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Shechm / Sychar


The original name of Sychar (Jn 4:5) was Shechem, between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, twelve km southeast of the city of Samaria and 48 km north of Jerusalem. It was en route the northern and southern Israel. The Jews, out of their contempt of Samaritans, later nicknamed it Sychar, which means drunkards (Isa 28:1) or liars.

The town is historically important and associated with Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.
1. When Abram came from Haran to Canaan, the LORD appeared to him at “the sacred place at Shechem” and said, “To your descendants I will give this land. So Abram built an altar there to the LORD” (Gen 12:6-7).
2. The Patriarch Jacob encamped here on his way from Paddanaram, and bought it “from descendants of Hamor, the father of Shechem” (Gen 33:19).
3. Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, defiled Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Her brothers retaliated against the men of the city here (Gen 34:1-31).
4. Jacob buried here all the foreign gods and earrings his people were holding (Gen 35:1-4) and committed himself and his family to the God of his forefathers.
5. Joseph came in search of his brothers here when they were pastoring the flock. They sold him to the Ishmaelites, who took him into slavery in Egypt (Gen 37:12-28).
6. The Israelites brought the bones of Joseph from Egypt and buried them in Shechem (Josh 24:32).
7. After the conquest of Canaan, Joshua brought the Israelites here and arranged half of the tribes facing Mount Gerizim and the others Mount Ebal. Then he “read aloud all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, exactly as written in the book of the law” (Josh 8:33-34).
8. The tribe of Ephraim settled in Shechem (Josh 21:21).
9. At the end of Joshua’s life, he gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem (Josh 24:1) and renewed their covenant with God promising, “We will serve the LORD, our God, and will listen to his voice.” Joshua also made statutes and ordinances for Israel there (Josh 24:25).
10. Gideon’s son “Abimelech fought against the city. He captured it, killed the people who were in it, and demolished the city itself, sowing it with salt” (Judg 9:45).
11. The division of Israel into north (Israel) and south (Judah) took place at Shechem. Jeroboam reigned over the northern section (1 Kgs 12:1-20), started idolatrous worship at Bethel and Dan (1 Kgs 12:29), and fortified Shechem (1 Kgs 12:25).
12. The Samaritans made Shechem their central city and built their temple on Mount Gerizim.
Jesus might have purposefully selected this historically prominent city to evangelize the Samaritans.


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