In Search of Gog and Magog - Part 1
In Search Of Gog - Magog
R. A. Coombes
"Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal and prophesy against him. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal." Ezekiel 38:2,3
There has been a lively debate down through the years as to the identity of "Gog" and "Magog." Gog is a name of a leader of a nation called "Magog" found in the prophecies of Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39. The debate took on a new life with the advent of popular Bible Prophecy author Hal Lindsey whose popular books on prophecy pronounced the identity of Gog as being The Soviet Union. In recent years, Hal and others holding his views have been forced to backpedal on the identity of Gog because the Soviet Union no longer exists. Instead, Russia is the more acceptable concept now presented by the Lindsey wing of conservative Bible prophecy interpretation.
This researcher however always had a problem with Lindsey's views about Gog and Magog's identity. Why? Because further research showed a considerable body of evidence to suggest that Magog was further south from Russia in what would today be Turkey, Armenia, Syria, northern Iraq and Iran as well as perhaps Afghanistan. A considerable archaeological evidence as well as history supports the latter viewpoint. There is also a surprising new alternative theory that has crept into consideration involving Great Britain as the identity the land of Magog.
So which theory is correct? Is it the theory of Magog being Russia, Britain or a slice of the northern Middle East? We'll examine each theory and let you decide for yourself.
#1. The Russia Theory
The central or main reason for holding to the view that Russia is Magog is the claim that the Hebrew word in Ezekiel 38:2 for "chief prince" is the word "Rosh" in part because it is similar in phonetic sound to Russia. The conclusion is therefore a that Ezekiel 38:1-16 is referring to Russia. Of course, there is more to the theory than just this element but this is one of the more popularly promoted reasons given for such a claim. Lindsey also cites later histories indicating that the tribes that were composed of Magog migrated from the northern middle east northwards into what is today the Russian Siberian wilderness areas. There are some archaeological indications to support the notion but equally there are strong arguments for other theories.
To further buttress the Russia theory, Lindsey has promoted the notion that the Hebrew word "meschech" is a phonetic reference to "Moscow" and Tubal is the phonetic rendering for the Russian city of Tobalsk while others claim it is for the Georgian city of Tblisi. Well, Moscow didn't exist as a city until 850 years ago.
There was no Moscow when Ezekiel wrote his prophecy. You should also note that the actual phonetical roots for Moscow don’t match up with Lindsey's assertions. Furthermore the claim that Meshech is Hebrew for Moscow is quite a stretch of the imagination. However, there are also other linguists attempting to make such claims. Tubal for Tobalsk is also a bit of a stretch phonetically and again from an etymological standpoint there is no evidence, nor justification for making such a leap. However, we have read of such attempts by some linguists. Other linguists, with no ax to grind in this debate indicate such conclusions presented by the Lindsey camp are simply ludicrous conclusions without merit. The Tblisi hypothesis seems to be an equally incredulous claim.
The biggest problem with the "Russia is Magog" theory stems from a false assertion made by some that the Hebrew word "rosh" is literally the Hebrew word for Russia. Therefore they assert that the Ezekiel text is literally mentioning Russia. This is a preposterous conclusion.
However, they cite Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon and (Strong's word #7220 - rosh).
Gesenius cites Byzantine era writers as a source of historical significance but goes no further back in time for cited references than to 1,000 A.D. The prestigious Gesenius cites fairly recent writers and thus has no ancient sources for which to make such a claim. This is rather uncharacteristic of the famed lexographer but it is the case in point for our issue. The appeal to Gesenius is impressive, but it must be remembered that Gesenius was a great lexicographer and grammarian, not an authority on ancient history. We should also note that the some believe the Magogites were Scythians (cited by Jewish historian, Josephus) and are of the Japhetic line. They are believed by historians to be descendants of Gomer through Ashkenas. This is simply invalid to connect this to Magog. You simply cannot identify Magog as the Scythians. There is anthropological support historically.
Another equally respected Hebrew Lexicon is the Brown-Driver-Briggs (B-D-B) Lexicon. It is the work of three famous lexographers of the Hebrew language. B-D-B Lexicon indicates that there is no identity known for the word "rosh" as a personal name. Therefore B-D-B will not go out on a limb like Gesenius and make the assertion that 'rosh' = Russia.
The Hebrew word of "nish" + "rosh" = chief prince = Russia??? This is wrong. We are looking at false assumptions. From a grammatical standpoint of both English and Hebrew, such a notion is invalid. Lexically lets review the terms "nish" = Strong's #5387 and "rosh"= #7218.
#5387= nasi -- an exalted one, a king, a chief, a captain.
#7218 = rosh -- a captain, a chief, a prince, a ruler, a leader.
The term "Chief Prince" works well as a translation into English. The combined term carries the notion of a leader among leaders within that nation. Now the remaining issues to consider are the grammatical underpinnings in the Hebrew.
Note that in the Massoretic Hebrew texts, the term carries the accents of "tiphha and Zaqeph-gadol. Now for those of you with Hebrew knowledge you should note that the Tiphha appears under the resh of the Hebrew word - 'rosh'; while the Zaqeph-gadol appears on the top of the sin of the Hebrew word 'nish' (nasi).
The tiphha to the right, and underneath the first consonant of 'rosh' is a prepositive and in Hebrew grammar does not mark the tone syllable. For verification check out Kautsch and Cowley's Hebrew grammar on page 61 and at point number 9.
Now the word "nish" or (nasi) has the Zaqeph-gadol accent. Now this accent is always used in connection with a pause. It is to be read as a pause and as a disconnetive or disjunctive tool to keep two words or concepts from connecting directly. See same Hebrew Grammar by Kautsch and Cowley on page 60 and point 4b. Now let's see how this goes together or doesn't go together in English.
Ezekiel 38: 3
"Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the prince, -- pause -- chief of Meschech and Tubal."
The Russian Theory viewpoint is: … " O Gog, the nish (prince), rosh = Russia of Meschech and Tubal.
Even in the English, can you see how changing the term rosh's definition to that of a named nation just doesn't fit grammatically, even in the English. It is too bad that the old Revised Standard Version (RSV) missed this connection and promoted a deviant reading of the text.
What we have here according to the critics of the Gog=Russia theory is a disjointed conjecture that violates the clear hermeneutical principles of Biblical interpretation. In other words, the theory has 'forced' its way past grammatical rules in order to promote wishful thinking. However, the Russia = Gog does have some historical support and perhaps some archaeological evidence also.
The ancient Jewish historian, Josephus is cited regarding the identity of Magog by those proposing the theory that Russia is Magog. Josephus cites the Greeks in referring to the Scythians as being the descendants of Magog and that they originated in the area of Noah's ark.
Louis Bauman in his book "Russian Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy" on pp 23-25 cites not only Gesenius but also The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge which stated:
A stricter geographical location would place Magog's dwelling between Armenia and Media (Iran), perhaps on the shores of the Araxes. But the people seem to have extended further north across the Caucasus, filling there the extreme northern horizon of the Hebrews. This is the way Meschech and Tubal are often mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions.
So it is indeed possible that in citing more ancient historians such as the first century A.D. Jewish historian, Josephus and the early Greek historians, we're closer to the time when Ezekiel actually wrote the prophecy onto a scroll. However, do we have the real and factual identity of Magog uncovered?
Let us examine the other options.
#2. Magog - Gog = Britain, Ireland Theory
There is a fairly new and novel theory that suggests Great Britain is actually Gog and Magog. How is this so? It is based on a series of legends that date all the way back to the earliest days of human history.
On the map known as the Catalan Atlas and on the tenth-century Anglo-Saxon world map', there appear in the furthermost part of Siberia the names of Gog and Magog. It was widely believed in medieval times that those mythical giants existed somewhere in Asia, penned in by Alexander the Great behind the great mountain walls shown so prominently on early world maps. The source of the belief lay in the Bible story that they represented the forces of evil who would appear immediately before the end of the world. In England, Gog and Magog were supposed to be the survivors of a race of giants destroyed by Brutus, the legendary founder of Britain who brought them to London and condemned them to act as porters at the gates of the royal palace; hence their place over the entrance to the Guildhall.
Towards the head of the Procession you will see two enormous but benevolent giants. They are Gog and Magog, the traditional guardians of the City of London who have been carried in the Lord Mayor's Show since the reign of Henry V. They are descended from the pagan giants of early English pageantry and their history is buried in the mysterious world of myth and legend.
Brutus the great-grandson of Æneas, fled from Troy and after a series of adventures arrived in these islands, which he renamed after himself; Britain. With him he brought his most able warrior and champion Corineus, who fought the leader of the "Giant brood" in single combat, and eventually slew him by hurling him from a high rock into the sea. The name of the giant was Gogmagog and the rock from which he was thrown became known as Langoënagog or "The Giants Leap". As a reward Corineus was given the western part of the island which became named after him; Cornwall. Brutus however travelled to the east, where he built a city which he called Troya Nova, or New Troy, which eventually came to be known as London.
At one time human sacrifice was common, but as times grew more civilized, images of men were burned instead of the men themselves. Finally the figures received the name of the divinity in whose honour the feast was held; and in time these became saints' images. The custom of carrying effigies at various festivals became widespread, not only in England but on the continent. These giants of pageantry that you will see today are the last vestiges of the pagan effigies. Our giants have no trace of the supernatural about them, they originated in folk custom, deriving their names from historical or pseudo-historical characters like Gogmagog, from Biblical history like Samson, or from classical mythology like Hercules. They are a part of a tradition in English pageantry which pre-dates Christianity.
Another version of the story has it that these two giants were the last two survivors of the sons of the thirty-three infamous daughters of Diocletian, who were captured and kept chained to the gates of a palace on the site of Guildhall to act as guardians. Whichever way, they got there, we know that by the reign of Henry V, there were giants residing in Guildhall. And when in 1554, they appeared in the Lord Mayor's Show, the names Gogmagog and Corineus were attached to the London giants for the first time. The giant of folk-custom made an admirable champion and it was natural to develop a champion into a local hero.
In 1605 the Pageantmaster of the day alluded to the giants who appeared in the Procession on Lord Mayor's Day as Corineus and Gogmagog. And later in 1672, the Pageantmaster Thomas Jordan referred to them as "two exceeding rarities", and stated that "at the conclusion of the Show, they are to be set up in Guildhall, where they may be daily seen all year and I hope never to be demolished by such dismal violence as happened to their predecessors." He was referring to the destruction of much of the City by the great fire in 1666. His giants however only lasted a few years being made of wickerwork and pasteboard, in common with their sacrificial forebears, and were eventually destroyed by mice and rats.
They were replaced in 1708 by a magnificent pair of wooden statues carved by Captain Richard Saunders. These giants on whom the versions you will see today are based, lasted for over two hundred years before destruction in the blitz. They, in turn, were replaced by the pair which can now be seen in Guildhall, and which were carved by David Evans in 1953 as a gift to the City by Alderman Sir George Wilkinson who had been Lord Mayor in 1940, at the time of the destruction of the previous versions.
Gog and Magog symbolize one of many links between the modern business institutions of the City and its ancient history. This is but the most recent of their various re-births, which have long been symbolised by the phœnix on Magog's shield, representing return after fire. Today, the words of Thomas Boreman in his "Gigantick History" of 1741 are as appropriate as ever. He declared that "Corineus and Gogmagog were two brave giants who richly valued their honour and exerted their whole strength and force in the defence of their liberty and country; so the City of London, by placing these, their representatives in their Guildhall, emblematically declare, that they will, like mighty giants defend the honour of their country and liberties of this their City; which excels all others, as much as those huge giants exceed in stature the common bulk of mankind."
Now, in that light consider the following.
W. F. Albright, father of Modern American Biblical Archaeology stated: "Magog is a blend of Manda the regular Mesopotamian designation for northern barbarians and Gog the equivalent." In other words, Gog and Magog have exactly the same meaning as the word Keltoi, or Celt. Gog and Magog are the same barbarian northern tribes we have seen in the context of the Little horn
The IRISH Theory
The dispersal of the nations from Babel (Babylonia) took place during the fifth generation after the Flood. Names of four successive generations are in common with both the British and Irish Celts. After the fifth generation, lines of the British and Irish Celts diversify.
According to Ireland's history, the race known as "Partholan's people," Nemedians, Fir-Bolgs, Tuatha-de-Dananns, and Milesians were all descended from two brothers, sons of Magog. Irish annals take up the genealogy of Magog's family where the Bible leaves it. The Book of Invasions, "Cin of Drom-Snechta," claims that these Scythians were Phœnicians; a branch of this family were driven out of Egypt in the time of Moses (ca 1000 BC): "He wandered through Africa for forty-two years, and passed by the lake of Salivæ to the altars of the Philistines, and between Rusicada and the mountains Azure, and he came by the river Monlon, and by the sea to the Pillars of Hercules, and through the Tuscan sea, and he made for Spain, and dwelt there many years." (See Scythopolis. FYI: Irish chief god Bel or Baal - worshipped by Phœnicians and Philistines -the sun god. The Irish name for the sun is Grian, another sun-god is Gryneus.)
We would note that we've read "intelligence" reports lately that indicate the Irish Republican Army has been working with the Al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorist groups to intercept electronic information and tap into phone conversations between Britain and the USA leadership. Could this be a precursor signal of the
Irish being Magog and a part of the invasion against Israel? Probably not, but combined with Britain, we suppose it is always a possibility. Right now, we'd be hard-pressed to envision an understandable scenario wherein Britain would successfully invade Israel but we cannot understand why it would happen.
Magog = Northern Middle East Theory
Prior to the Second World War, most atlases of the Bible would show the land of Magog to be in the northern part of the Middle East. In other words it encompassed primarily areas of Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Northern Iraq and Northern Iran. Meschech and Tubal were in what is today considered Turkey and portions of northern Syria as well as a small portion of northern Iraq.
Martin Luther held the view that Magog was Turkey. This was based in large measure upon the cities of Meshech and Tubal as being in what was then greater Turkey. Luther understood Gog and Magog as the biblical designation for the Turks. This was such an important point for him that he published his translation of Ezekiel 38 and 39 as a separate pamphlet with an introduction underscoring the connection.
http://www.whyprophets.com/prophets/gogmagog.htm ( it is a Mormon website?)
Is apparently the name of a person, but this is hard to know for sure. It may be a descriptive title such as a representative or ambassador or a general perhaps.
Mushki of central and western Asia Minor, known in the classics (Homer, etc.) as Phrygia, fits very well as Meschech. These people were well known to Ezekiel's world of Babylon. To place Meschech as Mushki seems to be a much easier and more logical interpretation.
Ezekiel would have been well acquainted with Tabal of Eastern Asia Minor in what is now Turkey. There was no such thing as city or village of Tobalsk, Russia in Ezekiel's day.
If Meshech and Tubal are in the area of what we now call Turkey, then Magog would also have to be in that same general area.
The allied forces would include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Ethiopia/Sudan, and perhaps also Afghanistan (and the Hindu-Kush Mountain region). We also find that Gomer cannot be Germany but rather Gimarrai, Turkey. What we may now be seeing in the news for terrorists strongholds may also fit with prophecy. In other words the Ezekiel passages may be describing the areas where terrorists are coming from, such as the Al Qaeda to wage a final, pitched battle, albeit perhaps using Weapons of Mass Destruction.
We should note that the term for "extreme, or uttermost parts of the north" in Ezekiel's day was indeed the area of what is now known as Turkey. To Ezekiel, Turkey was the most extreme and utter north country. One does not have to apply it to Russia or to Ireland or other extremely northern nations like Mongolia.
So who goes to war against Israel with Gog-Magog???
Turkey (as Magog) plus Iran, Libya and Sudan. Gog, their leader then leads an Islamic coalition of nations against Israel. Turkey will be from the north, Iran from the east, Libya from the west and Ethiopia/Sudan from the south. Now some will argue that the area of Magog also encompassed parts of Syria and northern Iraq (the Kurds?). Might it be that the Kurds are actually the Magogites?
Keep in mind that the following nations are not mentioned:
Other small Gulf nations.
They may have been already destroyed in an earlier conflict OR they've sat aside. There is also the possibility that Ezekiel doesn't list all the nations that attack Israel. Perhaps he only mentions those allied with Turkey & Gog and that there are others that attack Israel but are not part of the main alliance, or that he merely mentions the more significant ones. One thing does seem clear by all accounts -- Egypt is not a part of the coalition of invaders.
We note these discrepancies because Jeremiah 51:27 indicates that Iran and portions of Iraq as well as perhaps Turkey, Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkmenistan and even perhaps Saudi Arabia might be a part of the attack upon Israel when Babylon is hit with its first divine judgment. The possibility does exist that Babylon-America will also be hit by this allied combination of nations. It is also possible that these Islamic nations will attack Israel because of Babylon-America's treachery or cowardice that allows the attack to commence and fails to protect Israel deliberately perhaps as the result of blackmail. Perhaps it is because, America's leaders are simply taking orders from their Illuminati-masters (Satanic angels in physical form) who order the USA leadership to stand down and allow the muslims to attack Israel.
No matter what the reason, there will be no excuses allowed by God for Babylon-America.
One final thought
Perhaps the alignments of Ezekiel are not yet present on the geo-political scene. Perhaps, the alignment will not be complete until Saddam Hussein is gone and a new re-drawing of the Mideast Map is in order. Perhaps Iraq will be so split up (as is being alluded to privately within the current US Administration as it plots its war plans) that the Kurds whose lands are split between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran will become a separate nation. Perhaps in the aftermath of the war we will see other nations broken up such as Saudi Arabia. Perhaps Jordan will be re-drawn also.
One thing we find interesting is that the current events as of November, 2002 in the Middle East point to theories #1 and #3 above as being highly and plausibly likely for near fulfillment. Indeed, could the looming war between the USA and Iraq either be or lead to the Gog-Magog War against Israel?
We'll explore that issue in a related article on The Alpha-Omega Report website.
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By R.A. Coombes
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