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If the Tabernacle is in Shiloh, why do people go to Bethel to ask counsel of God?

Hi brothers and sisters,

In Joshua, it says that after Israel entered Canaan, they conquered Shiloh and set up the Tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), and Shiloh has become the center of God's presence. People cast lots before the Tabernacle in Shiloh to ask God, and Judges 18:31 also says that the house of God was in Shiloh.

But why it seems that Bethel is also another house of God during the same period of time? (Although Bethel literally means house of God). In Judges 20 and 21, when the Israelites are at war in Gibeah against the Benjamites, they lost for the first two rounds, and they went to Bethel and cried before the Lord.

Judges 20:18 (ESV) The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”
Judges 21:2 (ESV) And the people came to Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.
But, for the above two verses, the KJV simply rendered as the house of God, although the house of God here may denote Bethel (or not).

Judges 20:26 (KJV 1900) Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
Judges 21:2 (KJV 1900) And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
So is Bethel also another house of God during this time? Or any reasons they go to Bethel and God is at Bethel?

I would appreciate your answers. Thanks.

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OK. I just realized that in Judges 20:27 it says that the ark of covenant was in Bethel in those days.
But why the ark of covenant was not with the Tabernacle in Shiloh?
@Yiteng Zhang

The ark of the covenant was moved at different times for different reasons and that is whole study in itself, which I won't try to do here.

But, consider that the word Bethel comes from two Hebrew words, one meaning "house" and the other meaning , "God". Jacob seemingly first called the place by that name although Abraham was there before him as per Gen 12:8. For Abraham and Jacob, Bethel was a special place a long time before the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Ark of the Covenant were built by Moses according to God's specifications. Bethel meant "house of God", the name apparently given to it by Jacob, but it was simply a place.

First with Abraham:

"And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD." Gen 12:8

And then with Jacob:

"And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first." Gen 28:19

With regard to the old name of the place, "Luz", as per Strong's Lexicon:
" probably of foreign origin (not Hebrew) ; some kind of a nut tree , perhaps almond or hazel"; or "as growing there".

"And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." Gen 35:1

"And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel." Gen 35:15

"So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him." Gen 35:6

But, the children of Israel/Jacob even after 430 years of Egyptian bondage and then 40 years following Moses with the Tabernacle through the wilderness , we see mention of Bethel.

When Samuel [the last judge before the first king] was judging Israel, Bethel was one of three places he went regularly:

"And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places." I Sam 7:15-16

The Tabernacle built by Moses in the wilderness was the special place of God which house the Ark of the Covenant until Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem. But Bethel, the place, was still there and at times it was used and abused by the children of Israel especially after the death of Solomon. Under the Jeroboam first King of the separated northern 10 tribes of Israel we see idol worship in Bethel:

"Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan." I King 12:28-29

Bethel still meant literally, house of God, but it had become a place of idol worship.
Staff Member

what is a tabernacle and what is a house?

Also, where is it that God dwells? Therefore, where do we go to commune with Him?

Bless you ....><>
Bethel is 'the house of God'. Its a place of meeting with God before any big move is made.

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