Sinim: A Biblical Mystery Land

Sinim: A Biblical Mystery Land

IN AN IMPORTANT PASSAGE OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY, Isaiah 49:12 says, “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 Sinim, and who are the objects of the prophecy?

The Bridgeway Bible Commentary designates the passage in Isaiah 49:8 to 50:3 as, “Israel rebuilt.” We are told, “Once more God promises the return of the captive Hebrews to their homeland.” Our specific key verse in this prophecy therefore relates to exiled Israel, leading some expositors to think that the mysterious name Sinim reveals the location of the lost ten tribes.

Famous 19th century evangelical commentator John Trapp agrees and thinks that lost Israel is to be found in China: “Botterus (cf. Arias Mont., Osorius, A. Lapide) saith that there are reckoned seventy millions of men, which are more than are to be found in all Europe; and who knows but many of those of the ten tribes of Israel are there?”

Others look to China for the missing Israelites as well. The Scofield Bible says, “Sinim: The word is supposed to refer to a people of the Far East, perhaps the Chinese.” The Preachers Commentary concurs: “Sinim (a name often given to China, which represented the end of the earth).”

Barnes Notes suggests we may find lost Israel in China on philosophic grounds: “It may be added, that this is the only place where that country is referred to in the Bible, and there may be some plausibility in the supposition that while so many other nations, far inferior in numbers and importance, are mentioned by name, one so vast as this would not wholly be omitted by the Spirit of Inspiration.” If this is an appropriate determinant to identify China, why not America? Barnes does not similarly feel it peculiar that evangelicals believe the USA is wholly omitted in Scripture!