Neapolis

E9 on the Map.

Greek Neapolis, Heb. Shechem, Modern Nablus. Roman period city (Colonia Julia Neapolis) Neapolis was a city of central Palestine, lying in an enclosed, fertile valley and is the market centre of a natural oasis that is watered by numerous springs. It has been identified as the Biblical Shechem. Shechem was a Canaanite city and very important in ancient Palestine because of its position in an east-West pass between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, one of the few such routes in Palestine's hill country.

In the Bible it is first mentioned when Abraham entered into Canaan, "Abram passed . . . to the place at Shechem, to the oak [or terebinth] of Moreh." (Gen 12:6). His grandson Jacob bought land there, and it was the site of the rape of Jacob's daughter Dinah by the son of the local Hivite chieftain, and of the revenge of her brothers (Genesis 34).

The city is mentioned in Egyptian documents of the 19th century BC. During the rule of the Hyksos kings of Egypt (16th-17th cent. BC), Shechem was a strong walled city, with a triple gate, a fortress-temple, and an acropolis. Most of the sites specifically mentioned in the Book of Judges have tentatively been identified by archaeologists. Later after King Solomon's death, the 10 northern tribes of Israel revolted in Shechem against Solomon's son Rehoboam and placed Jeroboam as king in his stead (I Kings 12).

After the Assyrian conquest of the northern Kingdom of Israel (722 BC), the city of Shechem deteriorated. It was re-established by the Samaritans, and was important in the Hellenistic period but was destroyed by the Maccabean ruler John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC).

Under the Roman emperor Vespasian in AD 72 the city was named Flavia Neapolis, it prospered because of its strategic site and the abundance of nearby springs. Later called Julia Neapolis, or simply Neapolis (Greek: "New City"), it is portrayed on the 6th-century Madaba map.

Both rabbinic and early Christian literature identified Nabulus with ancient Shechem, and Nabulus has been called Shekhem in Hebrew to the present.

Its ruins are under the stratified mound of Tall al-Balatah, just east of the present city, which shows evidence of settlement from the Middle Bronze II period (c. 1900-c. 1750 BC), generally associated with the time of the biblical patriarchs. One notible place today is the traditional site of "Jacob's Well," south of the city.

Today it is the largest community of the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria) territory under Israeli administration since 1967.

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