Love of the Land

For the week ending 9 March 2013 / 26 Adar I 5773

Three Versions of a Name

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

What Jews in Israel call Shechem, the Arabs call Nablus. There are three versions for the source of this name:

NEAPOLIS When the Romans built a new city next to the site of ancient Shechem they named it Neapolis, Latin for "new city". The Arabs corrupted its pronunciation into Nablus.

NEVALAH When the sons of Yaakov took up arms against the residents of Shechem, it was because a nevalah an outrage had been committed against their sister Dinah.

NAB LUS The Arab tradition is that this name is a combination of two Arabic words Nab (tooth) and Lus (snake). Their legend speaks of a giant snake in the vicinity of Shechem named Lus who was slain and whose teeth were placed on the gates of Shechem. Those who entered the city would look at those teeth and exclaim "they are the Nab of Lus".

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