Jews and Joes

Where is the "Land of Sinim" (Isaiah 49:12)?

Below are three versions of Isaiah 49:12, illustrating the lack of certainty on how the verse should be translated and accurately understood, especially where "Land of Sinim" is typically seen. The NIV's use of what was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls is certainly of much interest, that is: "the region of Aswan".

"Behold, these shall come from afar; and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the Land of Sinim." -Isaiah 49:12 (KJV)

"Behold these shall come from afar, and behold these from the north and from the sea, and these from the south country." -Isaiah 49:12 (DRB)

See, they will come from afar— some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.[1]" -Isaiah 49:12 (NIV) Footnote [1]: Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text: Sinim

Strong's #: H5515
סינים
sîynîym
Pronunciation: see-neem
Strong's Definition: Plural of an otherwise unknown name; Sinim, a distant Oriental region: - Sinim.

Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) Definition: Sinim = “thorns”
1) a people living at the extremity of the known world; may be identified with the inhabitants of southern China
Part of Speech: adjective proper plural
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: of an otherwise unknown name

Gesenius Definition: Isa. 49:12; the context requires that this must be a very remote country, to be sought for either in the eastern or southern extremities of the world. I understand it to be the land of the Seres or Chinese, Sinenses; this very ancient and celebrated nation was known by the Arabians and Syrians by the name [missing], and might be known by a Hebrew writer living at Babylon, when it was almost the metropolis of Asia. [But this occurs in Isaiah, a book written in Judah; the place where written does not, however, affect the argument as to whether the Chinese be intended or not; the Spirit of God knows all nations and their names, present and future; and just as he could speak beforehand of Josiah and Cyrus, so he could of the Chinese]. At what period this name was given to the Chinese, by the other nations of Asia, and what its origins may be, do not plainly appear. The Chinese themselves do not know the name, and even seem to be wholly destitute of any ancient domestic designation, adopting either the name of the reigning dynasty, or else lofty titles of honour, such as Dshung-kue-dshin, the citizens of the kingdom which is in the middle of the earth. As to the origin of the name, if their opinion be correct who suppose that the Chinese were so called from the dynasty of Thsin, who reigned from the year 246, A.C., and onward (see Du Halde, Descr. de la Chine, t. i. & 1; Abel-Remusat, Melanges Asiatiques, ii. p.334, seqq.), a Hebrew writer, contemporary with Cyrus [but Isaiah lived centuries before], would not make any mention of it; but (whatever be thought of the people Tshinas, mentioned in the laws of Menu) the authors of this opinion themselves concede, that the name of that dynasty might be known amongst foreign nations before it was in possession of the whole empire of China; nor, indeed, are we in want of other modes of explaining this name. In the Chinese language dshin denotes men; why then may not this name have been given to the Chinese by foreigners? for instance, by the Indians (amongst whom also, in the books of the Buddhists, mention is made of Dshina; see Klaproth, Asia Polyglotta, p. 358). This name may have been given to them as that by which they called themselves and all men. We have a similar instance in the Ethiopic pr.n. [missing]; a man. Those who do not apply this to the Chinese, either understand it of the Pelusiotes (compare [missing]), and by Synecd. the Egyptians, as Bochard, Phaleg. iv. 27, or the Syenites (compare [missing]). - Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, pg. 584-585.

H.F. Wilhelm Gesenius unfortunately didn't have the Dead Sea Scrolls at his disposal during his life. It would have been very interesting to read his thoughts on the "the region of Aswan" connection. I find it interesting that the region is directly south of Israel (Sinai) and is located in "Egypt". According to the Prophet Jeremiah, Israel would be regathered in a much Greater Exodus (Jer 16) than that which was first experienced by Israel in Egypt. Yet, Egypt is known in Hebrew as "Mitrayim" (a land of Distress/Trouble) and the Prophet Jeremiah also indicates that Israel and Judah would be regathered from the nations at the ends of the Earth (where they again experience slavery: i.e. Global Bankers) during the time of "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer 30:1-24), a time of Great Distress (the Great Tribulation).

In my view, all the various leanings are probably correct on some level, whether they connect Isaiah 49's Sinim/Aswan to Central Asia, China, Australia, South America, South Africa, or a figurative Egypt. Gesenius was likely right when he said "the context requires that this must be a very remote country".

Related verses:

Isaiah 43:5-7:
(5) “Do not fear, for I am with you. I shall bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west.
(6) “I shall say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth
(7) all those who are called by My Name, whom I have created, formed, even made for My esteem.”

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