Shechem meaning | Shechem etymology

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Shechem in Biblical Hebrew
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The name Shechem in the Bible

The name Shechem is ascribed to two or 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, apparently, 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.

Either one or two other Shechems are mentioned among the descendants of Joseph through Manasseh. This Shechem is a son of Gilead, whose progeny became known as the שכמי; the Shechemites (Numbers 26:31). The Chronicler mentions Shechem, son of Shemida, who may or may not be the same as the previous one (1 Chronicles 7:19). The word for son in Hebrew covered what we call sons but also grandsons or any descendant.

But note that even though that in English all these names turn out as Shechem, the Masoretes interpreted the names of the Shechems from Manasseh slightly different. How these names sounded we don't know (there are no sound recordings from those days) but the difference between the Hivite Shechem and the Manassite Shechem is minute.

In the Greek New Testament the name Shechem occurs only once. In his great sermon to the council, Stephen mentions the tombs of the patriarchs at Shechem (spelled Συχεμ Suchem; Acts 7:16).

Etymology of the name Shechem

The name Shechem is identical to the noun שכם (shekem), meaning shoulder:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

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.

Shechem meaning

For a meaning of the name Shechem, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Shoulder. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Back.

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