from Xian to Zion
From Xian to Zion
The Silk Road - 絲綢之路 or 丝绸之路, one of the most important roads ever been used by Humanity.
Our story begins around 3500 years ago when the great emperors of China wanted to trade with the empires of the west: Ur, Madai, Hittites and off course – the Pharos of ancient Egypt.
The Silk road was the main if not the only connection between these two disconnected civilizations, starting at the ancient imperial capital of China – Xian and ending at the great city of Antioch which is todays modern Turkey.
This off course had been the main route, however, there were several trade roads that broke away from the main roads and led into the fertile crescents, Egypt and Israel ending at the port cities of Acre, Tyre, Gaza and even Jaffa.
Around the year 4000 BCE there have been a major change with Human way of life, Humans started to use camels as a main source of transportation, this amazing new technology gave birth to the inland international trade and made the world a bit smaller and more accessible.
Since that time we know of a vast connection between the great emperors of China and the Middle East. Around the year 130 BCE, the second emperor of the Han Dynasty had set up a series of posts along the Silk Road and opened formal embassies in Parthia, Syria and other key cities mainly for the need of military knowledge, horses, expansion and wealth.
During the Mongol Empire days, the use of the Silk Road became so well-known and so safe that it had drown European traders such as Marko Polo who had dwelt within the courts of Emperor Kublai Chan and left us with amazing historical documents about the progress of the Chinese empire, such a progress that many until today, doubt that it to be true….
It was only after the fall of the Mongol empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Black Plague that the use of Silk Road had come to an end.
Due to these chain of events, the ever growing need of the west to seek trade and knowledge with the great emperors of China became stronger and stronger to a point that European world explorer went out to seek an alternative routes, it is true to assume that when Christopher Columbus went out to find a new navel rout to India, he was inspired by travelers such as Marco Polo and his stories of the great emperor of China, Columbus did went out to find India but China was never the less as important to him and to the kings of Europe.
The city of Ur, or as it known in the Bible as Ur Kasdim is the birth place of the Abraham, the first man in the bible who believed in G-D, the "father of Monotheism".
There are several traditions about the actual location of the city of Abraham:
The City of Ur in Iraq- a major port and trade city which was situated at the time on the shores of the Arabian gulf (since then, the rivers Euphrates and tiger had "pushed" away the shoreline to the south east) The city was connected to the main Silk Road by a main trade rout that went along the river bank.
The city of Urpha in Turkey – a major city, situated on one of the main routs of the Silk Road leading into Israel and finally to Egypt.
Rather if the City was in Iraq or in Turkey, there is one thing for certain, due to the trading nature of the cities and due to the fact that Abraham's father Terach left Ur using the trade routes - Abraham knew about China.
In the Hebrew language, China is pronounced as "Sin".
The name comes from 2 possible sources:
The Hebrew pronunciation of the Qin dynasty
The Bible which speaks about "Sin" in several locations:
· 15 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; 17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; (Genesis 10:15-17)
· 12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. (Isaiah 49:12)
Many scholars today believe that the people of "Sin" which are mentioned in the bible are not the Chinese, or in Hebrew – "Sinim" of today due to the fact that the mane "Sin" refers to the Qin dynasty, however, if we go back to the times of Abraham, the emperors of China were from the Shang density, in that case, the Hebrew pronunciation of the word "Sin" can be referred both to Shang (Chang in Hebrew) or Qin (Chin in Hebrew).
I for myself believe that both assumptions are correct, I base my claim mostly by getting a closer understanding of the prophecy of Isaiah.
Isaiah speaks to the people of Israel during one of the most difficult times, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, the people of Jerusalem already know that all of the cities of Judea had fallen to the hands of the Assyrians and only Jerusalem stands along… they also know what the Assyrians had done to the kingdom of Israel in the north and they are terrifying…
Isaiah knows that the people are despaired and he tells them:
"7 Thus says the Lord,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the Lord who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel;
And He has chosen You.”
He continues with a description of the places from where the allies of Israel and the allies of G-D will come, he names the directions of the nations but he calls only one nation by its name – the land of the Sinim – the land of China:
12 Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
and these from the land of Sinim.”
Isaiah, being one of the most important prophets in the bible, prophesize this deep connection between the Jewish nation and the nation of China.
Throughout history people had migrated, moved from their birthplace to a new land, in their places, other nations had come and settled and created new civilizations, new orders, new believes.
There are not many nations in the world that can proudly say – "we are direct descended from our ancestors, we know this from blood, traditions and names". The Chinese and the Jews can proudly and out spoken claim this statement.
Both nations had practiced the same culture, bared the same names and spoke the same language from the time of Abraham and the Shang dynasty through Isaiah and the Zhou Dynasty to Jesus and the Han Dynasty until this very day.
It is not a coincidence that during the 2nd World War, China was one of the only nations who helped rescuing Jews from Nazi Europe and it is not a coincidence that Israel was the first nation in the Middle East to acknowledge the People republic of China on January 9 1950, only 3 months after Mao Tse Tung's declaration in Beijing, It is not a coincidence that Israel is becoming a must visit destination to the people of China, it is a bond of nations, a bond that was there since the very beginning, since the time of our ancestors a bond which is here to stay.
Omer Eshel – CEO Bible Comes to Life Travel and Education Center