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Shechem or Shchem (שְׁכֶם / שְׁכָם "Shoulder", Standard Hebrew Šəḫem / Šəḫam, Tiberian Hebrew Šəḵem / Šəḵām) was the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel. It is also the location of Jacob's Well, where Gospel of John 4:5-6 sets Jesus' meeting with the woman of Samaria, lay in a narrow shoulder of land in the narrow valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal , approximately 65 km north of Jerusalem. The Ancient Roman and Arab city of Nablus lies 2 km to the west of the site. Josephus, writing in about AD 90 (Jewish Antiquities book 4, 8.44), placed the city between Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal, and other ancient writers knew that it was on the outskirts of "Neapolis"/Nablus, but its archaeological site was only stumbled upon in 1903 by a German party of archaeologists led by Dr Hermann Thiersch , at a site known as Tell Balatah, beside the traditional site associated with the tomb of Joseph (Joshua 24:32).
Shechem had been a Canaanite settlement, mentioned on an Egyptian stele of a noble at the court of Senusret III (c. 1880 - 1840 BC). Shechem first appears in the Tanakh in Genesis 12:6-8, which records how Abraham reached the "great tree of Moreh" at Shechem and offered sacrifice nearby. Later Joseph's bones were brought out of Egypt and reburied at Shechem.
In the Amarna Letters, "Shachmu" (Shechem) was the center of a kingdom carved out by Labaya or Labayu, a Canaanite warlord who recruited mercenaries from among the Habiru. The city fell to the Israelites sometime before 1000 BCE. It was one of the major cities of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
In Classical times, Shechem was the main settlement of the Samaritans, whose cultic center was on Mount Gerizim, just outside of the town.In Acts vii. 16 the place is called "Sychem", and in the Gospel of John v. 5 it is called "Sychar".
- All about Shechem and the communities around it
- Full archaeological and Biblical discussion of Shechem
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Shechem
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