In the four Gospels, Sychar (in Greek: Sukha; Vietnamese: Xy-kha; French: Sychar) appears 1 time in Jn 4:5. The town of Sychar is described in the Gospel of John like this: “He [Jesus] came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there” (4:5-6a). Jerome identifies Sychar with Shechem. In fact, in Syriac manuscripts the word “Shechem” is used for “Sychar”, but this identification was probably corrected by a later copyist. Majority of manuscripts wrote “Sychar”. Where exactly are Sychar town?
From Bible History Online
The description of Jn 4:5-6 invokes the text of Gen 33:18-20: “18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. 19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.” Nevertheless the town’s name in Jn 4:5 is Sychar, it is not Shechem. Besides, in the Bible, the name “Sychar” is mentioned only one time in Jn 4:5. Some scholars want to identify Sychar town with the ancient Shechem, but many others tend to identify Sychar town with Askar village of today.
In fact, the criteria for identifying Sychar town are (1) near “the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph” (4:5b) and (2) “Jacob’s well was there” (4:6a). Some scholars identify Sychar with Shechem because the excavations show that “the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph” (4:5b) lies before the ruins of Shechem which is much closer to the modern Balata (see SCHEIN, Following the Way, 1980, p. 205).
Many other scholars identify Sychar town with the village of Askar (see the map above). Rudolf Schnackenburg wrote: “The place called Sychar by the evangelist (Vg. Sichar) is mostly identified with the present village of Askar, a little more than half a mile north-east of the well of Jacob” (SCHNACKENBURG, The Gospel, vol. I, p. 423). Jn 4:5 describes Sychar by the words “polis” which means “city” or “large town”. Excavations at Balata have revealed the ruins of the ancient Shechem, but it is uncertain when the village came into existence. In fact, the ancient Shechem was destroyed in 128 BCE by John Hyrcan. The settlement of Flavia Neapolis (about a mile and a half from ancient Shechem) was not yet in existence at the time of Jesus. Indeed, Flavia Neapolis was founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian in 72 CE. Today, the city’s name is Nablus. The village of Askar today is on the lower slope of Mount Ebal. This is the district east of ancient Shechem usually identified with “the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph”. Though the settlement of Askar came into existence only from the Arab times, it may well be on the site of ancient Sychar.
Now, as the result of recent excavations, the site at Sychar can be identified with Askar, a small Samaritan town on the base of Mount Ebal, north-east of Jacob's well. Possibly there were some Christians at Sychar town at the time of the composition of the Fourth Gospel./.
October 27, 2012
Joseph LÊ MINH THÔNG, O.P.
See the article:
Places in Jn 4:1-43. Samaria, Sychar, Jacob’s Well, Mount Gerizim