Ezekiel 38 & 39: The Magog Invasion

Last Updated: 10/22/2023 10:51    | Print This Page | |

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have all the answers. As with everything there is a certain amount of growth that happens over time and this page is my journey to find those answers. Acts 17:11 speaks to what I hope from anyone reading this page as I also attempt to strive toward the goal of being a compitent watchman.

What is this invasion by Gog of Magog and his army?

The attack by Gog and his army on Israel is actually part of a vision Ezekiel had starting in Ezekiel 33:21 and continuing to its conclusion at the end of Ezekiel 39:29. This is important to point out because it’s easy to take the chapters, as organized, as a statement of chronological order of the prophesies.

“We need not expect [chapters] 40-48 to chronologically follow [chapters] 38-39 since these chapters are part of a separate vision.” | J. Paul Tanner “Rethinking Ezekiel’s Invasion by Gog,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39:1 (Mar 1996): 29-46

This separate vision is defined for us by Ezekiel when he states the following, separating the vision that includes Ezekiel 38-39 from that of Ezekiel 40 by 13 years.

Ezekiel 33:21
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity

Ezekiel 40:1
In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity

So what we can tie chronologically together are the passages from Ezekiel 33:21 leading up to chapters 38 and 39. These two chapters at the end of this vision speak of an attack on Israel from the North in the “latter years.” God will pull Gog and his bands to attack along with Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, the house of Togarmah of the North quarters, and all his bands: and many people with him. This attack will be utterly thwarted and the armies destroyed. For 7 months after, the bodies will be buried and for 7 years after, Israel will be burning the weapons from the failed attack.

What does the scripture say?

Before diving into chapters 38 and 39, it’s important to look at the context of this vision, which started several chapters earlier in Ezekiel 33:21. I won’t put all the scriptures here, but the ones that are relevant to the point I’ll be making as to when the Gog Magog attack takes place. I encourage you to read through the whole vision yourself.

Ezekiel 34:11-13
For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

This mention of “in the cloudy and dark day” seems to be pointing to a singular time. Looking at the use of these terms elsewhere in scripture there seems to be a pattern. “In the cloudy” is H6051 is defined as cloud, cloudy, cloud-mass and is used as that basic term in places like Genesis 9:13-16, referring to the post-flood bow (token of a covenant) in the cloud. However in most places it is associated with the presence of God.

“And dark” is H6205 and is defined as darkness of clouds, thick clouds and the majority of the occurrences are similar to above, associated with the presence of God. The two that really stood out are below.

Joel 2:1-2
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
Zephaniah 1:14-18
The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

The fact that the words used for "cloudy and dark day" overwhelmingly are used to refer to the presence of the Lord with Joel and Zephaniah expressly using "dark day" to describe the Day of the Lord, this gathering of the people at the beginning of Ezekiel’s vision would be taking place after the day of the Lord, which starts with the catching away of the bride of Christ followed by the sudden destruction of God’s wrath. It is after that time is complete that Yeshua reigns on earth for 1,000 years.

Ezekiel 35:1-6
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD. Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end: Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.

Natural Israel’s iniquity will have an end during the millennial reign after a time of calamity. This would seem to place this vision of judgement for shedding the blood of Israel after the 70th week of Daniel.

Ezekiel 36:8-12
But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
Ezekiel 37:22-28
And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

You can see from the passages above that the language would seem to be very clear about what time this is happening in. There is a lot of forevers mentioned in relation to Israel and things that will only happen once the millennium starts. At one point I held to the belief that chapters 36 and 37 could be speaking to the rebirth of fertility in the land of Israel and the regathing of Israel that’s been happening since the beginning of the 1900’s.

However upon further examination, many of these same elements of the land recovering and regathering of the people to Israel will also be happening after the 70th week of Daniel is completed and God’s wrath has just been poured out on the earth. The land will truly be desolate after the judgments of God, much of which is focused on Jerusalem and the seat of the antichrist. And after the time of great tribulation, there will still be Jews throughout the world and not just protected in the wilderness. Revelation 12:13-17 It is also only after this time when Christ will be ruling with a rod of Iron from Jerusalem, in the midst of His people Israel for 1,000 years.

With that in mind, let’s continue on to the final two chapters in the vision, the attack of the Gog coalition.

Ezekiel 38:1-23
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: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil? Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them? And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 39:1-29
Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And 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: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land. And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye 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. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God. And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.

One other thing I would like to note is that in Ezekiel 39:11 Israel will be burying the bodies in the valley of Hamongog, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea. Mount Seir is a mountain range in Edom extending from the Southeast of the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. In Ezekiel 35 it says God will fill his mountains (mount Seir) with slain men in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword. If these are related then the valley of Hamongog will be in the area of the mountains to the Southeast of the Dead Sea.

The only other places Gog and Magog are mentioned in scripture are names in geneaologies for which these areas are identified (Genesis 10:2 | 1 Chronicles 1:5 | 1 Chronicles 5:4), the above passages and Revelation 20 in relation to the final gathering that attacks Israel, whom God destroys.

Revelation 20:7-10
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Here we see after the millennium is over, Satan is released from the bottomless pit and deceives the nations in the four corners of the earth, specifying Gog and Magog. Furthermore, they are destroyed in the same manner. In Ezekiel it’s “an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” In Revelation it’s “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” One is more descriptive than the other, but taken in light of the placement of the visions in Ezekiel at the end of the millennium, it seems to fit very well. I will get into a comparison of the different views a little further along.

Who are the players?

Looking at the above passages in light of a post-millennial view of the Gog Magog attack, The identities are less important than they were when I held to a pre-70th week view since we know very little of what the political climate will be aside from Christ ruling the world. As the Messiah He is the primary character in the Gog and Magog story as He is the one that will defeat this ill-fated final rebellion.

What is important to note in this view is that clearly a large portion of the population is only feigning submission to Christ because they have no other choice as He has been ruling with a rod of iron. Given the scriptures that speak of the Messiah’s “rod of iron” rule during the millennium it’s not hard to see that when the Dragon is loosed at the end of the 1,000 years he will be able to amass a large army of those who didn’t rebel before only because they had no power or influence to.

Psalm 2:7-12
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Revelation 2:26-29
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Revelation 12:5
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Revelation 19:11-16
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

These are the four passages that speak of a rod of iron and they’re all defining Yeshua with the rod of iron and with it smiting the nations. The last verse is Christ’s return in glory to defeat the beast and false prophet just before He begins His rule. For those who love God, His ways aren’t a burden, but those in contention with God will be kept in line during His rule and clearly many won’t appreciate that, “the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” Revelation 20:7-10

Gog the King

There is one other place where Gog is mentioned, but only in the Greek Septuagint. This view is laid out by Chuck Missler in The Magog Invasion briefing pack published by Koinonia House. A short clip of that can be viewed here. I bring it up because it’s not in any English translations I’m aware of and it brings another potentially interesting connection to the view of the end times.

Amos 7:1
The Lord hath shown me, and, Behold, a swarm of locusts were coming, and behold, one of the young devastating locusts was Gog the King.

Chuck makes the point that when you see locusts that have a king you know they’re not natural locusts but an idiom for demons because of Proverbs 30:27. Looking at the idea of locusts, there’s another place in scripture that this would seem to point to, another prophecy in Revelation tied to the 5th trumpet judgment. Here are the locusts from the bottomless pit who torment but don’t kill those on the earth with scorpion-like stings who have a king over them named Abaddon/Apollyon.

Revelation 9:1-12
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

So it would seem that there is a possibility that all these are related across a large span of time, further tying the identity of Gog to a spirit outside time.

  • The locust king Gog in the time of Amos in the Old Testament
  • The angel of the bottomless pit Abaddon/Apollyon during the wrath of God
  • The Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium when the dragon is loosed and gathers the armies of Gog.

The Nations

As Chuck Missler has pointed out, the names of our countries, their boundaries, and cities change over time. The one thing that doesn’t change is our ancestor’s names. These groups of people are defined based on the names of locations from ancestry and these are the names of some of the sons of Japheth and Ham, Noah’s sons. They are identified later as the Scythians. In addition, the great wall of China was referred to as the “rampart of Gog and Magog” by Marco Polo.

Genesis 10:1-3
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
Genesis 10:6
And the sons of Ham; Cush (Ethiopia), and Mizraim, and Phut (Libya), and Canaan.

While this group may be attacking from the North, the coalition is from all four corners of the middle east.

(Image from Chris White’s video The Timing of the Gog Magog War, an excerpt from his book False Christ: Will the Antichrist Claim to Be the Jewish Messiah?) There’s another good map: The World As Known To The Hebrews.

When just looking at what is in the scripture to define the events, there’s really only 3 chapters in the Old and New Testaments that mention any details of the event. Based on what I read from that I feel pretty confident that this prophesied event will happen toward the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. As such, trying to define modern political identities to the prophecy is not really relevant. I will also include these various theories below on the timing with pros and cons for each as I come across them.

When Could It Happen?

A lot of this information and pros and cons is excerpted from Chris White’s book False Christ: Will the Antichrist Claim to Be the Jewish Messiah? and I would highly recommend reading that for a more detailed examination than I provide here.

There are several battles where God intervenes on Israel’s behalf. 

  • Gog/Magog - God destroys the armies in the mountains of Israel with fire and brimstone from heaven
  • Armageddon - Christ destroys the gathered armies with the Word of His mouth
  • End of Millennium - Christ destroys the armies Satan gathered from the four corners of the earth

There are really only four events in the end times that most people place the Gog Magog attack. Those who separate the Gog Magog attack from Armageddon or the end of the millennium typically place it in two general time frames, which is where the four main views come from.

For those looking to the first three views, there are all kinds of theories as to who exactly these players are in modern political terms. I would highly recommend reading chapter 12 of Chris White’s book, but some of the more common theories you’ll hear when studying the prophecies from Ezekiel 38 & 39 are in this overview.

The Coming War of Gog and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?

by Jennifer Rast of Contender Ministries

  1. Hashemite Kingdom Theory: The Islamic Nations will come against Israel either by an Iraqi-led, Jordanian led, or Turkish led coalition. The enemy from the north refers to the areas of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. These Islamic nations make up the lands occupied by Magog, Gomer, Togarmah, Meshech and Tubal.
  2. Caucus Theory: Gog and Magog are the Arab nations in an alliance with the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. This theory leaves out most of Russia, and includes only the southern part.
  3. All Europe theory: Gog and Magog are the sons of Japeth thus the originators of the European races.  Gog and Magog therefore indicates all of Europe. This is not a widely held theory and I could find little support for it.
  4. Russian Theory: The Hebrew word ‘rosh’ in verse 3 is identified with Russia, ‘Tubal’ with Tiblisi or Tobolsk and ‘Meshech’ with Moscow, therefore Gog and Magog refers to Russia. This is one of the most commonly held views and is based on a different interpretation of the Hebrew word Rosh (used as a noun rather than adjective), similarities in the pronunciation of words, and the Greek translation of Rosh referring to a tribe of people found in what is now Russia.
  5. Indo-European TheoryGog and Magog include the nations descending from Japheth: Russia, the Caucasus (Turkey), Iraq, and the Islamic republics of Central Asia. The coalition is an alliance of Arab nations, Muslim republics, Georgia, southern Russia and the Black sea area.

These are some of the theories you will find if you do any research into the prophecies of Ezekiel 38. You may also find interpretations that are a combination of these, and in fact, I tend to find more evidence for a version of the Indo-European and Caucacus Theory.

Before looking at the participants of this invasion in more detail, it’s important to understand that the war described in Ezekiel 38 is not the same as the war that will come at the end of the tribulation when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist and establish his millennial kingdom. How do we know this?  The war at the end of the tribulation, known as Armageddon, is a world war.  Revelation tells us that this battle will involve all nations.  The war described in Ezekiel includes specific nations that invade Israel. Also, Armageddon is at the climax of the tribulation, while the war described in Ezekiel comes well before then.

Ezekiel 38:1-7 gives 10 names as participants in the invasion of Israel that will follow the re-gathering of the Jews to their homeland.  First mentioned, is the land of Magog. The most common identity for Magog is in Central Asia. The Jewish historian Josephus said, “Magog founded the Magogians, called Scythians by the Greeks. Scythians were a nomadic tribe who inhabited the ancient territory from Central Asia across the southern part of ancient Russia.” Today this area is inhabited by the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and possibly northern parts of Afghanistan. All of these nations that make up the land of Magog have one thing in common - Islam. Militant Islam has been on the rise in these countries since the fall of the Soviet Union, when Islam no longer had to be practiced secretly. Radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic Renaissance Party, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islam are working to reunite central Asian nations and ultimately the entire Muslim world.  It is from this part of the world that a leader will arise to bring together a great coalition of nations to invade Israel.

Probably the most debated verse is Ezekiel 38:3.  There are two main views on the identity of the Nations God is referring to in this verse.  I’ll list both here, and let the reader decide which sounds most reasonable.

Rosh as Russia

Some versions of the Bible translate the Hebrew word ‘rosh’ in verse 3 as a noun referring to a place in Russia. The least credible support for this view is that Rosh sounds like the modern-day name Russia and Meshech sounds like Moscow. In this translation they treat rosh as a proper name. The Greek translation translates Rosh as the proper name Ros. Because the ancient Sarmations were known as the Ras, Rashu, and Rus and inhabited Rasapu which is now Southern Russia, some feel this verse points to Russia as the prince of Rosh. Another support sited for this view is that verse 6 and 15 say the invasion will come from remote parts of the north, and Russia is more remote.

Rosh as chief

Other versions of the Bible translate ‘rosh’ as an adjective. The argument here is that in the Massoretic text the words ‘chief prince’ carry the accents Tiphha and Zaqeph-gadol. The Tiphha appears under the resh of the Hebrew word ‘rosh’; the Zaqeph-gadol appears on top of the sin of the Hebrew word ‘nish’. The Tiphha to the right, underneath the initial consonant of the world ‘rosh’, or chief, is prepositive and does not mark the tone syllable. The world ‘nish’ or prince has the accent Zaqeph-gadol which is disjunctive and indicates a pause. So, verse three would read:

Behold, I am against thee, o Gog, the prince, {pause} chief of Meshech and Tubal

Rather than:

Behold, I am against thee, o Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.

Here ‘rosh’ is translated head or chief as it is 423 other times in the Old Testament. In short, if you believe ‘rosh’ should be translated as a proper noun you may find the interpretation that Russia will be a part of this coalition more reasonable. If you believe ‘rosh’ should be an adjective here, you need only concern yourself with who Meshech and Tubal are. I tend to have a problem with the “it sounds like Russia” theory, and find the translation of rosh as an adjective more believable, but to each his own.

Meshech and Tubal in verses 2 and 6, were the names of the 6th and 5th sons of Japheth, the son of Noah (Genesis 10:2). Ezekiel 27:13 also mentions Meshech and Tubal as trading partners with Tyre (Modern Lebanon). It’s likely that Meshech and Tubal refer to the ancient Moshi/Mushki and Tubalu/Tibareni who dwelled in the area around, primarily south of, the Black and Caspian Sea in Ezekiel’s day. Today these nations would be in the modern country of Turkey, parts of Southern Russia and Northern Iran.  All areas with a Muslim majority.

Verse 6 adds Gomer and Beth-Togarmah to the coalition. “Gomer” was the first son of Japheth. The Gomerites were the ancient Cimmerians, expelled in 700 BC from the southern steppes of Russia into what is today Turkey. “Togarmah” is the 3rd son of Gomer and beth at the beginning of the name is the Hebrew word for ‘house’ or ‘place of’. In Ezekiel’s time there was a city in Cappodocia (Modern Turkey) known as Tegarma, Tagarma, Til-garimmu, and Takarama.

The possibility that four of the names mentioned in Ezekiel are now in Turkey makes a pretty strong argument for Turkey being a part of the invasion of Israel. Current circumstances in that country also lend this view some credibility.  Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Turkey has been gaining inroads into Central Asia (Magog). It is also linked to Central Asia both ethnically and linguistically, and has a growing number of political parties that support opposition to Israel, establishment of a Turkish Islamic Republic, and the worldwide rule of Islam.

Verse 5 brings three more names into the mix. God tells us that “Persia, Cush and Put will be with them.”

Persia is a pretty easy one. In 539 BC the Persians conquered the city of Babylon. You only need look at a map of the ancient Persian Empire to see that it was centered in the nation known today as Iran. In fact Iran was called Persia until 1935 when it was changed to Iran and then to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution.  It’s no secret that Iran is an archenemy of Israel and the West, and a supporter of the Palestinians. They are actively working to get other Arab countries to change camps in their cooperation with the U.S. and Israel.

The ancient kingdom of Cush in Ezekiel’s time was the land just south of Egypt on the Nile River. Today this land is occupied by Sudan. Sudan is home to the National Islamic Front, is ruled by an Islamic military dictatorship, a strong supporter of Iraq, home to Osama bin Laden from 1991-1996, and harbors countless Islamic terrorist groups. Sudan would easily fit into the coalition as it is already close allies with Iran, trading military supplies for docking rights on the Red Sea shipping routes.

Ancient Put was the land just west of Egypt, or what is today Libya.  Libya is another sponsor of terrorism, and openly refuses to recognize Israel’s right to even exist. When the coalition against Israel is formed, Libya won’t have to be asked twice to join.

Verse 6 adds “and many people with you.” The nations listed specifically are all somewhat distant from Israel. By adding “and many people with you,” God may have been indicating that those nations and peoples in closer proximity to Israel will join the Jihad. Other nations that might join the alliance are Iraq, Syria, Jordon, and Egypt. All of them are Islamic nations, and all of them would not hesitate to support the destruction of Israel were the opportunity to join such a vast coalition presented to them.

Ancient Name Modern Nation Explanation
Rosh Russia or Chief Ancient Samaratians known as Rashu, Rasapu, Ros and Rus.
Translated as the adjective Chief.
Magog Central Asia and Russia Ancient Scythians - Islamic southern republics of the former Soviet Union with a population of 60 million Muslims. This territory could include modern afghanistan and Southern Russia North of the Black Sea.
Meshech Turkey Ancient Muschki and Musku in Cilicia and Cappadocia.
Tubal Turkey (also southern Russia and Iran) Ancient Tubalu in Cappadocia
Persia Iran Name changed from Persia to Iran in 1935.
Ethiopia (Cush) Sudan Ancient Cush, south of Egypt.
Put Libya Ancient Put, west of Egypt.
Gomer Turkey Ancient Cimmerians - from the seventh century to first century BC in central/western Anatolia.
Beth-togarmah Turkey Til-garimmu - between ancient Carchemish and Haran (southern Turkey)
Many peoples with you Other Islamic Nations Possibly Iraq, Syria, Jordanand Egypt

False Gog Magog and the Antichrist

Before getting into the four main views, I feel it’s important to bring up a possible deception that could make either of the first two views appear to be correct in light of the deception of the man of sin. One theory about the identity of the antichrist, is that he will claim to be the long-awaited Messiah that the Jews are looking for. Tied with the initial seals of Revelation and the wars of the antichrist in Daniel 11:40-45 just before the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 12:1, he will come on the scene and renew the Mosaic covenant, rebuilding the temple and starting the daily sacrifice, conquering all who come against him. The Jews are looking for a Gog Magog attack too and it’s not too difficult to imagine the response of the Muslim world if someone were to come on the scene rebuilding the temple and starting the daily sacrifice.

Now if the antichrist could convincingly mimic the fulfillment of prophecies, messianic and otherwise, and utterly destroy Israel’s enemies while confirming the Mosaic covenant -- how great a deception that could be.

However, this page is focused on what God says in His Word about this prophecy, not how the antichrist might use it, so let’s focus again on the Biblical prophecy as revealed to Ezekiel.

Before the 70th Week:

As stated, this view holds that the Gog Magog attack will preceed the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel at some point. I used to think this might be a possibility and that this would be a great catalyst for Israel to move from a secular society to a theocratic one and spur the building of the temple and daily sacrifice. However there are too many other issues I will address.

Arguments For:

  • Ezekiel 39:8-10 is used by some to imply that Gog/Magog happens before the 70th week since they burn the weapons for 7 years.
    • Israel wouldn’t be burning the weapons for 7 years if this started at the beginning of the 70th week because in the midst of the week Israel is taken and hidden from the dragon so it would have to take place at least 3 1/2 years before the start of the week to fit.
    • There’s nothing in the scripture which says these weapons can’t be burned during the millennium when Christ is reigning.
  • I used to think that this would be a good catalyst for Israel to move from a secular nation to a theocratic one that would also spur the rebuilding of the temple. If the Jewish Antichrist theory is correct, this might still be used as part of a great deception.
    • However Biblically, this still runs into the issues below and just because Israel starts the daily sacrifice again, doesn’t mean they aren’t polluting God’s name. They still haven’t accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, which is the purpose of the final seven years determined for Israel. Indeed, they may accept one that comes in his own name instead. John 5:43

Arguments Against:

  • Ezekiel 39:7 states that God’s name will not be polluted anymore. The time following is full of profaning God. -Chris White
  • Ezekiel 38:23; 39:7, 27 Nations recognize sovereignty of God after. The time following is full of rebellion against God. -Chris White
  • Ezekiel 38:11, 14; 39:26 states that Israel will be in unwalled villages, at rest, dwelling safely, dwelling without walls, bars or gates. This is inconsistent with current or perceived future state of Israel up until the millennium. -Chris White
  • Ezekiel 39:29 God says He will never hide His face any more from them because He’s poured out His Spirit on the house of Israel. Again, this cannot happen until the conclusion of 70th week.

Before the abomination of desolation/Mid-70th Week:

Arguments For:

Arguments Against:

  • No indication that after war, Israel will be subject to conquest. After this time, Israel will be overrun by Antichrist and his armies. -Chris White
  • Israel to bury bodies for 7 months and 7 years of fuel from weapons. Gods wrath is being poured out after middle as well as overrunning by antichrist and armies. -Chris White
  • Burying of bodies a triumphant event of cleansing land. Gods wrath is being poured out after middle as well as overrunning by antichrist and armies. -Chris White
  • There’s a genuine peace, as opposed to a false peace of antichrist. The peace is genuine and everlasting, this doesn’t fit with the 2nd half of the 70th week.
  • Same problems as pre-70th week view.

After the 70th week/Armageddon?:

Arguments For:

  • Both Armageddon and Gog and Magog have a final battle followed by peace. -Chris White
  • Both have references to birds feasting on dead bodies. -Chris White

Arguments Against:

  • No peace just prior to Armageddon and Israel is still being hid in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14), not dwelling in safety in the mountains of Israel. -Chris White
  • “In Ezekiel, Gog is buried while in Revelation the AC is cast alive into the lake of fire. Gog and his alliance of nations comes against the mountains of Israel while all nations come against Jerusalem at Armageddon.” -1whowaits
  • “There is something a little different-Satan is released and goes out to deceive the nations of the 4 corners of the earth and he is successful. At Armageddon it is not only Satan but also the AC and FP that send out demons to gather the nations, a minor difference perhaps.” -1whowaits

At the end of millennium:

Arguments For:

  • Revelation 20 is the only other place in scripture where Gog and Magog are mentioned along with timing of when the thousand years are expired. -Chris White
  • Yahweh’s name will never be defiled again after the war is over. Ezekiel 39:7 -Chris White
  • All the passages about dwelling securely can be seen in their normal context, as Israel would have been dwelling in peace for 1,000 years before this rebellion breaks out. -Chris White
  • There is no need to divorce Ezekiel 38-39 from the previous chapter (chapter 37), which is part of the same prophecy and ends with a clear reference to the millenial kingdom where Jesus is ruling over a restored Israel. -Chris White
  • The millennial phrases all throughout Ezekiel can mean what they mean in other places, i.e., they are references to the Millennium. -Chris White
  • References to weapons made of wood and horses can be seen literally, as opposed to allusions to high tech missiles, as it can be reasonably assumed that during the millennium people will go back to a simpler way of life where horses and wooden weapons would be used especially if there had been no need for weapons for 1,000 years. -Chris White
  • The various promises of final restoration after the war such as the cleansing of the land, a true peace with no more threats of any kind can be seen as totally true, since there will be no more wars or evil after Satan Is thrown into the lake of fire. -Chris White
  • Similarities between Revelation 20 and Ezekiel -Chris White
    • Both armies march against Israel
    • Both armies are destroyed by God Himself
    • Both armies are defeated before they attack
    • Both armies are destroyed by fire
    • Both armies are coalitions of many countries
    • Both armies are led by Gog
    • The armies come upon people who have been living during an unprecedented time of peace
    • The war will be followed by true and everlasting knowledge of God

Arguments Against:

  • The armies in Ezekiel come from the north; but in Revelation 20 the armies come from the “four corners of the earth.”
    • in Ezekiel 38:5-6, 13 and 39:6, nations from all the compass points are specifically mentioned: Persia from the east, Cush (Ethiopia) from the south, Put (Libya) and the people who dwell “carelessly in the isles” from the west, and Gomer and Togarmah from the north. -Chris White
  • In Ezekiel, Gog is the main aggressor, a man, whereas in Revelation 20, Satan is said to be the aggressor.
    • There is explicit evidence that he operates in the same way he always has after he is released: He tempts these nations to go to war. Revelation 20:7–8  -Chris White
  • In the passage in Ezekiel, bones are left to be buried, but in Revelation, the fire God sends on the armies completely consumes them, bones and all.
    • Revelation 20:9 says “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” In Zechariah 14:12 we see a prophecy that some say is a picture of the destruction of Gog and his armies, is limited to devouring flesh. -Chris White
  • Ezekiel 38-39 (Gog/Magog) are followed by Chapters 40-48, which talk about the millennium.
    • As mentioned at the beginning of this study, chapter 40 starts a completely new vision that was given 13 years after that of chapters 33-39. The order in the Bible shouldn’t determine the sequence of events of prophecy. -Chris White
  • Israel would have no reason to burn the invaders’ weapons or bury bodies in eternal kingdom.
    • We have no scriptures that define how long after the end of the millennium it is before eternity in the new heavens and new earth begin. -Chris White
  • Ezekiel 38-39 says that after the war “the nations shall know that I am the LORD” and that he will “make his name known” in the midst of Israel. But this would have already occurred during the millennium.
    • Not everyone will be saved in Millennium, Christ rules with a rod of iron and people will submit by feigned obedience. The numbers that come against Christ in the end are like the “sands of the sea.” -Chris White
  • “Revelation 20 also mentions Gog-Magog at the end of the millennium. The conditions described in Ezek. (God hiding His face from Israel) would not be consistent with Christ’s rule during the millennium.” -1whowaits
  • Does this mean Israel will pollute God’s name through the millennium?