Bible Meaning: Back, shoulder, ridge
Strong's Concordance #H7927, #H7928
Three Biblical people are named Shechem. The first, the son of Hamor, raped the only daughter Jacob produced named Dinah (Genesis 34). In revenge, the sons of Jacob (Israel) not only killed Shechem and his father, they killed all the males in the city, took everyone else captive, and pillaged the entire village they inhabited.
The second person named Shechem is one of the sons of Gilead, making him the great-grandson of Manasseh who founded one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Numbers 26:29 - 31). The third person with the same name is the son of Shemida, making him the grandson of Gilead and the great-great-grandson of Manasseh (Numbers 26:32, 1Chronicles 7:19).
The city is located in the territory of Manasseh in the valley between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal. It was initially called Sichem (Genesis 12:6) and was Abraham's first encampment in Canaan after he left Haran. Under Joshua it became both a Levitical city and a city of refuge. Soon after entering the Promised Land the bones of Joseph, carried from Egypt, were buried in the city (Joshua 24:32).
The first king
Abimelech, one of Gideon's sons, knew he deserved to rule over God's people. After He convinces the men of Shechem that he should reign over them, he has all his brothers murdered except one. He then proceeds to spend the next three years acting as both Judge and King in Israel. His violent and chaotic rule ends when a woman drops a millstone on his head (Judges 9)!
Rise in importance
Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, was crowned Israel's king in Shechem (1Kings 12:1). After the nation split in two, however, Jeroboam repaired, expanded and fortified the city. It became his home and the first capital of the new Kingdom of Israel (the northern ten tribes, verse 25).
Genesis 34:1 - 2
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her (Dinah), he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
And his (Joseph's) brethren went to feed their father's flock . . .
And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
Joshua 21:8, 21
And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses . . .
For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer: and Gezer with her suburbs,
Joshua 24:1, 25
And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers: and they presented themselves before God . . . So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day . . .
Judges 9:2, 22 - 23
Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon), which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh . . .
When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem . . .
1Kings 12:24 - 25
Thus saith the Lord, Ye (the Kingdom of Judah) shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel (the northern ten tribes): return every man to his house; for this thing is from me . . .
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein: and went out from thence, and built Penuel.