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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From Gilead to Shechem

November 15, 2010

After Jacob lived in Haran for a total of twenty years (see our previous couple of posts) he made his way back to Canaan.  Besides the fact that he was ready to leave Haran for personal reasons (Gen. 31:1-2), the Lord instructed him, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you” (Gen. 31:3). He left, along with his wives (four!) and eleven sons (plus Dinah), picking the opportune time when Laban was gone shearing his sheep (Gen. 31:19).

It was on the third day that his father-in-law Laban learned of these events. It took seven days’ travel to overtake Jacob. The text says, “and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead” (Gen. 31:23). Our photo below shows a view of some of the mountains of Gilead, as viewed from the west side of the Jordan.

 

Mountains of Gilead. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

 

After he and Laban came to an understanding, Laban returned home to Haran and Jacob continued his journey to Canaan. After what turned out to be a cordial meeting with his formerly estranged brother Esau, Jacob lived a while in Succoth, then made his way to Shechem.

Our photo below shows the pass that leads from the area of Succoth (which would be to our backs) toward Shechem.  This is the route Jacob and his family and servants would have taken to Shechem.  On the right of the photo you can see the modern road which follows this ancient pass.

 

Pass to Shechem. Jacob would have taken this route. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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