1. A Canaanite prince, at the town of the same name, who abducted Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and was soon afterwards treacherously slain, with many of his people, by Simeon and Levi, Ge 34.
2. A city of central Canaan, between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal, thirty-four miles north of Jerusalem; called also Sychar and Sychem, Ac 7:16. It is first mentioned in the history of Abraham, who here erected his first altar in Canaan, and took possession of the country in the name of Jehovah,
Ge 12:6; 33:18-19; 35:4. Jacob bought a field in its neighborhood, which by way of overplus, he gave to his son Joseph, who was buried here, Ge 48:22; Jos 24:32. After the conquest of Canaan it became a Levitical city of refuge in Ephraim, and a gathering-place of the tribes, Jos 20:7; 21:21; 24:1,25; Jg 9. Here Rehoboam gave the ten tribes occasion to revolt, 1Ki 12. In its vicinity was Jacob's well or fountain, at which Christ discoursed with the woman of Samaria, Joh 4:5. See also Ac 8:25; 9:31; 15:3. After the ruin of Samaria by Shalmaneser, Shechem became the capital of the Samaritans; and Josephus says it was so in the time of Alexander the Great. St the present day it is also the seat of the small remnant of the Samaritans. See SAMARITANS. It was called by the Romans Neapolis, from which the Arabs have made Napolose, or Nabulus.
The valley of Shechem extends several miles northwest between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, and is about five hundred yards wide; so that in the pure and elastic air of Palestine the two mountains are within hailing distance of each other, one circumstance among thousands evincing the exact truthfulness of Bible narratives, De 27:11-14; Jg 9:7. The winter rains which fall in the eastern part of the valley find their way to the Jordan, while in the western part are numerous springs, forming a pretty brook which flows towards the Mediterranean. "Here," says Dr. Robinson, "a scene of luxuriant and almost unparalleled verdure burst upon our view. The whole valley was filled with gardens of vegetables and orchards of all kinds of fruits, watered by several 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 Palestine." The modern town has several long and narrow streets, partly on the base of Mount Gerizim. It does not appear to extend so far to the east as the ancient city did. The houses are high and well built of stone, and covered with small domes. Nabulus is thought to contain eight thousand inhabitants, all Mohammedans except five hundred Greek Christians, one hundred and fifty Samaritans, and as many Jews. The rocky base of Mount Ebal on the north of the valley is full of ancient excavated tombs. On Mount Gerizim is the holy place of the Samaritans, and the ruins of a strong fortress erected by Justinian. At the foot of these mountains on the east lies the beautiful plain of Mukhna, ten miles long and a mile and a half wide; and where the valley opens on this plain, Joseph's tomb and Jacob's well are located, by the unanimous consent of Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans. The former spot is now covered by a Mohammedan Wely, or sacred tomb; and the latter by an arched stone chamber, entered by a narrow hole in the roof, and the mouth of the well within is covered by a large stone. The well itself is one hundred and five feet deep, and is now sometimes dry. It bears every mark of high antiquity.
The following extract is from Dr. Clarke's description of this place: "There is nothing in the Holy Land finer than a view of Napolose from the heights around it. As the traveller descends towards it from the hills, it appears luxuriantly embosomed in the most delightful and fragrant bowers, half concealed by rich gardens, and by stately trees collected into groves, all around the bold and beautiful valley in which it stands. Trade seems to flourish among its inhabitants. Their principal employment is in making soap; but the manufactures of the town supply a very widely extended neighborhood, and are exported to a great distance upon camels. In the morning after our arrival, we met caravans coming from Grand Cairo, and noticed others reposing in the large olive plantations near the gates.
The sacred story of events transacted in the fields of Sychem, from our earliest years is remembered with delight; but with the territory before our eyes where those events took place, and in the view of objects existing as they were described above three thousand years ago, the grateful impression kindles into ecstasy. Along the valley we beheld 'a company of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead,' Ge 37:25, as in the days of Reuben and Judah, 'with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh,' who would gladly have purchased another Joseph of his brethren, and conveyed him as a slave to some Potiphar in Egypt. Upon the hills around, flocks and herds were feeding, as of old; nor in the simple garb of the shepherds of Samaria was there any thing repugnant to the notions we may entertain of the appearance presented by the sons of Jacob. It was indeed a scene to abstract and to elevate the mind; and under emotions so called forth by every circumstance of powerful coincidence, a single moment seemed to concentrate whole ages of existence.
The principal object of veneration is Jacob's well, over which a church was formerly erected. This is situated at a small distance from the town, in the road to Jerusalem, and has been visited by pilgrims of all ages, but particularly since the Christian era, as the place where our Savior revealed himself to the woman of Samaria. The spot is so distinctly marked by the evangelist, and so little liable to uncertainty, from the circumstance of the well itself and the features of the country, that, if no tradition existed for its identity, the site of it could hardly be mistaken. Perhaps no Christian scholar ever attentively read Joh 4, without being struck with the numerous intervals evidences of truth which crowd upon the mind in its perusal. Within so small a compass it is impossible to find in other writings so many sources of reflection and of interest. Independently of its importance as a theological document, it concentrates so much information, that a volume might be filled with illustration it reflects on the history of the Jews and on the geography of their country. All that can be gathered on these subjects from Josephus seems but as a comment to illustrate this chapter. The journey of our Lord from Judea into Galilee; the cause of it; his passage through the territory of Samaria; his approach to the metropolis of this country; its name; his arrival at the Amorite field which terminates the narrow valley of Sychem; the ancient custom of halting at a well; the female employment of drawing water; the disciples sent into the city for food, by which its situation out of the town is obviously implied; the question of the woman referring to existing prejudices which separated the Jews from the Samaritans; the depth of the well; the oriental allusion contained in the expression, 'living water;' the history of the well, and the customs thereby illustrated; the worship upon Mount Gerizim; all these occur within the space of twenty verses.
(3.) A city in Samaria (Ge 33:18), called also Sichem (Ge 12:6), Sychem (Ac 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 (Ge 12:6-7). 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" (Ge 33:19; 35:4; Jg 9:37). (See Meonenim.) Here too, after a while, he dug a well, which bears his name to this day (Joh 4:5,39-42). To Shechem Joshua gathered all Israel "before God," and delivered to them his second parting address (Jos 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 (Jos 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" (comp. Ge 28:18; 31:44-48; Ex 24:4; Jos 4:3,8-9), 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 (Jos 20:7), and here the bones of Joseph were buried (Jos 24:32). Rehoboam was appointed king in Shechem (1Ki 12:1,19), but Jeroboam afterwards took up his residence here. This city is mentioned in connection with our Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria (Joh 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 1Ch 7:28, has entirely disappeared. It was destroyed at the time of the Conquest, and its place was taken by Shechem. (See Sychar.)
1. The first city of Canaan visited by Abram, Ge 12:6, where it is called SICHEM. When Jacob returned to Palestine, Hamor the Hivite was its king. It was attacked and plundered by Simeon and Levi. The bones of Joseph were buried there. At the distribution of the land it fell to the lot of Ephraim, and became a Levitical city and a city of refuge. It was there that Joshua delivered his last address to the people. Under the Judges the city was taken by Abimelech, when about a thousand men and women took refuge in the tower, which was destroyed by fire. The tribes assembled there to crown Rehoboam, and, on the division of the kingdom, it became the headquarters of Jeroboam. Ge 33:18; 37:12-14; Jos 20:7; 21:21; 24:1,25,32; Jg 9; 1Ki 12:1,25; 2Ch 10:1; Ps 60:6; 108:7; Jer 41:5.
Shechem was called Neapolis by the Romans, of which its present name, Nablus, is supposed to be a corruption. It lies 32 13' N, 35 16' E. Its vicinity is luxurious in fruit and flowers. It is still partially inhabited by Samaritans, who have a synagogue there, and yearly keep the Passover.
It is called SYCHEM in Ac 7:16, where it says that Abraham bought a sepulchre there. This is thought to clash with Ge 33:19, which speaks of Jacob buying it. But nothing is said in the latter passage about a sepulchre: Jacob bought a piece of ground to spread his tent in. Bengel says of this alleged discrepancy in Stephen's address, that "the brevity which was best suited to the ardour of the Spirit gave Stephen just occasion, in the case of a fact so well known, to compress these details in the way he has done."*
* For further details concerning Stephen's address see "Bible Handbook, New Testament," pages 144-6.
2. Son of Hamor the chief of the city of Shechem
(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
At the time of Jacob's arrival here, after his sojourn in Mesopotamia,
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.
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,
but was assigned to the Levites, and became a city of refuge.
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.
De 27:11; Jos 24:23-25
it was here Joshua assembled the people, shortly before his death, and delivered to them his last counsels.
After the death of Gideon, Abimelech, his bastard son, induced the Shechemites to revolt from the Hebrew commonwealth and elect him as king.
... 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.
It was soon restored, however, for we are told in
... that all Israel assembled at Shechem, and Rehoboam, Solomon's 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,
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
near which the Saviour conversed with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's 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 Lord's 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 Jacob's arrival.
3. A man of Manasseh, of the clan of Gilead.
4. A Gileadite, son of Shemida, the younger brother of the foregoing.