International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
SINIM, LAND OF
si'-nim, sin'-im ('erets cinim; ge Person): The name occurs in Isaiah's prophecy of the return of the people from distant lands: "Lo, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim" (Isaiah 49:12). The land is clearly far off, and it must be sought either in the South or in the East. Septuagint points to an eastern country. Many scholars have favored identification with China, the classical Sinae. It seems improbable that Jews had already found their way to China; but from very early times trade relations were established with the Far East by way of Arabia and the Persian Gulf; and the name may have been used by the prophet simply as suggesting extreme remoteness. Against, this view are Dillmann (Commentary on Isaiah), Duhm, Cheyne and others. Some have suggested places in the South: e.g. Sin (Pelusium, Ezekiel 30:15) and Syene (Cheyne, Introduction to Isaiah, 275). But these seem to be too near. In harmony with his reconstruction of Biblical history, Cheyne finally concludes that the reference here is to the return from a captivity in North Arabia (EB, under the word). While no certain decision is possible, probability points to the East, and China cannot be quite ruled out. See article "China," Encyclopedia Brittanica (11th edition), 188b.