From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

SYCHAR ( Συχάρ) is mentioned in connexion with the journey of Jesus from Judaea to Galilee recorded in  John 4:4 f. We learn from  John 4:5 f. that He came ‘to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: and Jacob’s well (πηγή) was there’;  John 4:11 adds the information that ‘the well (φρέαρ)’ was ‘deep.’ Jacob’s fountain, referred to here, is one of the undisputed sites of the Gospels. It lies in the mouth of the valley running up between Mts. Ebal and Gerizim to Shechem, 1 1/2 miles E [Note: Elohist.] . of the city and about 1100 yds. from the traditional site of Joseph’s Tomb ( Joshua 24:32). The source of its water is still uncertain. Probably rainfall and percolation contributed most to the supply. According to Sanday ( Sacred Sites of the Gospels , 32), ‘it is possible that the special sacredness and real excellence of the water (on a hot day it is beautifully soft and refreshing) had something to do with’ the presence of the woman from Sychar, though it has been suggested that she was fetching water for workmen employed on the adjacent cornlands and not for her own household. Now Sychar lay ‘near’ Jacob’s ground and well, and the problem is whether it should be (1) identified with Shechem , or (2) located at the little hamlet of ‘ Askar , near the foot of Ebal, about a mile N. of the well and 1 3/4 miles E [Note: Elohist.] . N. E [Note: Elohist.] . of Nâblus. The balance of expert opinion seems to be in favour of the latter identification.

In support of (1), several considerations have been adduced. ( a ) Shechem could certainly be roughly described as ‘near’ Jacob’s ground, and the disciples who went to ‘the city’ to buy bread were away during the whole of the conversation, that is, for some considerable time. Cheyne ( Encyc. Bibl. iv. 4831) considers it unlikely that ‘the city’ which fills such a prominent place in the narrative of John 4 should be any other than Shechem. Then ( b ) Jerome ( Ep. 86 and Quaest. Heb. in Gen. [Note: Geneva NT 1557, Bible 1560.] 48, 22) states that Sichem and Sichar are one and the same place, and that Συχάρ is a copyist’s error for Συχέμ Cheyne defends Jerome’s hypothesis, holding that modern criticism has not disproved its possibility. It has also been urged ( c ) that the Jews called Shechem Shikor (= ‘drunken’) and Sheker (= ‘false’)—hence the transition from Shechem to Sychar. It can be added ( d ) that, for centuries after Jerome’s time, his view was adopted by ‘pilgrim’ writers, among whom may be mentioned Arculf (a.d. 700), Saewulf ( c. [Note: circa, about.] 1102), Theoderich (1172), Maundeville (1322), and Tuchem of Nurn berg (1480).

But strong objection has been taken to most of these contentions, in favour of (2). ( a ) Over against Cheyne’s expression of opinion as to the likelihood of identification with Shechem may be set the view of G. A. Smith ( HGHL [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 368), that the Evangelist, who had such a good acquaintance with the OT, could not, in face of  Genesis 33:19 and  Joshua 24:32, have substituted (in error) Sychar for Sychem , and that if he possessed only such knowledge of the locality as the OT gave him, he would have used the name Συχέμ (like Stephen in  Acts 7:16). Then ( b ) Jerome offers no evidence for his identification, and Συχάρ has now been generally adopted as the correct reading. Also Jerome translates Eusebius’ note, which separates Sychar from Neapolis (or Shechem), without comment or correction (in Onom. s.v. ‘Sychar’). ( c ) There is no proof whatever that the nicknames ‘Shikor’ and ‘Sheker’ were ever given to Shechem ( HGHL [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 369, and Encyc. Bibl. iv. 4830). And ( d ) in spite of the pilgrims’ belief in Jerome, there is clear evidence for Sychar as a separate town, from the 4th cent, onwards.

The evidence just referred to is briefly as follows. Eusebius ( Onom. s.v. Συχάρ) writes to the effect that Sychar lay ‘before Neapolis, near the piece of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph, where Christ, according to John, held discourse with the Samaritan woman, by the fountain: it is shown to this day.’ Jerome simply translates this, adding in place of the last sentence, ‘ubi nunc ecclesia fabricata est.’ [But see Eusebius’ Onom. s.v. Συχέμ and Βάλανος Σικιμών, where Shechem is distinguished from Neapolis]. The Bordeaux Pilgrim ( c. [Note: circa, about.] 330 a.d.) mentions a Sychar distinct from Shechem, and about a Roman mile away—to which testimony must be added that of the Itinerary of Jerusalem (a.d. 333), and later on of the Abbot Daniel (a.d. 1106), of Fetellus (1130), and of John of Würzburg ( c. [Note: circa, about.] 1165). In the Samaritan Chronicle (not later than the 14th cent.) a town spelt’ Ischar (with initial Aleph) is referred to, ‘apparently near Shechem’ and the same as Sychar. Finally, the traveller Berggren found the name ‘ Askar or ‘ Asgar (with Ayin) given both to a spring and to the whole plain. This name still attaches to the modern village at the foot of Ebal. G. A. Smith ( HGHL [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 371) and Cheyne ( Encyc. Bibl. iv. 4831) agree that ’Askar may well have grown out of Suchar —the intermediary form being ’Ischar . There is a parallel in the case of’ Ashkelon, mod. ‘Askalan . To this evidence for separating Shechem and Sychar must be added references in the Talmud (noted by Lightfoot) to a place called Suchar or Sichar , a ‘fountain of Suchar’ and ‘a plain of en-Suchar.’ The spring and the plain just mentioned can hardly be other than those referred to by Berggren ( Reise , ii. 267).

These references and opinions seem to justify the conclusion that St. John’s Sychar is the modern ‘ Askar , with its ruins and fine spring.

Literature.—Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iv. 635; Encyc. Bibl. iv. 4828 f.; Robinson, BRP [Note: RP Biblical Researches in Palestine.] iii. 133; Stanley, SP [Note: P Sinai and Palestine.] 240 f., 223 (note); Thomson, Land and Book , ch. 31; Buhl, GAP [Note: AP Geographic des alten Palästina.] 203; Sanday, Sacred Sites , 31–33, 91; Baedeker-Socin, Pal. [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] pp. 328, 337; G. A. Smith, HGHL [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 367 f.; Ewald, Gesch. iv. 284; Neubauer, Géog. du Talm. [Note: Talmud.] 169; Raumer, Pal. [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] p. 163.

A. W. Cooke.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

 John 4:5. Shechem or Νablus (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 ( Οnomasticon ) 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 Ιskar , 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. (See Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, July 1877, p. 149.)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

SYCHAR . ‘A city of Samaria,’ near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph (  John 4:5 ). Jerome in Onomast . distinguishes Sychar from Shechem , but in Ep. Paul . and Quæst. Gen . he identifies them, saying that the form Sychar is due to a scribal error. Much ingenuity has been exercised to show that the names are really identical, or at least apply to the same city. On the face of it this is unlikely. In a.d. 333 the Itinerary of Jerusalem places Sychar one mile E. of Shechem in this agreeing with other ancient authorities. Canon Williams first suggested Identification with ‘Askar , a village on the skirt of Ebal, about two miles E. of Nâblus. The main objection to this is the presence of a copious spring, more than sufficient to supply the village; while from   John 4:15 we learn that the woman of Sychar was accustomed to go ‘all the way’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) to Jacob’s Well for domestic supplies. Further, there is nothing to indicate a pre-Arab settlement at ‘Askar. Mr. Macalister ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1907, p. 92 ff.) draws attention to the mound Tulûl Balâtâ , a little nearer to Nâblus, just N. of the hamlet Balâtâ, which bears evidence of occupation from the period of the Hebrew monarchy to Roman times.

Jacob’s Well , according to unanimous and unbroken tradition, lies about half a mile to the E. of Tulûl Balâtâ, on the S. edge of the plain, at the foot of Gerizim. Formerly of great depth (  John 4:11 ), it is now much filled with rubbish, and is not more than 76 ft. deep. Depending on the percolation of surface water, with the greater depth the supply would be constant; but now it is dry before the summer is far advanced. The sacred associations of the Well, and the ‘lightness’ of the water, compared with the hardness of that from the spring, would form attractions in early, as in modern times. With no other ancient settlement near the Well, we may with some confidence place Sychar at Tulûl Balâtâ . With the ruin of the village the name may have migrated to ‘Askar .

W. Ewing.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Sychar ( Sȳ'Kar ), Drunken. A small village near Jacob's well,  John 4:5. formerly supposed to be another name for Shechem. But this is now known to be a mistake; Sychar is represented by the modern Aksar. The well of Jacob is near Sychar; it is about 105 feet deep, 7½ feet in diameter, lined with stones. It is partly filled with rubbish now. Jesus rested on this well.  John 4:6.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Sy'char. A place named only in  John 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. See Shechem .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]


A city of Samaria. It is supposed that this is the same with Sechem, and only changed, as it is said, by the Jews, out of reproach to the Samaritans, whom they did not love nor deal with. Sichar means drunkenness. ( John 4:5)

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

City of Samaria in the vicinity of which was Jacob's well, where the Lord met the woman of Samaria, and where He stayed two days, and many of the Samaritans believed on Him.  John 4:5 . Identified with Askur, 32 13' N, 35 17 E. Jacob's well is about half a mile from the village.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

The village of Sychar belonged to the Samaritans and was near the ancient town of Shechem ( John 4:5-6). (For details see Shechem .)

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

 John 4:5-6 Genesis 33:19

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Isaiah 28:1,7 John 4:5

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

( Συχάρ in א , A, C, D; but rec. tex Σιχάρ with B; Vulg. Sichar; but Codd. Am and Ftild. Sychar; Syriac Socar), a place named only in  John 4:5, as "a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the ground which Jacob gave to Joseph his son; and there was the well of Jacob." Sychar was either a name applied to the town of Shechem, or it was an in dependent place.

1. The first of these alternatives is now almost universally accepted. In the words of Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Res. 2, 290), "In consequence of the hatred which' existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, and in allusion to their idolatry, the: town of Sichem received among the Jewish common people, the byname Sychar." It seems to have been a sort of nickname (perhaps From שֶׁקֶר , Sheker, "falsehood," spoken of idols in  Habakkuk 2:18; or from שַׁכּוֹר , Shikk6R, "drunkard," in allusion to  Isaiah 28:1;  Isaiah 28:7), such as the Jews were fond of imposing upon places they disliked; and nothing could exceed the enmity which existed between them and the Samaritans, who possessed Shechem ( John 4:9). It should not be overlooked that John appears always to use the expression Λεγόμενος , "called," to denote a sobriquet or title borne by place or person in addition to the name, or to, attach it to a place remote and little known. Instances of the former practice are  John 11:16;  John 20:24;  John 19:13;  John 19:17; of the latter,  John 11:54. The son of Sirach speaks of "the foolish people that dwell in Sikima" (1,28). See Lightfoot, Opera, 2, 586; Lange, Life of Christ, 2, 337; Hengstenberg, On St.  John 4:5 . Jerome, in speaking of Paula's journey, says," She passed Sichem, not, as many erroneously call it, Sichar, which is now Neapolis" ( Epist. Ad Eustoch. in Opp. 1, 888, ed. Migne). In his questions on Genesis he says that, according to Greek and Latin custom, the Heb. Sichem is written Sicima; but that the reading Sichar is an error: he adds that it was then called Neapolis (Opp. 2, 1004, ed. Migne). So Adamnan writes to Arculf, who traveled in the 7th century: "He visited the town called in Hebrew Sichem, but by the Greeks and Latins Sicima, and now more usually Sychar" (Early Trasvels, Bohn, p. 8). In the 12th century Phocas says, "Sichar was the metropolis of the Samaritans, and was afterwards called Neapolis" (Reland, Palaest. p. 1009).

On the contrary, Eusebius (Onomast, s.v. Συχάρ and Λουζά ) says that Sychar was in front of the city of Neapolis; and, again, that it lay by the side of Luza, which was three miles from Neapolis. Sychem, on the other hand, he places in the suburbs of Neapolis by the tomb of Joseph. The Bordeaux Pilgrim (A.D. 333) describes Sechim as at the foot of the mountain, and as containing Joseph's monument and plot of ground (villa). He then proceeds to say that a thousand paces thence was the place called Sechar. Moreover, had such a nickname been applied to Shechem so habitually as its occurrence in John would seem to imply, there would be some trace of it in those passages of the Talmud which refer to the Samaritans, and in which every term of opprobrium and ridicule that can be quoted or invented is heaped on them. It may be affirmed however, with certainty that neither in Targum nor Talmud is there any mention of such a thing. Lightfoot did not know of it. The numerous treatises on the Samaritans are silent about it, and recent close search has failed to discover it. (See Shecheim).

But Jerome's view soon became the prevailing one, and has continued to be so. Robinson adheres strongly to it; and in regard to one of the chief objections urged on the other side, that Jacob's well, which stands at the entrance into the valley where Shechem or Nablas is situated, is about a mile and a half from the town, so that a woman would hardly have gone so far to draw water, since there was plenty of good water near at hand, he thinks that the town probably had extensive suburbs in the Gospel age which did not exist in the time of Eusebius and might have approached quite near to the well of Jacob-just as Jerusalem anciently extended much farther north and south than at the present day (Researches, 3, 121). Porter takes the same general view, and says, in regard to the distance of the well, that persons who use such arguments know little of the East. The mere fact of the well having been Jacob's would have brought numbers to it had the distance been twice as great. Even independent of its history, some little superiority in the quality of the water, such as we might expect in a deep well, would have attracted the Orientals, who are, and have always been, epicures in this element (Handbook for Pal. p. 342). It may be added that there is no need for supposing this well to have been the one commonly frequented by the people of Nablus. The visit of the woman to it may have been quite an occasional one, or for some specific purpose.

2. It has been thought that Sychar may be identified with the little village of Askar, on the south-eastern declivity of Molmut Ebal (Van de Velde, Memoir, P. 350; Thomson, Land And Book, 2, 206). The etymology, however, is against it, and also the topography. Our Lord was on his way to Galilee. The great road runs: past the mouth of Wady Nablus. Jacob's well is on the southern side of the opening; and Askar about half a mile distant on the northern side. The main road passes quite close to both. Our Lord sat down by the well while the disciples turned aside into the city to buy bread. Had Askar been the city, this would have been unnecessary for by continuing their route for a short distance farther they would have been within a few paces-of the city. There is, besides; a copious spring at Askar. In the Quarterly Statement of the "Pal. Explor. Fund," for July, 1877, p. 149 sq., Lieaut. Comuder gives a further description of the village of Askar, and some additional reasons for identifying it with Sychar; but they are not conclusive.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

sı̄´kar ( Συχάρ , Suchár ): Mentioned only once, in connection with the visit of Jesus to Jacob's Well (  John 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 shikkōr , "drunken," or sheḳer , "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 Palestine 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 (  John 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 ‛A skar when the village fell into decay.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Sy´char, a name of reproach applied by the Jews to Shechem [SHECHEM].