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Meaning and etymology of the name Shechem




Shechem Shechem


The name Shechem is ascribed to three men and a location. Shechem is first mentioned as a place where Abram sojourned (Genesis 12:6). Later Jacob settles there upon his return to Canaan (Genesis 33:19) and buys the land from Hamor the Hivite, the father of a man named Shechem. This Shechem takes a liking to Jacob's only daughter Dinah, the daughter of Leah, who was also the mother of half of the sons of Jacob. After Shechem takes Dinah by force, her brothers Simeon and Levi destroy and loot the city (Genesis 34). Father Jacob is more worried about the political consequences of the actions of his sons than those of Shechem (34:30), and rescinds their rights as sons number two and three (49:5-7 - son number one, Reuben, already wrecked his position by sleeping with Bilhah, his father's concubine; 35:22 & 49:4). So doing, son number four, Judah, becomes most prominent.
Two other Shechems are among the desendants of Joseph through Manasseh (Numbers 26:31 and 1 Chronicles 7:19)

The name Shechem probably comes from the root Shechem (shkm) that yields the verb Shechem (shakam) meaning rise early, and the noun Shechem (shekem) meaning shoulder, back. What the two have to do with each other is open to conjecture. BDB Theological Dictionary thinks that early in the morning camp was broken and all elements were hoisted upon the shoulders of man and beast; Good morning, it's shoulder-time!
HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament looks a bit deeper in the matter and notes that in Scriptures a rising early most often has to do with the diligence/ persistence of the riser (to get a good start of the day), and so does the carrying of an actual load or a task or position upon the shoulders. Isaiah states that Eliakim, who was king Hezekiah's chief housekeeper (2 Kings 18:18), would become a father to the house of Judah, typically by saying that the key to the house of David would be on his shoulder (Isaiah 22:22). In that same tone, Isaiah predicts the birth of the Messiah, "and the government will rest on His shoulders..."

HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament additionally notes that the region or city called Shechem may thank its name from the two mountains upon which shoulders it was built.

For a meaning of the name Shechem, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Shoulder. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Back, but refers to the Hebrew word for shoulder.






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