(Sheʹchem) [Shoulder [of Land]].
1. Son of Hivite chieftain Hamor. (Ge 33:19; Jos 24:32) After Jacob settled near the city of Shechem (see No. 4), his daughter Dinah began associating with females of that city. The man Shechem, described as being “the most honorable of the whole house of his father,” saw Dinah and “lay down with her and violated her.” Then he fell in love with Dinah and wanted to marry her. But Jacob’s sons were enraged about the affair and, “with deceit,” said that they could make marriage arrangements only with circumcised men. This was agreeable to Shechem and his father Hamor, and they convinced the Shechemites to get circumcised. However, before the males of Shechem could recover from being circumcised, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi attacked the city, killing Hamor, Shechem, and all the other men.—Ge 34:1-31.
3. A son of Shemida of the tribe of Manasseh.—1Ch 7:19.
4. An ancient city linked with Nablus or, more precisely, with nearby Tell Balata. (Ps 60:6; 108:7; PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 530) Situated at the E end of the narrow valley running between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, Tell Balata lies about 48 km (30 mi) N of Jerusalem. A good supply of water is available, and just E of the site there is a fertile plain. Anciently Shechem commanded the E-W and N-S roads traversing central Palestine. (Compare Jg 21:19.) Lacking the military advantage of being built on a mountain, the city depended on its fortifications for security.—Jg 9:35.
When Abram (Abraham) first entered the Promised Land, he traveled as far as “the site of Shechem” and encamped near the big trees of Moreh, where he later built an altar. (Ge 12:6-9) Nearly two centuries afterward Jacob, upon returning from Paddan-aram, pitched camp in front of Shechem and purchased some land there. In reaction to their sister Dinah’s being violated by Shechem the son of Hamor, the sons of Jacob—Simeon and Levi—killed the men of the city. (Ge 33:18–34:31) At God’s direction Jacob left Shechem but, before doing so, took all the foreign gods and earrings in the possession of his household and buried them under the big tree close by Shechem. (Ge 35:1-4) Later, Jacob’s sons pastured their flocks near the city, being able to do so safely, doubtless because the “terror of God,” which had kept the neighboring peoples from pursuing Jacob, still exercised some effect on them.—Ge 35:5; 37:12-17.
When Jacob’s descendants, the Israelites, entered the Promised Land after the sojourn of more than two centuries in Egypt, they buried Joseph’s bones “in Shechem in the tract of the field that Jacob had acquired from the sons of Hamor.” (Jos 24:32) However, in his defense before the Jews, Stephen said that Joseph was buried “in the tomb that Abraham had bought . . . from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” (Ac 7:16) Perhaps Stephen’s statement was an elliptic one. If the ellipsis was filled in, Stephen’s statement could read: ‘Jacob went down into Egypt. And he deceased; and so did our forefathers, and they were transferred to Shechem and were laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a price with silver money [and in that bought] from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.’ (Ac 7:15, 16) There is also a possibility that, since Jacob was Abraham’s grandson, the purchase could have been ascribed to Abraham as the patriarchal head. This would be using the name of the forefather as applying to and being used for the descendants, in the same manner as the names Israel (Jacob) and others were later used.—Compare Ho 11:1, 3, 12; Mt 2:15-18.
Among the tribal allotments in the Promised Land, Shechem seems to have been within Manasseh’s territory, being about 3 km (2 mi) NW of the border town of Michmethath. (Jos 17:7) Since Shechem is described as being “in the mountainous region of Ephraim,” it may have been an Ephraimite enclave city in Manassite territory. (Jos 16:9; 1Ch 6:67) The city was thereafter assigned with other Ephraimite cities to the Levites and given sacred status as a city of refuge. (Jos 21:20, 21) Just before his death, Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, encouraging them to serve Jehovah.—Jos 24:1-29.
Although the Israelites had covenanted at Shechem to uphold true worship, the inhabitants of that city began worshiping Baal-berith. (Jg 8:33; 9:4) They also supported the efforts of Abimelech (the son of Judge Gideon and his Shechemite concubine) to become king. But, in time, they revolted against King Abimelech. In crushing the revolt, Abimelech destroyed the city and sowed it with salt, this perhaps being symbolic of desiring lasting desolation.—Jg 8:31-33; 9:1-49; compare Ps 107:33, 34; see ABIMELECH No. 4; BAAL-BERITH.
Later Shechem was rebuilt. That it became an important city is suggested by the fact that Rehoboam was installed as king there. (1Ki 12:1) After the division of the kingdom, Jeroboam, first king of the northern kingdom, had building work done at Shechem and apparently ruled from there for a time. (1Ki 12:25) Centuries later, in 607 B.C.E., after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, men from Shechem came to Jerusalem for worship.—Jer 41:5.