Shechem Tourist Attractions
The site of Old Testament Shechem is 2km/1.25mi southeast of Nablus on the saddle between Mounts Gerizim and Eval. An important town in Canaanite times thanks to its situation at the intersection of important roads running east-west and north-south, Shechem was associated with many events in the Old Testament.HistoryAbraham set up camp here on his journey from Mesopotamia to Canaan and erected the first altar (Genesis 12,7). His grandson Jacob also pitched his tent outside the town after his return from Mesopotamia, bought land for a hundred pieces of money and also erected an altar (Genesis 33,18-20). Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi slew the men of Shechem and despoiled their city to avenge the dishonor of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34,1-29). In the 17th century B.C. the Hyksos built a fortress here. In the 13th century B.C. Joshua had the remains of Joseph brought from Egypt and buried in the field which his father Jacob had bought. Earlier he had set up a new altar on Mount Ebal (Joshua 8,30). After Joshua's death the Israelites "forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth" (Judges 2,12-13). At the end of the 12th century B.C. Abimelech, son of the first Judge, Gideon, was made king in the temple of Baal (Judges 9,6). In 928 B.C. the ten northern tribes called upon Jeroboam to be king of Israel, from Bethel to Dan (1 Kings 12). Later, when Omri founded the new capital of Samaria, Shechem lost its importance and declined into a village, until in 350 B.C. the Samaritans made it their capital. The history of the town came to an end with its conquest by John Hyrcanus I in 128 B.C.
On the eastern slopes of Mount Gerizim, some 500m/550yds southeast of Tell Balata, is a Greek Orthodox church within which is a 36m/118ft deep well traditionally believed to have been dug by Jacob. It is also believed to be the well at which Jesus met the woman of Samaria (John 4,5-9). Around 380 a cruciform church was built on the site which in later centuries was several times destroyed and rebuilt. In Crusader times a three-aisled church was built over the well. From the 15th century onwards this fell into ruin, but the crypt and the well have survived to the present day. In 1885 the site was acquired by the Greek Orthodox, who began in 1903 to rebuild the Crusader church - a project which has not yet been completed.
A few hundred yards north of Jacob's Well in Shechem is a building with a white dome known as Joseph's Tomb. Here Joseph is said to have been buried in the field bought by his father Jacob.
Remains of ancient Shechem were brought to light by German archeologists, beginning with Ernst Sellin (1913), on Tell Balata. They included fortifications of the Hyksos period (17th century B.C.), the foundations of a large Canaanite temple and a temple of Baal-Beelit dating from the 13th/12th century B.C., no doubt the scene of Abimelech's election as king.