After Jacob and his family had a happy meeting/reunion with his brother Esau, Jacob journeyed to Succoth and built a house there (Gen. 33:17). The time is not specified, but it must have been some years. Then Jacob made his way to Shechem (v.18).
Shechem was the very location where Abram was when God promised him the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:6,7). It would turn out that Shechem was the site for many significant biblical events.
Our photo shows the city of Shechem in the foreground. In the distance you can see Mt. Gerizim, the mountain referenced by the woman of Samaria as she conversed with Jesus in John 4 (v.20).
Jacob bought a parcel of land at Shechem (Gen. 33:19); it was here to his sorrow that his daughter Dinah was violated (Gen. 34:2). Later when the family was residing to the south in Hebron, the sons of Jacob tended sheep at Shechem before moving their flocks on to Dothan where they sold Joseph into slavery (Gen. 37:12-28).
One of the more fascinating events at Shechem was the confirmation of the covenant during the Conquest of Canaan. Shechem is situated between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. Prior to the Conquest, Moses instructed the nation of Israel that when they crossed over the Jordan, they were to journey to this location. Six tribes were to stand on Mt. Gerizim (for blessing), and the other six on Mt. Ebal (for cursing). All of the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, were to be read. All the people were to answer, “Amen.” Immediately, after the conquest of Jericho and Ai (Josh.6-8), Joshua led the people north to these two mountains, where they obeyed God’s instructions (Deut. 27; Josh 8:30-35). Think of it! At the very spot where childless Abram stood when God made the land promise, now were 701,730 men of war, plus women and children, there to stake their claim on the land!
Shechem would also be the gathering point for all of Israel for Joshua’s farewell address. It was here that he challenged the people to fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and to put away all the idols and false gods that were among them. His own choice has been an encouragement to many down through the years: “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:14,15). Their covenant with God was then renewed there at Shechem (Josh. 24:25). Later in that same chapter, notation is made that Joseph was buried in Shechem (Josh. 24:32).
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