Ezekiel 38 & 39: The Need for a Consistent Hermeneutic

Joel Richardson

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a common exegetical error made in the interpretation and identification of the peoples and places mentioned within various Biblical prophecies. While this error is common in the interpretation of many Biblical prophecies, it is most pronounced in the popular exegesis of Ezekiel 38 & 39. The problem, as we will discuss below, is the use an improper or inconsistent method of interpretation. Let us begin by identifying the two methods of interpretation most commonly employed by conservative evangelical, futurist exegetes.

The Historical-Grammatical Method

The first method of interpretation is the historical-grammatical approach. This approach simply seeks to understand the original context of any given passage according to how the earthly author of that passage and his immediate audience—the original hearers of the prophecy—would have understood it. This is done by carefully considering the historical context, as well as the grammar and structure of the passage in its original language. This method of interpretation is thoroughly context-driven. This method is the recognized hermeneutic used today by most trained, conservative, evangelical exegetes. In the case of Biblical prophecy, what this means is that if, for instance, Ezekiel mentions Gomer, the effort is made to identify how Ezekiel and his audience would have understood this term in their day (the early 6th Century BC). Once this is determined, the futurist exegete determines which region, modern nation, or nations correlate to the Gomer of that time. If Gomer is determined to have been understood as relating to Asia Minor of Ezekiel’s day, then it is understood that the modern nation of Turkey, which now occupies Asia Minor is the ultimate last-days fulfillment of Ezekiel’s reference to Gomer.

In the case of identifying the last days relevance of various peoples and names within ancient Biblical prophecies, this method could be called “the geographic-correlation-method.” Gleason L. Archer, scholar of Old Testament and semitic languages, and one of the fathers of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary on Daniel, champions the historic-geographic-correlation method:

Likewise, the ancient names of countries or states occupying the region where the final conflict will be carried on are used in the prediction, though most of those political units will no longer bear these names in the last days. Thus Edom, Moab, Ammon, Assyria, and Babylon which are mentioned in eschatological passages, have long since ceased to exist as political entities, their places having been taken by later peoples occupying their territories.

Dr. Thomas Ice of the Pre-Tribulation Research Center also champions the geographic-correlation method as the proper method to interpret Ezekiel 38 & 39:

It appears that Ezekiel is using the names of peoples, primarily from the table of nations, and where they lived at the time of the giving of this prophecy in the sixth century B.C. Therefore, if we are able to find out where these people and places were in the sixth century B.C. then we will be able to figure out who would be their modern antecedents today.

The Bloodline-Lineage-Migration Method

The other method widely employed by many popular prophecy teachers is what I call the “bloodline-lineage-migration method.” This method begins with an ancient Biblical name or people, and seeks to follow this people down through history to their modern day, physical, bloodline descendants. This involves working through all of the available historical data to trace the various migrations, intermarriages, intermingling, and dispersal etc., to modern times. This method of interpretation is the method used to support Anglo-Israelism and other such heterodox beliefs. This method of interpretation is also widely used by many teachers, otherwise accepted as orthodox, who have sought specifically to trace the names Rosh or Magog from the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 & 39 to the people of modern day Russia. In fact, among many popular Dispensationalists—that portion of the Church that is most given to the study of Bible prophecy—this method has been the most widely practiced and accepted form of interpreting portions of Ezekiel’s oracle. As we will seek to show, the use of this method of interpretation when attempting to interpret the meaning of the various names used within Ezekiel’s oracle should be rejected as an improper method of interpretation by careful and responsible exegetes. As we will also seek to show, among those who employ this method, there has been significant inconsistency, with most teachers tending to switch methods midstream, often using the bloodline-lineage-migration method with some names, but using the historical-grammatical method with other names. Beyond this, and equally common, is the practice of tracing the lineage of a particular people, but only in a limited manner, to a particular period in time, resulting in a selective and partial identification.

Ezekiel 38 & 39

As stated above, the passage most frequently interpreted using a combination of both methodologies is Ezekiel 38 & 39. Listed within this oracle are the following names described as joining together for a last days invasion of the land of Israel:

Magog
Rosh
Meshech,
Tubal,
Persia,
Cush,
Put,
Gomer,
Togarmah

A Partial List of the Modern Day Descendants of the Japhetic Peoples of Ezekiel’s Oracle

Now consider the following list of descendants from some of the participants in Ezekiel’s invasion, specifically those of Japhetic origin.

Magog (sons were Elichanaf, Lubal, Baath, Jobhath and Fathochta). Ancient related names also: Gog, Cog, Gogh, Gogue, Gogarene, Jagog, Yajuj, Majuj, Juz, Majuz, Agag, Magug, Magogae, Magogue, Ma-Gogue, Mugogh, Mat-Gugi, Gugu, Gyges, Bedwig, Moghef, Magogian, Massagetae, Getae, Dacae, Sacae, Saka, Scyth, Skythe, Scythi, Scythii, Scythini, Scythia, Scythae, Sythia, Scythes, Skuthai, Skythai, Cathaia, Scythia, Skythia, Scynthia, Scynthius, Sythian, Skudra Sclaveni, Samartian, Sogdian, Slovon, Skodiai, Scotti, Skolot, Skoloti, Scoloti, Skolo-t, Skoth-ai, Skoth, Skyth, Skuthes, Skuth-a, Slavs, Ishkuzai, Askuza, Askuasa, Alani, Alans, Alanic, Ulan, Uhlan (Scythians, Scots); also Rasapu, Rashu, Rukhs, Rukhs-As, Rhos, Ros, Rosh, Rox, Roxolani, Rhoxolani, Ruskolan, Rosichi, Rhossi, Rusichi, Rus, Ruska, Rossiya, Rusian; also Mas-ar, Mas-gar, Masgar, Mazar, Madj, Madjar, Makr-on, Makar, Makaroi, Merkar, Magor, Magar, Magyar; Huns, Hungar, Hunugur, Hurri, Gurri, Onogur, Ugor, Ungar, Uhor, Venger.

Modern peoples and nations likely descended from Magog:

Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Chechnya, Dagestan, Hungaria, Yugoslavia, Finland, Estonia, Siberia, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Scotland, and others.

Rosh/Tiras (sons were Benib, Gera, Lupirion and Gilak). Ancient names also: Tiracian, Thracian, Thirasian, Thiras, Thuras, Tyritae, Thrasus, Thrace, Trausi, Tereus, Trecae, Troas, Tros, Troia, Troiae, Troyes, Troi, Troy, Troya, Trajan, Trojan, Taunrus, Tyras, Tyrsen, Tyrrhena, Illyrian, Ilion, Ilium, Rasenna, also Rasapu, Rashu, Rukhs, Rukhs-As, Rhos, Ros, Rosh, Rox, Roxolani, Rhoxolani, Ruskolan, Rosichi, Rhossi, Rusichi, Rus, Ruska, Rossiya, Rusian, Ras, Rash, Ros, Rosh, Rish, Rus, Tursha, Tusci, Tuscany, Etruria, Etruschi, Etruscan, Eturscan, Euskadi, Euskara (Basque), Erul, Herul, Heruli, Erilar, Vanir, Danir, Daner, Aesar, Aesir, Asir, Svear, Svea, Svie, Svioner, Svenonian, Urmane, Norge.

Note: Many scholars argue that Rosh should simply be translated as “chief or head” (eg. Delitzsch, Hengstenberg, Ryrie, Unger, Millard, Zimmerli, Feinberg, Wood, Alexander, Block) as opposed to a proper noun/place name: Rosh (eg. Gesenius, Keil, Price, Hitchcock, Rhodes, Ice). For further reading on this issue, see my book Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist (WND, 2012). Some (eg. Billington, Ice) have argued that Rosh is simply a derivative of Tiras. Ice states for instance, “It is very likely that the name Rosh is actually derived from the name Tiras in Genesis 10:2 in the Table of Nations.” For the purpose of this paper, we will allow for the view that Rosh could be a proper name and could be a derivative of Tiras.

Modern names and nations likely descended from Ros/Tiras:

Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Chechnya Dagestan, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Greece, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, and others.

Meshech (sons were Dedon, Zaron and Sheba) Ancient names also: Me’shech, Mes’ek, Meshekh, Meshwesh, Meskhi, Meschera, Mushch, Muschki, Mushki, Mishi, Muski, Mushku, Musku, Muskeva, Muska, Muskaa, Muskai, Maskali, Machar, Maskouci, Mazakha, Mazaca, Mtskhetos, Modar-es, Moskhi, Moshkhi, Mosah, Mosher, Moshch, Moschis, Mosoch, Moschi, Moschian, Moshakian, Mo’skhoi, Moschoi, Mosochenu, Mosochean, Mossynes, Mosynoeci, Moskva, Moscovy, Moscow.

Modern peoples nations likely descended from Meshech:

Russians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and others.

Tubal (sons were Ariphi, Kesed and Taari) Ancient names also: Tabal, Tabali, Tubalu, Thobal, Thobel, Tbilisi, Tibarenoi, Tibareni, Tibar, Tibor, Sabir, Sapir, Sabarda, Subar, Subartu, Tobol, Tobolsk.

Modern peoples and nations likely descended from Tubal:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, South America, Russia, others.

Gomer (sons were Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah). Ancient names also: Gamir, Gommer, Gomeri, Gomeria, Gomery, Goth, Guth, Gutar, Götar, Gadelas, Galic, Gallic, Galicia, Galica, Galatia, Gael, Galatae, Galatoi, Gaul, Galls, Goar, Celt, Celtae, Celticae, Kelt, Keltoi, Gimmer, Gimmerai, Gimirra, Gimirrai, Gimirraya, Kimmer, Kimmeroi, Kimirraa, Kumri, Umbri, Cimmer, Cimmeria, Cimbri, Cimbris, Crimea, Chomari, Cymric, Cymry, Cymru, Cymbry, Cumber.

Modern peoples and nations likely descended from Gomer:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland, and others.

The point in listing the ancestors of the Japhetic peoples listed among the Gog-Magog invaders, is to show that if we consistently use the bloodline-lineage-migration method, then we must conclude that dozens upon dozens of modern nations will be involved in Ezekiel’s invasion. However, if we follow the historical-grammatical method of interpretation, based on the best historical records, just before and during Ezekiel’s day, most of the Japhetic peoples listed in Ezekiel’s oracle would have primarily resided in Asia Minor or modern day Turkey. Let’s continue to consider the following chart that shows how following the two different methods of interpretation will dramatically affect one’s end result:


In summary, depending on which method one uses, the Japhetic peoples listed in Ezekiel’s oracle would be understood as including the following nations:

Bloodline-lineage-migration method:

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Iraq, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, much of Central and South America, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and likely several other nations as well.

Historical-geographic-correlation method:

Turkey, possibly several other nations.

While the above lists are certainly not comprehensive, they do fairly represent how a consistent use of one or the other interpretive method will dramatically affect one’s end result. Yet when we assess the many efforts among prophecy teachers who use the bloodline-lineage method to identify the nations that will comprise the Ezekiel 38 & 39, Gog of Magog invasion, only a small fraction of the nations in the larger list are ever included. Why is this? Why for instance, is Russia always included, but Moldova, Ireland, Canada, and Mexico always omitted? If we are to be honest, we must admit that this is due to a confused and inconsistent method of interpretation. Even among some of the most well-trained and careful scholars, it is clear that they are not consistent, switching back and forth from the historical-grammatical method to the bloodline-lineage-migration method. Beyond this, as previously stated, even when they do use the bloodline-lineage-migration method, they limit their analysis, naming only some of the descendants, but omitting most of the others.

Below are a series of charts detailing how a handful of well-known, well-respected prophecy teachers identify (1) the names found in the Ezekiel 38 & 39 prophecy, (2) the method of interpretation they used for each name, and (3) the correlating modern nations that they arrive at.

The analysis that follows should not be seen as a personal criticism of any the teachers cited. These men have each shown themselves to be outstanding exegetes and careful students of Biblical prophecy. These individuals are cited only because of their prominence whose teachings widely impact the Body of Christ.

Hal Lindsey & Joel C. Rosenberg

In the first chart, because both authors Hal Lindsey and Joel C. Rosenberg use essentially the same methodology and arrive at the same conclusions, I have included them both here together.

As can be seen above, both Lindsey and Rosenberg employ a partial and selective use of the bloodline-lineage-migration method to identify Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, but with regard to Gomer and Togarmah, they use a combination of the two methods. Concerning Persia, Cush and Lud, Lindsey and Rosenberg use the historical-geographic-correlation method. In the case of Persia for instance, rather than attempting to trace the movements and descendants of the ancient Indo-Iranian and Indo-European peoples that inhabited ancient Persia during Ezekiel’s day, they only link “Persia” to the modern day region of Iran as it would have been understood in Ezekiel’s day. Both Lindsey and Rosenberg use an inconsistent methodology, employing one method for some names and an entirely different method for others.

Mark Hitchcock & Ron Rhodes

In this next chart, I have included Mark Hitchcock and Ron Rhodes together, as they, like Lindsey and Rosenberg, generally follow the same methodology and arrive at essentially the same conclusions.

Here we see that Hitchcock and Rhodes, both trained and very careful teachers, lean much closer to a consistent use of the historical-geographic-correlation method, (seven of the nine names are interpreted in this manner) but they still shift to the use of the bloodline-lineage-migration method of interpretation, (with both Rosh and Magog) and again only in a limited and selective manner.

With regard to Rosh, both Hitchcock and Rhodes seem to generally rely on the testimony of Wilhelm Gesenius who himself employs the bloodline-lineage-migration method, citing Arab and Byzantine sources from the 9th century AD, roughly 1500 years after Ezekiel’s day!

Dr. Thomas Ice

Now we come to Dr. Thomas Ice, whose approach, of those discussed thus far, comes the closest to a consistent hermeneutic. As we saw earlier, Ice specifically identifies the historical-geographic-correlation method as the proper method and for the most part sticks to this method.

On most of the names in question, Ice does follow though and use the historical-geographic-correlation method, but with regard to Magog and Rosh, like Hitchcock and Rhodes before him, Ice is a bit inconsistent, deviating slightly into the blood-lineage-migration method. Concerning Rosh for instance, Ice states,

The ancient Rosh people, who have been traced back to Tiras, a son of Japheth (Gen.10:2), who migrated to the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, are one of the genetic sources of the modern Russians of today. (emphasis mine)

After affirming the need to interpret the text strictly according to the historical-geographic-correlation method, Ice nevertheless swerves into tracing the “genetic sources,” “descendants,” and the peoples “related” to the Rosh-peoples. In support of his conclusions, Ice never cites any date-specific historical sources that would link Magog or Rosh exclusively to, or even primarily to Russia during Ezekiel’s day.

A Consistent Historical Method

Finally we arrive at the interpretive method advocated for in this paper. This is the consistent historical-geographic-correlation method, where all of the names mentioned by Ezekiel are interpreted according to the locations that history testifies they inhabited during the late 7th and early 6th centuries B.C.

When a consistent historical method is used, when all available historical data is consulted, we arrive at a Turkish-led invasion. While it is also certainly possible that Russia could be included in this invasion, this would only be raw speculation, as there is nothing in the actual text that would clearly point to this. Below is a map representing how Ezekiel would have understood the names of his own prophecy according to the consistent historical method of interpretation:

In considering the layout of the nations on this map in relation to Israel, several commentators and scholars have suggested that the LORD, through Ezekiel, essentially specified one modern nation from all four corners of the compass as representative of a massive coalition that most likely includes several nations beyond those specifically listed. The inclusion of other nations not specifically mentioned is also seen when the LORD declares to Gog that beyond the nations listed, he would also be accompanied by “many nations with you.” (38:6)

Notice that if we consult a wide range of conservative Bible Atlases, these will all confirm the identification of Turkey as Magog, the home of Gog:


1.) IVP Atlas of Bible History


2.) The New Moody Atlas of the Bible


3.) The Holman Bible Atlas


4.) Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

Conclusion

In conclusion, the purpose of this paper is to highlight the need for a consistent methodology among prophecy teachers and exegetes of a literalist and futurist persuasion. If someone wishes to argue that we should in fact use the bloodline-lineage-migration method, not only would I argue that this methodology is improper, but I would also demand that it be used consistently, thus involving a majority of the nations of the earth—a position I have yet to see a single interpreter argue for. But if we are to follow the historical-grammatical method, as is the commonly accepted method of interpretation among conservative evangelical exegetes, then let us also be consistent. I believe it is time for an open reassessment of the popular understanding of Ezekiel’s prophecy which has such an overwhelming Russian-emphasis.

31 Comments
  • Barasheet
    Posted at 15:39h, 10 November

    Hey Joel dont know if you have seen this news link but here it is…a call for a world capital by an American U N official for a world capital in…you guessed it, Turkey…http://cnsnews.com/blog/dan-gainor/un-representative-calls-establishing-world-capital-islamic-istanbul

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:39h, 11 November

    Yes, I saw that.

  • Ezekiel 38 & 39: The Need For A Consistent Hermeneutic « MidnightWatcher's Blogspot
    Posted at 17:16h, 11 November

    […] understanding of Ezekiel’s prophecy which has such an overwhelming Russian-emphasis.” Source – Joels Trumpet. Share this:ShareFacebookGoogle +1TwitterStumbleUponRedditDiggEmailPrintLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the […]

  • Greg
    Posted at 18:00h, 11 November

    If Gog is Turkey, how can it be said that he was in the four corners of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the”Beloved City”? The answer is to be found in the two women, the true bride and the harlot, in Rev.12-22. The true bride is the “holy,beloved city” bearing God’s true children (i.e.Christians) in Rev.12:1,17,20:9,21:2 and having the “light and glory of God” in Rev.21:11.
    The other city is the “great city” in Rev.17:18,16:19,18:16,19, who became “The mother of harlots” in Rev. 17:5(i.e. unregenerate Israel, and the unbelieving world)
    One woman is the “Jerusalem that now is” and the other is “Jerusalem which is above” in Gal.4:25-26. The identity of these two women is made unmistakable by the inspired apostle in the contrast between the two that John brings out by the same revealing angel in Rev.17:1 and Rev.21:9

  • Perry Brown
    Posted at 12:22h, 12 November

    Joel,

    I agree that we should use the historical-grammatical-geographic-correlation method and approach to identify ancient biblical names of kingdoms, nations, cities and regions, instead of applying the bloodline-lineage-migration method. But I still wrestle with some points, of which I haven’t come to a definite conclusion regarding the identification of the ancient nations listed in Ezekiel 38&39.

    Regarding the Japhetic nations (Magog, Meschech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah), although they can be identified as modern day Turkey, and possibly one or more of the nations south of the Caucasus Mountains (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia), as you have perfectly pointed out in many of your articles and book, some questions/issues that still remain for me, may be you can help me out. Bellow are two of these questions/issues:

    1 – “Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”. It’s said that Gog (Antichrist) is from the land of Magog and he is chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. My interpretation of this is that Gog’s origin or ethnicity or nationality is from the land that in ancient times was called Magog. However, he will be the political leader of Meshech and Tubal. This could be understood, not necessarily of course, that Gog (the Antichrist) would come from a different region or people group of which, latter on during his career, he will become the political leader. If we consider all three (Magog, Meshech and Tubal) to be identified with modern day Turkey, then the paraphrased verse would be Gog, of the land of Turkey, the chief prince of Turkey and Turkey. Sounds strange, right? I understand that Meshech and Tubal were two different nations or kingdoms in Ezekiel’s day, and that the verse is saying that one day the two realms of Meshech and Tubal will come under the same domain as a nation or kingdom, becoming one. That’s understandable. But, I still think there is some kind of differentiation we need to make regarding Magog with Meshech and Tubal. I’m not necessarily saying that Magog needs to be somewhere far off of Turkey in a different nation, but who knows. For example, what if, not saying that it is, Magog would be the geographic region of people group of the Kurds. Gog could be from the land of the Kurds (Turkish “Kurdistan”) and become the chief Prince of the nation of Turkey. Another example, although I consider it less possible, could be that Magog is the geographic region of the Turkic origin, in Central Asia. The Turkic countries are, since 1991, coming closer and closer regarding the ethnic, linguistic and historical ties. Could it be, that in a non-distant future, it would be possible for a Turk from one nationality (modern day country) become a politician in another Turkic nation? These are just some possibilities.

    This reasoning could also be applied to Gomer and Togarmah. It said that “Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you (Gog)”. The common understanding of the text is that Gomer and Togarmah are independent nations/kingdoms from the one that Gog is chief prince. I agree that the ancient geographic locations of these kingdoms/nations are located in modern day Turkey and possibly Azerbaijan, Armenia or Georgia (southern Caucasus nations). But still, the text tells me that these two nations Gomer and Togarmah (house of) are some other than the domain of which Gog is chief prince, because it’s said that Gomer and Beth-Togarmah and their armies (hords) are together with Gog (Antichrist) in alliance. Could it be that these nations are two of the three southern Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia? This gives us one problem; Armenia and Georgia are not Muslim countries. They don’t even have an Islamic majority population, only very small minority.

    Although reliable historical sources and maps give us the ancient location (in Ezekiel’s day) of Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah in Asia Minor, Anatolia and region of ancient kingdom of Armenia (Urartu or Ararat), which is modern day Turkey, each one of these 5, with the exception of Meshech and Tubal, could be considered different domains or political realms at the time the fulfillment of this prophecy. Joel, how do you see this? Do you think I’m trying to stretch too far as for the Identification and there is not much meaning to the seemingly and apparently differentiation of these 5 Japhetic ancient nations? Do you think that we should not take this into consideration and just apply the identification to Turkey. Would the verse go like this: ‘2-3 Gog of the land of Turkey, chief prince of Turkey… 6 Turkey and all his hordes, Turkey from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes, many peoples with you.’ Unless in the future there could be some kind of political split or breakup of the modern day nation of Turkey into 4 or five countries, this seems strange to my ears. But, maybe I need some adjusting to my ears.

    2 – My second question is related to a bloodline-lineage-migration from the days of the sons of Noah until the days of Ezekiel and his prophetic ministry. There are 1,600 to 1,900 years separating the flood to the time that Ezekiel was operating in his prophetic ministry. All nations listed in Ezekiel 38&39 are names of descendants of Noah, with the exception of Persia. Noah’s sons, grandsons and great grandsons, after some years from the flood, spread over the face the ancient biblical world, become what we know as the table of nations or in Jewish rabbinical tradition, the 70 nations. The peoples listed in Genesis 10 are first three or four generations from Noah. These peoples spread out over the earth. When Ezekiel prophecied, the descendents of Japhet’s sons and grandsons spread over the earth and become various peoples groups, tribes and nations. For example, would the descendants of Tubal (son of Japhet), only become the people group/nation known to the Jews, Assyrians and Greeks as Tabal, Tiberani, etc, or could there be more peoples groups, tribes, nations spread over other geographic regions? I know that the answer would be: the proper descendent of Tubal known to the Jews, because prophecy is as related to the Jew. Yes, I know that. My question then is, what are the Jewish sources (rabbinical and other Jewish traditional literature) that identifies the each one of the nations listed in Ezekiel 38&39? Are there any? Or do we rely only on the Assyrian and Greek, maybe Babylonian, sources? Or could there be any other descendants of the grandsons and great grandsons of Noah listed in Ezekiel 38&39 other than those living in Asia Minor, Anatolia or region north to Mesopotamia and south to Caucasus (Ararat or Urartu or Armenia region) in the days of Ezekiel, identified and recognized by Jewish and Rabbinic traditional literature and sources?

    In another comment (post), I may detail some other questions/issues regarding the identification of the nations of Ezekiel 38&39.

    Joel, please do not take this as I don’t agree or have any doubts on your position. I do believe you are on the right path. I agree with you. You have a great (big in scope) job (not the only one of course) to turn the focus of the popular Bible prophecy students and experts to the middle east, towards the Muslim countries and communities. As I have said, I wrestle with these issues, and some others, regarding the identification of the list of nations in Ezekiel 38&39. My hope is to grasp the best interpretation and identification as possible as to what the future holds for us.

    Blessings,

    Perry

  • Bruce
    Posted at 14:30h, 12 November

    What about New Covenant Theology (NCT) whose hermeneutic is:
    1. Christocentric.
    2. Redemptive-historical.
    3. New Testament Scriptures interprets Old Testament Scriptures.
    4. Israel=Jesus=Church.

  • David W. Lincoln
    Posted at 18:19h, 12 November

    Good work, Joel. One question, mixed with a request: When will you start writing about the Muslim Jesus being, I think, the Biblical False Prophet?

    For you have plowed the same ground for a while, and it is time to shed light on other parts of what is to come.

    Thank you.

    Blessings,

    David

  • Joel
    Posted at 23:28h, 12 November

    David,

    I think all that I could say about that possibility, I said in Islamic Antichrist. And it must be qualified that it is only a possible scenario. I do not teach that as if it is doctrine. It is interesting info to consider as we ponder how Satan might deceive the “earth dwellers”. But our overwhelming emphasis should be on what the Scriptures state and not on what a demonically inspired religion teaches. This is my view.

    Blessings.

  • Joel
    Posted at 01:50h, 13 November

    Perry,

    Briefly, I would simply see the phrase Gog of Magog, the chief, the prince of Meshech and Tubal as similar to “these will be delivered out of his hand, Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon.” (Daniel 11:41). I see no need to find anything other than a sweep of Asia Minor, from the west (Magog) to the east (Tubal). That said, interpreting these things is not a science. God knows best. If, in our efforts to properly interpret various eschatological passages such as Ezekiel 38, 39, we are not open to the idea of being wrong, we are fools.

    Blessings

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  • Richard Neal
    Posted at 06:10h, 13 November

    Joey: In my book, Kingdom of the Antichrist, I term what you refer to as “the historical-grammatical-geographic-correlation method and approach” as “The Biblical Principle of Nations.” In other words, when speaking of end time events and characters Scripture uses geographical areas rather than the ethnicity of the people as prophetic markers…For God surely knew, looking down through the centuries, that migrations, wars, famines, intermarriages, etc, etc, would force the ethnic people then inhabiting the geographical area in mind to change many times over throughout the coming centuries. But the geographical land in mind would always be the same regardless of who would be living in it during the final generation…If I remember correctly, it wasn’t but a few months ago that you posted an article you wrote where you traced the linage of the ancient people known as the Scynthians into modern Russia, where you then claimed that they were Gog of the land of Magog. So, I’m glad to see you finally come around to a proper use of hermeneutics, and in so doing arrived at a better interpretation of Ezekiel 38, 39.

    Richard Neal – author Kingdom of the Antichrist

  • Joel
    Posted at 10:25h, 13 November

    Richard,

    I traced the migration of the Scythians to show where they lived during Ezekiel’s day. But this was to Asia Minor (Turkey), not Russia. This article is simply an expansion of what I argue for in Mideast Beast.

  • DDN
    Posted at 15:02h, 13 November

    There is a problem with all of this – America is Babylon.

  • Joel
    Posted at 20:07h, 13 November

    One’s opinion means little. The view that America is Babylon simply does not align with Scripture. America does not represent a religious system. Babylon sits in a literal desert. America is not the primary guilty party that is responsible globally for the spilled blood of the saints. America is not a city. We could on and on.

  • Chuck
    Posted at 20:50h, 13 November

    Joel, I love the effort to keep an open mind so we can get to the true bottom line.

    I understand the historico-grammatical method is the standard we should use according to today’s wisdom. I wonder though if you could elaborate a little on the possibility that someone like Ice could in fact be correct. What I mean is, if say 90% of Rosh and Magog’s lineage migrated to Russia (I have no idea what the correct percentage would be), then is it foolish to leave it open to possibility that Ezekiel did have the actual people in mind rather than the location? It is odd that Ezekiel would have in mind a people like the Scythians, but then due to migration, the prophecy actually refers to Turks. In some sense, using the lineage method does feel true to the historico-grammatical method, in that you are trying to understand which people he had in mind rather than the land area.

    I understand the historic-grammatical method should be preferred, but it does seem odd to switch people groups. But, if you tell me that Rosh and Magog scattered everywhere (and not in a concentrated manner to Russia), then I don’t know what we can think but what you propose (Turkey).

    Thanks.

  • Joel
    Posted at 21:05h, 13 November

    Our ability to trace the various migrations, intermarriages, spreading and mixing of every ancient people is nearly an impossible task, and no certainly will ever be achieved. That said, as best as we know, the descendants of the Scythian peoples today would be spread all over the world. Many might be concentrated in Russia, but an equal amount would be in the Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, as well as the various CIS “istan” nations of central Asia as well as a bit of China, and again, virtually throughout the earth. Personally, I have at least seven diverse ethnicities in my heritage. Much of the world today is this way. A giant melting pot.

    Beyond this, if we include the other names that Ezekiel mentions, we essentially end up with the whole world. When he says Perisa, it would have little to do with modern day Iran, as those peoples ended up largely in Europe. So either we believe that Ezekiel was pointing to a specific area (Turkey) and several other nations, or we believe that the names essentially mean nothing, simply referring to the whole earth.

    Another example: The Bible repeatedly refers to Edom and the Edomites as featuring prominently in the last days, whereas most historians would say that they no longer exist, having essentially been wiped out in ancient times. If we are looking to a region where the ancient Edomites once dwelled, then this is reasonable and fairly simple. If we use the other method and seek to do so properly, every Biblical exegete would need to become historian-geneticist-investigators.

    I think the geographic correlation method is the best method that allows us to strike a balance between literalism and proper context. Anything else becomes nearly meaningless.

    Blessings.

  • Chuck
    Posted at 01:15h, 14 November

    Joel, your example of Edom makes your case clear regarding the futility of the lineage approach.

    One other question that is interesting to me:

    In another recent article, you mentioned that you believe Ezekiel’s Gog and Revelation’s Beast are one and the same. Makes sense to me, given all the reasons you mentioned. But in Revelation it is said of the beast, “Who can make war with the Beast?” Would you take this to mean that the Turkish region must rise to the level of a superpower in order to fulfill the Gog/Beast prophecies? Or would it be enough for the Gog/Beast to be a thorn to Israel? Obviously, at this time it doesn’t appear likely the Turkish region will rise to the level of a superpower anytime soon, but stranger things have happened, and it could be centuries from now anyway.

    Thoughts on this?

    Best Regards in Christ

  • Joel
    Posted at 01:55h, 14 November

    The Beast is both a person (the Antichrist) and his empire. The beast empire will consist eventually of ten aligned nations. Thus, it would not only be Turkey, but a regional alignment, including several nations.

  • David777
    Posted at 23:25h, 15 November

    Dear Joel !
    In Rev. 20.8 are the names Gog and Magog mentioned without any special explanation.
    Do you have any thoughts about what this means ?
    Could it just be geographical locations reference is made to ?

    Blessings from Norway

  • DDN
    Posted at 00:07h, 16 November

    OK Joel (concerning America is Babylon), Revelation chapter 18 is most certainly talking about America. America is the world’s consumer nation (trade inbalance due to its consumption – hey, ask the Chinese). America is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, yet it is most certainly the most influential nation of the face of the earth (economically and militarily). America has sent men to the moon (think about that) – let us reach unto heaven (Gen 11:4). Man did not reach God, but his sins certainly have. America developed the most destructive weapons on the face of the earth and has assembled the greatest military known to man (hey, ask Iraq or WWII Japan).

    Babylon is much more than simply a once held geographical area. Babylon is man’s aspiration to “make a name for ourselves (Gen 11:4),” apart from God. Babylon is man’s prideful achievements over 6000 years on this earth and represents man’s false religions (and whoredoms).

    Babylon was transferred from one kingdom to another (Babylon, Media/Persia, Greek, Roman, British, America). Each kingdom was known for its prideful achievments.

    America is represented by a city – Washington, DC (unique in America – unlike any other city). This city rules the world (not officially, but rest assured it rules the world). This city controls Israel. Israel is very concerned about what America thinks due to economic and military strings.

    Many think America is in decline (economy), but it is actually transforming itself before our eyes. As the mythical Phoenix – the old must die so that the new may arise out of its ashes.

    Could Obama be the beast – he is looking like it, but we shall see what he pushes Israel into in the near future.

    To deny America’s role in the world (in these last days) is very short sighted. The has never been such a prideful country. All modern technology has come from America and is being used to bring about a new system – just open your eyes.

    I shall not go into all the scripture at this time because it could easily fill a book.

  • Joel
    Posted at 00:10h, 16 November

    I believe that the reference to Gog and Magog in Rev 20:8, (as opposed to Gog of Magog in Ezekiel 38,39) is essentially an expression. Ezekiel 38,39 was essentially the Armageddon of the Old Testament. Even as Apocalypse or Armageddon are used today to refer to many things entirely unrelated to the Valley of Megiddo or the coming of Christ, so also has Gog and Magog come to mean Satanically led hordes. This is my view. But God knows best. Blessings.

  • Joel
    Posted at 00:19h, 16 November

    DDN,

    This is all good and fine, but merely being “influential” is simply not sufficient to align with the many other criteria of the text. Advocates of the America Babylon theory pick and choose which of the various requirements they can use to support their theory, while ignoring those that do not align. But it is quite clear that the woman Babylon is equally a religious as well as economic entity. America simply does not represent a religion. Instead, she is the greatest Christian missionary sending entity in human history. “Mother of all Harlots” is a term which could be paraphrased as “The greatest false religion ever known.” There is no way this can be squeezed to fit the US. The US is not guilty for the blood of saints throughout the earth. The US does not sit in a literal desert. Nor can the US be described as having sat on all seven Biblical world empires. The list goes on and on… In my view, the idea that America is Babylon is a very silly theory. But as always, God knows best.

  • Daniel McCarthy
    Posted at 23:07h, 16 November

    http://www.thecometsofgod.com/dwnlds/appndx-b.pdf

    Check this site out Joel….this guy is brilliant and supports Russia is not Magog. HE also has a very interesting interpretation of Revelation that would lend support, but give additional insight to the Biblical View.

  • Bob
    Posted at 01:40h, 17 November

    Could you please comment further on the use of Gog and Magog in Rev. 20:8? It seems to me that it is saying the battle will be after the millenium. I seen the reply above but I thought it was pretty limp.

  • Joel
    Posted at 06:15h, 17 November

    Bob,

    I normally expect that folks have read the passages and do some study on their own. Simply put, if you view the reference to Gog AND Magog in Revelation as the same as the Battle involving Gog OF Magog in Ezekiel, then you must also believe that throughout the thousand years of Jesus’ reign on the earth, the gentile nations and Israel remain ignorant of God and do not know him. Is this what you are inferring? Because Ezekiel 39 is clear that it is not until after the hordes of Gog are destroyed that the Gentiles and Israel come to know God. If you take this view, you must also believe that there will remain multiple Jewish captives throughout the millennium dispersed throughout the nations during this time. Because again, it is not until after Gog’s hordes are destroyed that the Jewish captives all return to Israel. If this is your view, then your view of Jesus is an impotent Messiah.

  • Bob
    Posted at 00:16h, 18 November

    My view is hazy at best! Thanks for your reply, I’ve found your work quite persuasive. I failed to see the distinction in the two text, that is, of and and.

  • Joel
    Posted at 01:25h, 18 November

    Cheers Bob. Blessings!

  • cynthia curran
    Posted at 04:32h, 28 November

    I agreed with you there Joel, the Ottomans conquered the old Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine empire in 1453. I don’t see Russia as the third Rome as many Eastern Orthodox do.

  • Is Ezekiel 38-39 a Pre-Armageddon Invasion of Israel? | P2ALM
    Posted at 21:03h, 16 November

    […] Ezekiel 38 & 39: The Need for a Consistent Hermeneutic […]

  • Cornelia Cree
    Posted at 15:07h, 13 December

    Modern, accurate prophet Kim Clement of California and South Africa has prophesied a conflict on Passover of 2015 which sounds very much like Ezek 38. He has also said that Syria and Iran would be so damaged that it would be called SyrIan. His videos are worth your examining as well as a list of his prophecies. After 7 years of President Obama I have no trouble believing that the AntiChrist will be Islamic.

  • coptic
    Posted at 04:21h, 23 March

    Pleas allow me to express my thought about the chief of all nations mentioned in Eze.38
    Gog, the land of Magog, the chief ruler of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal,
    Eze 38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
    They all have one chief ruler now; his name is Mohammed, they all under his Guidance and all practice his instruction.
    Is not he the Anti Christ?? the one will attack Israel? I wonder

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