Shinar (Hebrew שנער, Septuagint Senaar) is a broad Hebrew designation applied to Mesopotamia. The word occurs eight times in the Hebrew Bible.

References in the TorahEdit

In the Book of Genesis 10:10, the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom is said to have been "Babel, and Uruk, and Akkad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." The following chapter, 11:2, states that Shinar was a plain settled after the Biblical flood, where mankind, still speaking one language, built the Tower of Babel. In Genesis 14:1,9 Shinar is the land ruled by king Amraphel, usually identified with Hammurabi, who reigned in Babylon.

"Shinar" is further mentioned in Joshua 7:21; Isaiah 11:11; and Zechariah 5:11, as a general synonym for Babylonia.

Location and Etymological TheoriesEdit

If Shinar included both Babylon ("Babel") and Uruk, then "Shinar" broadly denoted both northern and southern Babylonia. Any cognate relation with "Sumer" or "Shumer," an Akkadian name used for a non-Semitic people calling themselves ki-en-gir is not simple to explain and has been the subject of varied speculation. It is certain that the Egyptian term for Babylonia was Sangar, a name appearing often in the Amarna letters.

According to H. Welsh, it is likely, arising from association with "Ur", that Shinar signifies the land of the Mesopotamian moon god Sin, one of whose temples was at Ur. Sin had a network of temples spanning across the Fertile Crescent, including a prominent temple in Babylon and one of its famous Gates, also a major temple in Harran, and probably another in the city of Jericho, whose name means "Place of the Moon God."

Some believe Shinar to be a reference to the land that is now China. The very ancient Arabic name for China is 'Ṣīn' or Sina. Likewise, in Latin, China is referred to as Sinae, whence the English prefix Sino- (eg. Sino-Tibetan) originates.

External linkEdit

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