Biblical Archaeology Review 29:4, July/August 2003

The Shechem Temple

Where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand

By Lawrence E. Stager

In the time of Abimelech, a powerful warrior in early Israel, great events occurred in a fortified temple in Shechem. I believe that temple was found in an excavation at Shechem more than 75 years ago. But neither the original Austro-German excavators nor the later American excavators recognized it as being the temple of El, Lord of the Covenant, featured in Judges 9. The American excavators believed the temple was in use only in the Middle Bronze Age IIC period (1650–1550 B.C.E.), too early to be linked with the Biblical story, which is set in the period of the Judges (about 1200–1000 B.C.E.)

Once properly dated, the great fortified temple at Shechem, variously known as the Tower (migdal) Temple or the Fortress-Temple,1 can be seen as the setting of the dramatic events narrated in Judges 9.

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