Those who have traveled with me can readily attest that one of my favorite sites in the land of Israel is the Shechem area. In recent years, I’ve been able to do no more than stand on top of Mount Gerizim or view the area from the east, but even that is quite satisfying. My love for the area is not necessarily related to anything the eye can see today. There are other hills, valleys, tells, and impressive views. But the acts of God make this area unlike any other. Here the Lord promised the land to Abraham. Here Jacob erected an altar and apparently dug a well. Here the twelve tribes recited the blessings and curses. The list goes on, and it is long and rich.
Standing atop Mount Gerizim and gazing over this panorama is one of my favorite things to do. But it could be better. It would be better if dense urbanization did not obscure the historic sites. It would be better if the loud noises of modern city life did not disturb my thoughts. It would be better if Israeli soldiers weren’t on guard around the corner. And it would be better if there was peace in the land and I could walk down the slope, into ancient Shechem, and then up the slope of Mount Ebal.
If I had lived 100 years ago, I could have done all of that. I can’t do that, but I can enjoy the beauty of old photographs. This is one of my favorites.
This photograph is one of 600 high-resolution images in the new Northern Palestine CD, volume 1 of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. Photo: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-05142.
If you prefer to view the photos in a PowerPoint file where you can flip back and forth between them, you may download that here.
2 thoughts on “Shechem, Then and Now”
I just visited Shechem this afternoon for my first time. It is really great to see your pictures from 100 years ago. I agree that it would be wonderful to walk from Gerazim to Ebal.
I had the chance to get to the Well, but I missed out on tel Balata. Have you ever been to the tel? (I was too nervous to explore much, and I did not prepare enough to locate it before I went.)
Love the blog!!!!
David – yes, I've been to the tell, but not since 2000. I don't know what the area is like today, but you're wise to play it safe.