The Northern Kingdom's First Capital
Shechem, from the Hebrew word for shoulder, was a city and district in central Israel, in the hill country of Ephraim (see Bible Places). Built on the slope, or shoulder, of Mount Ebal, the city was the site of the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel after the Israelites split into two separate, and never again united, kingdoms (Israel and Judah) in the time of Rehoboam (see Jews At War With Israel).
Shechem was the location of numerous events of Bible History:
- The place is first mentioned when Abram (see Abraham) arrived in what would become the land of Israel. The Lord appeared to him there and promised the land to his descendants. Abram then built an altar there (Genesis 12:6-7).
- When Jacob returned from Paddan-Aram with Leah and Rachel, after his meeting with Esau, he purchased land from the sons of Hamor at Shechem (Genesis 33:18-19).
- The incident involving Dinah and Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who had the same name as the city, occurred around Shechem, and it was there that her brothers Levi and Simeon took their revenge (Genesis 34:1-31)
- Joseph's brothers were herding sheep near Shechem before they sold him away to Egypt (Genesis 37:12) (see Coat Of Many Colors)
- In the time of Joshua, the area was allotted to the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 16:1-10, 17:1-18) (see Tribal Lands)
- Joseph's remains, that the Israelites under Moses and Aaron had brought out of Egypt with them in the Exodus, was buried at the plot of ground that Jacob had purchased there (Joshua 24:32)
- After the death of Solomon, Rehoboam was made king of Israel at Shechem (1 Kings 12:1, 2 Chronicles 10:1).
- After the Israelites split into two kingdoms, Jeroboam became the first king of the new northern kingdom of Israel at Shechem (1 Kings 12:25) (see Kings of Israel and Judah)
- Shechem is not mentioned by name in the New Testament, however Jesus Christ would have often travelled through the city. His conversation with the Samaritan woman occurred in the area (John 4:1-26) (see Samaritans)
Fact Finder: Was Shechem one of the "cities of refuge"?
See also Cities Of Refuge