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Magog

Meaning: region of Gog; the place of Gog

This was the name of a biblical man and a region or nation. The name “Magog” appears five times in five verses in the Bible (Gen 10:2; 1 Chr 1:5; Ezek 38:2; Ezek 39:6; Rev 20:8).

  1. the second of the “sons” of Japheth (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chr. 1:5).

  2. In Ezekiel (38:2, 39:6) Magog is a nation or region over which a man named Gog rules. There is a possibility that the people are descended from Japheth.

    The ancient Jewish historian Josephus identified the Magog as Scythians of the far North (Antiquities I, vi. 1).

    “The Latin father Jerome says that this word denotes 'Scythian nations, fierce and innumerable, who live beyond the Caucasus and the Lake Maeotis, and near the Caspian Sea, and spread out even onward to India.' Perhaps the name ‘represents the Assyrian Mat Gugi, or ‘country of Gugu,’ the Gyges of the Greeks’ (Sayce's Races, etc.).” (Matthew G. Easton)

    However, Dr. Henry M. Morris says “the place of Gog” may possibly be “now Georgia in the former U.S.S.R.” (The Defenders Study Bible, Notes for Gen. 10:2).

    Revelation 20 states that after the Millennium, “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” (Rev. 20:7b-8).

    Dr. Morris comments, “Despite the duplication of names, this Gog and Magog incursion after the thousand years does not seem to be the same as the invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog before the thousand years, as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The combatants in the two battles are quite different from each other and the outcomes are drastically different, as is obvious from even a casual reading of the two accounts. It may be that the names are the same because the new leaders of the rebellion (human leaders, that is) come from the same northern regions of Eurasia as the leaders of that earlier invasion of Israel. They may even have deliberately appropriated these Biblical names as a statement of their intent to avenge the defeat and death of their ancestors when they invaded Israel.” (Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defender's Study Bible, notes for Rev. 20:8)

    John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible shares this history of opinions about about the identity of God and Magog:

    “Calmet (m) thinks that Cambyses and his army are meant by Gog and Magog, which to mention is enough; and it is the opinion of St. Ambrose (n) that the Goths who ravaged the Roman empire in the fifth and sixth ages are meant: others, who suppose this prophecy was fulfilled after the Jews' return from the Babylonish captivity, and before the coming of Christ, take Gog to be a common name of the kings of the lesser Asia and Syria, or the Seleucidae, who distressed the Jews in the times of the Maccabees; the chief of whom was Antiochus Epiphanes, who is supposed, to be more especially designed, and was a type of antichrist; and they are the more strengthened in this opinion, because they find, in Pliny (o), that the city of Hierapolis in Syria was called by the Syrians Magog; and they fancy the name of Gog is the same with Gyges a king of Lydia, whose country was called from him Gygea, or Gog's land, who was grandfather to Croesus; and which country came into the hands of Cyrus, and from the Persians into the hands of the Greeks, and so to the Seleucidae; for which reason they may bear this name in this prophecy; but it is certain that the prophecy refers to what should be in “latter years”, and in the “latter days”, Ezekiel 38:8, phrases which respect the times of the Messiah, the Gospel dispensation, and oftentimes the latter part of that; and even those times when the Jews shall return to their own land, and continue in it for ever, as the preceding prophecy, with which this is connected, shows; and so the Jews always understand it of an enemy of theirs yet to come. Cocceius is of opinion, that the Romish antichrist is meant; and that Gog signifying the covering or roof of a house, fitly points him out; who puts himself between God and man, as the roof is between heaven and earth; and who keeps out the light of divine things, the heat of love, and rain of spiritual blessings, from the church; and compares with this the veil over all nations, Isaiah 25:7 and the covering cherub, Ezekiel 28:14, but I rather think the Turk is here meant, the eastern antichrist, in whose possession the land of Judea now is; and which, when recovered by the Jews, will greatly exasperate him, and he will gather all his forces together to regain it, but in vain.

    The learned Vitringa (p), though he is of opinion that this prophecy, according to its first and proper sense, respects the kings of Syria, the persecutors of the church, that should bring large and well disciplined armies into the land of the people of God, gathered out of the northern nations, and Scythians, and would be defeated in the land of Canaan; yet mystically intends the Turks, the Scythian nation and northern people, who, by a like attempt, will infest the church of the people of God, and invade their country; and this he makes no doubt of is the proper aspect of Gog and Magog: and Samuel Dauderstat, a Lutheran divine, has wrote a dissertation, “De Antichristo Orientali”, concerning the eastern antichrist, which he explains of Gog and Magog: and Michael Buckenroder, another Lutheran, has written upon the irruption to be made by Gog and Magog into the mountains of Israel (q).

    Osiander thus explains the several names mentioned; by Gog I think the Turk is meant, by Magog the Tartarian, by Meshec the Muscovites, and by Tubal the Wallachians; and Starckius on the place observes, that if this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled, we shall easily find our Gog, and point out his metropolis Constantinople; so that I am not singular in my opinion. Gog signifies “high” (r) and eminent, one in a very exalted station: it comes from the same root, and has the same signification, as Agag, to whose height and exaltation there is an allusion in Numbers 24:7, where the Samaritan and Septuagint versions read Gog: it is the same with, “Jagog”, by which name the Arabians called the Scythians that lived far east, particularly those that were situated to the north of China beyond Imaus, as Golius (s) observes; and Josephus (t) says that the posterity of Magog are called Scythians, and these inhabited Tartary; and there, as Paulus Venetus (u) affirms, are the countries of Gog and Magog, which they call Gug and Mungug now; from hence came the Turks, even from Tartary, which is called by the eastern writers Turchestan, whence they had their name; and so may with great propriety be called by the name of Gog; their emperor also being a high and mighty one, whose empire must be destroyed; and which is signified by the passing away of the second woe, and the drying up of the river Euphrates, Revelation 11:14, upon which passages this and the following chapter may be thought a good commentary: and so the Jews (w) make Gog to be the general of the Ishmaelites or Turks, as Armillus of the Christians, and who shall reign in the kingdom of Magog or Scythia. Gog is the name of a man, 1 Chronicles 5:4, as it is here, and not of a country.

    The country of Gog is called, as follows, the land of Magog, of which Gog is king, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it: it may be supplied in connection with the former clause, set thy face against Gog, in the land of Magog; or, “against Gog”, against “the land of Magog”, so Kimchi. The countries of Jagog and Magog, according to the Arabic geographer (x), are surrounded by Mount Caucasus, which Bochart (y) conjectures has its name from thence; it being in the Semi-Chaldee language, the language of the Colchi and Armenians, ??????, “Gog-hasan”, or Gog's fortress. This land of Magog is the same with Cathaia or Scythia, that part of Tartary from whence the Turks came; and which perhaps may come into their hands again before this prophecy is fulfilled; and even now the Turk calls himself king of Tartary; and the Magog of Pliny in Syria, the same with Aleppo, is in his dominions; which Maimonides (z) also takes notice of as in Syria, though he seems to distinguish it from Haleb or Aleppo; however, according to him, they were near to one another; though some (a) think the place in Pliny is corrupted, and that it ought to be read Magog, as it is, by Maimonides, Magbab.

    Gog is further described as the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: some render it, “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal”; taking Rosh, as the rest, for the name of a place, a part of Scythia, from whence the Russians came, and had their name.

    So it is rendered by the Septuagint, Symmachus, and Theodotion; and some later Greek writers (b) make mention of a country called Ros, which, they say, is a Scythian nation, situated between the Euxine Pontus and the whole maritime coast to the north of Taurus, a people fierce and wild. Meshech and Tubal were the brethren of Magog, and sons of Japheth, Genesis 10:2, whose posterity inhabited those counties called after their name; who, according to Josephus (c), are the Cappadocians and Iberians; and among the former is a place called Mazaca, which has some affinity with Meshech; and there was a country called Gogarene (d), a part of Iberia. According to Bochart (e), these are the Moschi and Tybarenes, people that dwell near the Euxine sea, and under the dominion of the Turk; wherefore the Grand Turk may be called the chief prince of them: and prophesy against him: foretell his ruin and destruction, which is hinted before. Mention is made of his invasion of the land of Judea, and that for the comfort of the Jews, that they might have nothing to fear from this formidable army.”

    [ref: (m) Dictionary in the words “Gog” and “Magog”. (n) “De fide ad Gratianum”, l. 2. sect. 4. col. 144. tom. 4. (o) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 23. (p) Comment. in Jesaiam, vol. 1. p. 954. (q) Vid. Calmet. Bibliotheca Sacra, art. 67. p. 442. (r) Hiller. Ononmastic. Sacr. p. 67, 406, 477. (s) Lexic. Arabic in Rad. col. 26. (t) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 1. (u) Apud Schindler. Lex. Polyglott. col. 288. And Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 1. p. 604. (w) Vid. Huls. Theolog. Jud. par. 2. p. 511. (x) Geograph. Arab. par. 9. clim. 5. lin. 22, 23. (y) Phaleg. l. 3. c. 13. col. 187. (z) Hilchot Terumot, c. 1. sect. 9. (a) See Hyde Not, in Peritsol. Itinera Mundi, p. 42. (b) Zonaras, Cedrenus, & Joan. Curopalates apud Selden. de Synedriis, l. 2. c. 3. sect. 6. (c) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 1. (d) Strabo. Geograph. l. 11. p. 364. (e) Phaleg. l. 3. c. 13. col. 188.]

Compiled by: Paul S. Taylor.