Shechem

Shechem [N] [H] [S]

shoulder.

  • The son of Hamor the Hivite ( Genesis 33:19 ; 34 ).

  • A descendant of Manasseh ( Numbers 26:31 ; Joshua 17:2 ).

  • A city in Samaria ( Genesis 33:18 ), called also Sichem ( 12:6 ), Sychem ( Acts 7:16 ). It stood in the narrow sheltered valley between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south, these mountains at their base being only some 500 yards apart. Here Abraham pitched his tent and built his first altar in the Promised Land, and received the first divine promise ( Genesis 12:6 Genesis 12:7 ). Here also Jacob "bought a parcel of a field at the hands of the children of Hamor" after his return from Mesopotamia, and settled with his household, which he purged from idolatry by burying the teraphim of his followers under an oak tree, which was afterwards called "the oak of the sorcerer" ( Genesis 33:19 ; 35:4 ; Judges 9:37 ). (See MEONENIM .) Here too, after a while, he dug a well, which bears his name to this day ( John 4:5 John 4:39-42 ). To Shechem Joshua gathered all Israel "before God," and delivered to them his second parting address ( Joshua 24:1-15 ). He "made a covenant with the people that day" at the very place where, on first entering the land, they had responded to the law from Ebal and Gerizim ( Joshua 24:25 ), the terms of which were recorded "in the book of the law of God", i.e., in the roll of the law of Moses; and in memory of this solemn transaction a great stone was set up "under an oak" (Compare Genesis 28:18 ; 31:44-48 ; Exodus 24:4 ; Joshua 4:3 Joshua 4:8 Joshua 4:9 ), possibly the old "oak of Moreh," as a silent witness of the transaction to all coming time.

    Shechem became one of the cities of refuge, the central city of refuge for Western Palestine ( Joshua 20:7 ), and here the bones of Joseph were buried ( 24:32 ). Rehoboam was appointed king in Shechem ( 1 Kings 12:1 1 Kings 12:19 ), but Jeroboam afterwards took up his residence here. This city is mentioned in connection with our Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria ( John 4:5 ); and thus, remaining as it does to the present day, it is one of the oldest cities of the world. It is the modern Nablus, a contraction for Neapolis, the name given to it by Vespasian. It lies about a mile and a half up the valley on its southern slope, and on the north of Gerizim, which rises about 1,100 feet above it, and is about 34 miles north of Jerusalem. It contains about 10,000 inhabitants, of whom about 160 are Samaritans and 100 Jews, the rest being Christians and Mohammedans.

    The site of Shechem is said to be of unrivalled beauty. Stanley says it is "the most beautiful, perhaps the only very beautiful, spot in Central Palestine."

    Gaza, near Shechem, only mentioned 1 Chronicles 7:28 , has entirely disappeared. It was destroyed at the time of the Conquest, and its place was taken by Shechem. (See SYCHAR .)

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Shechem". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Shechem [N] [E] [S]

    part; portion; back early in the morning
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Shechem'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

    Shechem [N] [E] [H]

    (back or shoulder ).

    1. An important city in central Palestine, in the valley between mounts Ebal and Gerizim, 34 miles north of Jerusalem and 7 miles southeast of Samaria. Its present name, Nablus , is a corruption of Neapolis, which succeeded the more ancient Shechem, and received its new name from Vespasian. On coins still extant it is called Flavia Neapolis. The situation of the town is one of surpassing beauty. It lies in a sheltered valley, protected by Gerizim on the south and Ebal on the north. The feet of these mountains, where they rise from the town, are not more than five hundred yards apart. The bottom of the valley is about 1800 feet above the level of the sea, and the top of Gerizim 800 feet higher still. The sit of the present city, which was also that of the Hebrew city, occurs exactly on the water-summit; and streams issuing from the numerous springs there flow down the opposite slopes of the valley, spreading verdure and fertility in every direction. Travellers vie with each other in the language which they employ to describe the scene that here bursts so suddenly upon them on arriving in spring or early summer at this paradise of the holy land. "The whole valley," says Dr. Robinson, "was filled with gardens of vegetables and orchards of all kinds of fruits, watered by fountains which burst forth in various parts and flow westward in refreshing streams. it came upon us suddenly like a scene of fairy enchantment. We saw nothing to compare with it in all Palestine." The allusions to Shechem in the Bible are numerous, and show how important the place was in Jewish history. Abraham, on his first migration to the land of promise, pitched his tent and built an altar under the oak (or terebinth) of Moreh at Shechem. "The Canaanite was then in the land;" and it is evident that the region, if not the city, was already in possession of the aboriginal race. See ( Genesis 12:6 ) At the time of Jacobs arrival here, after his sojourn in Mesopotamia, ( Genesis 33:18 ; 34 ) Shechem was a Hivite city, of which Hamor, the father of Shechem, was the headman. it was at this time that the patriarch purchased from that chieftain "the parcel of the field" which he subsequently bequeathed, as a special patrimony, to his son Joseph. ( Genesis 33:19 ; Joshua 24:32 ; John 4:5 ) The field lay undoubtedly on the rich plain of the Mukhna , and its value was the greater on account of the well which Jacob had dug there, so as not to be dependent on his neighbors for a supply of water. In the distribution of the land after its conquest by the Hebrews, Shechem fell to the lot of Ephraim, ( Joshua 20:7 ) but was assigned to the Levites, and became a city of refuge. ( Joshua 21:20 Joshua 21:21 ) It acquired new importance as the scene of the renewed promulgation of the law, when its blessings were heard from Gerizim and its curses from Ebal, and the people bowed their heads and acknowledged Jehovah as their king and ruler. ( 27:11 ; Joshua 24:23-25 ) it was here Joshua assembled the people, shortly before his death, and delivered to them his last counsels. ( Joshua 24:1 Joshua 24:25 ) After the death of Gideon, Abimelech, his bastard son, induced the Shechemites to revolt from the Hebrew commonwealth and elect him as king. ( Judges 9:1 ) ... In revenge for his expulsion after a reign of three years, Abimelech destroyed the city, and as an emblem of the fate to which he would consign it, sowed the ground with salt. ( Judges 9:34-45 ) It was soon restored, however, for we are told in ( 1 Kings 12:1 ) ... that all Israel assembled at Shechem, and Rehoboam, Solomons successor, went thither to be inaugurated as king. here, at this same place, the ten tribes renounced the house of David, and transferred their allegiance to Jeroboam, ( 1 Kings 12:16 ) under whom Shechem became for a time the capital of his kingdom. From the time of the origin of the Samaritans, the history of Shechem blends itself with that of this people and of their sacred mount, Gerizim. [SAMARIA] Shechem reappears in the New Testament. It is the SYCHAR of ( John 4:5 ) near which the Saviour conversed with the Samaritan woman at Jacobs well. The population of Nablus consists of about 5000, among whom are 500 Greek Christians, 150 Samaritans, and a few Jews. The enmity between the Samaritans and jews is as inveterate still as it was in the days of Christ. The Mohammedans, of course, make up the bulk of the population. The well of Jacob and the tomb of Joseph are still shown in the neighborhood of the town. The well of Jacob lies about a mile and a half east of the city, close to the lower road, and just beyond the wretched hamlet of Balata . The Christians sometimes call it Bir es-Samariyeh -- "the well of the Samaritan woman." The well is deep --75 feet when last measured --and there was probably a considerable accumulation of rubbish at the bottom. Sometimes it contains a few feet of water, but at others it is quite dry. It is entirely excavated in the solid rock, perfectly round, 9 feet in diameter, with the sides hewn smooth and regular. Of all the special localities of our Lords life, this is almost the only one absolutely undisputed. The tomb of Joseph lies about a quarter of a mile north of the well, exactly in the centre of the opening of the valley. It is a small between Gerizim and Ebal. It is a small, square enclosure of high whitewashed walls, surrounding a tomb of the ordinary kind, but with the peculiarity that it is placed diagonally to the walls, instead of parallel as usual. A rough pillar used as an altar and black with the traces of fire is at the head and another at the foot of the tome. In the walls are two slabs with Hebrew inscriptions, and the interior is almost covered with the names of pilgrims in Hebrew Arabic and Samaritan. Beyond this there is nothing to remark in the structure itself. The local tradition of the tomb, like that of the well is as old as the beginning of the fourth century.
    2. The son of Hamor, the chieftain of the Hivite settlement of Shechem at the time of Jacobs arrival. ( Genesis 33:19 ; 34:2-26 ; Joshua 24:32 ; Judges 9:28 )
    3. A man of Manasseh, of the clan of Gilead. ( Numbers 26:31 )
    4. A Gileadite, son of Shemida, the younger brother of the foregoing. ( 1 Chronicles 7:19 )

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Shechem'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    SHECHEM

    she'-kem (shekhem, "shoulder"; Suchem, he Sikima, ta Sikima, etc.; the King James Version gives "Sichem" in Genesis 12:6; and "Sychem" in Acts 7:16):

    1. Historical:

    This place is first mentioned in connection with Abraham's journey from Haran. At the oak of Moreh in the vicinity he reared his first altar to the Lord in Palestine (Genesis 12:6). It was doubtless by this oak that Jacob, on his return from Paddan-aram, buried "the strange (the American Standard Revised Version "foreign") gods" (Genesis 35:4). Hither he had come after his meeting with Esau (Genesis 33:18). Eusebius, in Onomasticon, here identifies Shechem with Shalem; but see SHALEM. To the East of the city Jacob pitched his tent in a "parcel of ground" which he had bought from Hamor, Shechem's father (Genesis 33:19). Here also he raised an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel, "God, the God of Israel" (Genesis 33:20). Then follows the story of Dinah's defilement by Shechem, son of the city's chief; and of the treacherous and terrible vengeance exacted by Simeon and Levi (Genesis 34). To the rich pasture land near Shechem Joseph came to seek his brethren (Genesis 37:12). It is mentioned as lying to the West of Michmethath (el-Makhneh) on the boundary of Manasseh (Joshua 17:7). It was in the territory of Ephraim; it was made a city of refuge, and assigned to the Kohathite Levites (Joshua 20:7; 21:21). Near the city the Law was promulgated (Deuteronomy 27:11; Joshua 8:33). When his end was approaching Joshua gathered the tribes of Israel here and addressed to them his final words of counsel and exhortation (chapter 24). Under the oak in the neighboring sanctuary he set up the stone of witness (24:26). The war of conquest being done, Joseph's bones were buried in the parcel of ground which Jacob had bought, and which fell to the lot of Joseph's descendants (24:33). Abimelech, whose mother was a native of the city, persuaded the men of Shechem to make him king (Judges 9:1-6), evidently seeking a certain consecration from association with "the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem." Jotham's parable was spoken from the cliff of Gerizim overhanging the town (Judges 9:7). After a reign of three years Abimelech was rejected by the people. He captured the city, razed it to the foundations, and sowed it with salt. It was then the seat of Canaanite idolatry, the temple of Baal-berith being here (Judges 9:4,46). In the time of the kings we find that the city was once more a gathering-place of the nation. It was evidently the center, especially for the northern tribes; and hither Rehoboam came in the hope of getting his succession to the throne confirmed (1 Kings 12:1; 2 Chronicles 10:1). At the disruption Jeroboam fortified the city and made it his residence (2Ch 10:25; Ant, VIII, viii, 4). The capital of the Northern Kingdom was moved, however, first to Tirzah and then to Samaria, and Shechem declined in political importance. Indeed it is not named again in the history of the monarchy. Apparently there were Israelites in it after the captivity, some of whom on their way to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem met a tragic fate at the hands of Ishmael ben Nethaniah (Jeremiah 41:5). It became the central city of the Samaritans, whose shrine was built on Mt. Gerizim (Sirach 50:26; Ant, XI, viii, 6; XII, i, 1; XIII, iii, 4). Shechem was captured by John Hyrcanus in 132 BC (Ant., XIII, ix, 1; BJ, I, ii, 6). It appears in the New Testament only in the speech of Stephen (Acts 7:16, King James Version "Sychem"). Some (e.g. Smith, DB, under the word) would identify it with Sychar of John 4:5; but see SYCHAR. Under the Romans it became Flavia Neapolis. In later times it was the seat of a bishopric; the names of five occupants of the see are known.

    2. Location and Physical Features:

    There is no doubt as to the situation of ancient Shechem. It lay in the pass which cuts through Mts. Ephraim, Ebal and Gerizim, guarding it on the North and South respectively. Along this line runs the great road which from time immemorial has formed the easiest and the quickest means of communication between the East of the Jordan and the sea. It must have been a place of strength from antiquity. The name seems to occur in Travels of a Mohar (Max Muller, Asien u. Europa, 394), "Mountain of Sahama" probably referring to Ebal or Gerizim. The ancient city may have lain somewhat farther East than the modern Nablus, in which the Roman name Neapolis survives. The situation is one of great beauty. The city lies close to the foot of Gerizim. The terraced slopes of the mountain rise steeply on the South. Across the valley, musical with the sound of running water, the great bulk of Ebal rises on the North, its sides, shaggy with prickly pear, sliding down into grain fields and orchards. The copious springs which supply abundance of water rise at the base of Gerizim. The fruitful and well-wooded valley winds westward among the hills. It is traversed by the carriage road leading to Jaffa and the sea. Eastward the valley opens upon the plain of Makhneh. To the East of the city, in a recess at the base of Gerizim, is the sanctuary known as Rijal el-`Amud, literally, "men of the column" or "pillar," where some would locate the ancient "oak of Moreh" or "of the pillar." Others would find it in a little village farther East with a fine spring, called BalaTa, a name which may be connected with balluT, "oak." Still farther to the East and near the base of Ebal is the traditional tomb of Joseph, a little white-domed building beside a luxuriant orchard. On the slope of the mountain beyond is the village of `Askar; see SYCHAR. To the South of the vale is the traditional Well of Jacob; see JACOB'S WELL. To the Southwest of the city is a small mosque on the spot where Jacob is said to have mourned over the blood-stained coat of Joseph. In the neighboring minaret is a stone whereon the Ten Commandments are engraved in Samaritan characters. The main center of interest in the town is the synagogue of the Samaritans, with their ancient manuscript of the Pentateuch.

    3. Modern Shechem:

    The modern town contains about 20,000 inhabitants, the great body of them being Moslems. There are some 700 or 800 Christians, chiefly belonging to the Greek Orthodox church. The Samaritans do not total more than 200. The place is still the market for a wide district, both East and West of Jordan. A considerable trade is done in cotton and wool. Soap is manufactured in large quantities, oil for this purpose being plentifully supplied by the olive groves. Tanning and the manufacture of leather goods are also carried on. In old times the slopes of Ebal were covered with vineyards; but these formed a source of temptation to the "faithful." They were therefore removed by authority, and their place taken by the prickly pears mentioned above.

    W. Ewing


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'SHECHEM'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.