I’ve translated the battle of Gog of Magog into my own words in a modern setting. My intention is, presuming this battle is in the very near future, how should the names of countries and military equipment be understood. There are other possibilities of when this might be fulfilled, for which this perspective may still be useful. The names are my best guess based on a lot of research which I’ll justify later, but we must keep in mind, this is speculative. However, I am excited about how this translation brings alive a very ancient text, that is difficult to understand without significant research, and difficult to relate to a text full of unfamiliar names.
You may wish to download http://Bretanark.com/downloads/Ezekiel38-39.pdf to print out a well-formatted colored document.
1And Jesus came to me, saying,
2Human, turn to face the Czar, the land of Russia, the ruler of Moscow and Tobolsk, and prophesy against him, 3and say,
The Lord God says,
Watch out, I’m going to deal with you, o Czar, the ruler of Moscow and Tobolsk. 4I’m going to turn you around and put hooks into your jaws, and I’ll drag you out with all your army, with tanks and aircraft, everyone in all kinds of armor. They’ll be a huge company with light and heavy armor, all well-armed. 5Iran, Sudan and Libya are with them, all of them with armor and helmets. 6Europeans(?) and all their troops, Turkey from the far north and all their troops, and many people with you. 7Prepare yourself, and be ready, you and all who are with you, and take command and protection over them. 8After a long time, you will be conscripted. In the latter years, you’ll come into the land that has been rebuilt after a war and has been gathered from many countries. You’ll come against the mountains of Israel, which was a perpetual wasteland. But its people have been brought there from the nations of the world, and all of them will live in safety. 9You’ll go up like a storm and will cover the land like a cloud, you and all your armies and many people with you.
10The Lord God says,
It’ll come to pass at that very time, that ideas will come into your head and you’ll invent an evil plan. 11And you’ll say,
I’ll go up to the land of open villages, I’ll go to them who are at peace, all of them living without city walls and without locks or gates, 12to pillage and take captives, to attack the ruins that have been rebuilt and the people that have immigrated from around the world. They have livestock and goods, that live in the center of the world.
13Arabia and the traders of England, with all her colonies will say to you,
Have you come to pillage? Have you gathered this great company to seize plunder? To take away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and lots of booty?
14Therefore human, prophesy and say to the Czar,
The Lord God says,
In that day, when my people of Israel live securely, it’ll drive you nuts. 15And you’ll come from your place in the far north, you and many people with you, all of them riding in vehicles, a huge company and a mighty army. 16And you’ll come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud covers the land. It’ll be in the later days, and I’ll bring you against my land, that the world may know me, when I’ll be made special through you, o Czar, as they watch.
17The Lord God says,
You’re the one that I spoke of in ancient times by my servants, the prophets of Israel. They prophesied way back then, that I’d make you attack them. 18And it’ll happen at the very time that the Czar will attack the land of Israel that my fury will fill my face,
says the Lord God.
19For in my jealousy and in the fire of my anger I’ve declared that in that day there’ll be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20So that the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the animals in the fields, and those that creep on the ground, and all people throughout the world, will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be thrown down, the cliffs will crumble, and every wall will fall to the ground. 21I’ll declare war against him throughout all my mountains,
says the Lord God.
Every man’s weapon will be turned on his companion. 22I’ll execute judgement with blood and the air will kill people. I’ll rain down on him, his companions and many people with him torrential rain and great hailstones, fire and burning sulfur. 23And so, I’ll make myself famous and set myself apart, and be recognized in the eyes of many nations, and they’ll know that I am the Lord God.
1Therefore human, prophesy against the Czar and say,
the Lord God says
Watch out, I’m going to deal with you, o Czar, the ruler of Moscow and Tobolsk. 2I’m going to turn you around and make you come up from the north and I’ll bring you onto the mountains of Israel. 3I’m going to smash the weapon out of your hand and make you drop your ammunition. 4You’ll die on the mountains of Israel with all your armies and the people who are with you. I’m going to feed you to all kinds of ravenous birds and wild animals. 5You’ll die on the open fields, because I have declared it,
says the Lord God.
6I’m going to send a fire on Russia and on those who live without a care overseas. And so, they’ll recognize that I’m the Lord. 7So, I’ll make my holy name known among the Jews and I won’t let them defile my holy name any more. And the whole world will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. 8Be astonished, this has come about, and has been fulfilled,
says the Lord God.
This is the day I told you about. 9Those who live in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the armaments – both light and heavy armor, weapons and ammunition and so on and they’ll burn them for seven years. 10They won’t gather wood from the fields or cut down any forests, because they’ll burn the military equipment with fire, and they’ll plunder those who plundered them and rob those who robbed them
says the Lord God.
11And it’ll happen on that day, that I’ll give the Czar a burial ground in Israel, in the travelers’ valley east of the sea of Galilee. It’ll block the travelers, and there they’ll bury the Czar and all his armies, and they’ll call it the valley of the Czar’s hordes. 12For seven months, Israel will be burying them, to purify the land. 13That’s right, all the people of the land will bury them, and that day will be remembered when I glorified myself,
says the Lord God.
14They’ll employ professionals to go through the land with the travelers, to bury those who remain on the ground – to purify it. At the end of seven months, they’ll search. 15And those traveling through the land, when they see someone’s bone, will mark it until the undertakers have buried it in the valley of the Czar’s hordes. 16And so, the name of the city will be Hamonah (the horde). And so, they’ll purify the land.
17And you, human, the Lord God says,
Speak to every kind of bird and wild animal,
Get together and around my sacrifice, that I’ve prepared for you, such a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. 18You’ll eat the flesh of heroes and drink the blood of the rulers of the world, of rams and lambs, goats, and bulls – all of them fattened in the Golan. 19You’ll eat juicy meat until you’re full, and drink blood until you’re drunk, from the sacrifice I’ve prepared for you. 20And so, you’ll be filled at my table with animals of war and heroes, and with all the soldiers,
says the Lord God.
21And I’ll become famous throughout the world, and the world will see the judgement that I’ve executed, and my direct intervention. 22So, the Jews will know that I am the Lord their God from that day on. 23And the whole world will know that the Jews were captured because of their sins – because they were unfaithful towards me. That’s why I hid myself from them and handed them over to their enemies. And so, I allowed their holocausts. 24I’ve treated them according to their godless ways and their sins and hidden my presence from them.
25And so, the Lord God says,
Now I’ll restore the Jewish captives and be compassionate with all the Jews, and will defend my holy name, 26after they’ve endured their shame, and all their sins, by which they’ve offended me when they lived safely in the land without fear. 27When I’ve restored them from throughout the world and gathered them out of their enemies’ nations and am made holy through them in the sight of many nations, 28then they’ll know that I’m the Lord their God, who scattered them in exile throughout the world, but I’ve gathered them into their own land, leaving none behind. 29I’ll no longer hide my face from them, because I’ve poured out my spirit over the Jews,
declares the Lord God.
Why did I translate it like this?
Some of this translation is provocative, others may seem offensive and others rather a twisting of the text. Having gone through the process of translating Biblical text, doing my best to retain the original meaning, has brought me a huge respect for those who translate the entire Bible. I’ve only translated from King James English into modern English but considering several other translations, including German and Portuguese. However it’s generally an easier job to just translate the text, than to interpret it into a different cultural setting while maintaining the original intent. I hope you would read this alongside your favorite Bible translation you use for study. I’ll explain my reason for the differences.
Jesus came to me
1And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
I pray this is not too distracting from the focus of this prophecy. It is important to understand Jesus’ interaction throughout the Bible.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us
Jesus is the Word of God.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham was delighted to see my day: and he saw it and was glad. 57Then said the Jews to him, you’re not even fifty years old, and you’ve seen Abraham? 58Jesus said unto them, in fact, I tell you, Before Abraham was, I Am.
Most likely, Jesus was referring to the day he appeared to Abraham to promise Isaac’s birth within the year and the day before he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah:
Genesis 18:1 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.
So, if Jesus met with Abraham, who else did he meet? If you search “Christophany” you will find many such cases. Jesus walked with Adam and Eve, cast them out of Eden, gave the law to Moses, walked with Daniel’s friends in the furnace, and today he appears in the dreams of many Muslims who are inaccessible to Christians.
This could be such a case. But then, the text could just be saying “I had a strong feeling that God was speaking to me” – just as we generally hear from the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. Jesus can’t be everywhere at once, which is why he had to leave earth to allow us to learn to know the Holy Spirit who is everywhere.
Human, turn to face the Czar, the land of Russia, the ruler of Moscow and Tobolsk
2Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
Gog: I understand Gog to be a title. Russia’s emperors were called Czar, which derives from the Roman “Caesar”. They don’t call their rulers this today, but nations’ rulers tend to fit a certain mould such as “Sultan” Erdogan of modern Turkey. One could consider Russia’s Putin to be their Czar. I could have used his actual title, President, but this is ambiguous with many other countries. It would be too presumptuous to name Putin specifically as this prophecy could be decades away. But Putin’s recent annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine sets precedent for him repeating similar actions to annex the Golan, particularly under the pretence of restoring the land to his ally in Syria, who disputes this territory.
Magog: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magog_(Bible) discusses various options. I favor Josephus’ view of him being the progenitor of the Scythians, or peoples north of the Black Sea. To name a modern nation, Russia best matches the geography. Other interpretations of Ezekiel 38-39 prefer Turkey, which I find difficult to justify.
Meshech and Tubal: a quick Google provides https://www.oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk/index.php/books/the-imminent-invasion-of-israel/542-appendix-6-where-is-meshech-and-tubal?tmpl=component, which names the linguistically similar city of Moscow and region of Tobolsk in western Siberia. These are further justified with several respectable references.
With tanks and aircraft, everyone in all kinds of armor
4And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen,
Many consider that Ezekiel is using military terminology familiar to his time.
Horses and horsemen: In modern times, cavalry has evolved to tank and helicopter units. These perform similar functions as fast-moving forces capable of scouting and flanking to take out artillery units; as well as punching a hole in tight defensive formations. The Israeli Merkava tank literally translates as chariot.
With light and heavy armor
… all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields
Bucklers and shields: A buckler is a small shield. It is similarly effective to a shield, but convenient to carry around in everyday activities. YouTube: Why carry a buckler rather than a shield? However, it will not provide full cover. Hence, we could more generically translate these as light and heavy armor. Both are important e.g. light cavalry vs. heavy cavalry = scouts vs. knights. Light infantry vs. heavy infantry = archers vs. swordsmen. Light armor is very quick and agile, but vulnerable in close combat, whereas heavy armor will take a beating at the cost of maneuverability. Light armor is also cheaper.
… all of them handling swords
Swords were the basic tool of the trade for many armies. Today, that would be guns – assault rifles. I preferred to translate this generically.
Iran, Sudan and Libya are with them
5Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them
Persia: This ancient empire retained its name until 1935 when it became officially known as Iran.
Ethiopia: Also translated as Cush, Noah’s grandson via Ham, who settled south of Egypt. This land was long called Ethiopia, but recently Sudan has taken over this region, pushing Ethiopia southeast. Our Israeli guests recognize Cush as their word cushi, which translates as nigger.
Libya: Also translated as Phut, Cush’s brother who settled west of Egypt in modern Libya.
Interestingly, these three radically Islamic nations are presently very friendly with Russia.
Europeans(?) and all their troops, Turkey from the far north
6Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters
Gomer: I’m very uncertain of this. Gomer is a grandson of Noah – Japheth’s oldest son. He fathered Ashkenaz, who settled Germania and after whom Ashkenazi Jews are named; also, Riphath and Togarmah. Josephus equates Gomer with the Gauls. Some interpreters think Gomer is France, others Germany, and others western Turkey. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gomer
Togarmah: is equated with Anatolia i.e. Turkey. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Togarmah
The north quarters: This messes me up a bit as I imagine “go north until you can’t anymore” i.e. northern-most Russia. But one could read this as “until you hit the Caspian Sea”, i.e. northern-most Turkey.
Arabia and the traders of England, with all her colonies
13Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof
Sheba: Sheba is mostly associated with South Arabia. Luther’s German translates this as “Arabien”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheba
Dedan: Could be Northern Saudi Arabia, Southern Iraq, or Northern Jordan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dedanites
Tarshish: There is some debate between this being England or Spain. Tarshish was an ancient source of tin, a component of bronze. They were renown maritime traders. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarshish
Some find proof of it being England who were the first to bring Jews back to Israel in their ships in
Isaiah 60:9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far.
Young lions: Also translated as villages or satellite areas.
It seems quite plausible that these nations will look on helplessly as Israel is suddenly overwhelmed by Russian forces. If America were to interfere, that could quickly turn nuclear. It may seem prudent for them to cut their losses and merely protest as we did the Crimean annexation or Hitler’s annexation of Poland. Others suppose some catastrophe has impaired the USA from aiding their best friend in the middle east. Perhaps the rapture?
The ambiguity of Tarshish being Spain broadens to include their South American colonies.
Leave but a sixth part
39: 2And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel
Only the King James translation includes “and leave but the sixth part of thee”. The description of the original Hebrew word shows it is used only once in the Bible and suggests confusion with a similar word to annihilate or leave only one sixth or “around midnight”. I find this phrase is confusing at best, and leads to speculations, which could be rooted in misunderstanding. We should not depend on this phrase.
All of them fattened in the Golan
39: 18Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
“The Bashan is a term for the northernmost region of the Transjordan” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashan
I was fascinated when I searched “Bashan” in Google maps to hit Bashan Junction in the middle of the Israeli border with Syria. I understand the Bashan to be southern Syria and the Golan Heights.