Gog/Magog War (the attackers)

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Gog/Magog War
Who are the attackers?

Ezekiel 38:1-6 (NIV)1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him 3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army–your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. 5 Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, 6 also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops–the many nations with you.

Magog, Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal are ancient tribes that occupied the geographical area of modern day Russia, and parts of Iran and Turkey.  Magog, Meshech and Tubal were sons of Japheth.  Magog’s descendants, according to Josephus[1], were the Scythians.  The Scythians occupied an area above the Black Sea in modern day Ukraine and western Russia.

Gog and Magog are mentioned also in the book of Revelation, which will be covered toward the end of this study.  However it is the author’s understanding that in Ezekiel, Magog is a geographical reference, along with Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, while in Revelation Gog and Magog are symbolic references to all nations without Christ whom are susceptible to Satanic deception.

Meshech is seen by many biblical scholars as the ancestors of the Russian people.  It is believed that several Russian geographical names, such as Moscow, the Meschera tribe and the Meshchera Lowlands, could be related to Meshech.

Tubal, also being a son of Japheth, is almost always coupled with Meshech in scripture.  Tubal’s descendants are thought to be the Tiberini of the Greek historian Herodotus, a people of the Asiatic highland west of the Upper Euphrates, the southern range of the Caucasus, on the east of the Black Sea.[2]  In modern terms, this could include Turkish and Iranian areas to the south and Russian areas to the north.

Rosh was the seventh son of Benjamin in Genesis 46:21.  The geographical location of Rosh’s descendants are difficult to trace, but in this text are seemingly in the same general area “far from the north” as the other ancient nations referenced.  Coincidentally, tracing “from the far north” from Israel, in a straight line, one arrives at Moscow, Russia. 

The prophecy is spoken against “Gog,” who is referenced as the ruler of Meshech and Tubal.  Specifically he is named as “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”  To that end, Gog may be understood as a title, such as “Caesar.”  Because the prophecy is spoken against Gog, it is apparent that the area consistent with modern day Russia is the leading nation in this attack, as Gog is the chief prince of nations which formerly occupied that geographical area.  This is a coalition attack of numerous people groups, in retrospect, fitting well with Jesus’ words examined earlier in Matthew 24 of wide-spread warfare as a birth pain pointing toward the times of the end.

Verses 5 and 6 note other nations involved in the attack:  Persia (present day Iran), Cush (modern day Ethiopia), Put (modern day Somalia), Gomer, referred to as Germania in the Midrash and the Talmud (modern day Germany) and Togarman (Armenia).

Many have attempted to determine the nations involved in this attack by historical evidences rather than the Bible itself.  This has led many to turn away from the “Russian” leadership of this attack due to the fall of the former Soviet Union.  However, the Bible speaks of the geographic areas of its own day rather than referencing specific modern nations.  The fall of the former Soviet Union is irrelevant to the interpretation of this prophecy.  Perhaps Russia itself will fall and be named another name.  The biblical geography is what is relevant to understanding whom is involved, not the names of the modern nations.

It is tempting to try to interpret the Bible by current events.  However, current events are, in fact, determined by the Bible.  The presupposition of this study is that the Bible is unfailing in its teaching and that history will unfold as it has been prophesied.  Thus, regardless of the future outcomes of any nations currently occupying these areas, the people who occupy this geography at the time of the attack are being specified in this text.

This coalition is said to be “from the North”, though not all of these nations are North of Israel.  The indication is that they are attacking from the North and that their leadership is from the North (modern day Russia).

In summary, the attackers, unless their names or borders are changed between now and this attack, appear to be Russia, possibly Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Somalia, Germany and Armenia.

[1] Flavius, Josephus: “Jewish Antiquities”, book 1 chapter 6 page 123. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1930.

[2] Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

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6 Responses to Gog/Magog War (the attackers)

  • Got a scenario that might play out. Scriptures say that Damascus will be utterly destroyed. Damascus has been attacked before, but it still remains. Here is what I think might happen. Iran is hellbent for leather to get their nuclear reactors online. Israel knows that this must not happen. Eventually Israel and/or the U.S. strike Iran’s reactors which, of course inflames both Iran and Russia. Syria is pretty much in Iran’s back pocket as far as terrorism and attacks on Israel go. I believe that Iran will retaliate against Israel as well as Syria. I believe that Iran will stay conventional but Syria will make the mistake of launching a chemical or biological attack. Israel counterattacks with a devastating nuclear attack against Damascus. The world opinion immediately goes against Israel. Russia, Iran, and the rest of the Middle East demands Israel be punished. The U.S. does not want to chance an all out war with Russia and does not militarily support Israel. Russia, Iran and the rest of the coalition swarms Israel thus starting the Gog-Magog war. Just an idea.

  • I think your idea has merit.

    There is no question that Damascus has a reckoning at an unspecified (future) time as indicated by Isaiah 17, and that it will be utterly and permanently destroyed. It is also very interesting that Syria is not mentioned in the Gog/Magog attack while so many other surrounding nations are. You would fully expect Syria to be one of the first in line with anyone who would desire to attack Israel.

    If Damascus is taken out, though, Syria will be in no position (with her capital destroyed) to enjoin such an effort. That postulate could explain both texts beautifully.

    Hal Lindsey shares this point of view. I don’t really read Lindsey, but did note an article of a similar idea some time back. I do think it has merit.

    The only thing I find cautious about that speculation is that the rest of the world in Ezekiel 38 seem to know the real motive of the attack is to “plunder” rather than to retaliate. While only a few nations vocalize it, the true motives of the attack must be seen clearly enough that they would fail to accept the obvious “retaliatory” excuse for the attack which would be built in, if this idea is to come to pass.

    Ezekiel 38:13 (NIV)
    13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”‘

    If the Gog/Magog invasion were aligned and fronted as a response to the annihilation of Damascus, it does seem a bit of a stretch that Sheba, Dan (Arabia) and Tarshish (Western Democracies, I think) would understand a hidden agenda, which God himself confirms: the pillage of Israel.

    Yet, that fact alone certainly doesn’t undo your postulate. It just makes the thought more interesting. Something is going to tip them off to the truth if it happens as you predict….

    Thanks for the great comment!

  • Thanks Kluttz. I see the Bible’s/your point about the plundering of Israel. It is pretty much plainly stated. My question is what exactly are they going to plunder? I have always wondered about that. There is an old Jewish joke that says Moses took a wrong turn and led the Israelis to the only part of the Middle East that contains no oil. Maybe that is not entirely true. Perhaps Israel will discover an oil reserve rivaling Saudi or Iraq. Or maybe Russia would get a warm water port in the deal. I don’t know. What I do know that things are starting to take shape. Iran and Russia are getting very cozy in technological and weapons trading. Russia invaded Georgia which will give them a platform to invade from the north. Things are getting interesting. There is no doubt that most Muslim countries would love nothing better than to see Israel gone. The mystery still remains for me, what exactly are they to plunder? Hopefully the Lord will reveal that to us soon. That aside, I CANNOT wait to meet Jesus face to face. Can you imagine talking to God in person? Wow. Anyhow…have a good one and keep your eyes open. Mike

  • That does seem to be the question. But, I think you’ve noted the best possibilities; a warm water port for Russia, and a possible oil discovery. But, Israel also has the highest per-capita scientific population on earth. It is anyone’s guess what they may discover, invent or otherwise acquire which would be good plunder.

    I also like the idea of the Dead Sea as a source of plunder. It is a unique place on the Earth, containing tons of elements (most of which are NOT in very high demand currently) which are otherwise hard to find in high quantities. Just as the price of corn has gone through the roof because of ethanol, perhaps some abundant Dead Sea element will rise to great importance.

    I, like you, have also wondered if there isn’t a huge oil deposit just out of the reach of current technology. At least it will be fascinating to watch. I hate knowing everything that will happen before the movie rolls!

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