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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Shechem

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The ancient town of Shechem lay between Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal in central Canaan (Deuteronomy 27:12-13; Judges 9:7). It was the first recorded camping place of Abraham when he came to Canaan from Haran (Genesis 12:4-6). (For maps of the region see PALESTINE.)

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, upon returning to Canaan from Paddan-aram, bought land in Shechem and settled there with his family and flocks (Genesis 33:18-19). When a conflict arose with some of the local inhabitants, Jacob’s sons massacred the men of Shechem and plundered the town (Genesis 34). Jacob and his family then moved elsewhere, though at times they still pastured their flocks near Shechem (Genesis 35:1-4; Genesis 37:12). Joseph’s bones were later buried at Shechem in a field that Jacob had given to Joseph (Genesis 48:22; Joshua 24:32; John 4:5-6).

After the conquest of Canaan, the people of Israel gathered at Shechem to confirm the covenant. The blessings of the covenant were announced from Mt Gerizim on one side of the town, and the curses from Mt Ebal on the other. Just before Joshua’s death, the leaders of Israel gathered at Shechem once more and declared their loyalty to the covenant (Deuteronomy 27:1-14; Joshua 8:30-35; Joshua 24:1-28).

In the division of Canaan among the Israelites, Shechem fell within the tribal allotment of Ephraim, but was set apart for the Levites. It was one of the three cities of refuge west of Jordan (Joshua 20:2; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:20-21; see CITY OF REFUGE).

In the time of the judges, Abimelech tried to establish a kingdom in Shechem but his success was shortlived (Judges 9:1-6; Judges 9:16-57). In the time of the monarchy, after the death of Solomon, Rehoboam went to Shechem to be crowned king, no doubt hoping this would help him win the allegiance of the northern tribes. However, the northerners broke away and established their own kingdom, with its capital initially at Shechem (1 Kings 12:1; 1 Kings 12:25). Within a few years they shifted the capital to Tirzah, and later again to Samaria (1 Kings 15:33; 1 Kings 16:8; 1 Kings 16:24; 1 Kings 16:29). Although Shechem lost its importance, it continued to exist, even after the Assyrians had destroyed the northern kingdom and taken most of the people into captivity (Jeremiah 41:5).

When Assyria brought people from elsewhere to live in the deserted northern kingdom, these immigrants intermarried with the Israelites left in the land. In due course this produced a people of mixed blood and mixed religion who became known as the Samaritans. Shechem became the chief city of the Samaritans, and Mt Gerizim became to them a sacred mountain. There they built their temple, worshipped, and held religious festivals. The village of Sychar was nearby (John 4:5-6; John 4:20). (See SAMARIA, SAMARITANS.)

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Shechem'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/s/shechem.html. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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