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yet ample time to return before sunset, we halted for an hour to repose our horses, to cast our eyes around on the leading features of the place, and to make, in the mean time, a visit to the well of Samaria, to the eastward of the town.
The name of Sichem, which is one of the most ancient of those by which this place is known, appears, like that of Samaria, to have been applied to a district of country at first. On Abram's coming from Haran into the land of Canaan, he is said to have "passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh." * It is said also, in the history of Jacob's journeyings, that "he came to Shalem †, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-Aram, and pitched his tent before the city." The name too was evidently derived from that of the son of Hamor the Hurite, the prince of the country, whose name was Shechem. § Josephus, how
* Genesis, xii. 6.
† Some critics have thought that as Shalem or Salem signifies peace, safety, &c. in Hebrew, the original of this passage should be rendered thus : "And he came in peace and safety to the city of Shechem." (Anc. Un. Hist. vol. iii. p. 289. 8vo.) which would therefore be meant only of the city of Shechem, so called from the prince of that name, who is expressly said to have been more honourable than all the house of his father. Genesis xxxiv. 19.
Gen. xxxii. 18.
§ Ibid. xxxiv. 2.
ever, calls Shechem "a city of the Canaanites," and the inhabitants of it, Shechemites. * From these children of Hamor, the patriarch bought a parcel of a field here, where he had spread his tent, for an hundred pieces of money; and erected an altar, probably with a view to make it his permanent abode. † And indeed, this parcel of ground was held so sacred among his descendants, that the bones of Joseph, who died in Egypt, were brought up from thence to be buried here, and it became the inheritance of his children. ‡
It was after this apparent settlement among them, that Dinah, his daughter, went into the city, during the celebration of a festival among the Shechemites, to see the finery of the women of that country §, or as the Scriptures express it, "She went out to see the daughters of the land." This young Mesopotamian girl was, however, so much more beautiful or fascinating than those she had gone out to behold, that when Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. Nor was it seemingly the momentary gratification of sensual
passion which allured him, for "his soul clave unto Dinah, and he loved the damsel, and spoke kindly unto her.” And when difficulties arose about his legal marriage with her, he replied, in all the vehemence of a young and ardent lover, "Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me; but give me the damsel to wife."+ The Scriptures say, that all the males of Shechem underwent circumcision to obviate the difficulties of an alliance with the family of Jacob; but Josephus omits the mention of this, though both authorities agree in the dreadful vengeance that was taken on them. This was no less than the slaughter of every male with the edge of the sword, by the two brothers of Dinah, Simeon and Levi, who could not, it seems, admit that the honour of their sister was redeemed by marriage, and who were as tenacious on the point of female purity as the Arabs of this same country continue to be to the present hour.
So great a destruction committed in a city by only two individuals, is differently accounted for by the different authorities already cited. Josephus, who mentions nothing of the circumcision of the males, says, "It being now the
* Genesis, xxxiv. 3.
+ Ibid. xxxiv. 12.
time of a festival, when the Shechemites were employed in ease and feasting, they fell upon the watch when they were asleep, and coming into the city, slew all the males, as also the king, and his son with them, but spared the women. And when they had done this without their father's consent, they brought away their sister." * The Scriptures say, that it was on the third day after the circumcision of all the males, and when they were yet sore from the wound, that this act of hardihood was undertaken. As in most of the cases of war and revenge in these early records, the mere slaughter of their enemies, however great and terrible it was, did not glut their vengeance, which was wreaked even on the helpless bodies of the dead, and on such of the unoffending wives and infants as remained among the living. "The sons of Jacob," says the inspired writer, after describing the slaughter itself, "came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister; they took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was
the city, and that which was in the field, and all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house." The authors of
Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. 1. c. 21. s. 1.
Genesis, xxxiv. 27-29.
the Universal History characterise this act of revenge as a treacherous and inhuman massacre of the inhabitants, on the part of Dinah's brothers; and say that Jacob reproved them for their barbarity; though they add, that the rest of the inhabitants of the country would, no doubt, have made them pay dearly for it, had not God interposed, and sent a panic-fear amongst them, insomuch that they even let them depart quietly, and carry off all the plunder they had got from the slaughtered Shechemites. *
The most remarkable feature of this place was its situation between the two mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, or the mountain of blessing and the mountain of cursing. These hills were fixed on by Moses for the purpose of setting on them the blessings and the curses which he proposed to the children of Israel, after they should have entered the land of Canaan; and though he could never have seen the hills himself, as he did not live to enter the promised land, yet probably, from the information of his spies, he speaks precisely of their local position, "Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign, over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh." +
* Anc. Univ. Hist. vol. iii. b. 1. c. 7. p. 289, 290. 8vo. + Deut. xi. 30.