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The meaning of Sin (2) in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

sin (cin, "clay or mud"; Suene, Codex Alexandrinus Tanis): A city of Egypt mentioned only in Ezekiel 30:15-16. This seems to be a pure Semitic name. The ancient Egyptian name, if the place ever had one such, is unknown. Pelusium (Greek Pelousion) also meant "the clayey or muddy town." The Pelusiac mouth of the Nile was "the muddy mouth," and the modern Arabic name of this mouth has the same significance. These facts make it practically certain that the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 AD) is correct in identifying Sin with Pelusium. But although Pelusium appears very frequently in ancient history, its exact location is still not entirely certain. The list of cities mentioned in Eze. in connection with Sin furnishes no clue to its location. From other historical notices it seems to have been a frontier city. Rameses II built a wall from Sin to Heliopolis, probably by the aid of Hebrew slaves (Diodorus Siculus; compare Budge, History of Egypt, V, 90), to protect the eastern frontier. Sin was a meeting-place of Egypt with her enemies who came to attack her, many great battles being fought at or near this place. Sennacherib and Cambyses both fought Egypt near Pelusium (Herodotus ii.141; iii.10-13). Antiochus IV defeated the Egyptians here (Budge, VIII, 25), and the Romans under Gabinius defeated the Egyptians in the same neighborhood. Pelusium was also accessible from the sea, or was very near a seaport, for Pompey after the disaster at Pharsalia fled into Egypt, sailing for Pelusium. These historical notices of Pelusium make its usual identification with the ruins near el-Kantara, a station on the Suez Canal 29 miles South of Port Said, most probable. "Sin, the stronghold of Egypt," in the words of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 30:15), would thus refer to its inaccessibility because of swamps which served as impassable moats. The wall on the South and the sea on the North also protected it on either flank.

M. G. Kyle


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