Mount Gerizim, the Mount of Blessing

August 24, 2013

Our previous couple of posts pertain to mounts Ebal and Gerizim, the setting of the curses and blessings of the law’s being read and accepted by all Israel as the basis of their receiving the land promise (Deut. 11:26-32; Deut. 27-28; Josh. 8:30-35).

At the top of Gerizim there are archaeological ruins that date to the Persian and Hellenistic periods, as well as a Byzantine church.

Mount Gerizim, view at top. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Mount Gerizim, view at top. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In distance at right you are seeing the tomb of a 12th century sheikh. The mountain in background is Mt. Ebal, the mount of cursing. Out of sight below in the valley between lies Shechem.

In later times Mt. Gerizim would become sacred to the Samaritans, and still is today. In the intertestamental period there was a temple here, but it was destroyed by John Hyrcanus (Maccabean ruler) in 111-110 BC.

When Jesus conversed with the woman at the well, she said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain” (John 4:20). She was speaking of Mount Gerizim, which was very much in sight of Jacob’s well, where they were talking.

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Todd Bolen has an interesting post on the acoustics of mounts Ebal and Gerizim here. See also Ferrell Jenkin’s post here.

Hopefully this info and these photos will help you visualize the events of Joshua 8, at the time of the conquest under Joshua:

33 All the people, rulers, leaders, and judges were standing on either side of the ark, in front of the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD. Both resident foreigners and native Israelites were there. Half the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and the other half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the LORD’s servant had previously instructed to them to do for the formal blessing ceremony. 34 Then Joshua read aloud all the words of the law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the law scroll. 35 Joshua read aloud every commandment Moses had given before the whole assembly of Israel, including the women, children, and resident foreigners who lived among them (Josh. 8:33-35, NET). 

View of Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim

August 15, 2013

In our last post we referenced some biblical texts regarding Mt. Ebal, the “mount of cursing.” Our photo today shows the view from the east of Mt. Ebal (right) and Mt. Gerizim (left). Shechem is located between the two.

Mt. Ebal (right) and Mt. Gerizim (left). Shechem is at center. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Mt. Ebal (right) and Mt. Gerizim (left). Shechem is at center. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

When Joshua led Israel to Shechem (Josh. 8) they would have seen this view. Likewise this would have been the scene when Jesus went through Samaria en route to Galilee when he stopped here at Jacob’s well, and had that fascinating conversation with the woman who came to draw water. She left there knowing the Source of the Water of Life (John 4).

We have previously posted on Shechem here, here and here.

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Jacob & Family at Shechem

November 26, 2010

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.

Shechem was the site for many impt biblical events. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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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