While we have been tour operators in Israel for over 40 years, we are still in awe daily of the “Promised Land” we live in, and the presence of God in this place. Even after all these years, we ourselves still enjoy going on tours of the holy sites, especially when something new is discovered or opened.
One of these tours was with our entire staff. We set out early in the morning in an Immanuel Tours motor coach driving via Bethel and into the heartland of biblical Samaria, a region where many of the of the Bible stories and prophecy become reality, to visit the remains of the ancient biblical city of Shiloh. According to Joshua 18:1, “The whole congregation of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of the congregation there”.
By virtue of the presence there of the Tent Shrine and the Ark of the Covenant for 369 years, Shiloh was the religious and cultural center of ancient Israel. It held this status until David’s elevation of Jerusalem. It was here that Hannah came to pray to God to bless her with a son and the Lord answered her prayer with Samuel, who became the last of the Judges and one of the greatest prophets of the people of Israel.
With total awe we stood on spot where it is believed that the Ark of the Covenant stood. From the top of the mound on which the Tent Shrine stood, we had a beautiful view onto Valley of Lebonah where one of the most colorful stories of the Bible took place. It was at the summer grape harvest festival that the daughters of Shiloh came out to dance dances and the men of Benjamin crossed over the frontier and took brides from among them. What a site to imagine looking out over the valley!
We visited the Israeli settlement of Har Habracha and met Tommy Waller, the founder of the organization, Hayovel and a man of integrity and faith who first visited Israel in the year 2004 and felt a calling for him and his family to move to the region. Hayovel was established in 2005 with the mission of facilitating the prophetic restoration of Israel through the support of independent farmers in the heartland. He read Jeremiah 31: 5-12 to us and showed us the fulfillment of the prophesy in the vineyards which surrounded the Har Habracha settlement.
We were blessed to be hosted at the Psagot Winery for lunch where we enjoyed a lovely lunch and tasted the wine made from the grapes we were shown.
We were able to visit Mount Gerizim, the Mount of Blessing, which was just a short distance from Shiloh. We saw the ruins of the Samaritan Temple, which once stood there and views from the top of the Mount we can see the city of Sichem, which today is called Nablus. There we were reminded of the Samaritan woman we read about in the Gospel of John who was told of the “living waters” Christ offers and we felt as blessed as she did.
Our time in Shiloh is not one we will ever forget as we experienced God in the place He dwelled. We look forward to sharing this experience with others so they too can see what God has done!