The Info List - Shechem

/ˈʃɛkəm/, also spelled Sichem (/ˈsɪkəm/; Hebrew: שְׁכָם‬ / שְׁכֶם‬ Standard Šəḵem Tiberian Šeḵem, "shoulder"), was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
as an Israelite
city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel.[1] Traditionally associated with Nablus,[2] it is now identified with the nearby site of Tell Balata
Tell Balata
in Balata al-Balad
Balata al-Balad
in the West Bank.


1 Geographical position 2 History

2.1 Early history 2.2 In the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament 2.3 New Testament 2.4 Classical history 2.5 Later history

3 Distinguish from 4 See also 5 References 6 Sources and external links

Geographical position[edit] Shechem's position is indicated in the Hebrew Bible: it lay north of Bethel
and Shiloh, on the high road going from Jerusalem to the northern districts (Judges xxi, 19), at a short distance from Michmethath ( Joshua
17:7) and of Dothain
(Genesis 37:12-17); it was in the hill-country of Ephraim
( Joshua
20:7; 21:21; 1 Kings 12:25; 1 Chronicles 6:67; 7:28), immediately below Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
(Judges 9:6-7). These indications are substantiated by Josephus, who says that the city lay between Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal
and Mount Gerizim, and by the Madaba map, which places Sychem, also called Sikima, between the "Tour Gobel" (Ebal) and the "Tour Garizin" (Garizim). The site of Shechem
in patristic sources is almost invariably identified with,[3] or located close to,[4] the town of Flavia Neapolis (Nablus). History[edit] Early history[edit] The old city of Shechem
dates back to about an estimated four thousand years.[citation needed] Shechem
is mentioned in the third-millennium Ebla tablets
Ebla tablets
found at Tell Mardikh
Tell Mardikh
in the context of a city of which Rasap (Resheph) is the patron deity.[citation needed] Shechem
was a commercial center due to its position in the middle of vital trade routes through the region. It traded in local grapes, olives, wheat, livestock and pottery between the Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age
and the Late Hellenistic
period (1900-100 BC).[citation needed] Shechem
had been a Canaanite settlement, first mentioned in Egyptian texts on the Sebek-khu Stele, an Egyptian stele of a noble at the court of Senusret III
Senusret III
(c. 1880–1840 BC). In the Amarna Letters
Amarna Letters
of about 1350 BC, Šakmu (i.e. Shechem) was the center of a kingdom carved out by Labaya
(or Labayu), a Canaanite warlord who recruited mercenaries from among the Habiru. Labaya
was the author of three Amarna letters, and his name appears in 11 of the other 382 letters, referred to 28 times, with the basic topic of the letter, being Labaya himself, and his relationship with the rebelling, countryside Habiru. It may be identical to the Sakama mentioned in an account dated to the 19th Egyptian dynasty.[5][better source needed] (See Papyrus Anastasi I). In the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament[edit] Shechem
first appears in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
in Genesis 12:6-8, which says that Abraham
reached the "great tree of Moreh" at Shechem
and offered sacrifice nearby. Genesis, Deuteronomy, Joshua
and Judges hallow Shechem
over all other cities of the land of Israel.[6] According to Genesis (12:6-7) Abram "built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him ... and had given that land to his descendants" at Shechem. The Bible states that on this occasion, God confirmed the covenant he had first made with Abraham
in Harran, regarding the possession of the land of Canaan. In Jewish tradition, the old name was understood in terms of the Hebrew word shékém — "shoulder, saddle", corresponding to the mountainous configuration of the place. On a later sojourn, two sons of Jacob, Simeon (Hebrew Bible) and Levi, were said to have avenged their sister Dinah's rape by " Shechem
the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land" of Shechem
by killing all of the city's male inhabitants. Following the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan
after their Exodus from Egypt, according to the biblical narrative, Joshua assembled the Israelites at Shechem
and asked them to choose between serving the god who had delivered them from Egypt, the gods which their ancestors had served on the other side of the Euphrates
River, or the gods of the Amorites
in whose land they now lived. The people chose to serve the god of the Bible, a decision which Joshua
recorded in the Book of the Law of God, and he then erected a memorial stone "under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord" in Shechem.[7] The oak is associated with the Oak of Moreh
where Abram had set up camp during his travels in this area.[8] Shechem
and its surrounding lands were given as a Levitical city
Levitical city
to the Kohathites.[9] Owing to its central position, no less than to the presence in the neighborhood of places hallowed by the memory of Abraham
(Genesis 12:6, 7; 34:5), Jacob's Well
Jacob's Well
(Genesis 33:18-19; 34:2, etc.), and Joseph's tomb
Joseph's tomb
( Joshua
24:32), the city was destined to play an important part in the history of Israel.[citation needed] Jerubbaal (Gideon), whose home was at Ophrah, visited Shechem, and his concubine who lived there was mother of his son Abimelech (Judges 8:31). She came from one of the leading Shechemite families who were influential with the "Lords of Shechem" (Judges 9:1-3, wording of the New Revised Standard Version and New American Bible Revised Edition).[10] After Gideon's death, Abimelech was made king (Judges 9:1-45). Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, made an allegorical speech on Mount Gerizim in which he warned the people of Shechem
about Abimelech's future tyranny (Judges 9:7-20). When the city rose in rebellion three years later, Abimelech took it, utterly destroyed it, and burnt the temple of Baal-berith where the people had fled for safety. The city was rebuilt in the 10th century BC and was probably the capital of Ephraim
(1 Kings 4). Shechem
was the place appointed, after Solomon's death,[citation needed] for the meeting of the people of Israel and the investiture of his son Rehoboam
as king; the meeting ended in the secession of the ten northern tribes, and Shechem, fortified by Jeroboam, became the capital of the new kingdom (1 Kings 12:1; 14:17; 2 Chronicles 10:1). After the kings of Israel moved, first to Tirzah (1 Kings 14:17) and later on to Samaria, Shechem
lost its importance, and we do not hear of it until after the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC; Jeremiah 12:5). The events connected with the restoration were to bring it again into prominence. When, on his second visit to Jerusalem, Nehemias
expelled the grandson of the high priest Eliashib (probably the Manasse of Josephus, "Antiq.", XI, vii, viii) and with him the many Jews, priests and laymen, who sided with the rebel, these betook themselves to Shechem; a schismatic temple was then erected on Mount Garizim and thus Shechem
became the "holy city" of the Samaritans. The latter, who were left unmolested while the orthodox Jews were chafing under the heavy hand of Antiochus IV
Antiochus IV
(Antiq., XII, v, 5, see also Antinomianism in the Books of the Maccabees) and welcomed with open arms every renegade who came to them from Jerusalem (Antiq., XI, viii, 7), fell about 128 BC before John Hyrcanus, and their temple was destroyed ("Antiq.", XIII, ix, 1). New Testament[edit] In Acts 7:16 the place is called Sychem. It is not known whether Sychar in the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
( Bibleref2John 4:5) refers to Shechem or to a nearby village. Shechem
is also the location of Jacob's Well, where John 4:5-6 describes Jesus' meeting with the woman of Samaria. Some of its inhabitants were of the number of the "Samaritans" who believed in Jesus
when he tarried two days in the neighborhood (John 4). The city must have been visited by the Apostles
on their way from Samaria
to Jerusalem (Acts 8:25). Classical history[edit] Main article: Nablus Further information: Samaritan revolts In Classical times, Shechem
was the main settlement of the Samaritans, whose religious center stood on Mount Gerizim, just outside the town. In A.D. 6, Shechem
was annexed to the Roman Province of Syria. Of the Samaritans
of Sichem not a few[clarification needed] rose up in arms on Mt. Garizim at the time of the Galilean rebellion (A.D. 67), which was part of the First Jewish–Roman War. The city was very likely destroyed by Cerealis,[11] during that war. In A.D. 72, a new city, Flavia Neapolis, was built by Vespasian
2 kilometers to the west of the old one. This city's name was eventually corrupted to the modern Nablus. Josephus, writing in about AD 90 ( Jewish Antiquities
Jewish Antiquities
4.8.44), placed the city between Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
and Mount Ebal. Elsewhere he refers to it as Neapolis. In Emperor Hadrian's reign, the temple on Mt. Garizim was restored and dedicated to Jupiter.[12] Like Shechem, Neapolis had a very early Christian community, including the early saint Justin Martyr; we hear even of bishops of Neapolis.[13] On several occasions the Christians suffered greatly from the Samaritans. In 474 the emperor, to avenge what Christians considered an unjust attack by the Samaritans, deprived the latter of Mt. Garizim and gave it to the Christians, who built on it a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.[14] Later history[edit] Main article: Nablus The city of Nablus
was islamicized in the Abbasid and Ottoman periods.[citation needed] In 1903 near Nablus, a German party of archaeologists led by Dr. Hermann Thiersch stumbled upon the site called Tell Balata
Tell Balata
and now identified as ancient Shechem. Nablus
is still referred to as Shechem
by Israelis and Hebrew speakers.[citation needed]

in 2013

Distinguish from[edit]

Sichem is an old spelling for Zichem, a Flemish municipality which was named after the biblical Sichem; it is now merged into Scherpenheuvel-Zichem. Sekem is an Anthroposophical and Islamic foundation and farming village centered on principles for Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture
in Egypt; this name refers to Shechem, and to the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph pronounced 'Sekem' meaning 'vitality' or 'life'.

See also[edit]

Biblical archaeology Kingdom of Israel


Cornel Heinsdorff: "Christus, Nikodemus und die Samaritanerin am Jakobsbrunnen", Berlin/New York 2003, 218-220, ISBN 3-11-017851-6 Stager, Lawrence (2003). "The Shechem
Temple Where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand". Biblical Archaeology Review. 29:4 (July/August): 26–35, 66, 68–69. 

^ Book of Kings II:25 ^ ' The present Nābulus is a corruption merely of Neapolis; and Neapolis succeeded the more ancient Shechem. All the early writers who touch on the topography of Palestine, testify to this identity of the two.' William Smith (ed.) Dictionary of the Bible,, rev. and edited by H.B.Hackett and Ezra Abbot, Hurd & Houghton New York 1870, vol.IV, Shechem,' pp.2952-2958, p.2953. ^ St. Jerome, St. Epiphanius ^ Eusebius, "Onomast.", Euchem; Medaba map ^ Muller, "Asien u. Europ.", p. 394, Leipzig, 1893. ^ Yitzakh Magen, 'The Dating of the First Phase of the Samaritan Temple on Mt Gerizim in Light of Archaeological Evidence,' in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz (eds.) Judah and the Judeans in the Fourth Century B.C.E., Eisenbrauns, 2007 pp.157ff.p.184. ^ Joshua
24:1-27 ^ Genesis 12:6 ^ Joshua
21:21 ^ Gill's Exposition of Judges 9, accessed 29 October 2016 ^ ("Bell. Jud.", III, vii, 32) ^ (Dion Cass., xv, 12) ^ (Labbe, "Conc.", I, 1475, 1488; II, 325) ^ (Procop., "De edif", v, 7)

Sources and external links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Sichem". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.  Full archaeological and Biblical discussion of Shechem Guide to the Jewish Communities around Shechem Jewish Encyclopedia: Shechem

v t e

New Testament places associated with Jesus


Ænon Bethsaida Cana Capernaum Chorazin Gennesaret Mount of Transfiguration Nain Nazareth Sea of Galilee


Bethany Bethesda Bethlehem Bethphage Calvary Emmaus Gabbatha Gethsemane Jericho Jerusalem Temple Mount of Olives


Al-Maghtas Bethabara Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Philippi Egypt Gerasa Road to Damascus Sychar Umm Qais



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