Hosea 6:9 (NLT) reads:

Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin.

Hosea seems intent on naming specific places (for example, see this question). What is the significance of Shechem being named here? Is it merely to give the prophecy vivid, down-to-earth images that people could picture from their experience, or is there a deeper reason why Shechem is named as the place to which people are traveling when they are murdered by the priests? Is there a connection to the slaughter of Shechem by Simeon and Levi?

2 Answers 2


I do not think the meaning of the name Shechem has any bearing on the text. The name seems to come from its shape in the hills surrounding it. Rather the 'history' and 'location' of the city among the poeople holds the answer.

First, the road to Shechem from Bethel was like a highway, or main road that robbers would use to attack people:

And they said, Behold, there is a feast of Jehovah from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. (Judges 21:19)

This would become part of the great highway from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Secondly Shechem was like an alternate Jerusalem, the ‘holy place’ for the Northern tribes that Hosea was a prophet to. Originally it was a base station for the worship of Baal, but Abraham had, on entering Canaan, received the first Divine promise there and built an altar unto Jehovah (Genesis 12:6, 7).

Under Joshua assemblies took place at Shechem. Israel had made solemn covenant by responding from Mounts Ebal and Gerizim to the blessings and the curses enunciated in the law. (Joshua 8:30-35; 24:1-28),

To keep it simple, Shechem had been the silent witness of so many solemn transactions in the history of Israel, but it was also on that account that the Northern tribes broke away from God’s King in Judah and so Abimelech, had set up his throne:

Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood. ” (Judges 9:1-2)

So we see the picture it was a holy place, yet also a place of departing from God. To add sin upon sin, at the time of Hosea, some of the priests of Israel were using this highway to their so called holy city as a place for murder.

It would be the same thing as saying to Judah, "On the road to Jerusalem you kill the innocent! You are absolute hypocrites worthy of the heaviest judgment!"


Ho 6:9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, [so] the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. -AV

Shechem - means 'shoulder'. The thigh is consent of the will(life) related to the foot/walk. The shoulder refers to 'consent of works'.

But it also refers to the lewdness of Simeon and Levi in killing en masse at Shechem by allegory. They had turned the covenant sign, one of life, into a mass murder.

The law was given with the command "Choose life!" but by the time of Christ is called the "law of sin and death" by Paul.

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