Lecture 51: The Stations of the Mishkan in Eretz Yisrael (Part I)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy




Lecture 51: THe stations of the mishkan in eretz yisrael (part i)


Rav Yitzchak Levi





            A long time passed between the time that Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael and the time that the Mishkan and the ark found a place of rest. When the people first entered the Land, the Mishkan was erected in Gilgal, and after a certain period of time it was moved to Shilo.


            With the destruction of Shilo, a split was created between the great bama – the altar on which the communal sacrifices were brought - and the ark.


            The great bama was first situated in Nov, the city of the priests, and it remained there until the city was destroyed and eighty-five priests were killed at the time of Shaul. Afterwards, the bama was moved to Giv'on, and its next stop was the Mikdash in Jerusalem.


            The ark followed an entirely different and much more convoluted path. During the course of the battle at Even Ha-Ezer, it fell into the hands of the Pelishtim. Later, it was returned to Bet-Shemesh, but following the great plague that hit the city, it was brought to Kiryat-Ye'arim. After twenty years in Kiryat-Ye'arim, David wanted to bring the ark to the city of David. During the course of the transfer, the ark fell and Uza died, and the ark remained for another three months in the house of Edom the Gitite. From there, the ark was brought, together with the great bama, to the house of God on Mount Moriya.


            In previous lectures,[1] we discussed various aspects of the prohibition of bamot for the later generations and the relationship between the location of the ark and the location of the great bama. I wish now to examine Scripture's attitude toward the Mishkan over the course of its various stations, as well as the significance of its wanderings from place to place.


            It should first be noted that while these stations are explicitly mentioned in the words of Chazal, they are not at all explicit in Scripture – neither the stations themselves,[2] nor the transfer from one station to the next, nor the period of time that the Mishkan remained at each station (as we shall immediately see).




            Four hundred and eighty years passed between the exodus from Egypt and the beginning of the construction of the Mikdash in the days of Shlomo. This is based on the verse in Melakhim:


And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after Bnei Yisrael came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Shlomo's reign over Yisrael, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord. (I Melakhim 6:1)


            If we deduct the forty years during which the people of Yisrael wandered in the wilderness, we are left with four hundred and forty years from Bnei Yisrael's entry into the Land until the construction of the Mikdash. As was already noted, the verses themselves make no reference whatsoever to the length of time that the Mishkan remained at each of its stations. Chazal, however, made the following calculations (which were later codified by the Rambam in Hilkhot Bet Ha-Bechira 1:2):


Our Rabbis taught: The time of the Tent of Meeting in the wilderness was forty years minus one.

The time of the Tent of Meeting in Gilgal was fourteen years, seven years of conquest and seven years of division.

The time of the Tent of Meeting in Nov and Giv'on was fifty-seven years.

Remaining for Shilo were three hundred and seventy years minus one. (Zevachim 118b, based on Seder Olam Rabba, chap. 11)


            The years of the Mishkan from the time that it was first erected at Mount Sinai until the Mikdash was built on Mount Moriya may be summarized as follows:


· In the wilderness – thirty-nine years, as described from the end of the book of Shemot until the beginning of Yehoshua (the Mishkan was erected in Nissan of the second year of Bnei Yisrael's stay in the wilderness).


· In Gilgal – fourteen years, during the seven years of conquest and the seven years of dividing the land. This period parallels the period described in Yehoshua, chapters 5-17.


· In Shilo, 369 years, as described in the book of Yehoshua, chapters 18 until the end of the book, the book of Shoftim, and the book of I Shmuel until chapter 4.


· In Nov – fifty-seven years, as described in I Shmuel, chapter 4 until I Melakhim, chapter 6.


· In Giv'on.


As was noted in the introduction, at the end of the period that the Mishkan was in Shilo, after the ark was captured by the Pelishtim and remained with them for seven months (I Shmuel 6:1), the ark returned to Yisrael – first to Bet-Shemesh and afterwards, in the wake of the plague, to Kiryat-Ye'arim. From that time until the building of the Mikdash, the ark and the Mishkan were separated from each other, and the Mishkan served as the great bama. During this period, the ark was in Kiryat-Ye'arim for twenty years (I Shmuel 7:2), and afterwards in the city of David for thirty seven years (according to a calculation of the years in Chazal's calculation that the Mishkan was in Nov and Giv'on), until the beginning of the building of the Mikdash by Shelomo. At the same time, the great bama was located in Nov for thirteen years, and afterwards in Giv'on for 44 years.


It is interesting to note that the gemara in Zevachim (118b-119a) calculates the twenty years that the ark remained in Kiryat-Ye'arim in a special way:


When Eli the priest died, Shilo was destroyed and they came to Nov. When Shmuel the Ramatite died, Nov was destroyed and they came to Giv'on. And it is written: "And it came to pass, while the ark remained in Kiryat-Ye'arim that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Yisrael sighed after the Lord" (I Shmuel 7:2). These twenty years were ten years during which Shmuel ruled by himself, one year during which Shmuel and Shaul ruled, two years during which Shaul ruled, and seven years of David. (Zevachim 118b-119a)


            The gemara directs our attention to the connection between the stations of the Mishkan and the reigns of the various leaders:


· Eli the priest is connected to Shilo.


· Shmuel the prophet is connected to Nov together with Shaul.


We learn from the gemara that the Mishkan was in Nov for a total of 13 years (the years of Shmuel and Shaul), and therefore the period during which it was in Giv'on was forty-four years. These forty-four years are divided between the forty years of David's reign and the first four years of Shlomo's reign (until the beginning of the building of the Mikdash). The twenty years during which the ark was in Kiryat-Ye'arim also divide up between the thirteen years of Shmuel and Shaul's rule, and the seven years of David.


The spiritual significance of this seems to be that there is a correlation between the governing leadership and the spiritual state of Bnei Yisrael, which finds expression in the location of the Mishkan at each station. Each station corresponded to the state of the particular period or ruler, and therefore certain things occur at that station and not somewhere else.




            Let us now survey the various stations of the Mishkan according to Scripture, and let us try to explain what happens at each of them, what the state of Bnei Yisrael was during each period, and what may be derived from the verses regarding the relationship between Bnei Yisrael and the Mishkan during each period.




            The first place where Bnei Yisrael camped after crossing the Jordan was Gilgal:


And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and encamped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. (Yehoshua 4:19)


            The reason that the Mishkan was erected in Gilgal is implicit in the verse; Bnei Yisrael were camping at Gilgal at the time. It is interesting that a later verse states: "And Bnei Yisrael encamped in Gilgal and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho" (Yehoshua 5:10),[4] but there is no mention of the precise location of the Mishkan.


            There are allusions to the Mishkan in Gilgal in other verses in the book of Yehoshua as well. Thus, for example, when the daughters of Tzelofchad ask to receive the inheritance that had been promised to them by Moshe, it says:


And they came near before Elazar the priest, and before Yehoshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, "The Lord commanded Moshe to give us an inheritance among our brethren." Therefore, according to the commandment of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father. (Yehoshua 17:4)


            These verses allude to the presence of the Mishkan in the midst of the camp, and the reader can only surmise that the clarification of the matter by way of the Urim and Tumim was done in the Mishkan in Gilgal.


            The same is true in the rest of the book. From chapter 5 to chapter 17, it is consistently noted that, following his conquests and battles, Yehoshua returns to the camp in Gilgal. But nowhere is it mentioned that the Mishkan is located in Gilgal, nor are any references made to the Mishkan in Gilgal.


            It is very possible that the fact that no mention is made of the Mishkan in Gilgal teaches us that during the period of the conquest and settlement of Eretz Yisrael, Bnei Yisrael were occupied in war and settlement and had no time for public or individual worship of God in the Mishkan. The fact that Scripture does not even spell out that the Mishkan stood in Gilgal suggests that the Mishkan had little significance during this period.




            The move to Shilo is explicitly stated in Yehoshua (18:1):


And the whole congregation of Bnei Yisrael assembled together at Shilo and set up the Tent of Meeting there. And the land was conquered before them.


            It is interesting to note that the Mishkan is referred to by different names. During the period that the Mishkan stood in Shilo, it was called the "Tent of Meeting" (see also Yehoshua 19:51 and in I Shmuel 2:24) or the "Mishkan" (Yehoshua 22:19, 29), whereas in the story of Mikha's graven image (Shoftim 18:31), it is called the "house of God." This distinction also follows from Chazal's exposition in the mishna in Zevachim:


When they came to Shilo, the bamot were forbidden. It did not have a ceiling, but rather it was a stone building at the bottom and curtains at the top. This was "the rest." (Zevachim 14:6)


            The combination of stones and curtains symbolizes the combination of a tent and a house. This was an intermediate stage between the Mishkan of the wilderness, constructed of boards and curtains, and the Mikdash in Jerusalem, wholly built of stone.


            The Mishkan stood in Shilo until its destruction around the time of Yisrael's rout at the hands of the Pelishtim in the battle at Even-ha-Ezer (I Shmuel 4). Interestingly, Scripture does not note the destruction of Shilo, and we only know about it from the words of Yirmiyahu:


But go now to My place which was in Shilo, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Yisrael. (Yirmiyahu 7:12-15)


            And so too in Tehillim:


When God heard this, He was wroth, and greatly abhorred Yisrael: so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shilo, the tent where He made His dwelling among men, and delivered His strength into captivity and His glory into the enemy's hand. He gave His people over also to the sword and was wroth with His inheritance. The fire consumed their young men and their virgins had no marriage song. Their priests fell by the sword and their widows made no lamentation. (Tehillim 78:59-64)


Beyond the fact that the Mishkan in Shilo was destroyed, Scripture offers no additional information as to how and when it was destroyed. The verses in Tehillim suggest that the Mishkan was destroyed in a war in which the ark was captured, that is to say, at the end of the battle at Even ha-Ezer. It is interesting that despite Shmuel's victory over the Pelishtim (I Shmuel 6:12), a Pelishti garrison is found in Geva, in the territory of Binyamin, at the beginning of Shaul's rule (I Shmuel 13:3); it is very reasonable to assume that following their capture of Shilo, the Pelishtim remained in the mountainous region in the center of Eretz Yisrael and then turned south towards the region of Binyamin.


            It should also be noted that in the archeological excavations conducted in Shilo, archeologists found a burnt layer that has been identified, as had been suggested by Albright, with the destruction of the city at the hands of the Pelishtim.[6] The destruction of the Mishkan in Shilo also follows from the words of Seder Olam Rabba (11): "When Eli the priest died, Shilo was destroyed and they came to Nov." And there in chapter 13: "At the beginning of these twenty years [that the ark was in Kiryat-Ye'arim], they brought the Tent of Meeting to Nov." This is the Rambam's formulation in his commentary to the mishna (Zevachim 14:7): "When the Mikdash in Shilo was destroyed owing to the sins of our forefathers, they erected the Tent of Meeting that had been made in the wilderness in Nov."


            Other than the fact of its destruction, over the course of the three hundred and sixty-nine years that the Mishkan stood in Shilo, there are almost no references to its existence, certainly not at the communal level as a center for pilgrimages and as a place which the people viewed as the center of their spiritual life. On this matter, however, a distinction must be made between the period of Yehoshua and the period of the Shoftim.


            During the period of Yehoshua, we find several assemblies at Shilo. Thus, for example, in chapters 18-19, it is in Shilo that the last of the tribal territories were divided up and allocated:


These are the territories which Elazar the priest, and Yehoshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of Bnei Yisrael divided for an inheritance by lot in Shilo before the Lord, at the door of the Tent of Meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country. (19:51)


            Similarly, later in the book, the levitical cities were divided up in Shilo (chapter 21, v. 2). Shilo is also mentioned in connection with the building of the altar by the two and a half tribes near the Jordan: "And when Bnei Yisrael heard of it, the whole congregation of Bnei Yisrael gathered themselves together at Shilo to go up to war against them" (22:9-12).[7]


            In the book of Shoftim, on the other hand, it is ironic that the first explicit mention of the Mishkan in Shilo is made in connection with the graven image of Mikha:


And they set up for themselves Mikha's graven image, which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shilo. (Shoftim 18:31)


            Shilo is mentioned again in the book of Shoftim in 21:19:


Then they said, "Behold, there is a yearly feast of the Lord in Shilo which is on the north side of Bet-El, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bet-El to Shekhem, and on the south of Levona."


            The fact that Scripture notes the precise location of the feast seems to relate to the dances in the vineyards and not to the location of the Mishkan itself.[8] Once again, we see that despite the fact that the verses mention Shilo, they seem to ignore the fact that during this period the Mishkan was standing there.


            The failure to mention the Mishkan in Shilo throughout the centuries of the period of the Shoftim seems to indicate that the place was neglected and that the people did not relate to it at all. This understanding is clearly supported by Chazal's interpretation of Elkana and Chana's pilgrimage to Shilo, as it is described at the beginning of the book of Shmuel. In the beginning of the book, an account is given of a pilgrimage to Shilo for the first time, something that was not mentioned from Yehoshua 18 and through the entire length of the book of Shoftim. The midrash states as follows:


"And this man went up" – he was raised in his house, he was raised in his courtyard, he was raised in his city, he was raised in all of Yisrael. Elkana would go up on a pilgrimage with his wife, his sons and his sisters, and all his relatives, and they would come and spend the night in the market place of a city. The [people of the] city would become excited, and they would ask him: Where are you going? And they would say: To the house of God in Shilo, from which Torah and mitzvot go out. Why don't you come with us and we will go together? Immediately their eyes swelled with tears, and they said to them: Should we go with you? And they said to them: Yes. The next year there were five houses, and the year after that ten houses, until they all went on the pilgrimage. And the path he took one year, he wouldn't take the next year, until they all went on the pilgrimage. (Yalkut Shimoni, 2, 77)


            The midrash describes how Elkana's annual pilgrimage stood out in that he would encourage many other people to join him and that each year he would take a different route. What we have here is an attempt to change Bnei Yisrael's attitude towards the Mishkan in Shilo and to renew the pilgrimage to it.[9] This attempt to reinstate pilgrimages only strengthens our understanding that throughout the period of the shoftim until the days of Elkana (including the days of Eli the priest) the Mishkan did not play an important role in the lives of the people – neither on the communal level nor on the individual level.[10]


We can suggest several possible reasons why the Mishkan was neglected for hundreds of years:


1)     This is merely a continuation of the situation during the period in which the Mishkan was in Gilgal, when each tribe was busy settling its own territory. This task demanded great efforts and left little opportunity and time to reach the Mishkan, especially for the tribes far away from Shilo.


2)     At this time, the land was filled with idol worship. This idol worship, which was found everywhere, provided the tribes with the opportunity to engage in some form of worship, and therefore they do not go to Shilo.


It should be noted that in addition to idol worship in its original form (as it is described in Shoftim 2:11-13), during this period Bnei Yisrael also worshipped the God of Yisrael by way of graven images and pillars. The story of Mikha's graven image (Shoftim 17) teaches us that this type of idol worship served as a substitute for the Mishkan. Let us examine this story:


And there was a man of Mount Efrayim whose name was Mikhayehu. And he said to his mother, "The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, about which you did pronounce a curse, uttering it also in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it." And his mother said, "Blessed be you of the Lord, my son." And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, "I had wholly dedicated the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a carved and a molten idol; now therefore I will restore it to you." And when he had given back the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the founder, who made of it a carved and molten idol; and they were in the house of Mikhayehu. (Shoftim 17:1-4)


            The situation described here is a bit strange. The money is dedicated to the Lord, God of Yisrael, but for the purpose of making a carved and molten idol. This is even more striking in the continuation, when the priest comes to reside in Mikha's house:


And Mikha appointed the Levite; and the young man became his priest and was in the house of Mikha. Then Mikha said, "Now I know that the Lord will do me good, seeing that I have a Levite for a priest." (Shoftim 17:12-13)


            Mikha's house seems to have been widely perceived as a site for worshipping God; thus, when the five people from the tribe of Dan come to spy out the land and search it, they stay there, and we are told regarding them:


And he said to them, "Thus and thus has Mikha done for me, and has hired me, and I am his priest." And they said to him, "Ask counsel, we pray you, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous." (Shoftim 18:4-5)


            And when the entire tribe goes to Layish, they once again pass by the house of Mikha:


Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Layish, and said to their brethren, "Do you know that there is in these houses an efod, and terafim, and a carved and a molten idol? Now therefore consider what you have to do…" And these went to Mikha's house, and fetched the carving, the efod, and the terafim, and the molten image. Then said the priest to them, "What are you doing?" And they said to him, "Hold your peace, lay your hand upon your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest; is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or that you be a priest to a whole tribe and a family in Yisrael?" And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the efod, and the terafim, and the carved idol, and went in the midst of the people. (Shoftim 18:14-20)


            In this story,[11] we see of combination of methods of worship: On the one hand, the people turn to God, while on the other hand there is a graven image, an efod, terafim, and a molten image. This form of service appears so right to them that they take the priest with them, together with the graven image, the efod, the terafim. This service takes place in the house of Mikha, which is called the house of God, and it seems to substitute for Shilo during this period.


            The place that is commonly identified as the site of Mikha's house is in the region located at the foot of today's Ma'aleh Levona, in the place called Khan a-Luban.[12] This is located in the tribal territory of Efrayim, and it seems to have served as a lodging place for those traveling northward from Jerusalem.


            Chazal say as follows:


Why did they not include Mikha [among those who do not have a share in the World-to-Come]? Because his bread was available to travelers…

It has been taught: Rabbi Natan said: From Garev to Shilo is a distance of three miles, and the smoke of the altar and that of Mikha's image intermingled. The ministering angels wished to thrust Mikha away, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: Let him alone, because his bread is available for travelers. (Sanhedrin 103b)


            According to Chazal, Mikha's house was very close to Shilo - three miles away - to the point that the smoke of the altar intermingled with that of Mikha's graven image. These words may contain a more profound statement than a simple geographical description; it seems that Chazal wish to point to the blurring of the difference between Mikha's graven image and the Mishkan in Shilo. As was emphasized above, in the graven image of Mikha, there is an intermingling of legitimate worship of God and worship through a graven image, a molten image, terafim and an efod.


            The identification of the house of Mikha in a place that is so close to Shilo only intensifies the question: When the people of Dan, both the spies and the entire tribe, were heading north, why did they not see Shilo as a fitting place for the worship of God? Why do they instead prefer a different house of God that has an efod, terafim, and a molten image? It seems that this story is very characteristic of the period of the Shoftim in general. The Mishkan is located in such close proximity to the house of Mikha, but Bnei Yisrael are not interested in reaching Shilo. Idol worship in the form of shituf (serving God together with other idols) flourished during this period.


            Let us return to our discussion of the lack of mention of the Mishkan in Shilo. Another event that took place during the same period is the incident involving the concubine in Giv'a. Two strange facts connected to our discussion rise from this story:


· Bnei Yisrael gathered together in Mitzpeh[13] (Shoftim 20). Why did Bnei Yisrael assemble in Mitzpeh before going out to war against Binyamin and not in Shilo? The reason may be that they wanted to go out to fight against Binyamin, which is closer to Mitzpeh, but there should nevertheless have been room to consider assembling at the Mishkan in Shilo, something that was not done.[14]


· Scripture says:


Then all Bnei Yisrael and all the people, went up, and came to Bet-El and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And Bnei Yisrael inquired of the Lord, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon, stood before it in those days,) saying, "Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Binyamin my brother, or shall I cease?" And the Lord said, "Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand." (Shoftim 20:26-28)


It follows from these verses that the ark was permanently located in Bet-El during this period. The words "in those days" seem to relate to an extended period of time, and not to a one-time event after which the ark was immediately returned to its usual place. Thus, the question arises: why was the ark not in the Mishkan in Shilo?


There seems to be a third reason for the neglect of Shilo, namely, the fact that the sons of Eli treated the Mishkan as their private homestead. Scripture describes how they would forcibly take of the meatiest sacrifices before the fat was burned on the altar and how they would lie with the women that assembled at the door of the Tent of Meeting (I Shmuel 2:11-26). While it is true that the chapter describes only the end of the period of the Shoftim – the days of Eli and his sons – it is clear that this situation might have caused even those who were interested in making a pilgrimage to Shilo to refrain from doing so owing to the conduct of the sons of Eli.[15]


For all three reasons, over the course of the centuries of the period of Shoftim, Bnei Yisrael refrained from relating to the Mishkan in any way.




            In this lecture, we began to deal with the various stations of the Mishkan and with Bnei Yisrael's attitude toward the Mishkan during each period. In the next lecture, we will continue to discuss the stations of the Mishkan, as well as the various places in which the ark was kept.


(Translated by David Strauss)

[1] Lecture 33: "The History of the Resting of the Shekhina ­(XVII) – The Prohibition of Bamot – Its History and Significance (part I)."

[2] Thus, for example, nowhere is it explicitly stated that the Mishkan stood at Gilgal. Similarly, there is no mention in the book of Shmuel of the great bama being in Giv'on.

[3] We will relate here exclusively to the stations of the Mishkan, and we will not discuss in this context the status of the ark that went out with the people to war or the making of the covenant at Mount Eival. It is interesting that in the wake of the covenant that Yehoshua made with the Giv'onim, Yehoshua says to them: "Now therefore you are cursed, and there shall not cease to be of you bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (Yehoshua 9:23). The expression "house of my God" may indicate that Yehoshua thought about a more permanent structure, something that was realized in Shilo, as we shall see below. In addition, Scripture ends that chapter with the verse (Yehoshua 9:27): "And Yehoshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place which He should choose." The Radak (ad. loc.) explains: "But after the land was divided up and each person in Yisrael was in his city and in his inheritance, they remained hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of God in Gilgal, Nov, Giv'on and the permanent Temple, as it is stated 'in the place which He should choose.'" From here it seems that the Radak understands the expression, "the house of my God," as referring to the various stations of the Mishkan, and that they are regarded as places which God shall choose. The issue of the Giv'onim as hewers of wood and drawers of water will be discussed later. The expression, "the place which He should choose," also requires further study in this context.

[4] An interesting point that rises from this verse is that despite the fact that the Mishkan was in Gilgal and that Bnei Yisrael were also camped in Gilgal, the paschal offering was brought in the plains of Jericho. It may be argued simply that it was impossible for all of Yisrael to camp in Gilgal, and Scripture notes regarding the paschal offering the entire area in which the people of Yisrael camped. Similarly, immediately afterwards it says: "And it came to pass, when Yehoshua was in Jericho" (Yehoshua 5:13); this verse refers to the period before the capture of Jericho, and therefore it must be referring to the entire area surrounding the city (as is explained by Yehuda Kil in the Da'at Mikra commentary on Yehoshua [Mossad Ha-Rav Kook, Jerusalem 5730]). Jericho was later burned with fire, "and all that was in it: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord" (Yehoshua 6:24). This expression is very interesting. It alludes to the Mishkan, and refers to it by a name that is interesting in this context, "the house of the Lord." 

[5] A separate chapter will be devoted to Shilo, the place where the Mishkan stood, according to Chazal, for 369 years.

[6] See I. Finkelstein, Encyclopedia Ha-Chadasha Le-Chafirot Arkhiologiyot Be-Eretz Yisrael, s.v. Shilo (Israel Antiquities Authority, Department of Defense, 1992), 1536-1542.

[7] The Mishkan itself is not mentioned in this verse. It is possible that in the time of Yehoshua the Mishkan served as the center in which the entire nation would assemble, and this itself indicates its importance.

[8] It is possible that it is by intention that the verse leaves it unclear whether it is referring to the Mishkan or to the site of the dances in order to allow for the understanding that the site of the Mishkan was so neglected that it was necessary to spell out its location in detail.

[9] The book of Shmuel opens with the pilgrimage of Elkana and Chana to Shilo and ends with David's building of the altar following the revelation of the site of the Mikdash in the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusion Mount Moriya in Jerusalem. This gives expression to the transition from the transience of Shilo to the permanence of the Mikdash in Jerusalem. 

[10] Eli may very well have related to Chana as a drunken woman because he was not used to seeing a woman entering the Mishkan in order to pray; the situation was so exceptional that he thought that she must be drunk.

[11] This interesting incident requires an expanded discussion. We mention it here only in order to point to the nature of the service in the house of Mikha during the time that the Mishkan stood in Shilo.

[12] Tal Klar, "Levona," in Lifnei Efrayim, Binyaminm, U-Menasheh (Ofra Field School, Jerusalem, 5745), 117-120.

[13] Mitzpeh is identified with Tel A-Nitzba, south of Ramallah (another identification is Nebi Samuel, northwest of Ramot).

[14] This question is relevant again during the days of Shmuel, when the Mishkan was in Nov; why did the entire nation assemble in Mitzpeh, and not in Nov, when the distance between them is very small? It is possible that Nov was not as central as Shilo, and the fact that the ark was not found there must also be taken into consideration. But nevertheless, one might have expected that a great assembly of the entire people would take place in the most sanctified place, unless the place was not really that important.

[15] It is also possible that the opposite is true – that the absence of any serious pilgrimage to Shilo allowed for the corruption of the Mishkan at the hands of the Eli's sons, Chofni and Pinchas, to the point that they turned it into their personal homestead, doing there as they pleased.