The allies of Gog (Ezek 38:5-38:6)

“Persia,

Cush,

Put,

Are with them.

All of them

Have shields

With helmets.

Gomer

With all its troops

Are with them.

Beth-togarmah,

From the remotest parts

Of the north,

Are with them,

With all its troops.

Many people

Are with you.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, listed the allies of Gog. Ezekiel seemed to remind Gog who was on his side. Persia was an ally. Cush or Ethiopia was also on his side. Put or Libya was also with him. Of course, they all had their shields and helmets. Also with Gog were the people of Gomer, who was the biblical son of Japheth, the son of Noah, with his army. Beth-togarmah, the horse traders with Tyre from chapter 27, from the remote north, was also with Gog. Once again, these northern countries had lots of people in their armies.

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Against Gog (Ezek 38:1-38:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward Gog,

Of the land of Magog.

The chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal.

Prophesy against him!’”

This section represents an example of apocalyptic literature. The emphasis in this type of literature is on a future that would be better compared to the sufferings of the present time. This thinking predominated in Second Temple Judaism after the return from the exile. This Messianic hope prefigured a future victory of good over evil. The prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse are better examples of this apocalyptic literature. As usual, the word of God came to Ezekiel, the son of man. However, this time he was to prophesize against Gog. Who is this Gog? This is the first mention of Gog in the biblical literature, who clearly was an enemy of Yahweh. There appears to be no historical basis for this Gog from Magog. According to Genesis, chapter 10, Magog was descended from Japheth, the son of Noah. Here Gog is a person and Magog is the land where he comes from. However, in later literature they were usually combined into ‘Gog and Magog,’ perhaps due to the Septuagint Greek translation. Magog might have been a code name for Babylon. There were also other legends about Gog and Magog in the later Greek and Roman times. Both are mentioned in later Jewish and Muslim writings. Meshech and Tubal were 7th century BCE kingdoms in Asia Minor or present day Turkey. Gog appears to be the chief prince of these two kingdoms also.

The exploits of Holofernes (Jdt 2:21-2:28)

“They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth. There they camped opposite Bectileth, near the mountain that is to the north of Upper Cilicia. From there Holofernes took his whole army, his infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and went up into the hill country. He ravaged Put and Lud. He plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites on the border of the desert, south of the country of the Chelleans. Then he followed the Euphrates River and passed through Mesopotamia. He destroyed all the hilltop cities along the brook Abron, as far as the sea. He also seized the territory of Cilicia. He killed every one who resisted him. Then he came to the southern borders of Japheth, fronting toward Arabia. He surrounded all the Midianites. He burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. Then he went down into the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest. He burned all their fields. He destroyed their flocks and herds. He sacked their towns. He ravaged their lands. He put to death all their young men with the edge of the sword. Fear and dread of him fell upon all the people who lived along the seacoast. This included those at Sidon and Tyre, as well as those who lived in Sur, Ocina, and all who lived in Jamnia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly.”

The geography here is a little muddled. It is about 600 miles from Nineveh to Damascus, but here it seems like just a few days. No one seems to know where this Bectileth was. Cilicia was on the Mediterranean Sea in Asia Minor, part of modern day Turkey. It, too, was about 500-600 miles from Nineveh, a difficult trip in 3 days, even in our modern times. Lud maybe the Syrian Lydia, but it is difficult to find Put. It is also difficult to know much about the Rassisites, the Ishmaelites, or the Chelleans. Generally, Ishmaelites usually referred to Arabs.   It is also difficult to pinpoint the Abron brook. Obviously, he traveled south along the Euphrates River, which is about 300 miles east of the seacoast. Japheth was near Arabia, which would be south of where he was. He also attacked the Midianites, on his way to Damascus. Holofernes burned down the wheat fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked and ravaged the land. He killed their young men. He then turned further south towards the coast. Thus there was great fear in Sidon and Tyre, as well as all along the coastal towns of   Sur, Ocina, Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon near Tyre, in the Asher tribe territory.

The descendents of Noah (1 Chr 1:4-1:4)

“Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

Once again, referring to chapter 5 of Genesis, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are the 3 sons of Noah. We are now transitioning to the post flood era where the world will be divided into 3 different groups, pretty much the people known to the Middle East. In fact, in chapter 9 of Genesis, it explicitly says that the whole word will be peopled via these 3 men. Noah is listed with his 3 sons, and not as direct descendents. What is interesting here is that there is a mention of 3 sons and not merely one son as in the preceding list. Also in Genesis, it is noted that Noah was 500 years old when he gave birth to these sons.

 

How the earth was peopled (Gen 10:1-10:32)

“These are the descendents of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  These children were born to them after the flood.”

This is an attempt to explain how the various people and countries came to be based on these three individuals.  Clearly some of the children were more important that the others.

 “The descendents of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.  The descendents of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.  The descendents of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.  From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the descendents of Japheth in their lands, with their own language, by their families, in their nations.”

Japheth’s family included seven named individuals. Gomer, the eldest son,  is mentioned with his three sons, Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.  They may have migrated to Asia Minor, Armenia, or around the Black Sea.  That would make sense since the ark supposedly ended up in Armenian mountains.

Javan’s family is also mentioned with four sons, Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.  His family may have been Phoenicians in Greece, southern Spain, the southern Mediterranean, Rhodes, and Tyre.

Magog may be identified as someone in the northern areas. Madai  and Tiras are not mentioned elsewhere.  Tubal and Meshech seem to have ended up around Tyre. Here they are referred to as the coastland people.  They are definitely not in the mainstream life of the authors.

“The descendents of Ham are Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The descendents of Cush are Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendents of Raamah are Sheba and Dedan.  Cush became the father of Nimrod.  He was the first on earth to become a mighty warrior. He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh.  Therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh.’  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.  From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehobothir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah. That is the great city.”

The family of Ham includes four sons, Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. However, no descendents of Put are mentioned, while the other three have descendents. Cush, the first born, was the father of Nimrod, the first great warrior, hunter, and city builder in the Babylonian and Syrian areas. Seba may be connected with Africa, around Ethiopia. Havilah, the same name as the place around the Garden of Eden, Sabtah, and Sabteca seem to have little importance as they are not mentioned again. Raamah and his two sons are barely mentioned again, but seem to be desert people.

“Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim  and Caphtorim, from which the Philistines come.”

Egypt, the second son, had seven sons.  As the name suggests, they were close in neighbors in northern Africa and somehow related to the Philistines. All the seven sons are rarely mentioned except here.

 “Canaan became the father of Sidon his first-born, and Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.  The territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the descendents of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.”

Canaan was the fourth son of Ham.  Canaan became the name of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern desert, with Lebanon to the north and the wilderness on the south. Canaan was the primary enemy of the biblical authors.  Canaan had two sons, Sidon, who had a northern city named after him, and Heth, the forerunner of the Hittites.

Canaan also had a whole bunch of people descendent from him. The Jebusites were descendent from Jebus, the third son of Canaan and seemed to settle around what is now Jerusalem.  The Amorites were the mountain or hill people.  The northern Girgashites and Hivites were among the seven nations living in the Promised Land at the time of the invasion of Canaan.  The Arkites seem to have settled in the northern town of Arka.  The Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites seem to be obscure groups that are not mentioned elsewhere in biblical literature.  Note that Ham’s children will become the enemies of these authors.

“To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The descendents of Shem are Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.”

Shem was the oldest son of Noah, and the favorite of the authors. Notice the importance of Eber.  Some believe that the word Semite comes from his name. Shem had five sons.  Elam had a powerful territory in lower Mesopotamia named after him. Asshur has the name of the first capital of Assyria. Arpachshad lineage becomes very important.  Lud was supposedly the ancestor of Lydia. There are other people named Aram in the biblical literature.  Perhaps this Aram gave the name to the territory northeast of Palestine.

“The descendents of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.”

There is no mention of the descendents of Elam, Asshur, and Lud.  Uz is a common name and there is an area called Uz in southern Syria.  The other three names are only mentioned in genealogies here and in Chronicles.

 “Arpachshad became the father of Shelah.   Shelah became the father of Eber.  To Eber were born two sons.  The name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.  Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab.  All these were the descendents of Joktan.  The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.”           Arpachshad’s family seems to be the most important since he only had one son, Shelah, although there are other biblical characters with this name.  Shelah’s son was Eber, and he seems to be very important, although there are a couple of other people named Eber in biblical literature.  Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan, but once again only Joktan seems important as he seems to have an Arab connection.

The thirteen sons of Joktan are mentioned here.  Seven of them, Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Diklah, Obal, and Abimael are only mentioned here and in the Chronicles with Arabian names.  However, Hadoram, Uzal, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab are mentioned elsewhere in the biblical literature.  They probably lived in the land near the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

“These are the descendents of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.  These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations.  From these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.”

There is never any mention of daughters.  Somehow the biblical authors of 2500-3000 years ago felt that this explained the world in which they lived, their world of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They had no idea about people in Asia, India, Southern Africa, and Northern Europe or of course the Americas.

Noah and his sons (Gen 9:18-9:29)

“The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan.  These three were the sons of Noah. From these the whole earth was peopled.”

So the sons of Noah peopled the whole world.  Ham was the father of Canaan.  This might be the start of the great disputes with the Canaanites.

“Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard.  He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent.  Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.  Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father.  Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine sleep and knew what his youngest son had done to him,  he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan.  Lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed by Yahweh my God be Shem.  And let Canaan be his slave. May God make space for Japheth, and let him live  in the tents of Shem.  Let Canaan be his slave.’”

Noah was the first to plant a vineyard.  Then he made some wine and got drunk.  How did he know to let the grapes ferment into wine?  Now we find out why the Canaanites were not good.  In fact, it was not Canaan who did the bad deed, but his father Ham.  Ham saw that Noah was naked and told his two brothers Shem and Japheth.  The two brothers walked backwards with garments to cover their father Noah.  When Noah woke up and found out what had happened, he then cursed Ham, the father of the Canaanites, who would be slaves to his brothers, Shem and Japheth.  So therefore they did not like Ham’s Canaanites.

 “After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years.  All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years.  Then he died.”

Noah lived another 300 years and died at ripe old age of 950.  Remember that he was 600 at the time of the flood.

The flood (Gen 7:10-7:24)

“And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of the heavens were opened.  The rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.  On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every animal of every kind, and all the domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind, every bird, every winged creature.  They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.  And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And Yahweh shut him in.”

On the 17th day of the second month the mythic flood began as the fountains burst with rain for forty days and nights. This was a crowded ship even though there is no indication of any children of the three sons.  The heavens opened with rain.

 “The flood continued forty days on the earth.  The waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.  The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth.  The ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.  The waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.  And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings.  Everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.  He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air.  They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.  And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred and fifty days.”

God destroyed all these humans and all breathing animals because they were evil, something that becomes a metaphor of things to come. During the forty days, the ark floated over the mountains.  Everything not in the ark died.  Only those on the ark with Noah were saved.  The waters continued to swell for 150 days, after the 40 day deluge.