Shiloh שילה in Hebrew means “He whose it is.” In more informal English, “To him, it rightfully belongs.”
If you were to accidentally leave your phone at a restaurant and later come back for it, the restaurant will ask questions to see if the phone “rightfully belongs” to you.
That’s the meaning of Shiloh.
A Title for the King of Kings
King David’s throne pictures the throne of the eternal King who reigns over all.
The Hebrews used Shiloh as a synonym for their long-anticipated Messiah.
Ezekiel, one of the great Hebrew prophets, prophesied about King Zedekiah’s (597-586 BC) removal as king by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and that the “the throne of Israel” would be ruined until the “King of kings, to whom the throne rightfully belongs, shall come” (Shiloh).
The LORD spoke through the prophet Ezekiel in 586 BC.
“A ruin! A ruin! I will make the throne a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs (Shiloh) shall come; to Him I will give it.” – Ezekiel 21:27
Shiloh Has Come
One of my favorite prophecies about the coming of the Messiah is found in Genesis 49:10.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until ‘Him to whom it belongs’ (Shiloh) comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”
Some English translations use the word Shiloh in Genesis 49:10 (KJV, NKJV, NASB, etc.), but other English translations translate the word Shiloh into English as “Him to whom it belongs” (NIV, CSB, etc.)
For the longest time, I had little understanding of this prophetical utterance from Genesis 49:10. This was a prophecy of the coming Messiah given by the LORD to Jacob to share with his twelve sons as Jacob lay dying.
I couldn’t figure out what it meant.
Until I fell in love with history.
Jesus on trial before the Roman governor Pilate
Throughout the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies are given hundreds and even thousands of years before their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah.
This is why fulfilled Messianic prophecies of the Bible are a great source of encouragement to Christians.
Messianic prophecies confirm the God-inspired nature of Scripture.
These Messianic prophecies impress on Bible readers the centrality of Jesus Christ.
They give us the boldness to share Jesus with those who think Christianity is just one of many other comparable religions instead of the one and only faith that saves:
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
No other “religious” books but the Bible, including the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and any other religious book you can mention, contain one prophecy of a future event that was fulfilled hundreds of years later.
The Bible has hundreds of prophecies.
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled for an infatuation with a few biblical prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.
We are all familiar with other Old Testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus, such as:
- The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem — (Micah 5:2).
- The Messiah would be born of a virgin — (Isaiah 7:14).
- The Messiah would have existed before His birth (Micah 5:2).
- The Messiah would suffer and die for His people by crucifixion — (Isaiah 53:12).
- The Messiah would become the righteousness of His people — (Jeremiah 23:6).
But the Genesis 49:10 prophecy, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes,” should give us all great comfort.
The Meaning of “Until Shiloh Comes”
Jacob blessed his sons and told Judah, “When Shiloh shall come” – Genesus 49:10.
In Genesis 49:10, Jacob prophesied the TIME that Shiloh would appear: Let me try to help you understand Genesis 49:10 by focusing on four keywords or phrases:
- Shiloh — as stated above, Shiloh is the Jewish name for “the Messiah,” or King of kings, and was often used by ancient Jewish writers in place of “the Messiah.”
- Judah — is the name of one of Jacob’s sons, but even more importantly, Judah became the name of the entire Southern Kingdom of Israel, the nation of Judah.
- Sceptor — is the tribal staff or the tribal identity of Judah. Its modern equivalent would be our “national flag,” which would cease to exist if we were captured or conquered as a nation.
- A lawgiver from between his feet — is the ability of Israel (Judah) to apply and enforce the Mosaic laws by means of capital punishment (death) for disobedience to the Law of God. Throughout the history of ancient nations, kings sat on the throne with the nation’s laws “under his feet,” symbolizing the king’s power to punish lawbreakers. In essence, for Judah to have a “lawgiver between his feet” was an idiomatic expression that spoke of the nation of Judah’s ability to adjudicate and administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic laws.
Using the above definitions, a simple descriptive translation of Genesis 49:10 would be as follows:
“The national identity of Judah shall not depart from Judah, nor the ability to enforce Mosaic law, including the right to administer capital punishment shall leave Judah, until Shiloh comes.” (Genesis 49:10).
“When Did Shiloh Come?”
Judah (e.g. Israel) lost her national identity in AD 70. They lost the right to capital punishment 40 years earlier in AD 30.
Two questions must now be asked:
- (1). WHEN did JUDAH lose her national identity?
- (2). When did JUDAH lose the right to administer capital punishment?
According to Genesis 49:10, if you identify those two dates or occasions, you will know that Shiloh has come.
In AD 70, the Roman army tore down the Temple of YHWH, destroyed the capital city of Judah (Jerusalem), and scattered the Jews all over the Roman empire (e.g., the diaspora). In AD 70, Judah ceased to exist as a nation.
However, Judah’s national leaders lost their ability to administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic law about 40 years earlier (in AD 30). The Romans took the “lawgiver ability” away from Judah in 30 A.D., BUT allowed Judah to retain her national identity until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, in AD 70.
A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews. The Talmud, folio 24.
The loss to administer capital punishment for Hebrew legal offenses is why Jewish leaders (the Sanhedrin) brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judah.
Even the Jews in AD 30 understood the significance of their loss to administer capital punishment on their own people:
Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.The Sanhedrin as recorded by the Babylonian Talmud, Ch. 4, folio 37.
But Shiloh had already come. Jesus was standing in their midst.
When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the heavens opened, and the LORD declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).
Three years later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, God reiterated what He’d said of Jesus at Jordan and added this command to those who followed Jesus: “Hear Him!”
The Greek words acoute auton, translated in English “Hear Him” literally mean”
“Listen to Jesus and do as He says!”
To HIM “rightfully belongs your complete allegiance.”
Shiloh Has Come.
Jacob gave his Shiloh prophecy nearly two thousand years BEFORE YHWH split the heavens and sent His Son, Jesus the Messiah, to be born of a virgin in the little ancient town of Bethlehem.
Jesus is Shiloh.
Just like the prophecy predicted, Jesus arrived on earth prior to the loss of Judah’s ability to administer capital punishment (30 AD) and prior to Judah’s loss of national identity (70 AD).
- Our sins are forgiven because — Shiloh has come.
- Our lives have meaning because — Shiloh has come
- Our Bible can be trusted because — Shiloh has come.
As C.S. Lewis so eloquently stated:
“You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Shiloh has come.”
He is the true meaning of Christmas. He is Shiloh!