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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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(Heb. Sinim', סַינַי , prob. of foreign etymology; Sept. Πέρσαι; Vulg. australis), a people whose country ("the land of Sinim") is noticed in Isaiah 49:12 as being at the extremity of the known world, either in the south or east. The majority of the early interpreters adopted the former view, but the Sept., in giving Persians, favors the latter, and the weight of modern authority is thrown into the same scale, the name being identified by Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, and others with the classical Sinoe, the inhabitants of the southern part of China. No locality in the south equally commends itself to the judgment. Sin, the classical Pelusium, which Bochart (Phaleg, 4, 27) suggests, is too near, and Syene (Michaelis, Spicil. 2, 32) would have been given in its well known Hebrew form.

There is no a priori improbability in the name of the Sinae being known to the inhabitants of Western Asia in the age of Isaiah; for though it is not mentioned by the Greek geographers until the age of Ptolemy, it is certain that an inland commercial route connected the extreme east with the west at a very early period, and that a traffic was maintained on the frontier of China between the Sinae and the Scythians, in the manner still followed by the Chinese and the Russians at Kiachta. If any name for these Chinese traders traveled westward, it would probably be that of the Sinae, whose town Thinae (another form of the Sinae) was one of the great emporiums in the western part of China, and is represented by the modern Tsin or Tin, in the province of Shensi. The Sinae attained an independent position in Western China as early as the 8th century B.C., and in the 3d century B.C. established their sway under the dynasty of Tsin over the whole of the empire. The Rabbinical name of China, Tsin, as well as "China" itself, was derived from this dynasty (Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v.). This ancient people were known to the Arabians by the name of Sin, and to the Syrians by that of Tsini; and a Hebrew writer may well have heard of them, especially if sojourning at Babylon, the metropolis, as it were, of all Asia. This name appears to have been given to the Chinese by other Asiatics; for the Chinese themselves, though not unacquainted with it, do not employ it, either adopting the names of the reigning dynasties, or ostentatiously assuming high sounding titles, e.g. Tchungkue, "central empire." But when the name was thus given by other nations, and whence it was derived, is uncertain. The opinion of those writers is possibly correct Who suppose that the name, סיני, Sineses, came from the fourth dynasty, called Tshin, which held the throne from B.C. 249 to 206 (Du Halde, Descript. de la Chine,1, 1, 306; A. Rdmusat, Nouv. MAlanges Asiatiques, 2, 334 sq.; Klaproth, Journ. Asiat. 10, 53 sq.). A people called Tshinas are spoken of in the laws of Menu, and the name of this dynasty may have been known among foreign nations long before it acquired the sovereign power over all China. See the Zeitschr. fur wissensch. Theol. 1863, vol. 4. (See CHINA).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sinim'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​s/sinim.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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