Alon Moreh/Shechem
Alon Moreh/ShechemHIlell Meir

The Palestinian Authority is renewing an archaeology dig in Shechem, which the Bible records was bought by Jacob (Yaakov). The director  of the PA's Department of Antiquities, Hamdan Taha, says the dig will help in “writing or rewriting the history of Palestine.” 

Muslim clerics often have rewritten the Bible, claiming that the “binding of Isaac (Yitzchak)" actually refers to Ishmael. Clerics in the Palestinian Authority and the entire Muslim world also have frequently argued that the Holy Temples never existed and that Rachel's Tomb at Bethlehem actually is an ancient Muslim holy site.

Shechem appears to be next in line. Taha told the Associated Press that the history of the area, including the Biblical period, is part of “Palestinian history.”

He added that the renewed dig of the Shechem site will “give Palestinians the opportunity to participate in writing or rewriting the history of Palestine from its primary sources."

Indications of the thinking of mainstream media were evident in the AP report, which noted that “Abraham's grandson Jacob was camped outside the walls when a local Canaanite prince raped his daughter, Dinah. Jacob's sons sacked the city in vengeance. The body of Jacob's son Joseph was brought from Egypt hundreds of years later by the fleeing Israelites and buried at Shechem.”

However, the most important element of the Biblical story was omitted – the purchase of Shechem by Jacob, making the city one of three Biblical sites bought for the Jewish people. The other two are the Patriarch’s Cave and surrounding fields in Hevron, purchased by Abraham, and the city of Jerusalem, purchased by King David.

The remains at the Tel Balata archeological site in Shechem show that there were huge gates at the entrance to the ancient city.

Work at the site began a century ago but was stopped with the onset of World War I.