Where Was ‘The Land of Sinim’?

Culture Insider: New Year vacation in ancient China

It’s only mentioned once, in all the Bible: “Behold, these shall come from far… and these from the land of Sinim” (Isaiah 49:12).

“The land of Sinim”–where was that? We are not told. Probably Isaiah’s audience didn’t need to be told.

Many scholars have thought “Sinim” was China: the passage suggests some country far away, probably in the East. Others think it was in Arabia or southern Egypt: but I say there was no need to call any of those places “Sinim.”

Maybe the people of Judah in Isaiah’s time had only heard rumors of “Sinim,” and for them the name was synonymous with some terribly exotic place “somewhere out there.” When I was a boy, “Timbuktoo” meant some unspecified country far, far away (although you could find it on a map easily enough).

Or maybe a few travelers and traders had already journeyed from Judah to China, or vice-versa. We think that’s impossible, but of  course it wasn’t. It wasn’t even that improbable.

The point is, the Bible’s message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is meant for all the world, China included. The Americas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but the message is for everybody, whether they ever crossed the ocean or not.

Was “Sinim” China? Certainly it could have been. Just because they didn’t have cell phones and Internet access didn’t make the ancient world’s people stupid. I would hate to put up today’s people against them in any contest of intelligence.

6 comments on “Where Was ‘The Land of Sinim’?

  1. I believe it was China or some part of it. As for earlier generations being primitive- hardly. They were not only stronger, more healthy (look at their life spans in the earliest days) but we have to remember that they were skilled in all the things that now make this generation equipped for what we have developed.

  2. The context of Isaiah 49 seems to refer to the regathering of Israel. In support of Sinim meaning China, there is the matter of the Kaifeng Jews, a number of whom have made Aliyah and now reside in Israel.

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