Who and what is…
Hebrew: שְׁכֶם or שכם —transliteration: Shekem —possible meaning: shoulder or ridge
Shechem is the name of 2 biblical men and a city.
Shechem, a son of Hamor the Hivite
And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money [a hundred qesitah] the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel [God, the God of Israel]. —Genesis 33:18-20 ESV
Shechem, a descendant of Manasseh (Numbers 26:31; Joshua 17:2)
His family/descendants are called Shechemites.
Shechem, a city in Samaria on the highway to Jerusalem
also known as: Sichem (Genesis 12:6), Greek: Sychem (Acts 7:16), Sychar (John 4:5), Flavia Neapolis (Roman), Nablus (modern city), Tell Balatad (archaeological dig site)
Site of excavated ruins of biblical Shechem—satellite view / The modern city of Nabulus is biblical Shechem.
The name of this city first appears in Genesis 33:18. It was a very old Canaanite city that stood in a strategic narrow sheltered valley between Mount Ebal on the north and Mount Gerizim on the south, these mountains at their base being only some 500 yards apart. It is considered one of the oldest settlements in Canaan. After the Israelite conquest, Shechem belonged to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:7).
Biblical events at Shechem
Abraham—Here Abraham pitched his tent and built his first altar in the Promised Land, and received the first divine promise (Genesis 12:6-7).
- Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah here (Acts 7:16)—a double cave
He bought it from the sons of Heth (Genesis 25:9-10). This became the burial place of his wife Sarah and of Abraham himself, and also of his son Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (named Israel by God) (Genesis 49:31; 50:13). (also see: Ishmael)
Jacob—Here also Jacob “bought a parcel of a field at the hands of the children of Hamor” the Hivite 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.)
Jacob’s Well—Here too, after a while, Jacob dug a well, which bears his name to this day (John 4:5, 39-42)—see Jacob’s Well.
Joshua assembled Israel here and gave a parting address—Joshua gathered all Israel to Shechem “before God,” and delivered to them his 2nd parting address (Joshua 24:1-15).
Joshua’s covenant with the Israelites—Joshua “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 Mount Ebal and Mount 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, 8, 9), possibly the old “oak of Moreh,” as a silent witness of the transaction to all coming time.
Archaeologist Dr. Scott Stripling with staff members of Associates for Biblical Research
(ABR is a professional Bible archaeology research organization and is a Christian Answers Team Member
length: 27 minutes
See: Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim
City of Refuge—Shechem became one of the cities of refuge, the central city of refuge for Western Israel (Joshua 20:7).
- Levite city—Shechem became a Levite city, of the Kohathites (Joshua 21:20-21)
Grave of Joseph—Here the bones of Joseph were buried (24:32).
Rehoboam appointed king here—Rehoboam was appointed king in Shechem (1 Kings 12:1, 19).
King Jeroboam lived here—Jeroboam afterwards took up his residence here.
Christ’s famous conversation at Jacob’s Well with a Samaritan woman—This city is mentioned in connection with our Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria.
He [Christ] left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar [Shechem], near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her,
“Give Me a drink.”
…the Samaritan woman said to Him,
“How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” —John 4:3-10 NASB
This city is one of the world’s oldest and still remains in existence to the present day, under a different name. It is the modern Nablus, a contraction for Neapolis, the name given to it by Emperor Vespasian. It lies about 1½ miles up the valley on its southern slope, and on the north of Mount Gerizim, which rises about 1,100 feet above it, and is about 34 miles north of Jerusalem.
Modern Nabulus, in West Bank, Israel (population 126-thousand)—satellite view
A city called 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.
- What is JACOB’S WELL?
- What is SYCHAR?
- What is SICHEM?
- What is NEAPOLIS?
- What is MOUNT EBAL?
- What is MOUNT GERIZIM?
- Archaeological discoveries related to “Abimelech at Shechem” by Bryant G. Wood PhD (Associates for Biblical Research) —“For some 800 years, from the time of Jacob until the time of Gideon, Shechem was an important highland urban center controlling the area from Megiddo to Jerusalem. It is no surprise, then, that Gideon's son Abimelech went to the leaders of Shechem to gain support for his failed attempt to become king of the Israelite tribes. Three archaeological discoveries at Shechem relate to the narrative of Judges 9. …”
- Cities of the Bible
Article Version: October 17, 2019