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November 13    Scripture



Bible Cities: Sychar
Ancient Sychar

Map of Ancient Sychar


Sychar in Easton's Bible Dictionary liar or drunkard (see Isa. 28:1, 7), has been from the time of the Crusaders usually identified with Sychem or Shechem (John 4:5). It has now, however, as the result of recent explorations, been identified with 'Askar, a small Samaritan town on the southern base of Ebal, about a mile to the north of Jacob's well.

Sychar in Fausset's Bible Dictionary John 4:5. Shechem or Nablus (Jerome Quaest. Genesis 48:22) corrupted into Sichem, Sychar. Some think it an intentional corruption, as if from sheker "falsehood," or shikor "drunkard" (Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 28:7), due to Jewish bigotry against the Samaritans. It is objected that Jacob's well at the entrance into the valley is a mile and a half from Shechem, and that it is unlikely the woman, if belonging to Shechem, would go so far for water when plenty was nearer at hand; but Robinson conjectures the town had extensive suburbs anciently which reached to near Jacob's well. The woman probably went to this well, irrespectively of distance, just because it was Jacob's; her looking for "Messiah" is in consonance with this, besides the well was deep and the water therefore especially good. However Sychar may have been close to the well; and (Thomson, Land and Book, 31) the present village, Aschar, just above Jacob's well, on the side of Ebal and on the road by which caravans pass from Jerusalem to Damascus, and by which doubtless Jesus passed between Judaea and Galilee, may answer to Sychar. So Jerome and Eusebius (Onomasticon) make S. "before," i.e. E. of, Neapolis (Shechem) by the field of Joseph with Jacob's well. The Bordeaux pilgrim (A.D. 333) puts Sechar or Sychar a Roman mile from Sychem, which he makes a suburb of Neapolis. "A city of Samaria called Sychar" is language not likely to be used of the metropolis Shechem; moreover the name Sychem occurs Acts 7:16. On the other hand "called" suits the idea that Sychar is a Jewish nickname for Shechem. Lt. Conder favors Aschar, which is the translation of the Samaritan Iskar, not from the Hebrew "drunkard," but from a Hebrew Aramaic root meaning "to be shut up." This derivation and the description in John 4:5-6 answer accurately to Aschar. Jacob's well is at the point where the narrow vale of Shechem broadens into the great plain; it is 2,000 yards E. of Nablus (Shechem), which is hidden from it. The tomb of Joseph is a third of a mile northeastward, thence a path ascends to Aschar which is visible from Jacob's well. frontIsrael Exploration Quarterly Statement, July 1877, p. 149.)

Sychar in Hitchcock's Bible Names end

Sychar in Smiths Bible Dictionary a place named only in Joh 4:5 Sychar was either a name applied to the town of Shechem or it was an independent place. The first of these alternatives is now almost universally accepted. [SHECHEM]

Sychar in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE si'-kar (Suchar): Mentioned only once, in connection with the visit of Jesus to Jacob's Well (Jn 4:5). He was passing through Samaria on His way to Galilee, "so he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: and Jacob's well was there." Jerome thought the name was a clerical error for Sychem (Epistle 86). In Eusebius (in Onomasticon) he is content to translate Eusebius, placing Sychar East of Neapolis. It is now generally admitted that the text is correct. Some have held, however, that Sychar is only another name for Shechem ("Sychem"). It is suggested, e.g., that it is a nickname applied in contempt by the Jews, being either shikkor, "drunken," or sheqer, "falsehood." Others think the form has arisen through change of "m" to "r" in pronunciation; as "l" to "r" in Beliar. These theories may safely be set aside. The evidence that Sychar was a distinct place East of Shechem may be described as overwhelming. It is carefully and perspicuously marshaled by G. A. Smith (Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 367 ff). The manner in which it is mentioned shows that it was not a specially well-known place: "a city of Samaria called Sychar." No one familiar with Israel would have written "a city of Samaria called Sychem." It is mentioned only because of its nearness to the well. As to the position of the well, there is general agreement (see JACOB'S WELL). It is on the right of the road where it bends from the plain of Makhneh into the pass of Shechem. Fully half a mile off, on the edge of the plain, is the village of `Askar, on the lower slope of Ebal. A little to the West is the traditional tomb of Joseph. This is the district East of Shechem usually identified with Jacob's "parcel of ground." Many have sought to find Sychar in the modern `Askar. There are two difficulties. The first is the initial letter `ain in the modern name. But G. A. Smith has shown that such a change as this, although unusual, is not impossible. The second is the presence of the copious spring, `Ain `Askar, which would make it unnecessary for the villagers to carry water from Jacob's Well. This cannot easily be explained away. One could understand a special journey at times, if any peculiar value attached to the water in the well; but from it, evidently, the woman drew her ordinary supplies (Jn 4:15). This difficulty would probably in any case be fatal to the claim of the village at `Ain `Askar to represent the ancient Sychar. But Professor R. S. A. Macalister has shown reason to believe that the village is not older than Arab times (PEFS, 1907, 92 ff). He examined the mound Telul Balata, nearly 1/2 mile Southwest of `Askar, and just West of Joseph's tomb. There he found evidence of occupation from the days of the Hebrew monarchy down to the time of Christ. Here there is no spring; and it is only 1/4 mile distant from Jacob's Well--nearer therefore to the well than to `Askar. In other respects the site is suitable, so that perhaps here we may locate the Sychar of the Gospel. The name may easily have migrated to `Askar when the village fell into decay.

Sychar Scripture - John 4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

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