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In Isaiah Perek 49 Pasuk 12 it says:

הִנֵּה-אֵלֶּה, מֵרָחוֹק יָבֹאוּ; וְהִנֵּה-אֵלֶּה מִצָּפוֹן וּמִיָּם, וְאֵלֶּה מֵאֶרֶץ סִינִים

Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim.

Where is this land of "Sinim" on a modern day map? In modern Hebrew "Sin" ( סין) refers to China, does that mean the same thing here?

  • According to Wikipedia, Sinim has been interpreted as Phoenicia, the Sinai desert and China. Also, what or who will come from there? – Gabriel12 Mar 9 '16 at 0:26
  • @Gabe12 I thought about bringing the rest of the pasukim for context, see here: mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1049.htm ... Which Wikipedia? – Yehoshua Mar 9 '16 at 0:27
  • But what is the pasuk talking about? The righteous people, the enemies of Israel, the "highways" from the previous pasuk? Btw: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinim – Gabriel12 Mar 9 '16 at 0:34
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Da'as Mikra identifies it as Aswan. Apparently it had an ancient name like S'vene, and is meant in context to represent the southerly direction.

In the footnote on that explanation an opinion is cited that this was the land occupied by descendants of K'na'an known as the Sini, but that its location was too close to home to fit in context of these p'sukim/verses.

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The location may have been in Phoenicia (coast of modern Syria) for two reasons.

First, the word in the Great Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls appears different. That is, instead of סינים (as received in Masoretic Text) the word is סוניים.

In other words, the word סוניים would appear to be the plural form of the word סיני, which is found in Gen 10:17 and 1 Chr 10:17, which refer to the Canaanite patriarch. That is, if the yod is taken for the waw (according to Falk et al.), then the word סוניים may be read as סיניים , which is the plural of סיני.

In this regard, the word סיניים would mean “Sinites,” who were Canaanites who lived north and west of the Land of Israel. According to Fisher et al., archaeological discoveries of Ugaritic tablets with transcriptions aligned with this Hebrew word indicate that locations associated with this name were in what is now northwest Syria.

Secondly, the logical dichotomy of the editing of cantillation in the Masoretic Text indicates that the phrase “And lo, these will come from the north and from the west” (illustrated by the blue box, below) is modified by the phrase “And these from the land of Sinim” (illustrated by the red box, below).

diagram showing the syntactical break up of the verse

In other words, the “land of Sinim” is Canaanite land “north and west” of the Land of Israel, which is the coast of modern Syria today.

  • Why quote the DSS to show the second letter is a Vav if you're going to immediately posit a shift from a Yud? Just use the MT directly – Double AA Mar 9 '16 at 13:09
  • @DoubleAA - I wanted to show that there is a plural form in the DSS with the doubling of the yod. For example, the plural of אדמי (Edomite) is אדמיים, which is found in 1 Kings 11:17. But in 2 Chr 25:14 the same word is אדומים. without the doubling of the yod (or even a dagesh forte). What I wanted to show was the plausibility that the word סוניים in the DSS was the plural form of the word סיני (Sinite), which are Canaanites north and west of the Land of Israel. – Joseph Mar 9 '16 at 15:00

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