Ancient Sources

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

40. Sychem also Sikima and Salim - (Tell Balatah)


Sychem et Salem, quae Latine et Graece Sicima vocata est, civitas Iacob nunc deserta. Ostenditur autem locus in suburbanis Neaspoleos iuxta sepulcrum Iosef quam subvertit Abimelech et seminavit in ea salem, sicut in libro Iudicum scriptum est. Postea vero instaurata est ab Ieroboam, ut Regnorum narrat historia. Et sita est in finibus tribus Efraim. Sed et filius Emmor appellabatur Sychem, a quo et locus nomen acceperat. Fuit autem et altera Sychem in monte Efraim, civitas fugitivorum.
(Jerome 151:1-8)


Eusebius, Onomasticon 150:1-7 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 151:1-8 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Shechem (Gen 12:6) or Salem, which in Greek and Latin is called Sikima, is the city of Jacob, now deserted. The place is shown at the outskirts of Neapolis near the place where the tomb of Joseph is pointed out. Abimelech razed it 'and sowed it with salt', as we read in the Book of Judges (Judg 9:45), and Jeroboam rebuilt it, as we read in the Book of Kings (1 Kings 12:25). It is located in the boundaries of the lot of Ephraim. And also the son of Hamor was called Shechem, and the place was named after him. There was also another Shechem, a city of refuge in the hill-country of Ephraim (Jos 20:7).


Gen. 12:4-8 Abram at Shechem
Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother's son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Gen. 33:18
Jacob arrives at Shechem
Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. 19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, he bought for one hundred pieces of money the plot of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-elohe-israel.

Jos 20:7 Schechem city of refuge
So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.

Judg. 9:22-49 The man of Shechem revolt against Abimelech
Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 But God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech. 24 This happened so that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be avenged and their blood be laid on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 So, out of hostility to him, the lords of Shechem set ambushes on the mountain tops. They robbed all who passed by them along that way; and it was reported to Abimelech.
26 When Gaal son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his kinsfolk, the lords of Shechem put confidence in him. 27 They went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards, trod them, and celebrated. Then they went into the temple of their god, ate and drank, and ridiculed Abimelech. 28 Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Did not the son of Jerubbaal and Zebul his officer serve the men of Hamor father of Shechem? Why then should we serve him? 29 If only this people were under my command! Then I would remove Abimelech; I would say to him, 'Increase your army, and come out.'"
30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah, saying, "Look, Gaal son of Ebed and his kinsfolk have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now therefore, go by night, you and the troops that are with you, and lie in wait in the fields. 33 Then early in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, get up and rush on the city; and when he and the troops that are with him come out against you, you may deal with them as best you can."
34 So Abimelech and all the troops with him got up by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. 35 When Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, Abimelech and the troops with him rose from the ambush. 36 And when Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, "Look, people are coming down from the mountain tops!" And Zebul said to him, "The shadows on the mountains look like people to you." 37 Gaal spoke again and said, "Look, people are coming down from Tabbur-erez, and one company is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim." 38 Then Zebul said to him, "Where is your boast now, you who said, 'Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?' Are not these the troops you made light of? Go out now and fight with them." 39 So Gaal went out at the head of the lords of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. 40 Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. Many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. 41 So Abimelech resided at Arumah; and Zebul drove out Gaal and his kinsfolk, so that they could not live on at Shechem.
42 On the following day the people went out into the fields. When Abimelech was told, 43 he took his troops and divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the fields. When he looked and saw the people coming out of the city, he rose against them and killed them. 44 Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed on all who were in the fields and killed them. 45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city, and killed the people that were in it; and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.
46 When all the lords of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the temple of El-berith. 47 Abimelech was told that all the lords of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the troops that were with him. Abimelech took an ax in his hand, cut down a bundle of brushwood, and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the troops with him, "What you have seen me do, do quickly, as I have done." 49 So every one of the troops cut down a bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women.

1Kings 12:25 Jeroboam builds Shechem
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.


Josephus, Antiquities 5,115 (1st cent. A.D.)
So Joshua after that dissolved this great assembly of the people and sent them to their own inheritances, while he himself lived in Shechem.

Adamnanus, De locis sanctis,II,21 (ca. 670 A.D.)
The holy priest Arculf travelled through Samaria, and arrived at a city of that district whose Hebrew name is Shechem, though in Greek and Latin it is normally called Sicima. It is commonly (though incorrectly) called Sychar. Close to this city and outside its wall he saw a church with four bays stretching out to the four points of the world,like a cross. There is a sketch of it below.
Inside this church, and in the centre of it, is the Spring of Jacob, often called the "Well".It is midway between these four bays. Here, one day at noon, the Saviour sat down, tired by the effort of his journey. At this noon time the Samaritan woman also came to the well to draw water. Amongst other things which the woman said to the Lord was this reply, "Lord,thou hast nothing with which to draw water, and the well is deep" (John:4.11). Arculf, who drank water from this well, had this to say about its depth, "the well I saw was forty orias deep" (this means forty cubits, since an oria or a cubit is the width of both hands stretched out side by side).
Shechem, also called Sicima, was once accounted a city of priests and a city of refuge in the tribe of Manasseh. It is in Mount Ephraim, and joseph's bones were buried there.

see also: 35. Neapolis - (Nablus)
see also:
38. Sychar which is now Sycchora - ('Askar)
see also: 39. The (place) of Joseph - (Qabr an-Nabi Yusuf)
see also: 41. Here is Jacob's well
see also: 42. Tur Gobel (Mount Ebal) - (Jabal Islamiyah)
see also: 43. Tur (Mount) Garizin - (Jabal al-Tur)

Map Section 5 Place Discussion

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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 12:56:38
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000