- Shechem is the first city of Canaan mentioned in the Bible. The land promise to Abraham was restated here (Genesis 12:6-7).
- Jacob and his family settled at Shechem (Genesis 33:18). Jacob purchased a parcel of ground and erected an altar here.
- Joseph’s brothers had gone from Bethlehem to near Shechem to graze their flocks (Genesis 37:12-13).
- After entering Canaan, the Israelites gathered at Shechem on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal to hear Joshua read the blessings and curses of the Law (Joshua 8:30-34; cf. Deuteronomy 28-30).
- Shechem was within the territory of Ephraim and served as a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7; 21:21).
- Joseph was buried in a parcel of ground bought by Jacob (Joshua 24:32).
- The Shechemites supported Abimelech in his bid to be ruler and gave him money from their temple of Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; 9). Jotham’s addressed the people of Shechem from Mount Gerizim with a fable (Judges 9:7ff.).
- After the Exile, Shechem became a major religious center of the Samaritans. Their temple was built on Mount Gerizim (John 4:20-21).
- Jesus visited Jacob’s Well near Shechem (John 4).
The general vicinity around Shechem was associated with the northern kingdom of Israel after the death of Solomon.
- Shechem served as the temporary headquarters for the northern kingdom (1 Kings 12:25) beginning about 931 B.C.
- The capital of Israel was moved to Tirzah during the reign of Baasha (908-886 B.C.; 1 Kings 15:21; 16:16).
- After six years at Tirzah, king Omri (885-874 B.C.) purchased the hill of Samaria for his capital (1 Kings 16:24). The capital remained there until the city was captured by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.
- (Dates are those from Mckinny, The Regnal Chronology of the Kings of Judah and Israel: An Illustrated Guide.)
Tirzah is located about 7 miles northeast of Shechem, and Samaria is about 7 miles northwest of Shechem.
Judges 9:37 recounts people “coming down from the center of the land” as they came down from Mount Gerizim. Bernhard W. Anderson uses the term navel says,
In the ancient period it was claimed that Shechem was the center of Canaan. (BA 20:1, 1957)
In introducing the series of articles on Shechem in the same issue of Biblical Archaeologist, G. Ernest Wright used the title “Navel of the Land.” That makes it fairly easy for us to remember it’s location on the map.
Talk about location!
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