Gog and Magog are referred to in the Revelation in 20:18. This is a research paper I wrote in 1996-97 about the possible identity of Gog.
In chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel a "King of the North" is described that will march down from the far north of Israel with a six nation coalition.
This invasion from the north will mark the beginning of the battle that will culminate in the second coming of the Christ to prevent the total
annihilation of mankind. This army from the north will be lead by a military leader "Gog" of "Magog".
The biblical references to Gog and Magog which are in question come from the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel. In these chapters these two titles
are connected to an "invasion from the north" of Israel and the beginning of the war which will culminate in the second coming of the Christ. These
verses begin as follows:
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal,
and prophesy against him. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: Ezekiel
Looking at these two verses in the New International Version translation:
The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal;
prophecy against him and say: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal..." Ezekiel
As can be seen from this second translation, Gog is a leader and Magog is the country from which he comes. So our first task at hand should be
discerning where this land of Magog is.
Now these are the lines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah: sons were born to them after the Flood. The descendants of Japheth:
Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Genesis 10:1-2 (JPS)
So Magog is first mentioned in the Bible as a grandson of Noah. What does this mean to us? How can we use this to determine where the "land of
Magog" might be today?
Flavius Josephus, noted Jewish historian, wrote (c. 70 A.D.), in Book I, Chapter VI, Section 1 of his Antiquities of the Jews
"Now they were the grand-children of Noah, in honor of whom names were imposed on the nations by those that first seized upon them. Japhet,
the son of Noah, and seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountain Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river
Tanais, and along Europe to Cadiz; and setting themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations
by their own names; for Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galations [Galls], but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that
from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians. Now as to Javan and Madai, the sons of Japhet; from Madai came the
Madeans, who are called Medes by the Greeks; but from Javan, Ionia and all the Grecians are derived. Thobel [Tubal] founded the Thobelites, who are
now called Iberes; and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch [Meshech]; now they are Cappadocians. There is also a mark of their ancient denomination
still to be shown; for there is even now among them a city called Mazaca, which may inform those that are able to understand, that so was the entire
nation once called...Now when I have premised somewhat, which perhaps the Greeks do not know, I will return and explain what I have omitted; for such
names are pronounced here after the manner of the Greeks, to please my readers; for our own country language does not so pronounce them; but the names
in all cases are of one and the same ending; for the name we here pronounce Noeas, is there Noah, and in every case retains the same
It can be seen from this passage that Josephus believed his current day "Scythians" to be descendants of Magog. The renowned Roman writer, Pliny,
is quoted as saying (c. 70 A.D.) "Hierapolis, taken by the Scythians, was afterward called Magog."
(1) Hal Lindsey points out that in this
passage Pliny shows that "...the dreaded barbaric people called the Scythians were identified with their ancient tribal name."
on to say that "Any good history book of ancient times traces the Scythians to be a principal part of the people who make up modern
According to Herodotus, the Scythians lived in an area of approximately 250,000 square miles just above the northwest shores of our modern day Sea of
Azov. Herodotus states in Book 4, Chapter 101 of his History
"Scythia, then, is four-sided, with two parts reaching to the sea; and the frontiers that run inland and those that run to the sea are exactly
equal. For from the Ister [Danube] to the Borysthenes [Dnieper] is a journey of ten days, and from the Borysthenes to the Maeetian lake [Sea of Azov]
is ten days again; and from the seacoast inland as far as the Black Cloaks, who live above the Scythians, is a twenty days' journey. The day's
journey I have figured out to be four thousand stades."
This pseudo-rectangle surprisingly matches the area enclosed by the boundaries of modern day Ukraine. Hal Lindsey, in his book The Final
claims that certain factions of the Scythians migrated as far east as the plains of Asia and that the Great Wall of China was originally
known as "The Wall of Magog"
. This allegation is apparently based on the Koran passage of Surah Al-Kahf 18: 89-99:
Then he followed another way, Until, when he came to the rising place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We (Allāh) had
provided no shelter against the sun. So (it was)! And We knew all about him (Dhul-Qarnain). Then he followed (another) way, Until, when he reached
between two mountains, he found, before (near) them (those two mountains), a people who scarcely understood a word. They said: "O Dhul-Qarnain!
Verily! Ya'jūj and Ma'jūj (Gog and Magog) are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect
a barrier between us and them?" He said: "That (wealth, authority and power) in which my Lord had established me is better (than your tribute). So
help me with strength (of men), I will erect between you and them a barrier. "Give me pieces (blocks) of iron," then, when he had filled up the gap
between the two mountain-cliffs, he said: "Blow," till when he had made it (red as) fire, he said: "Bring me molten copper to pour over it." So
they [Ya'jūj and Ma'jūj (Gog and Magog)] were made powerless to scale it or dig through it. Dhul-Qarnain) said: "This is a mercy from my
Lord, but when the Promise of my Lord comes, He shall level it down to the ground. And the Promise of my Lord is ever true." And on that Day [i.e.
the Day Ya'jūj and Ma'jūj (Gog and Magog) will come out], We shall leave them to surge like waves on one another, and the Trumpet will be
blown, and We shall collect them all together.
Now, let's look at the word Magog itself to see if it can shed any light on the subject. In Hebrew the word is spelled with the following letters:
gimel, vav, gimel, mem (numerical values would be 3+6+3+40=52). Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament
says the following
about this word:
[Magog], is the proper name of a son of Japhet, Genesis 10:2; also of a region, and a great and powerful people of the same name, inhabiting
the extreme recesses of the north, who are at some time to invade the Holy Land (Ezekiel, Chapters 38, 39). We are to understand just the same
nations as the Greeks comprised under the name of the Scythians (Josephus, i.6, par. 1). The Arabs call them Yajuj and Majuj, and they
have many fables about them. Their king is called [Gog]. See Koran, Sur. xviii. 94-99; Assemani Biblioth. Orient. t. iii. p. ii. pp. 16, 17, 20;
D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. art. Jagiugh. In the same manner are joined Chin and Machin, i.e. the Chinese. The syllable ma
in these names denoting place, region, has of late been learnedly discussed by Frahn, De Musei Spreviziani Nummis Cuficis, page 95.
So here it is seen that the term Magog, if taken as separate from the proper name of Japheth's grandson, can be viewed as having the root of Gog. In
other words, Ma-Gog would translate as the place of Gog, or the region of Gog. It would appear at this point we should turn our attention to Gog.
Gesenius' Lexicon says of Gog:
1.) Of the prince of the land of Magog, Ezekiel 38: 2,3,14,16,18; 39:1,11; also of the Rossi, Moschi, and Tibareni, who is to come with great
forces from the extreme north (38:15; 39:2), after the exile (38:8, 12), to invade the holy land, and to perish there, as prophesied by Ezekiel...
2.) of a Reubenite, I Chronicles 5:4.
Gog is first mentioned in I Chronicles 5:4 where it is used as a name for one of the Reubenites (descendants of Reuben). There could be great
importance to this reference, even though there is very little commentary on it. Israel (the man) - whose name was originally Jacob, but then changed
by God to Israel - had twelve sons. From these twelve sons originate the twelve tribes of Israel (the people). The firstborn of Israel was Reuben
and it was customary that the firstborn receive the "birthright". However, due to "carnal transgressions" that offended Israel, Reuben was denied
Recounting the scene where Israel calls his twelve sons together at his deathbed:
And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather
yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water,
thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch...
...Judah, thou art he whom thy brethen shall praise: they hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before
thee...The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the
people be. Genesis 49: 1-48,8,10 (KJV)
As can be seen here, not only did Reuben not receive the birthright but, instead of any kind of consolatory blessing, he received a sort of
forewarning of ill fate. Instead, Judah, the second born, was told that the "kingship", or the "ruler of the Israelites" would ALWAYS come from
his (Judah's) descendants. Now it was peculiar that this blessing was phrased this way because up to this point there wasn't, nor had there ever
been, a "king" over any of Abraham's descendants. So this blessing was definitely a prophecy of things to come. And, in fact, all the Israelite
kings were from Judah's lineage...and Christ was from Judah's lineage.
But this "past" Gog was from Reuben's lineage. What could this mean for a future "Gog" and any claim he might have to regain the birthright that
was denied his ancestors, if, in fact, he were to be of the same lineage? Looking at I Chronicles chapter 5:
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was
given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his
brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were, Hanoch, and
Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. The sons of Joel; Shermaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son. I Chronicles 5:1-4 (KJV)
Notice that Judah was not given Reuben's birthright. This was passed on to the second son of the eleventh son of Israel (Israel's grandson). Judah
was given the promise that "the chief ruler" would always come from his line. It is worth pointing out that this whole incident, from a human
viewpoint, is very odd. First of all, at the time there were no "rulers" of the Hebrew people, so why this promise to Judah? Second, the power to
rule the people (when it came eventually) was, from this moment on, disconnected from the birthright of the firstborn. In other words, the blessing
of the birthright, no matter who received it, did not necessarily include the power to rule - and, in fact, from this point on, absolutely did not.
So a future Gog, who claimed to be of the line of Reuben, could argue a claim to one or both of these two rights.
There can be found secular mention of Gog and Magog as well. Graham Hancock was the East Africa correspondent for the The Economist
In comparing a recently discovered Ethiopic letter and an ancient Ethiopic manuscript he stated:
"...I noticed that mention was also made of 'King Alexander of Macedonia' in a context that linked him to 'Gog and Magog'. This caught my
eye because I remembered that Alexander, Gog and Magog had been connected in an almost identical manner in a very ancient Ethiopic manuscript known as
the Lefafa Sedek, the 'Bandlet of Righteousness', which was supposedly unknown outside Abyssinia until the nineteenth
There are several intriguing aspects to this statement. First, some of the most ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament books were found in the
custody of the Ethiopian Jews. Second, it is accepted by many scholars of Judaism that the Ethiopian Jews hold certain ancient Hebrew rituals in a
purer form than any group of Jews anywhere on earth. Third, why would Alexander the Great be connected with Gog of Magog? The Jews of Alexander's
time had no reason to connect him with such an evil force. In fact, the Jews of Jerusalem willingly turned their city over to Alexander to avoid
having the Temple razed. In return, Alexander allowed Jerusalem to live as an autonomous state in the middle of his kingdom; free to worship and live
as they had before his arrival. So there is no known motivation for the degree of animosity that would have to exist for an ancient Jewish writer to
connect Alexander's name to Gog and Magog. There must be another reason.
When Alexander marched upon Jerusalem, the High Priest and company marched out to meet him on the road in hopes of surrendering their city and thereby
avoiding damage to the Temple. Once Alexander had shown his respect for the God of Jerusalem and informed the people that he would not destroy their
city, but instead give it back to them, the Jews offered Alexander the title "King of Jerusalem". (Please note the title...not "king of
Israel"...not "King of the Jews"...but "King of Jerusalem".) Alexander the Great turned down this title, but reserved it for his posterity. So
a descendant of Alexander the Great could argue a claim to the title "King of Jerusalem". Now if this is added in with the claim to the birthright
of Reuben and the claim that this birthright should guarantee the title "King of Israel", we have a person (Gog?) who would have a very powerful
claim. We currently have at least two powerful men in the world that claim decendancy from Alexander the Great. Hapsburg of Austria and Carlos of
Spain. In addition, the "Club of Rome" (also known as the "Black Nobility" of Europe) is a group of families that all claim to have blood
connections to the "thrown of David", which, of course, implies they are part of the lineage of Judah.
Now, looking back at Ezekiel 38:2 (NIV): "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and
The NASB translation reads: "...prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal...
" The word Rosh should now be investigated.
is the root of the modern word Russia
.(4) The Hebrew word Rosh
, translated as "chief" in the King James and Revised
Standard version of Ezekiel 38:2,3, literally means "top" or "head" of something. Most scholars, however, believe this word is used in the sense
of a proper name, not as a descriptive noun qualifying the word "prince".(5) The German scholar, Dr. Keil, says, after a careful grammatical
analysis, that it should be translated as a proper name, i.e., Rosh. He states, "The Byzantine and Arabic writers frequently mention a people
called Ros and Rus, dwelling in the country of Taurus, and reckoned among the Scythian tribes."
(6) So Rosh leads back to the Scythians, creating
a common link to Magog.
Dr. Gesenius states in his Hebrew Lexicon (c. 1857):
"Rosh: proper name of a northern nation, mentioned with Tubal and Meshech; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by Byzantine
writers of the tenth century...dwelling to the north of Taurus, and described by Ibn Fossian, an Arabic writer of the same age, as welling on the
river Rha (Wolga). (See Ibn Fosslan, Bericht von den Russen alterer Zeit, ubersetzt and erklart von Frahn. Petersburgh, 1823, especially p.
28, seqq. Compare Jos. de Hammer, Origines Russes, Petersburgh, 1827, who also here compares the nation...in the Koran, Koran
Hal Lindsey states that men were foreseeing Russia's role in history long before it rose to its ultimate state of power. He quotes Bishop Lowth of
England as writing in 1710, "Rosh, taken as a proper name, in Ezekiel signifies the inhabitant of Scythia, from whom the modern Russians derive
Looking at the last two names mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2,3, Meshech and Tubal, we find that both Meshech and Tubal were sons of Japheth and brother to
Magog. Some scholars have found Meshech to be a variation in the spelling of Moscow and Tubal similar to Tobolisk - an area in the Ural section of
Herodotus, the fifth century B.C. Greek philosopher has been quoted as mentioning Meshech and Tubal and identifying them with a people named the
Samaritans and Muschovites who lived at the time in the ancient province of Pontus in northern Asia Minor.(9) (Pontus is the area around the modern
day Black Sea). However, I have not yet been able to locate this particular passage in Herodotus' History
. In fact, it would tend to
contradict the implied geographic areas in which the descendants of Meshech and Tubal lived according to passages I have read in both Josephus and
As stated before, Josephus states that Tubal was the founder of the people referred to as Iberes during his time (70 A.D.). Herodotus'
clearly shows Iberes to be Spain. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance identifies Tubal as "Migrants to Sicily and Spain." As for
Meshech, Josephus states that he founded the Mosocheni, who were known as the Cappadocians in Josephus' time. Clearly this is central to western
"Tubal - proper name the Tibareni, a nation of Asia Minor, dwelling by the Euxine sea, to the west of the Moschi...
Meshech - proper name Moschi, a barbarous people inhabiting the Moschian mountains, between Iberia [Spain], Armenia, and Colchis, Psalms 120:5,
almost always joined with the neighboring Tibareni...just as in Herodotus...A pronunciation more near to the Greek form is found in the Samaritan
In conclusion, Gog is a military leader that will lead a six nation coalition against Israel sometime within the seven year tribulation period. Most
scholars seem to agree it will occur prior to the mid-tribulation point which will mark the beginning of the three and one-half years of the "Great
Tribulation". This march on Israel will culminate in the second coming of Jesus Christ. Concerning the identification of Magog, Dr. John Cumming
wrote in 1864, "This King of the North I perceive to be the autocrat of Russia....that Russia occupies a place, and a very momentous place, in the
prophetic word has been admitted by all expositors."
As John Hagee states:
"And while no on knows the exact location of the land of Magog, going north from Israel will eventually land you in Russia. And even if it
is later determined that the land of Magog is located in modern-day Turkey or the land bridge between the Black and Caspian Seas, this does not rule
out he possibility that these areas are conquered by Russia in the days immediately before the Rapture (which I believe we are living in) or
Whatever the identify of "Gog, of the land of Magog," it is leading many nations in the war against Israel and the Jewish people. Interestingly
enough, a substantial number of the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 an 39 have been allied with Russia in recent times: 'These include Iran
('Persia'), Sudan and northern Ethiopia ('Cush'), Libya ('Put'), and Turkey ('Meshech', 'Tubal', 'Gomer', and 'Beth
1.) Lindsey, Hal, the Late Great Planet Earth
, pg. 53.
3.) Hancock, Graham, The Sign and the Seal
, pg. 110.
4.) Walvoord, John F., Major Bible Prophecies
, pg. 391.
5.) Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth
6.) Ibid, pg. 54. Lindsey takes this quote form C.F. Keil, D.D. and F. Delitzsch, D.D., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
Publishing co.: Grand Rapids, Michigan).
8.) Walvoord, Ibid.
9.) Ibid. This quote comes from Walter Chamberlain, the National Resources and Conversion of Israel
, (London, 1854).
10.) Ibid, pg. 52. This quote comes from Cumming, the Destiny of Nations
11.) Hagee, John, The Beginning of the End
, pp. 146-147.
Gesenius, H.W.F., Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament
, Baker Books, 1979.
Hagee, John, Beginning of the End: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming Antichrist
, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.
Hancock, Graham, The Sign and the Seal
, Touchstone Book, 1992.
Herodotus, The History
, University of Chicago Press, 1987 - Translated by David Grene.
Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews
, Baker Books, 1992 - Translated by William Whiston, A.M.
Lindsey, Hal, The Final Battle
, Western Front, 1995.
Lindsey, Hal and Carlson, C.C., The Late Great Planet Earth
, HarperCollins Publishers, 1970.
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.
Walvoord, John F., Major Bible Prophecies
, HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.
The Holy Bible
, Thompson Chain Reference Bible, B.B. Kirkbride Bible Company, 1983.
The Torah: The Five Books of Moses
, Jewish Publication Society, 1992.
Surah Al-Kahf 18
[edit on 10-23-2004 by Valhall]