Shinar (Hebrew שִׁנְעָר Šin`ar, Septuagint Σεννααρ Sennaar) is a broad designation applied to Mesopotamia, occurring eight times in the Hebrew Bible. Possible derivations from Semitic that have been suggested include Shene nahar "two rivers" and Shene or "two cities", but neither is certain.[1]

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 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, who reigned in Babylon. "Shinar" is further mentioned in Joshua 7:21; Isaiah 11:11; Daniel 1:2; and Zechariah 5:11, as a general synonym for Babylonia.

If Shinar included both Babylon ("Babel") and Erech, then "Shinar" broadly denoted southern Babylonia. Any cognate relation with Šumer, an Akkadian name used for a non-Semitic people who called themselves Kiengir, is not simple to explain and has been the subject of varied speculation. The Egyptian term for Babylonia / Mesopotamia was Sngr (Sangara),[2] identified with the Sanhar of the Amarna letters by Sayce.[3]

Some scholars have suggested that Shinar must have been confined to the northern part of Mesopotamia (plain of Sinjar, immediately south of Mount Judi and west of Mount Nisir), based on Jubilees 9:3 which allots "Shinar" (or in the Ethiopic text, "Sadna Sena`or") to Asshur. However, 10:20 states that the Tower was built with bitumen from the sea of Shinar. Other scholars such as David Rohl, however, have proposed that the Tower was actually located in Eridu, once located on the Persian Gulf, where there are ruins of a massive, ancient ziggurat worked from bitumen. [4]

This is where the sons of Shem, Ham and Japheth went after they tarried in the highlands of Armenia, after the flood (Vuibert, Ancient History, 25).


  1. The New York Review, St Joseph's Seminary, 1907, p. 205.
  2. mentioned in the context of the Asiatic conquests of Thutmose III; W. Max Müller, "Asien und Europa," 1893, p. 279, cited after Jewish Encyclopedia
  3. "Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch." 1896, xviii. 173 et seq.; "Patriarchal Palestine," 1895, pp. 67 et seq., cited after Jewish Encyclopedia
  4. Legends: The Genesis of Civilization (1998) and The Lost Testament (2002) by David Rohl

External links

da:Sinearet:Sinearimaapt:Sinar ru:Сеннаар tl:Senaar

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