...until Shiloh comes and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." In this rendering "Shiloh," who shall come is considered to be a very important person for "to him shall be the obedience of the peoples."
"Thus says the Lord G-d: "Remove the mitre, and take off the crown...it shall be no more until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it to him"7 (Ezekiel 21:26, 27. Ancient Jewish tradition identified this mysterious person called "Shiloh" in Genesis 49:10, as being the Messiah:
"Until Shiloh comes": this alludes to the King Messiah" - Midrash Genesis Rabbah 98.8, ibid 99.9
"The Messiah's name is Shiloh" - Midrash Lamentations Rabbah I.16.51
The Targums [Ancient Aramaic translations and paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible] are almost unanimous in giving "Shiloh" a Messianic interpretation for they rendered Genesis 49:10:
"Until the Messiah comes whose is the Kingdom" - Targum Onkelos
"Until the time King Messiah shall come, whose is the kingdom" - Targum Jerusalem
"Until the time King Messiah shall come whose is the kingship" - Targum Neofiti I
"Until King Messiah shall come, the youngest of his sons" - Targum Ps. Jonathan or Jerusalem I
There is great insight in the extensive Targumic and rabbinic tradition (see Rashi ad loc., Sanhedrin 98b B.T.; Midrash Genesis Rabbah 98.8; 99.8; Tanchumah Vayehi 10; Midrash haGadol I.735-739; Journal of Philology Vol. XIV  pp.4-22), that ascribes a Messianic interpretation to the verse: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah...until Shiloh comes and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." They knew that the ancestral right to kingly leadership, resting in the Davidic line of the tribe of Judah, would cease at the coming of the "Messiah, the son of David" (a common appellation of King Messiah found in rabbinic writings). For the Messiah was the culmination of the royal line originating from David, the first king of the tribe of Judah. And just as King David was "the youngest" (1 Samuel 16:11; 17:14) of Jesse's sons, so the Messiah at the end of the line of David's "sons" may be said to be "King Messiah...the youngest 8 of his [King David's] sons" - Genesis 49:10. Targum Ps. Jonathan or Jerusalem Targum I.
The Septuagint [the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible] had rendered it:
"Until he comes whose it is" - Genesis 49:10, Septuagint
The scribes knew that what belonged to him (the King Messiah) "whose it is," was the scepter, the kingdom and the obedience of the peoples. Furthermore they also knew that this mysterious personage was to have a very precious heritage in store for him at his coming, which is why the later redactors of the Septuagint rendered Genesis 49:10 in their revisions:
"Until the things in store for him shall come" - Theodotion, Septuagint Version
"Until for whom it is in store shall come" - Aquila and Symmachus, Septuagint Versions.
What are the things that are in store for the King Messiah as a treasure? They are the precious things of G-d's wisdom, understanding and knowledge which are his heritage because they shall all be fully understood by him. From ancient times it was known that the Messiah was to be a great teacher and revealer of "all the treasures of that which is hidden" (Enoch 46:3), and from "his mouth is to pour forth all the secrets of wisdom and counsel" (Enoch 51:3). For "in him dwells the spirit of wisdom, and the spirit which gives insight, and the spirit of understanding and of might" (Enoch 49:3; Isaiah 11:1-2). And these gifts are given to make him "mighty [i.e., "mighty in the power of understanding" - Job 36:5] in all the secrets of righteousness" (Enoch 49:2) so that he may lead the people towards righteousness and peace: "the peace of righteousness" (Baruch 5:4, see also Isaiah 32:17; 48:18; 60:17; Psalms 72:3; 85:8; 119:165). Thus, His people knew that "through the Messiah's teaching peace shall be greatly increased upon us" (Targum on Isaiah 53:5; ibid. 54:13). And along with that peace which the Messiah shall bring by making the many righteous, will be their wonder and astonishment at the marvelous wisdom, understanding and knowledge found in the precious hidden things reserved by G-d for him. The scribes knew that "the Torah which a man learnt in this world is vanity compared to the Torah of the Messiah" (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 11.1). For "in the days of the Messiah, the Torah shall return to its renewal" (Pesikta Rabbati, fol.75a), because "the Messiah will make clear for them the words of the Torah" (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 98.9, Sanhedrin 97a, Babylonian Talmud), and "the things which are concealed from you, you will see" (Midrash Numbers Rabbah 19.6) -- in the days the Messiah shall be revealed.
Shiloh has come
Shiloh is also the time when the Lord shall reveal Himself in His word as He once did when "the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord." - 1 Samuel 3:21
1 Gilgal was the place, west of the Jordan, where the Ark of the Covenant and all the tribes of Israel led by Joshua encamped after they crossed the river into the land of Canaan.Gilgal was situated "in the east border of Jericho"(Joshua 4:19).
In that first crossing, the waters of the Jordan miraculously parted leaving the whole channel dry so that the priests bearing the Ark, and all the people behind them were able to pass over, to the other side.Joshua told the people that this occurred "because the Lord your G-d dried up the waters of the Jordan before you, until you had passed over as the Lord your G-d did to the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21) which he dried up before us until we had crossed over" (Joshua 4:23). "On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they held him in awe as they did Moses all the days of his life" (Joshua 4:14).
It was when all the tribes had completely crossed over the Jordan that the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men, one from each tribe, and command them to go to the middle of the Jordan where the Ark still stood. There, each one of them was to take a large stone from the river bed to Gilgal where all the stones were to be set up together as a memorial (Joshua 4:1-10). "Then, the Ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people" (Joshua 4:11) to set up the Tabernacle in Gilgal. It was then that "the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over its banks as before" (Joshua 4:18).
Two significant acts were done in Gilgal shortly after the crossing of the Jordan by the tribes of Israel: all the males who were born in the years spent in the wilderness were circumcised (Joshua 5:2-9), and the Passover was celebrated in Gilgal as well because there, for the first time, the people were able to make and eat unleavened bread made from the grain of the land of Canaan. That year the people no longer received manna but ate the food of the land (Joshua 5:10-11).
Gilgal was the first place where the Ark of the Covenant was set up when the people of Israel entered the promised land. It was their headquarters during the years of the conquest,and the bivouac where the Ark of the Lord of Hosts encamped, all through the years of the conflict entailed in the conquest of the land. Thus, it was the temporary tenting place of the Lord of Hosts; the King and G-d of Israel during the time He led His people to vanquish their enemies.
Then, when at last the land was subdued and there was peace, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle were transferred from Gilgal to be set up in Shiloh, the place of rest. There, the Lord of Hosts, the King of Israel chose to dwell and reign over His people Israel. And thus the Lord was with His people in Gilgal when they were gathered together in the time of war, but He was in Shiloh, when they were gathered together in the time of peace.
2 Jeshurun, a term of endearment used by the Lord for "Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:15; 33:5,26; Isaiah 44:2), is a Hebrew word related to the root YASHAR which means "upright." Jeshurun would express the diminutive of YASHAR i.e., "Israel" as the Lord's "little upright one." Thus, the Greek (Septuagint) translation of the Hebrew bible rendered it EGAPEMENOS = "beloved one" or "darling." The later redactors (Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion) of the Septuagint, render it EUTHUS or EUTHUTATOS which means "straight" or "upright." The Targums and Peshitta (Syriac) render Jeshurun: "Israel" (See also Midrash Genesis Rabbah 77.1; Midrash Psalms 1.2, and Rashi and Ibn Ezra ad loc.). We may say that Jeshurun is an endearing term for Israel under its ideal character of being an upright "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6, see also Deuteronomy 14:2).
Thus, it is written in Deuteronomy 33:5: "the Lord...He was King in Jeshurun [i.e., "Israel" when it was an upright nation under Joshua and the elders at Shiloh, see Joshua 18:1; 24:31]. We should remember that the Lord of Hosts reigned in Shiloh then (1 Samuel 12:12,17,19; 8:17), but the people asked for an earthly king instead.
3 Jabesh-gilead was a central town in Gilead, a highland region east of the river Jordan consisting of a ridge of mountains and hills stretching from Mt. Hermon to Moab in the south. Gilead receives an abundant rainfall in the winter and was in the days of the Judges heavily forested with oaks and pines and rich pastureland. It was settled by the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. Jabesh-gilead was in the portion of Gilead belonging to Manasseh ("half Manasseh" as the tribe also settled in the territory directly across Jabesh-gilead in the western side of the river Jordan). Reuben, Gad and Manasseh were pastoral tribes with extensive herds of cattle. They were attracted to the rich verdant and well watered pasturelands of Gilead and Bashan, the area given by Moses to be shared by them (Numbers 32:1-4,29,33; Deuteronomy 32:40; Joshua 17:5; 13:31-32 etc.). Jabesh-gilead was principally a city of the tribe of Manasseh, but it was open to the other two tribes. Such was the close relationship between the land of Gilead and the tribe of Manasseh, that we see Manasseh's son Machir referred to as "the father of Gilead" (1 Chronicles 7:14) just as Salma the son of Caleb was called "the father of Bethlehem" (1 Chronicles 2:51). Even King David in his Psalm associated "Gilead" with "Manasseh" (Psalm 108:8). If we would like to know why the inhabitants of the city of Jabesh-gilead had not participated in the war against the tribe of Benjamin nor taken the vow of all the rest of the tribes against the tribe of Benjamin, it was because there was a close relationship between the Manassites (of Jabesh-gilead and Gilead) and the tribe of Benjamin. Long ago, Machir (the son of Manasseh and his Aramitess concubine) married Maachah, the granddaughter of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:14,15). We should also note here that from Machir's blood-sister Hammokeleth, was born Abiezer, the father of Joash who was the father of Gideon (1 Chronicles 7:18; Judges 6:11).
And if we would like to know why in the wisdom of G-d it was important for the male remnant of the tribe of Benjamin to marry into the tribe of Manasseh we have to go back to Reuben the firstborn of Jacob and possessor of the putative right to kingship. We know that Reuben lost his birthright as the eldest son when he lay with his father's concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35:21-22), "and because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of [Jacob-] Israel" (1 Chronicles 5:1).
Joseph had two sons by his Egyptian wife, Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, priest of On (Genesis 41:50-52). Joseph's firstborn was Manasseh, and Ephraim was his second son. When Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph he gave the greater blessing to Ephraim (Genesis 48:19-20), from whom sprung forth Joshua, the successor of Moses (Numbers 13:8,16). Nevertheless, as the acknowledged (Genesis 48:18) firstborn of Joseph, Manasseh still retained the birthright.
This may explain why it was, first of all, to Gideon the Manassite fifth Judge of Israel that the men of Israel said, "Rule over us [as King] both you and your son and your grandson also" (Judges 8:22), to which the loyal Gideon replied, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you, the Lord shall rule over you" (ibid. v.23). Nevertheless, being a descendant of Manasseh, Gideon knew that his tribe had the birthright to the kingship. Gideon now had his own house (Judges 8:29), no doubt a large one, for in the manner of kings he had a harem of many wives by whom he had seventy sons (Judges 8:30); he also had a son by his concubine from Shechem (the principal city of the territory allotted to the tribe of Ephraim). And Gideon named that son Abimelech (literally, "my father is King"), a common name of the kings of the land of Canaan (Genesis 20:2; Psalm 34 Title, compare 1 Samuel 21:10-15). Thus, Abimelech was the offspring of a Manassite father [Gideon] and an Ephraimite mother [Gideon's concubine from Shechem].
By a dastardly act (Judges 9:5), Abimelech became the first King of Israel and it was "all the men [Ephraimites] of Shechem...[who] made Abimelech King beside the terebinth tree that was in Shechem" (Judges 9:6). "Abimelech reigned over Israel three years" (Judges 9:22).
We can see how the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim came into play in the reigning of the first King of Israel, for was it not said the Reuben's birthright would be given "to the sons of Joseph" (1 Chronicles 5:1)? We see the same pattern in the reign of Jeroboam, the first King of the ten tribes of Israel. Although commonly held to be an Ephraimite, Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26), was in reality a Manassite, "son of Nebat an Ephrathite [not Ephraimite] of Zereda" (a city in the territory of the tribe of Manasseh), and he also reigned from Shechem (the Ephraimite city) which he made the capital of the northern tribes during his reign. We also have Jehu, another Manassite (see Midrash Genesis Rabbah 82.4; Tanchumah, Buber, I.176; Pesikta Rabbati 3, 12b, Midrash Tadshe 8; Horayoth 3, 47c, Jerusalem Talmud), who in consequence of a command given to Elijah (1 Kings 19:16; 2 Kings 9 and 10), was anointed King of Israel to replace Ahab. Jehu reigned from Samaria (in the territory of Ephraim), the capital of the ten tribes of Israel at that time.
Again, we can see the wisdom of G-d in providing the remnant 600 men of the tribe of Benjamin with 400 wives from Jabesh-gilead (a city of the tribe of Manasseh) and 200 wives from the young women of all the rest of the tribes who went to dance in the vineyards of Shiloh (a city of the tribe of Ephraim).
Many years later, when the Lord chose the tall, stalwart and handsome Saul ben Kish of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:2,15-17; 10:1,23-24; 15:17), to be anointed King over His people Israel; the first act that King Saul did was to raise an army of three-hundred and thirty thousand men and come to the aid of the besieged city of Jabesh-gilead freeing it, and slaying the forces of Nahash, the king of the Ammonites who had laid siege to it. King Saul's rescue of the people of Jabesh-gilead from certain slaughter at the hands of the Ammonites, was always gratefully remembered by the inhabitants of that city. For when later on in his life King Saul and his three sons were slain by the Philistines in Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:6,8), the valiant men of Jabesh-gilead came by night and took down their bodies from the walls of Beth-shan where they had been ignominiously nailed as trophies, these brave men then took their remains and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days in mourning (1 Samuel 31:11-13). This honorable act of the men of Jabesh-gilead was acknowledged and praised by King David (2 Samuel 2:4-7).
4 Judges 20:18, Latin Vulgate. Eusebius Hieronymus better known as S.Jerome (c.341-420) was the one who translated the Hebrew Bible into Latin direct from ancient Hebrew scrolls that he had access to, that were older than those of his time. He knew Hebrew and consulted rabbis of the School of Tiberias in the Holy Land during the translation. The Latin Vulgate of Judges 20:18 reads that the children of Israel "arose and came to the house of G-d, that is, to Shiloh, and they consulted G-d". For "the house of G-d was in Shiloh" (Judges 18:31, Hebrew Text) at the time.
It was in "Shiloh," where the "house of G-d" was, that the Lord was "consulted" as when "the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of G-d and asked counsel of G-d" (Judges 20:18, Hebrew Text), who dwelt in theTabernacle in Shiloh. For it was there that "the whole congregation of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the Tabernacle of the congregation there" (Joshua 18:1). It was in the same place that they used to consult the Lord (see Judges 1:1-2; 20:18,23,26-27), because Shiloh was truly the place for receiving the good counsel and guidance of the Lord because "the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was there in those days" (Judges 20:27; 1 Samuel 4:4-5). And the Ark of the Covenant was the throne of the Lord of Hosts (Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16), who is the Revealer of all things (2 Samuel 7:27; Isaiah 21:10; 22:14; Amos 4:13). Shiloh was also the holy place where the high priest presided before the Tabernacle, and in whose breastplate were the oracular stones known as the "Urim and Thummim" which "revealed all things in Shiloh" (Ps. Philo, Biblical Antiquities 22.9). And again, it was also in Shiloh that the Lord "clearly revealed" (1 Samuel 2:27) Himself to Eli, the high priest and Judge, and to his successor "for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh" (1 Samuel 3:21).
5 Benjamin. It was very appropriate that the tribe of Benjamin became in itself an "Israel" composite of all the rest of the tribes. Because Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob- Israel, and patriarch of the tribe of Benjamin, was the only one born in Israel among all his brothers (they were born in Aram). Benjamin was also the only one among them who was conceived after Jacob received his new name : Israel (Genesis 32:27-28; 35:16-18). Thus, figuratively, Benjamin could be rightly called later on,"Israel ben Israel."
Among the sons of Jacob-Israel, Benjamin was the only one named by his father, and he was innocent of the sale of his brother Joseph to the Ishmaelites as a slave. And just as Jacob's chief son was Judah, so was Israel's chief and only son: Benjamin. Jacob and all his sons bowed before Esau but Benjamin did not because he was not yet conceived. It is Benjamin who is called "the beloved of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 33:12) in the Blessing of Moses, and our Jewish tradition holds him to be sinless (Baba Bathra 17a; Shabbath 55b, Babylonian Talmud; Targum on Ruth [end]; Zohar I.57b; Targum on Ruth [end]; Maaseh Torah 94; see also Tanchumah, Buber I.198; Tanchumah Mikkez 10; Aggadat Bereshith 74,146). Thus, the Ark of the Lord, for the most part, rested in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. And even when the temple of Solomon was built in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies with the Ark inside was also situated in the portion of the tribe of Benjamin. Yes, "Benjamin in whose possession the Sanctuary shall stand in this world as well as in the time of the Messiah, and in the future world" - Sifre to Deuteronomy 352; Midrash Tannaim 216-217; Megillah I.72d, Jerusalem Talmud; Zebaim 118b; Yoma 12a, Babylonian Talmud; Mechilta Bachodesh 4.65b; Midrash Genesis Rabbah 99.1
6 Demands of His people. When the Lord chose Saul ben Kish of the tribe of Benjamin to be the Lord's first anointed king over His people, He did so because they had demanded from Samuel a king according to their expectations. His people had cried out to Samuel: "Make us a king...give us a king...we want a king over us...to go out before us, and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:5,6,19,20). They wanted a strong and stalwart warrior king as their leader. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Hear their voice and make them a king" (1 Samuel 8:22). It was then that the Lord sent Saul to Samuel,and he was "a choice and handsome young man. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people" (1 Samuel 9:2). For the Lord had told Samuel: "I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be head over My people Israel that he my save My people from the hand of the Philistines...and he shall reign over My people" (1 Samuel 9:16,17). And although it was Samuel who poured the vial of oil upon the head of Saul and kissed him, it was the Lord who chose King Saul (1 Samuel 10:24) and anointed him (1 Samuel 10:1; 24:6,10; 26:9,11,16,23) for them. Thus, according to their expectations, and taking into consideration their knowledge of the tribal rights to kingship, the Lord gave His people: Saul, a tall and strong young man from the tribe of Benjamin which had become itself a composite of all the rest of the tribes, a veritable living "Israel" to lead His people Israel. Saul did truly meet all their hopes of having a really kingly king. As Samuel said to all the people when he presented Saul to them: "Look at him whom the Lord has chosen. There is no one like him among all the people!" And all the people shouted and said, "Long live the King!" (1 Samuel 10:24).
King Saul was in reality the people's choice whom the Lord had provided according to their desire. After Samuel had presented Saul to the people as their leader, "all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul King before the Lord in Gilgal" (1 Samuel 11:15). Gilgal was the place [see Reference 1], where all the people of Israel had gathered and made their headquarters in the time of Joshua, during the campaign of the conquest of the holy land. It was the right place for His people to crown Saul, because under King Saul's leadership they were again to wage war on the Philistines. In Gilgal, Samuel said to all Israel..."now therefore behold the King whom you have chosen, and whom you have desired! See, the Lord has set a King over you...your King" (1 Samuel 12:1,13,25).
Now, when the time came for the Lord to provide for Himself (1 Samuel 16:7) a king, He did not choose someone because of his outward appearance, good looks, height and prowess, but because of what the Lord saw within him. For the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 7:9; 44:21; Proverbs 15:11 Jeremiah 17:10; 20:12 etc.). And what the Lord looked for and found in young David of the tribe of Judah was "a man after His own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14) who kept His commandments and who followed Him with all his heart and did what was right before the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 14:8). Thus, the Lord "forsook the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He had placed among men...He rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved" (Psalm 78:60, 67-68).
7 "Remove the mitre, and take off the crown...it shall be no more until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it to him" - Ezekiel 21:26, 27. Thus, did "the Lord G-d" (Ezekiel 21:24, speak through the prophet Ezekiel concerning the coming of the one, whose right it would be to wear both mitre and crown. The promise made here plainly refers to the priestly and royal prerogatives that would be given to him, because he would have a right to them.
"Until he comes whose right it is," has been generally acknowledged as a reference to the verse "until Shiloh comes," found in Genesis 49:10. The coming of this great and mysterious person, we are told in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, is presaged by the exaltation of the lowly and the abasement of the high (21:26). This very important person referred to as "Shiloh," to whom would be "the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis 49:10), is alluded to as the one coming "whose right it is": to wear both mitre and crown, to rule as priest and king. In this great personage there would be the union of both priestly and royal prerogatives.
The same promise is made by "the word of the Lord" in the book of the prophet Zechariah, concerning this person who would sit on the throne of Israel both as king and priest:
"Behold the man whose name is the Branch...he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule [as king] upon his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne" - Zechariah 6:12, 13
As in "Shiloh," "who is to come," Jewish tradition identified this King and Priest as the Messiah:
"Behold the man whose name is the Messiah etc.," - Targum to Zechariah 6:12.
And we shall see that as a descendant of King David the Messiah would have the right to wear both crown and mitre [see The Hidden Wisdom of Bethlehem article].
8 Youngest of his sons. The one who wrote the paraphrase in the Targum now known as Targum Jerusalem I (formely Targum Pseudo Jonathan), rendered Genesis 49:10: "Until King Messiah shall come, the youngest of his sons." Throughout the Holy Scriptures we find the Lord's protective predilection for the youngest. It is from Benjamin, the "youngest" (see Genesis 42:13,15,20; 43:29; 44:2,12,23,26) of Jacob's sons that Saul ben Kish, Israel's first anointed king, sprung forth. Just as it was David the "youngest" (1 Samuel 16:11; 17:14) of Jesse's sons whom the Lord chose to be His own anointed King over His people Israel.
Reminiscent of the word Shiloh is Shelah, the youngest of Judah's sons by his wife Bath-shuah, a Canaanitess. It was because Judah did not want to give Tamar (his widowed daughter-in-law), in marriage to Shelah, his youngest son, that Tamar disguised herself as a harlot and got herself pregnant by Judah himself (see Genesis 38:2-11, 13-30). It is from Pharez, one of the twins fathered by Judah and Tamar, that the Judah genealogical line leading to King David commenced (Ruth 4:18-22). It was an auspicious commencement indeed, because Jewish tradition says of Tamar that she was a descendant of Aram (Genesis 10:22), son of Shem (Book of Jubilees 41:1; Testament of Judah 10:1; Book of Yashar, ad loc.; Targum Jerusalem re Genesis 38:6; Midrash Genesis Rabbah 85.10; Tanchumah [Buber] I.187; Aggadat Bereshith 63,129; Midrash Ruth Rabbah 8.1 end). Thus, Judah's failure to give his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar in marriage to his youngest son Shelah, resulted in Tamar's 'playing the harlot' and conceiving the twins Zerah and Pharez from Judah. Was not Judah the son of Jacob who was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham? Both Judah and Tamar had Shem as their forefather because Shem, the son of Noah, had six sons among whom were Arphaxad the ancestor of Abraham (Genesis 10:1,21; 11:13-26), and Aram, from whom Tamar descended according to tradition.
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