Shechem (shēˈkəm) [key], town, central ancient Palestine, the modern Tell Balatan, between Mts. Gerizim and Ebal, near Nablus. Excavations in the 20th cent. indicate a village there c.3500 B.C. Shechem's greatest period began c.1700 B.C. when the Hyksos rebuilt it. According to patriarchal narratives in the Book of Genesis, it was visited by Abraham, and Jacob built an altar to God there. Jacob pastured his flocks near Shechem; his well remains a landmark. The rape of Dinah, Jacob's daughter, by Shechemites provoked Jacob's sons to plunder the city. As related in the book of Joshua, after the Canaanite conquest, Hebrew tribes gathered at Shechem. Solomon's son Rehoboam was crowned (c.930 B.C.) there; Jeroboam I"built" Shechem. Thus it was the first northern capital, before Samaria. A small community of Samaritans still live in the area.
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