Against Gog (Ezek 39:1-39:2)

“You!

Son of man!

Prophesy against Gog!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I am against you!

O Gog!

Chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal!

I will turn you around!

I will drive you forward!

I will bring you up

From the remotest parts

Of the north!

I will lead you

Against the mountains

Of Israel!’”

As if one chapter were not enough, Ezekiel has another chapter about Gog.   Yahweh God, as usual, came to the prophet Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, he wanted Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog, who is now called the prince of Meshech and Tubal and not from Magog. Like in the last chapter, Gog was clearly an enemy of Yahweh. Yet Yahweh used him for his own purposes. Yahweh was going to turn Gog around and drive him forward from the remotest parts of the northern area. In fact, Yahweh was going to lead Gog against the mountains of Israel. The only possible historical basis for this Gog, might be the supposedly chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, two 7th century BCE kingdoms in Asia Minor of Turkey.

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Yahweh was going to destroy Gog and his army (Ezek 38:3-38:4)

“Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I am against you!

O Gog!

Chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal.

I will turn you around!

I will put hooks

Into your jaws.

I will lead you out

With all your army,

Horses,

Horsemen,

All clothed

In full armor,

A great company,

All of them

With bucklers,

With shields,

Wielding swords.’”

Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to give Gog a message. How he was going to do this is not clear. Nevertheless, Yahweh God was against Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Yahweh was going to turn back Gog and put hooks into his jaws. This was not only going to happen to him, but also his whole army, their horses, their cavalry, their armored soldiers, and those with bucklers, shields, and swords. No one would be spared.

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.

Trading humans (Ezek 27:13-27:13)

“Javan,

Tubal,

Meshech

Traded with you.

They exchanged

Human beings,

As well as vessels of bronze

For your merchandise.”

Ezekiel mentioned 3 other trading partners of Tyre. Javan, the Ionians or the Greeks was one partner. Tubal seems to be the Assyrians who had settled in today’s southern Turkey. Meshech were the Assyrians in the mountain country of present day Turkey. They all traded with Tyre. Interesting enough there must have been a slave trade, since there was a mention of exchanging human beings. They also traded bronze vessels for all the great things that Tyre had.

War in captivity (Ps 120:5-120:7)

“Woe to me!

I am an alien in Meshech!

I must live among the tents of Kedar!

Too long have I had my dwelling

Among those who hate peace.

I am for peace.

When I speak,

They are for war!”

This short psalm ends with the psalmist lamenting that he was in some far off place where everyone is warring against him. He was a stranger or alien in Meshech and Kedar, either some place in Asia Minor or northern Arabia. These two places are kind of synonyms for some barbarous place where all people wanted to do was to make war. This psalmist, on the other hand, only wanted peace not war.

The descendents of Shem (1 Chr 1:17-1:17)

“The descendents of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech.”

Once again, this is based on Genesis, chapter 10. Shem was the oldest son of Noah, the favorite of the biblical authors. The descendents of Shem will become the Semites. Some believe that the word Semite comes from his name Shem. Shem had five sons in Genesis, chapter 10. (1) Elam had a powerful territory in lower Mesopotamia named after him. (2) Asshur was the name of the first capital of Assyria. (3) The Arpachshad lineage became the most important. (4) Lud was supposedly the ancestor of Lydia. There are other people named (5) Aram in the biblical literature. Perhaps this Aram gave the name to the territory northeast of Palestine that became Syria and the people there known as Arameans. There is no mention of the descendents of Elam, Asshur, and Lud. In Genesis, chapter 10, (1) Uz, (2) Hul, (3) Gether, and (4) Meshech are the sons of Aram, but in the biblical literature they only mentioned in the genealogies here and in Genesis, chapter 10. However, Uz was a common name. There was an area called Uz in southern Syria, where Job is said to come from. Hul may be a town in northern Canaan. No one can seem to trace Gether. Meshech, sometimes called Mash, is the same name as the 6th son of Japheth.