06 Mar Where is Magog, Meshech and Tubal?
As an addendum to one of my most recent articles, “Does Psalm 83 Describe the New Middle-East War?” the following post represents the base of support for the two maps included in the article. My first map highlights the invading nations of the Battle of Gog of Magog, wherein I place Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah all in Asia Minor or modern day Turkey. The second map pictures my identification of the lands controlled by Assyria during the reign of King David, and the ministry of Asaph. (Note: This post has been updated.)
First, below is my map detailing the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 & 39’s oracle concerning the Battle of Gog of Magog:
Now below is a collection of maps from various Bible atlases, as well as other scholarly reference works, and a list of scholars, and prophecy teachers, wherein I find support for my position. The atlases which represent the most up-to-date scholarship are included first and the slightly older atlases follow. Note that the author of the critical blog post mentioned above places Magog, Meshech and Tubal all in Russia or Georgia, all well outside and north of modern day Turkey.
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
5.) Harper Collins Atlas of Bible History
6.) ESV Bible Atlas
7.) Baker’s Bible Atlas
8.) The Macmillan Bible Atlas
9.) IVP New Bible Atlas
10.) The Oxford Bible Atlas says of Meshech and Tubal that they are, “regions in Asia Minor [Turkey].”
12.) The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary states, “Magog, possibly meaning ‘the land of Gog,’ was no doubt in Asia Minor [Turkey] and may refer to Lydia.”
13.) The IVP Bible Background Commentary lists Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Togarmah as “sections or peoples in Asia Minor” [Turkey].
14.) The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, under the entry for “Magog,” states, “It is clear that Lydia [Turkey] is meant, and that by ‘Magog,’ we must understand, ‘the land of Gog.’”
15.) The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary places Magog in Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey.
16.) The New Bible Dictionary places both Meshech and Tubal in Turkey.
16.) The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It seems more probable that . . . Magog should be identified with Lydia [Turkey]. On the other hand, as Mosoch and Thubal were nations belonging to Asia Minor, it would seem from the text of Ezechiel that Magog must be in that part of the world. Finally, others with Josephus identify Magog with Scythia, but in antiquity this name was used to designate vaguely any northern population.”
17.) Herodotus, a Greek historian who wrote roughly one hundred and fifty years after Ezekiel, never once mentions “Magog”, but does discuss the Scythian peoples quite extensively. If one agrees with Josephus that some or all of the Scythian tribes are actually Magogites, (as other contemporary historians such as Pliny or close contemporaries such as Hippolytus do not) then even Herodotus establishes the Turkish-Magog interpretation of Ezekiel 38,39. For after discussing the various theories for the origins of the Scythians, Herodotus expresses his preferred belief that they came from Turkey: “There is also another different story, now to be related, in which I am more inclined to put faith than in any other. It is that the wandering Scythian once dwelt in Asia [The Greeks of this time referred to Asia Minor simply as “Asia” thus modern day Turkey].” Thus, Herodotus placed the origin of the Scythians in Turkey. By Herodotus’ day however, the Scythians had begun their sweep north on either side of the Black Sea, but had barely entered into Russia. As historian Michael Kulikowski, Department Head of History at Penn State University, states, “Herodotus’ Scythians were to be found in a bit of modern Bulgaria and Romania, and across the grasslands of Moldova and Ukraine.” This point is essential: In Herodotus’ day, one hundred and fifty years after Ezekiel’s oracle, the Scythians had barely reached southern Russia. Herodotus’ record establishes that back in Ezekiel’s day, the Scythians still dwelt in Asia Minor, or modern day Turkey. Concerning Meshech and Tubal, Herodotus, also identified them with a people named the Sarmatians and Mushovites who lived at that time in the ancient province of Pontus in northern Asia Minor, SE of the Black Sea [Histories IV], again pointing to modern Turkey. (*For the importance concerning how Ezekiel would have understood the names of his own prophecy, see the note below in bold.)
18.) Hippolytus of Rome, one of the most important Christian theologians of the third century, in his Chronicon, connected Magog to the Galatians in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey.
19.) Pliny the Elder a first-century Roman military commander, author, naturalist, and philosopher placed Magog on the border of Syria and modern day Turkey.
20.) Maimonides, also known as Rambam, the revered Jewish sage, in Hichot Terumot, also identified Magog as being on the border of modern day Turkey.
21.) Old Testament scholar Ralph Alexander, in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “Meshech and Tubal refer to areas in eastern Turkey, southwest of Russia and northwest of Iran.”
22.) Old Testament scholar Daniel I. Block, in the New International Commentary on Ezekiel, says, “It seems best to interpret Magog as a contraction of an original māt Gūgi, ‘land of Gog,’ and to see here a reference to the territory of Lydia in western Anatolia [Turkey].”
23.) Scholar and historian Edwin Yamauchi places both Meshech and TUbal in modern day Turkey.
24.) Pastor, author and well-known prophecy teacher Mark Hitchcock places Meshech and Tubal in modern day Turkey.
25.) According to Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries: “Meshech + Tubal + Gomer + Beth-togarmah = Turkey (and possibly Azerbaijan, Armenia).” But oddly, Jones removes Magog from Russia: “Magog = Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan (and possibly Afghanistan).” See Map Below:
26.) Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson in their Encyclopedia of Popular Bible Prophecies, also place both Meshech and Tubal in Turkey.
27.) Ron Rhodes, author and teacher in his book, Northern Storm Rising also places Meshech and Tubal in Turkey.
28.) Likewise Dr. Thomas Ice, executive director of the Pre-Trib Research Center says, “Some Bible teachers in the past have taught that Meshech is a reference to Moscow and thus refers to Russia. This is the view of The Scofield Reference Bible, Harry Rimmer and Hal Lindsey… The identification of Meshech with Moscow is merely based upon a similarity of sound. There is not real historical basis to support such a view, therefore, it must be rejected.” Ice thus agrees with Hitchcock and places Meshech and Tubal in Turkey: “The historical record, as was the case with Meshech, is that Tubal and his descendants immigrated to the area southeast of the Black Sea in what is modern day Turkey. Meshech and Tubal clearly provide the population base for the country we now call Turkey.”
29.) Chuck Missler in his article, “Meshech-Tubal Tensions with Syria” also places Meshech and Tubal in modern day Turkey.
30.) Assyrian texts & monuments locate Meshech (Mushku) and Tubal (Tabal) in Anatolia (W.Turkey), the areas that became known as Phrygia and Cappadocia.
Sources which DO NOT support an Ezekielian understanding of Magog as Russia, but which are commonly cited to the contrary:
The following three claims are floating around the internet and have been repeated many times, obviously without anyone ever checking the original sources:
1.) Hesiod: The first claim is that Hesiod, in the 7th Century B.C. linked Magog to the Scythians and southern Russia. This however is entirely inaccurate. Hesiod mentions Magog as the real name of Prometheus who lived “near the Caucasus”. Nothing of the Scythians or Russia is ever mentioned by Hesiod in regard to Magog. This vague mythological reference to Prometheus who did not live “in the Caucasus” rather “near the Caucasus” (The mountain range which separates Georgia and Azerbaijan from Russia.) is simply specific enough, nor a source that Bible students would want to establish doctrine upon. If one considers a map of the Caucasus, it is clearly also “near Turkey” as well.
2.) Philo: The second claim is that Philo in the first century, linked Magog to Russia. This also is a fabricated claim. In all of the works of Philo, he never mentions Magog. There is a work called Pseudo-Philo, which mentions Magog, but only as a descendant of Noah. Nowhere does Pseudo-Philo ever make any connection between Magog and Russia, or any other location for that matter.
3.) Herodotus and the “Gargarians” (or Gargareans). The third claim is that Herodotus makes references to a people called the Gargarians who lived in or near Russia. No such reference exists. Herodotus does make two references to a people called “Gandarians” but they are said to have lived in “Asia” which was the term Herodtus used to refer to Asia Minor, or modern day Turkey. Other than this, and perhaps where this claim is originally derived, is a statement from Strabo, a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher who lived roughly six hundred years after Herodotus. Strabo spoke of an all male tribe called the Gargaeans who would once a year mate with the Amazons (a tribe of all women). The two lived on the south of the Caucasian mountains in what would be Turkey, Georgia or Azerbaijan. Again, Strabo lived roughly six hundred years after Ezekiel. Once more, despite its obviously mythological nature, this story does nothing to establish an Ezekielian understanding of Magog as Russia.
(I challenge anyone to show me any quote from Hesiod that links Magog to the Scythians or from Philo that connects Magog to Russia or from Herodotus that speaks of the “Garagians”. Despite these claims being repeated within numerous works and especially all over the Internet, they simply do not exist in the original sources.)
Now, I am quite sure that despite the numerous references provided here, some who have long held to the notion that Magog represents Russia will just ignore all of these and simply cite other works and scholars who argue or who have argued that Gog / Magog correlate to Russian. Of course, this debate is not new. As far back as 1706, Matthew Henry, in his classic Bible commentary, acknowledged this precise difference of opinion among fellow scholars and believers:
“Some think they find them [Gog and Magog] afar off, in Scythia, Tartary, and Russia. Others think they find them nearer the land of Israel, in Syria, and Asia the Less [Turkey].”
When one surveys the many efforts to equate Magog with Russia, they almost universally follow the method which attempts to track the lineage, intermingling and migration patterns of the sons of Magog throughout the centuries. This often becomes chaotic, produces a wide-range of views, and is somewhat impossible for the lay-student to wade through all of the numerous opinions down throughout the centuries. As an example of how absurd this method can become: if one traces the bloodlines and migration patterns of the Gomerites, they eventually become the Celts who came to settle Ireland, England, Scotland etc. Yet how many books have we seen that predict an Irish invasion of Israel? * This next point is absolutely essential: The historical-grammatical method does not seek to understand the broad historical migration-bloodlines-intermixing and so forth of various peoples. The historical-grammatical method simply seeks to understand how Ezekiel the prophet would have understood the terms Magog, Meshech and Tubal, etc. This would have been formed through the location of these peoples during Ezekiel’s day as well the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10 & 11, which would have informed any Torah-literate Jew of that day. Simply stated, Ezekiel would have understood Magog to be equated with Asia Minor in the region of modern day Turkey.
Of course, my purpose is not to attempt to settle the debate here in a brief blog post. In my forthcoming book Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case For an Islamic Antichrist, I take great pains to thoroughly address the various arguments that surround these passages, bringing students of Scripture up to date with modern Biblical scholarship.
Now to the issue of what lands the Assyrians occupied during the reign of King David and ministry of Asaph when Psalm 83 was written. In the previously referenced blog post, the author took issue with my claim that the Assyria of this period included a large segment of modern day Turkey. The author posted a single map from the internet which purports to show Assyria in 900 B.C. The problem of course is that this period is at least 65 years after Psalm 83 was written. King David reigned, and Asaph ministered from roughly 1020-1005 B.C. to 980-965 B.C. as any Bible commentary will verify. Because I attempt to interpret Psalm 83 through the “historical-grammatical” method as is practiced by all conservative exegetes, I identify the Assyria of Asaph’s day, not the Assyria of 70 years later, etc. As such, the map I included in my article is accurate whereas the map used by my critic is not relevant. The territory of Assyria during King David’s reign included a large section of modern day Turkey. In fact, more of Turkey was included in the region under Assyrian vassalage than was Syria. For a brief period around 900 B.C. the Assyrian territory shrunk back, but very quickly returned to the Mediterranean and only expanded westward from there. Any effort to exclude the nation of Turkey from the list of nations in Psalm 83 is simply not in accordance with the historical record. See map below of the expansion of the Assyrian Empire. The black line represents the geographic borders of the modern day nation of Turkey.
The New Moody Atlas of the Bible
For those who seek to study the issue of Psalm 83 further, I would also recommend Mark Hitchcock’s newest book, Middle East Burning as well as Dr. Thomas Ice’s series of articles below.
(Note: It is important to state that my critique of the popular, multiple-war, Psalm 83 theory is not directed personally toward author Bill Salus, who has been the primary instrument to popularize this theory. Bill is a gentleman, a good brother, and has always represented Christ well in all of my personal interactions with him.)
My book will be available from this site in April. As always, all I ask is that lovers of the Scriptures—genuine Bereans, simply take the time to consider the various arguments and arrive at their conclusions through their love for truth and the Scriptures, rather than based on what their particular “team” has traditionally taught. I am convinced that too many within the Body of Christ forget that we are all on the same team. With regard to the end times, we all see through a glass darkly and when all is said and done, we will all no doubt be wrong on some points, but Jesus promises to reveal the truth to those who humbly seek it. After the Messiah comes, then we will all agree on all things. For now, we are to be faithful men and women who watch and pray, as we together long for the revealing of our great King and Savior Jesus Christ:
The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. —1 Peter 4:7-8