Judas Maccabeus and the downfall of Gog

Image result for gog and magog

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him …’.

Ezekiel 38:1-2

 And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal …”.’

 Ezekiel 39:1

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.

Revelation 20:8

Introduction

 

Certain books deemed apocryphal, that do not constitute part of the Jewish or Protestant canon, but which figure in the Catholic bibles, I have found to be absolutely essential for completing key identifications.

For example:

 

Without the Book of Tobit, one might not be able to come to realise that, contrary to the textbooks, Sennacherib succeeded his father, Shalmaneser [V] (Tobit 1:15): “But when Shalmaneser died, and his son Sennacherib reigned in his place …”.

Hence my: 

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

 

https://www.academia.edu/6708474/Assyrian_King_Sargon_II_Otherwise_Known_As_Sennacherib

 

Again, without the Book of Tobit, I may never have been able properly to identify (at least as I see it) the prophet Job:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

And, without the Book of Judith, I may never have discovered what actually happened to the 185,000-strong army of Sennacherib:

 

“Nadin” (Nadab) of Tobit is the “Holofernes” of Judith

 

https://www.academia.edu/36576110/_Nadin_Nadab_of_Tobit_is_the_Holofernes_of_Judith

 

Now it seems to me that I and II Maccabees might enable for the interpretation of that enigmatic prophecy by Ezekiel concerning Gog and Magog, which is later taken up by the Evangelist St. John in the Book of Revelation.

 

 

“Holofernes” and Nicanor

 

 

Because of certain similarities between the Maccabean accounts of Nicanor against the Jews, and the arrogant “Holofernes” who sought to take Jerusalem, some commentators presume that the Book of Judith was written during – and mirrored – the C2nd BC era of the Maccabees. 

 

 

 

 

Judith Parallels in Maccabean

Defeat of Treacherous Nicanor

 

The author(s) of the Nicanor narratives in I and II Maccabees may well have had in mind the stirring ancient saga of the heroine Judith’s defeat of “Holofernes”.

This last was, according to my reconstructions, e.g.:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

the catalyst for the rout and defeat of Sennacherib’s 185,000-strong Assyrian army. And Judas Maccabeus will duly allude to this epic Jewish victory in his prayer for victory against the blasphemous Nicanor:

 

I Maccabees 7:40-42: “Then Judas prayed and said, ‘When the messengers from the king spoke blasphemy, your angel went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians. So also crush this army before us today; let the rest learn that Nicanor has spoken wickedly against the sanctuary, and judge him according to this wickedness’.”

 

Cf. Judith’s prayer (Judith 9:7-14):

 

‘Here are the Assyrians, a vast force, priding themselves on horse and chariot, boasting of the power of their infantry, trusting in shield and spear, bow and sling. They do not know that you are the Lord who crushes wars; Lord is your name. Shatter their strength in your might, and crush their force in your wrath. For they have resolved to profane your sanctuary, to defile the tent where your glorious name resides, and to break off the horns of your altar with the sword. See their pride, and send forth your fury upon their heads. Give me, a widow, a strong hand to execute my plan. By the deceit of my lips, strike down slave together with ruler, and ruler together with attendant. Crush their arrogance by the hand of a female.

Your strength is not in numbers, nor does your might depend upon the powerful. You are God of the lowly, helper of those of little account, supporter of the weak, protector of those in despair, savior of those without hope.

Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Master of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all you have created, hear my prayer! Let my deceitful words wound and bruise those who have planned dire things against your covenant, your holy temple, Mount Zion, and the house your children possess. Make every nation and every tribe know clearly that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who shields the people of Israel but you alone’.

 

II Maccabees 15:22-24: “[Judas’s] prayer was worded thus: ‘You, Master, sent your angel in the days of Hezekiah king of Judaea, and he destroyed no less than one hundred and eighty-five thousand of Sennacherib’s army; now, once again, Sovereign of heaven, send a good angel before us to spread terror and dismay. May these men be struck down by the might of your arm, since they have come with blasphemy on their lips to attack your holy people’. And on these words he finished”.

 

Because of the undoubted similarities between the Judith drama and Maccabees here, some  commentators conclude that the Book of Judith must be a late product reflecting Maccabean times. For example (http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/judith.htm):

 

Both the apocalyptic element in the book and certain details of the narrative suggest that it dates from the period of the Maccabees. Nebuchadnezzar, for example, is said to have wanted “to destroy all local gods so that the nations should worship Nebuchadnezzar alone and people of every language and nationality should hail him as a god” (3:8). Yet it was the Seleucids, not the Assyrians or Babylonians, whose kings first insisted on divine honors. In that case, “Nebuchadnezzar” might represent Antiochus IV, while “Holofernes” may stand for his general Nicanor, “Assyrians” for the Seleucid Syrians, and “Nineveh” for Antiochus’s capital Antioch. This interpretation is supported by the existence of a Hebrew Midrash that tells the story of Judith in an abbreviated form, explicitly assigning it to the period of Seleucid oppression.

[End of quote]

 

The fact is that Judith of Bethulia and Judas Maccabeus belonged to two entirely different eras separated the one form the other by at least half a millennium. Judith belongs to the neo-Assyrian era of Sennacherib (c. 700 BC). Hence, “Assyrians” in the Book of Judith means Assyrians, not “Seleucid Syrians”, and “Nineveh” means Nineveh, and not “Antioch”!

But there are, nevertheless, definite parallels between the two eras, just as someone arriving on earth in a thousand years’ time might discern parallels between the First and Second World Wars. May even end up concluding that this must have been just the one World War.

Judith’s era is somewhat like, but different from, the era of Judas Maccabeus.

The Book of Judith, probably written by the high priest, Joakim (4:6), could not have been influenced by I and II Maccabees. Instead, it could only have been the other way around.

 

Comparing the two enthralling sagas, we find for example:

 

Just as the Assyrian king will send his competent second-in command (Judith 2:4), so will King Demetrius send Nicanor “ranking as Illustrious” (I Maccabees 7:1, 26).

 

Like “Holofernes” (6:2-6), Nicanor is arrogant and mocking (as according to Judas’s testimony above).

 

The Jews, the priests, in Jerusalem, in fear for their Temple, turn to God and ask for vengeance upon the Assyrians (4:9-12), as do those whom Nicanor had mocked and threatened (I Maccabees 7:36-37).

 

In both sagas, the small Jewish forces will be confronted by massive foreign ones.

 

Like “Holofernes”, Nicanor falls early, thus precipitating a rout.

The Jews then swarm upon the enemy from all quarters.

 

The head of “Holofernes” is publicly displayed (14:1), as is that of Nicanor (I Maccabees 7:47).

 

Judith and her victorious people will celebrate the victory for “three months” (16:20), whilst the Maccabees will mark the day as an annual day of celebration (Mordecai’s Day) (I Maccabees 7:48-49).

 

Peace then prevailed for a time (cf. Judith 16:25; I Maccabees 7:50).

 

 

The main point of this series, though, is to identify “Gog and Magog”.

How does the above relate to this enigmatic foe of Israel? Is Nicanor the key?

 

Could Haman be Gog?

 

 

At least one able commentator, James B. Jordan, has suggested that the enigmatic Gog and Magog might well fit the drama of the Book of Esther, with the wicked Haman, enemy of the Jews, being Gog.

For instance:

 

“It seems to me that if I were a Jew living during the intertestamental era, I would be struck by the correspondence between Haman and Hamon-Gog, and it would cause me to consider whether or not they are related”.

 

 

Jordan has proposed the following interesting comparison (http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-2-the-battle-of-gog-and-magog/):

 

The battle of Gog and Magog is found in Ezekiel 38-39. My purpose in this brief essay is to propound an explanation for this passage that I have not encountered in any of my commentaries, but that makes more sense to me than any other. I offer it here in the hope that others can enter into conversation over the matter. Thus, this essay is designed as a “first word” and not the “last word” on the subject.

….

 

At this point, Ezekiel describes the attack of Gog, Prince of Magog, and his confederates. Ezekiel states that people from all the world will attack God’s people, who are pictured dwelling at peace in the land. God’s people will completely defeat them, however, and the spoils will be immense. The result is that all nations will see the victory, and “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward” (Ezk. 39:21-23). This is the same idea as we found in Zechariah 2:9, “They you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me,” which I argued above most likely refers to the events of Esther.

Chronologically this all fits very nicely. The events of Esther took place during the reign of Xerxes, after the initial rebuilding of the Temple under Joshua and Zerubbabel and shortly before the restoration of the Temple by Ezra and the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah.

….

Looking at a few details, we see that the victory of the Jews over their enemies in Esther resulted in the deaths of 75,310 people (Esth. 9:10, 15, 16). This number of deaths is commensurate with the extent of the slaughter pictured in Ezekiel 38-39. The Jews were told that they might plunder those they slew (Esth. 8:11), but they did not take any of the plunder for their personal use (Esth. 9:10, 15, 16), which surely implies that it was regarded as holy and was sent to adorn the Temple. Was this the gold and silver “found in the whole province of Babylon” that Ezra brought to Jerusalem a few years later (Ezr. 7:16)?

Another interesting correspondence lies in the fact that the book of Esther repeatedly calls attention to the “127 provinces” of the Persian Empire, and in connection with the attack on the Jews, speaks of the “provinces which were from India to Cush” (Esth. 8:9). This goes well with the way Ezekiel 38 starts out, for there a number of nations are mentioned from all over the world, all of which were within the boundaries of the Persian Empire (Ezk. 38:1-6). In other words, the explicit idea that the Jews were attacked by people from all the provinces of Persia is in both passages.

Another possible cue is found in the prominent use of the Hebrew word for “multitude” in Ezekiel 39:11, 15, and 16. That word is hamon, which is spelled in Hebrew almost exactly like the name Haman. It was Haman, of course, who engineered the attack on the Jews in Esther. In Hebrew, both words have the same “triliteral root” (hmn). Only the vowels are different. (Though in hamon, the vowel “o” is indicated by the letter vav.) According to Ezekiel 39:11 and 15, the place where the army of Gog is buried will be known as the Valley of Hamon-Gog, and according to verse 16, the nearby city will become known as Hamonah. It seems to me that if I were a Jew living during the intertestamental era, I would be struck by the correspondence between Haman and Hamon-Gog, and it would cause me to consider whether or not they are related.

Yet another corroboration, to my mind, lies in the fact that Haman was an Amalekite. He was an “Agagite,” a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag who was captured by Saul and hacked to pieces by Samuel (1 Sam. 15; Esth. 3:1). What Esther records is the last great attack upon Israel by Amalek, and the final destruction of Amalek. Now, Numbers 24:20 states that “Amalek was the first of the nations, but his end shall be destruction.” The term “nation” is more closely associated with the Japhethites than with the Hamites or the Shemites. We don’t know which “nation” Amalek was, since it is not listed in Genesis 10, but it would seem to have been a Japhethite one.

At any rate, what is striking about Ezekiel 38 is that the nations listed as conspiring against Israel are Japhethite and Hamite nations seldom if ever heard from outside the primordial list of Genesis 10. Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Beth-togarmah, Tarshish, and Gomer are all Japhethite nations from Genesis 10:2-4. Cush, Put, Sheba, and Dedan are Hamite peoples from Genesis 10:6-7. Thus, the notion is of a conspiracy of primordial peoples against the true remnant of the Shemites. This certainly squares well with the fact that Haman was the preeminent representative of Amalek, the first of the nations.

[End of quote]

 

As Jordan points out, there seem to be some compelling reasons to accept that the prophet Ezekiel’s Gog (and Magog) was a prefiguring of the Haman conspiracy in the Book of Esther. Whilst I have been favouring the Macedonian (Seleucid) era, and the blasphemous Nicanor:

 

Gog and Magog. Part Two: “Holofernes” and Nicanor

 

https://www.academia.edu/22407139/Gog_and_Magog._Part_Two_Holofernes_and_Nicanor

 

the “Macedonian” element does appear also in the LXX version of the Book of Esther: “In the LXX, Haman is called a “Macedonian” by Xerxes (see Esther 16:10)”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haman_(biblical_figure)

Haman is variously also called a “Bougaean” and an “Amalekite”, the latter being the nationality for him favoured by Jordan.

Haman is also, like Gog, an inveterate enemy of the Jews.

Moreover, as with Gog and Magog, so with Haman, the tables are turned when the beleaguered Jews gain the upper hand and annihilate their foes.

 

However, things are not always as they seem. According to my interpretations of the Book of Esther, Haman was not an Amalekite at all. He was, shock, horror – but yet according to a legend of the Jews – a Jew, and known to Moredecai.

I developed this startling notion in my:

 

Haman un-Masked

 

https://www.academia.edu/37584041/Haman_un-masked

 

and it ultimately led me to the conclusion that Haman was in fact the Jewish king, Jehoiachin, or “Coniah the Captive”, and that it was from the Greek word for “captive” that Haman had mistakenly been confused as an Amalekite: “Now, ‘Amalekite’ (Greek: Amali̱kíti̱s) could no longer be regarded as Haman’s nationality, but as a misinterpretation of the epithet by which he, as king Jehoiachin, was best known: “the Captive” (Greek: aichmálo̱tos), of very similar phonetics”.

This identification of Haman with the well-known (and ill-fated) biblical king Jehoiachin thus enabled for any guess work to be taken out of the historical location of the Book of Esther.

Now, Jordan himself has realised that there is a problem with his own reconstruction. And it turns out to be a major one. Jordan continues:

 

The main argument against my hypothesis would be that Ezekiel 38-39 picture an invasion of the land of Israel, whereas the events of Esther happened throughout the Persian Empire. At present, this argument does not have much force with me because of the fact that this entire section of Ezekiel is so highly symbolic in tone anyway. Chapter 37 gives us the vision of the valley of dry bones, after all, and chapters 40-48 are a thoroughly geometrical vision of the Restoration Temple. Thus, I can see no difficulty in assuming that Ezekiel is picturing the final world-wide attack of Amalek and his cohorts under the imagery of an attack on the land, imagery derived from the book of Judges (cp. Jud. 18:7, 10, 27 with Ezk. 38:8, 11, 14).

A final corroboration of this interpretive hypothesis comes from what we might call the “Amalek Pattern” in the Bible. Note in Genesis 12-15 that Abram moves into the land after escaping Pharaoh (ch. 12), settles down and experiences peace and prosperity (ch. 13), and then faces an invasion of a worldwide alliance of nations (ch. 14). This alliance captures Lot, but Abram rescues him, after which a Gentile priest blesses Abram (ch. 14). Finally, after this, God appears to Abram in a vision and makes covenant with him (ch. 15), guaranteeing him a “house.”

Now look at Moses: After escaping Pharaoh (Ex. 1-14), the people are given food and water in the wilderness (Ex. 16). Then Amalek attacks and kills many Lot-like stragglers (Ex. 17; Dt. 25:17-19). Moses defeats Amalek, after which a Gentile priest (Jethro) blesses the people, and then God appears in the Cloud and makes covenant with them (Ex. 18-24), including the building of a “house” (the Tabernacle).

The same themes show up in the history of David: After escaping Pharaoh Saul (1 Sam. 18-26), David finds a place of rest in the “wilderness” at Ziklag (ch. 27). Then Amalek attacks and steals David’s wives (ch. 30), but David defeats them. Following this, a Gentile priest-king (Hiram of Tyre, whose as a Gentile king was also a priest) blesses David (2 Sam. 5:11-12), and then God appears to David in a vision, promising him a “house” (2 Sam. 7).

In this pattern, the attack of Gentile world powers (Gen. 14) is associated with the attack of Amalek (Ex. 17; 1 Sam. 27). As can plainly be seen, the same pattern recurs in the Restoration. After departing from Babylon, the people settle in the land and experience a degree of peace. Then comes the attack of Amalek and Gog & Magog. After this, Gentile priest-kings sponsor the return of Ezra and Nehemiah to restore the land and the “house.”

While it would be fascinating to follow up this theme in the Gospels, Acts, and possibly Revelation, enough has been said to indicate that it is a recurring pattern, and one that lends some support to the hypothesis that the attack of Gog and Magog is fulfilled in the book of Esther.

[End of quote]

 

As intriguing as might seem to be “the correspondence between Haman and Hamon-Gog”, I would suggest that it is merely a coincidence, with no actual connection at all between the two. Nor do I think that Ezekiel 38-39’s “invasion of the land of Israel”, can be reduced to Jordan’s “highly symbolic in tone”, but that it is rather what would actually turn out to be the case.

And that brings us back again to Nicanor.

 

The Geography

 

 

Ezekiel 38:1-2, 5-6

 

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal … Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you’.”

 

Ezekiel 39:1, 4

 

Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘… On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you’.

 

 

 

Biblical commentators of a conservative or fundamentalist persuasion can be notorious for taking the geographical elements of a biblical text and bestowing upon these an unwarranted modern identification. I have discussed, for instance, the imposition of the modern name, “Ararat” – {in the case of the mountain, Agri Dagh in Turkey} – upon the original Ararat, meaning the land of Urartu:

 

Mountain of Landing for the Ark of Noah

 

https://www.academia.edu/19675406/Mountain_of_Landing_for_the_Ark_of_Noah

 

Often the revised geographical name and location is fabricated in order to shift a biblical prophecy from its originally-intended environment so as to make it apply to our present times.

But it is in the case of Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog that imaginations really begin to stir, with the Hebrew word rosh (רֹאשׁ) in 38:2, translated above as “chief”, being taken instead for “Russia”. In that context, “Meshech” and “Tubal” can stand for Moscow and Tobolsk/Tblisi.

“I Saw The Light Ministeries” is prepared to re-write Ezekiel 38:1-5 in these modern terms http://www.isawthelightministries.com/chinese.html

 

Ezekiel 38:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

: 2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog (the head, the chief, President Putin), the land of Magog (China as well as the former Soviet Union/Currently Russia), the chief prince of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
(NKJV reads “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him”)

:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (Russian City of Tobolsk OR The Tobol River in Russia OR the Georgian City of Tblisi???)

:4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:

:5 Persia (Iran), Ethiopia (Cush= Ethiopia, Southern Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan), and Libya (Phut) with them; all of them with shield and helmet ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Here “I Saw The Light Ministeries” might be ‘seeing’ what it wants to, rather than ‘the light’.

 

The Hebrew rosh is probably not meant to be regarded as a geographical location, and so there goes Russia; whilst “Meshech” and “Tubal” are known from the Assyrian inscriptions: as Mushki and Tabal. In one of my efforts at folding ‘Middle’ Assyrian history with ‘Neo’ Assyrian history, Tiglath-pileser I with Tiglath-pileser III:

 

Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria

 

https://www.academia.edu/9293293/Tiglath-pileser_King_of_Assyria

 

when drawing possible comparisons between I and III, I referred to both Mushki and Tabal:

 

Common to Tiglath-pileser I/III were a love of building (especially in honour of Assur)

and hunting, and many conquests, for example: the Aramaeans, with frequent raids across the Euphrates; the Hittites (with the possibility of a common foe, Ini-Tešub); Palestine; to the Mediterranean; the central Zagros tribes; Lake Van, Nairi and Armenia

(Urartu); the conquest of Babylon. Just to name a few of the many similarities. I think that historians really repeat themselves when discussing these presumably ‘two’ Assyrian ‘kings’. Consider this amazing case of repetition, as I see it, from Lloyd: ….

 

The earliest Assyrian references to the Mushki … suggest that their eastward thrust into the Taurus and towards the Euphrates had already become a menace. In about 1100 BC Tiglath-Pileser I defeats a coalition of ‘five Mushkian kings’ and brings back six thousand prisoners. In the ninth century the Mushki are again [sic] defeated by Ashurnasirpal II, while Shalmaneser III finds himself in conflict with Tabal …. But when, in the following century, Tiglath-pileser III once more records a confrontation with ‘five Tabalian kings’, the spelling of their names reveals the fact that these are no sort of Phrygians … but a semiindigenous Luwian-speaking people, who must have survived the fall of the Hittite Empire.

 

I think that we should now be on safe grounds in presuming that the ‘five Mushkian kings’ and the ‘five Tabalian kings’ referred to above by Lloyd as having been defeated

by Tiglath-pileser I/III – but presumably separated in time by more than 3 centuries – were in fact the very same five kings.

[End of quotes]

 

According to the following site, the procedure used to identify rosh with Russia is “too primitive a way to interpret Scripture”: http://www.aletheiacollege.net/ld/d1.htm

 

… The Identity Of Rosh

 

I am aware that there are many reasons for thinking that rosh in Ez. 38:2 should be merely translated “chief”. Basically, Ez. 38:3,4 has to be read one of two ways. Either it speaks of “Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”- or, it speaks of four entities: “Gog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal”. The issue is really resolved for us by considering a simple piece of grammar. ‘Thee’ in the KJV refers to ‘you singular’. And so clearly one, and not four, is being addressed here: “I am against thee O Gog, chief prince of Meshech… I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws”. It is a singular person or power being referred to, not a plural. However, I would like to make a few comments about another possibility for locating rosh– assuming for the moment that it is indeed to be read as an actual place name. The observation that rosh and ‘Russia’ sound similar, so therefore they are the same place, is to my mind altogether too primitive a way to interpret Scripture. In any case, modern ‘Russia’ is far bigger than any such single area could have been in Ezekiel’s time. The translators of the Septuagint must have known the place, because they transliterated the word as a place name. So, there was a rosh known at least a few hundred years before Christ. And clearly enough, it wasn’t Russia as we now know that country. For ‘Rus land’ or ‘Russia’ wasn’t even spoken of until at least 1500 years after Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s primary audience must surely have known where rosh was; for all the other areas named by him were contemporary nations.

 

The following two quotations sum up the view of many commentators:

 

“It is a reflection on evangelical scholarship when some of its spokesmen continue to adhere to the groundless identification of rosh as Russia , and the association of Meshech with Moscow and of Tubal with Tobolsk, when we have had cuneiform texts and discussions of them that provided the true clarification of these names since the end of the 19th century”(1).

“Gesenius suggested Russia, but this name is not attested in the area, and a very distant people named thus early is unlikely in the context. Most follow Delitzsch in identifying Rosh with Assyria, Rasûu on the NW border of Elam (i.e. in Media)”(2).

 

Even if we insist on reading rosh as a proper noun, it’s rather a big jump to make ‘Russia’ equal ‘rosh’. ‘Russia’ derives from the word Rus, not rosh. And it was the Vikings who introduced the word rus to describe the area around Kiev, Ukraine [not Russia] in the Middle Ages (3). Meshech and Tubal likewise have been identified as areas of Eastern Turkey / Kurdistan (4)- to apply these terms to Moscow and Tobolsk is sheer guesswork. There are records of the Assyrian kings receiving tribute from the Mushki, whose capital was at Mazaca (modern Kayseri) in Eastern Turkey; and of the Assyrians attacking Tabal / Tubal in the Taurus mountains (5). The same sources speak of Sargon II making a treaty with the city of Til-garimmu, the Togarmah of Ez. 38:6 (6).

The Bible is written from the perspective of the land promised to Abraham. An invader from the “sides / boundaries of the north” (Ez. 38:6,15) would correspond to someone who appears from the northern boundaries of that land- i.e. around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Jer. 6:22; 50:41 and many other passages clearly identify the invader “from the north” as Babylon. Gog’s “place” is from here- perhaps implying that this charismatic leader of latter day rosh will have been born in this area. It is awesome to discover that Saddam Hussein was born in Tigrik- exactly in this area! And further, to discover that this is the very area where it is known that chemical and nuclear weapons are being developed with which to destroy Israel . But in addition to this plain Biblical idenitification, there are other reasons for seeing rosh as being located in the Tigris / Euphrates area, in modern day Iran and Iraq (and therefore not in Russia).

Within the Semitic languages, the same basic word can be repeated in slightly different forms- the word passes through what are called  phonetic shifts. A well known example would be how the Hebrew word shalom becomes the Arabic salaam. When the phonetic shifts and  differences in pronunciation are taken into account, one can find the name Rosh (or its phonetic equivalents) many times in the various ancient documents. It’s rather like how the Latin term Caesar is spelled as “Kaiser” in German, “Cesar” in French, “Kaisar” in Greek, and “Tzar” in Russian. But these are all variants on the same original Latin term.

[End of quote]

 

And this one, rightly following the Assyrian connection (http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/debunking-the-russia-war-of-gog-and-magog-myth-8754/):

 

Russia and the War of Gog and Magog

 

While most end times Bible prophecy authors have argued that Russia’s origins trace back to the ancient nation of “Magog” described in Ezekiel 38-39, this is simply not true.    This myth that traces back to the mid 1800’s is built on historical statements that were deliberately altered, and on the assumption that the similarity of certain words could mean something else in another language.  Although ancient records have been found that tell a different story about the identity of Magog and about Russia’s origins, the “Russia is Magog” myth persists.

 

Assyrian Court Records

 

The popular identification of the nations of Ezekiel 38-39 is not correct.  Despite the traditional viewpoint, professional archeologists know the identity of these nations from the Assyrian Royal Court records.  The reliable, clear and detailed records of Assyrian Royal Court show they dealt directly with each of these nations about 100 years before Ezekiel wrote. These are the same records that are referred to in Ezra 4:15, 19 and 5:17-6:7. These passages tell how the Jews of the fifth century BC 538 BC–457 BC overcame opposition by the local Persian governor to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem by referring to these same Assyrian cuneiform court records.  They are also the same records Bible scholars now use to provide independent verification and edification of the Bible’s historical accounts from about 805 BC to 530 BC.

 

The Assyrian Royal Court records provide direct evidence and represent an incontestable primary source on this subject, since they were written during the time period in question by people who were directly involved.  Primary sources have greater value than secondary sources, which can include generalizations, speculation and interpretations made long after the occurrence of the events.  On this particular subject, too often what has been written about these countries constitutes secondary evidence and is not based on facts.  In some instances statements are the product of mischief, bias or not studying all of the available information.

 

The Assyrian Court records show dealings with Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:3-6), the nations that stretched across ancient Asia Minor (modern Turkey) from west to east.  From these records we also learn that the ancient nation of Gomer (Ezekiel 38:6), an enemy of the Assyrians invaded Asia Minor by coming down from an area around the northeast shore of the Black Sea.  Archeologists know that the militant leader called “Gog” in Ezekiel 38/39 led a confederacy of these nations against invading Gomer.    ….

[End of quote]

 

 

 

Old Testament texts, such as the much-discussed Ezekiel 38 and 39, should be studied according to their own proper geographical setting, rather than having superimposed upon them a modern global world scene.

The geography of Ezekiel 38 and 39 can be well understood, for instance, from the Assyrian incursions into the same regions not much before Ezekiel’s own time.

 

 

Part Four (i) of this series

(https://www.academia.edu/22615289/Gog_and_Magog_Part_Four_The_Geography_i_False_Views)

saw the rejection of a common tendency today to take words from, e.g., Ezekiel 38:2, such as rosh (רֹאשׁ), and meshech (מֶשֶׁךְ), and tubal (תֻבָל), and re-invent them as modern places, such as, respectively: “Russia”; “Moscow”; and “Tobolsk” (or “Tblisi”).

Not to mention the possibility that “Gog” (38:1, 2) himself might stand for “President Putin”.

Rosh is best interpreted, not as a place name, but as e.g. “chief”, hence (38:2): “Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”, whilst the last two names are known from the Assyrian records as Mushki (Muški) and Tabal.

There seem to have been a western Mushki (= Phrygia) and an eastern Mushki (Cappadocia and Cilicia). “The Phrygian King Midas has been identified with Mita of Mushki, who appears in Assyrian records as a contemporary of Sargon II between ca. 718 and 709 BC” (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=sqOXCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=mita+of+mushki+sargon+iI&source=bl&ots=CiKC0Byq8q&sig=JsvzmPuYdCGZCT6qifLpz6Lf8qo).

Tabal was located in the Kayseri region of central Anatolia.

 

As for Magog, I like the following Assyrian-based explanation, once again, that the name simply means “the land of Gog” (http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/debunking-the-russia-war-of-gog-and-magog-myth-8754/):

 

Gog is a historical man who the Greeks called Gyges of Lydia. In Gyges of Lydia we have the leader the Assyrians called “Gugu, King of Ludu,” and “Gugu of Magugu,” who is referred to in the Bible as Gog of Magog. “Magog” simply means “the land of Gog.” In Akkadian ma means land, so in Akkadian Ma- gugu means “the land of Gugu,” which becomes our Ma-gog. (Just as the Assyrian eponym for the land of the leader called Zamua is rendered as Ma-zamua). Magog is an eponym for the ancient nation of Lydia that was in the westernmost part of Asia Minor. The Assyrians often referred to a new land by the name of the first leader they learned of from this land. The Assyrians dealt with Lydia through Meshech, who were subsequently defeated by Gomer, and thus the Assyrians finally came to deal with Lydia directly.

 

Then follows the typical extension of the ancient prophecy into a Christian framework: “In the prophecy of Ezekiel 38/39 Gog is being used as a “historical type” of the “antichrist” who is prophesied to come during the end times, and Magog is being used as a “historical type” of “the land of the antichrist.”

 

Passing on to verses 5-6, we encounter five more place names: “Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah …”.

“Persia” = Persia;

“Cush” is Ethiopia;

“Put” may be Phoenicia (“the Land of Punt” of the Egyptians). See my:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

The Maccabees, in whose era I would set the Gog incident, were confronted by various hostile governors of Coele Syria and Phoenicia. Thus (2 Maccabees 3:4-6):

 

But a man named Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market; and when he could not prevail over Onias he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.

He reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king.

 

And (2 Maccabees 8:8-9):

 

When Philip saw that the man was gaining ground little by little, and that he was pushing ahead with more frequent successes, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, to come to the aid of the king’s government. Then Ptolemy promptly appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief Friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea. He associated with him Gorgias, a general and a man of experience in military service.

 

And (2 Maccabees 10:11): “When [Antiochus] Eupator succeeded to the kingdom, he put a certain Lysias in charge of the government as commander-in-chief of Coelesyria and Phoenicia”. We shall be reading more about the vizier, Lysias, later in this series.

 

“Gomer”, is generally thought to indicate the Cimmerians.

“Gomer fathered the Cimmerians who located southwest of the Black Sea. After being defeated by the Assyrians they settled in the area between Armenia and Cappadocia (Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:6)”.

http://jaymack.net/genesis-commentary/Dh-The-Line-of-Japheth.asp

 

“Beth Togarmah” is the Assyrian Til-garimmu

With whom Sargon II made a treaty.

 

Some of these nations were Japhetic in origin (Genesis 10:2-5):

 

The sons of Japheth:

Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

The sons of Gomer:

Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

The sons of Javan:

Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

 

In the course of this series we are going to find that the Seleucid rulers, against whose governors and generals the Maccabean Jews fought so tenaciously, had ruled at one time or another all of the regions identified above from the prophecies of Ezekiel.

 

“On the mountains of Israel”

 

A key factor militating against the possibility of satisfactorily locating Ezekiel’s Gog incident to the Book of Esther, with Gog being Haman, was Jordan’s point given in Part Three: https://www.academia.edu/22461568/Gog_and_Magog._Part_Three_Could_Haman_be_Gog

“The main argument against my hypothesis would be that Ezekiel 38-39 picture an invasion of the land of Israel, whereas the events of Esther happened throughout the Persian Empire”.

He is right, for according to Ezekiel 39:1-6:

 

Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord’.

 

Clearly, the geographical setting for the annihilation of the forces of Gog is ‘the land of Israel and its mountains’. And, whilst that region may not fit well the drama of the Book of Esther, it is precisely the geography for the many confrontations between the Seleucid armies and the Maccabean Jews.

 

Gog Long Foretold

 

 

 

Ezekiel 38:16-17

 

…. O Gog …. Thus saith the Lord God; ‘Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?’

 

Who foretold Gog?

 

 

Some Equivocal References

 

Prophetic utterance about Gog goes back to the time of Moses according to some versions of Numbers 24:7, such as the LXX, which renders Balaam’s prediction of “a king higher than Agag”, as “a king higher than Gog”. Likewise the Samaritan Hebrew text.

(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yjMHAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA1-PA33&lpg=RA1-P).

But there is an Amalekite king called “Agag” at the time of King Saul (I Samuel 15:8): “[Saul] also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive …”.

Again (http://danielstreett.com/2011/09/23/gog-the-locust-king-lxx-texts-of-note-3/): “In Vaticanus, Deut 3:1, 13 read Γωγ [Gog] instead of Ὠγ [Og] as the king of Βασάν [Bashan]. Og, of course, also takes on mythic proportions in Jewish tradition”.

The name, “Gog”, also appears in the LXX version of Amos 7:1, the prophet Amos actually belonging to the neo-Assyrian period of the C9th-8th’s BC. We read of this at: http://danielstreett.com/2011/09/23/gog-the-locust-king-lxx-texts-of-note-3/

 

In Amos 7:1 LXX we have a most intriguing passage. Most English translations read something like this: “The sovereign LORD showed me this: I saw him making locusts just as the crops planted late were beginning to sprout. (The crops planted late sprout after the royal harvest.)” (NET Bible)

 

Gog the Grasshopper

 

The LXX, however, reads: οὕτως ἔδειξέν μοι κύριος καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐπιγονὴ ἀκρίδων ἐρχομένη ἑωθινή καὶ ἰδοὺ βροῦχος εἷς Γωγ ὁ βασιλεύς. In English: “Thus the Lord showed me, and behold, a swarm of locusts coming early, and behold, one locust, Gog, the king.” It’s possible that the translator has seen in Amos 7:1 a link to Joel’s locust army, which comes from the north (Joel 2:20), and has thus linked it to Ezekiel’s Gog, which also comes from the north (Ezek 38:15).

[End of quote]

 

More Promising Predictions

 

Though the prophet Zechariah who is late – whose life continued on into the post-exilic period – never actually mentions Gog, he does predict a Jewish victory over the Greeks (9:13):

 

I will bend Judah as I bend my bow

and fill it with Ephraim.

I will rouse your sons, Zion,

against your sons, Greece,

and make you like a warrior’s sword.

 

The most promising of all biblical anticipations of the Macedonian Greek hostile incursions into Palestine comes of course from the prophet Daniel, from as far back as “the first year of Darius the Mede” (11:1), who was, I think, none other than the King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther.

The prophet Ezekiel refers to Daniel in several places. Though various modern commentaries suggest that this is not the Daniel of the Old Testament, but possibly a pagan king, Dan’el, of Ugaritic literature. In my article on this:

 

The Identity of the “Daniel” in Ezekiel 14 and 28

 

https://www.academia.edu/5164239/The_Identity_of_the_Daniel_in_Ezekiel_14_and_28

 

I quoted the following from The Jerome Biblical Commentary (my emphasis):

 

Inasmuch as Daniel (Hebr consonants d-n-‘-l, Danel, as in Ugaritic) is placed beside Noah and Job, he is probably a figure from antiquity known through popular tradition and not to be identified with the biblical Daniel. Probably, although not necessarily, the reference is to Danel of ancient Ugarit, known for the effectiveness of his intercession with the gods, for attention to their desires, and as a righteous judge (ANET 150).  

 

Sticking, however, with the real Daniel, the biblical prophet, who I believe was Ezekiel’s “Daniel”, this is what that prophet foretold about the one who I think looms as a most likely candidate for Gog (11:21-31):

 

He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.

With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.

At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

 

Who is Gog?

 

 

What did the prophet Ezekiel have in mind when he predicted the rise of Gog?

 

 

Since Ezekiel’s “Gog”, already foretold in bygone days, was to emerge at a time well beyond Ezekiel’s own era (38:8): “After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war …”, and well after the return from Babylonian Exile: “… whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety”, we would not expect the prophet to have crystal clear knowledge of this future enemy – just a general impression.

Ezekiel, apparently having an inspired awareness of the general region to be ruled by the future foe of Israel, chose to identify him by the generic name of “Gog”. This was likely a hearkening back to the historical king Gyges of Lydia, whom the Assyrians called “Gugu, King of Ludu”.

 

 

For the Seleucids did indeed rule over the Lydian realm of Gyges.

(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yklDk6Vv0l4C&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=eum):

“The Romans are said to have taken “India and Media and Lydia” from Antiochus and to have given them to Eumenes”. This is a reference to I Maccabees 8:8.

{Commentators say that “India” ought perhaps to be replaced here by “Ionia”, since the Seleucids are thought not to have reigned over India}.

We have already discussed Seleucid control over Coele Syria and Phoenicia, as well. And, although Egypt and Ethiopia rightfully belonged to the Ptolemies, Antiochus IV “Epiphanes”, the stand-out candidate for Ezekiel’s “Gog”, would successfully invade Egypt with a great force (I Maccabees 1:17-20):

 

And the kingdom was established before Antiochus, and he had a mind to reign over the land of Egypt, that he might reign over two kingdoms.

And he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots and elephants, and horsemen, and a great number of ships:

And he made war against Ptolemy king of Egypt, but Ptolemy was afraid at his presence, and fled, and many were wounded unto death.

And he took the strong cities in the land of Egypt: and he took the spoils of the land of Egypt.

 

“[Antiochus] took the spoils of the land of Egypt”. Nothing surprising about that, of course. But Ezekiel will give as Gog’s very motivation, loot and plunder (38:12-13):

 

‘I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land. Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”’

 

And Antiochus’s next move would be to turn upon Israel and plunder Jerusalem and its Temple (vv. 21-34):

 

And after Antiochus had ravaged Egypt in the hundred and forty-third year, he returned and went up against Israel.

And he went up to Jerusalem with a great multitude.

And he proudly entered into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, and the table of proposition, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the little mortars of gold, and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden ornament that was before the temple: and he broke them all in pieces.

And he took the silver and gold, and the precious vessels: and he took the hidden treasures which he found: and when he had taken all away he departed into his own country.

And he made a great slaughter of men, and spoke very proudly.

And there was great mourning in Israel, and in every place where they were.

And the princes, and the ancients mourned, and the virgins and the young men were made feeble, and the beauty of the women was changed.

Every bridegroom took up lamentation: and the bride that sat in the marriage bed, mourned:

And the land was moved for the inhabitants thereof, and all the house of Jacob was covered with confusion.

And after two full years the king sent the chief collector of his tributes to the cities of Juda, and he came to Jerusalem with a great multitude.

And he spoke to them peaceable words in deceit: and they believed him.

And he fell upon the city suddenly, and struck it with a great slaughter, and destroyed much people in Israel.

And he took the spoils of the city, and burnt it with fire, and threw down the houses thereof, and the walls thereof round about:

And they took the women captive, and the children, and the cattle they possessed.

 

Not long after this, however, Judas Maccabeus began to win battles against the hated foreigners. He defeated Apollonius, who had “gathered together the Gentiles, and a numerous and great army from Samaria, to make war against Israel” (3:10-11). And then an army led by “Seron, captain of the army of Syria” (vv. 13-24).

Naturally, these setbacks infuriated king Antiochus IV (vv. 27-33):

 

Now when king Antiochus heard these words, he was angry in his mind: and he sent and gathered the forces of all his kingdom, an exceeding strong army.

And he opened his treasury, and gave out pay to the army for a year: and he commanded them, that they should be ready for all things.

And he perceived that the money of his treasures failed, and that the tributes of the country were small because of the dissension, and the evil that he had brought upon the land, that he might take away the laws of old times:

And he feared that he should not have as formerly enough, for charges and gifts, which he had given before with a liberal hand: for he had abounded more than the kings that had been before him.

And he was greatly perplexed in mind, and purposed to go into Persia, and to take tributes of the countries, and to gather much money.

And he left Lysias, a nobleman of the blood royal, to oversee the affairs of the kingdom, from the river Euphrates even to the river of Egypt:

And to bring up his son Antiochus, till he came again.

 

So it is apparent that the profligate Antiochus “Epiphanes” was ever seeking more and more plunder and wealth. Just like Gog.

Moreover, due to the vastness of the Seleucid empire, Antiochus could draw on what Ezekiel says of Gog, “the many nations with you” (38:6). These included (vv. 5-6) “Persia”, to where Antiochus would march to replenish his treasury, “Cush”, included in his conquest of Egypt, “and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops”, all lands belonging to the Seleucid empire.

Later Antiochus’s general, Nicanor, will march against the Jews with “no fewer than twenty thousand armed men of different nations”, or, as The Jerusalem Bible puts it, “an international force” (2 Maccabees 8:9).

From a reading through of I and II Maccabees one learns that the Maccabean family would have to face wave after wave of massive forces over a lengthy period of time. In other words, the assault by Gog upon Israel was not simply just one concentrated invasion at one point in time, as was the case with Sennacherib’s Assyrian army of 185,000. No, it was a prolonged affair. And it saw one Seleucid king succeed another.

Ezekiel, who knew the broad outline of the war, summarised it as follows whilst reverting to apocalyptic language (38:14-20):

 

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground’.

 

Gog’s war machine would be no amateur assortment of troops, but a well-oiled and well-armed fighting force that properly understood war (vv. 4-5): “… your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets …”.

Likewise, the forces of Gorgias, one of the “mighty men of the king’s friends” (1 Maccabees 3:38, 4:7): “And they saw the camp of the Gentiles that it was strong, and the men in breastplates, and the horsemen round about them, and these were trained up to war”.

And, later, the troops of king Antiochus V, son of the now-deceased “Epiphanes” (1 Maccabees 6:28-30):

 

Now when the king heard this, he was angry: and he called together all his friends, and the captains of his army, and them that were over the horsemen.

There came also to him from other realms, and from the islands of the sea hired troops.

And the number of his army was an hundred thousand footmen, and twenty thousand horsemen, and thirty-two elephants, trained to battle.

 

  1. 35: “And they distributed the beasts by the legions: and there stood by every elephant a thousand men in coats of mail, and with helmets of brass on their heads: and five hundred horsemen set in order were chosen for every beast”.
  2. 39: “Now when the sun shone upon the shields of gold, and of brass, the mountains glittered therewith, and they shone like lamps of fire”.
  3. 51: “And [Antiochus] turned his army against the sanctuary for many days: and he set up there battering slings, and engines and instruments to cast fire, and engines to cast stones and javelins, and pieces to shoot arrows, and slings”.

 

But all of this massed force will ultimately be in vain, for this is to be a victory, not of Gog’s, but of the Lord’s (38:21-23):

 

I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’

 

 

Judas Maccabeus Defeats Nicanor

 

 

 

Historians writing about the Hellenistic era can tend to downplay the significance of the Jewish resistance as being of minor concern to the Seleucid kings, who, they estimate, had far bigger fish to fry.

That would probably have been the case had not the Seleucids had the misfortune to have encountered Judas Maccabeus, undoubtedly one of the greatest military tacticians and intrepid warriors in Jewish history.

 

 

Introduction

 

Despite the fact that I and II Maccabees records victory after victory by the Maccabean-led Jews over armies – some of massive size and strength – sent against them by successive kings and governors, and commanded by some of their most illustrious generals, historians seem at pains to play it all down as being of no great import.

That is a common pattern that one finds with regard to biblical history and archaeology. There seems to be a predisposition by would-be scholars to give little or no credit to Israel, to minimalise, or even to annihilate from the historical record, the claims and achievements of Israel. And, ironically, the Israelis can be at the forefront of this, as witness Israel Finkelstein’s boast once to have rid history of King Solomon.

Less radically than Finkelstein, but still following a minimalising tendency, Peter Green will describe the Jewish-led resistance of the Maccabees as “a comparatively minor affair” (Alexander to Actium: The Hellenistic Age, 1990, p. 497):

 

For the clarification of Hellenistic history it should always be borne in mind that the Jewish problem, including the nationalist revolution under Judas Maccabeus … was, from the viewpoint of Alexandria and, subsequently, Antioch, a comparatively minor affair, involving local tribal politics, and significant chiefly because of its strategic setting between Idumaea and Samaria, on the marches of Coele Syria ….

 

Green is right insofar as he notes Israel’s “significance” in relation to its geographical setting. Did not the prophet Ezekiel have Gog describe it thus (38:12): “I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people … living at the center [navel] of the land [earth]”?

The fact that king Antiochus “Epiphanes” had, to his chagrin, completely under-estimated the power of the Jewish resistance, is not the same as to say that it was in actuality something “comparatively minor”.

The situation is quite well described at: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/inter3.htm

 

JUDAS (166 – 160 BC)

 

In the early days of this growing revolt against his authority and abuses, Antiochus again made a major mistake — he vastly underestimated the power and zeal of this band of Jewish rebels. He assumed this was little more than a minor incident which would be quickly put down. Therefore, he sent out some of his less capable generals [sic], with only a small army, to seek out the rebels and put down the rebellion. It would prove to be a costly miscalculation.

 

These generals and their forces were simply not equal to Judas, who was possibly one of the greatest military minds in all of Jewish history! Even though greatly outnumbered, Judas and his rebels defeated general after general in battle. He overpowered General [Apollonius] near Samaria; he routed General Seron in the valley of [Beth-horon]; and in a tremendous victory south of Mizpah he conquered three generals, who led a combined army of 50,000 troops …. and he did it with only 6000 poorly equipped Jewish rebels!! The people of Israel gave Judas the nickname “Maccabeus” because of his great daring and success in “hammering” the enemy forces into the ground.

 

Antiochus soon realized he had a full-scale rebellion on his hands, and that it was far more serious than he had originally believed. He decided, therefore, to end the revolt in a most dramatic fashion, and to exterminate the Jewish people in the process. He sent Lysias, the commander-in-chief of the Seleucid army, along with 60,000 infantrymen and 5000 cavalry, to utterly destroy the Jews. This vast army was additionally commanded by two generals serving under Lysias — Nicanor and Gorgias. This powerful army finally encountered Judas, who had a force of only 3000 poorly equipped rebels, in the town of Emmaus, which was just over 7 miles from Jerusalem. Judas managed to gather together another 7000 rebels, but was still terribly outnumbered. He prayed to God for strength and deliverance (I Maccabees 4:30-33), and God answered! They won a huge victory over the Seleucid army!

 

Judas then determined to enter Jerusalem and liberate the city, and also to purify the Temple and rededicate it to God. When they entered the holy city, the extent of the destruction which they beheld caused them to be overwhelmed by grief (I Maccabees 4:36-40). Their grief, however, soon turned to determination and action. They set about the task of driving the enemy out of the city, and also of cleaning up the Temple. On December 25, 165 BC (exactly three years after Antiochus had defiled the altar of God by offering a pig upon it), the Temple of God was rededicated to God with rejoicing and sacrifices. The celebration continued for eight days. This is the famous “Feast of Lights” (Hanukkah) which is still celebrated by the Jews to this day.

[End of quote]

 

 

“To exterminate the

entire Jewish race”

 

 

King Antiochus “Epiphanes”

 

It seems that, whilst the initial motivation of the invading armies had been plunder and loot, as anticipated also by the words Ezekiel will put into the mouth of Gog (38:12-13; cf. v. 10):

 

‘I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods …’. Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”’,

 

the fury that the unexpected Maccabean victories had stirred up in the hearts of kings Antiochus, Lysias, and Nicanor, had affected that so that the primary motivation now appears to have become – as with wicked Haman (Esther 3:6) – to destroy the Jews completely.

Thus the furious Antiochus “Epiphanes”, returning from Persia (II Maccabees 9:4):

 

And swelling with anger … thought to revenge upon the Jews the injury done by them that had put him to flight. And therefore he commanded his chariot to be driven, without stopping in his journey, the judgment of heaven urging him forward, because he had spoken so proudly, that he would come to Jerusalem, and make it a common burying place of the Jews.

 

But it would mainly be the Jews doing the burying as according to Ezekiel 39:11: ‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east of the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog’.

Moreover, it would be the Jews who would be enjoying the abundant booty (I Maccabees 4:23): “And Judas returned to take the spoils of the camp, and they got much gold, and silver, and blue silk, and purple of the sea, and great riches”. (II Maccabees 8:25): “They seized the money from the people who had come to buy them as slaves”.

Moreover, king Antiochus himself would now die a most horrible death (9:8-12):

 

Thus he that seemed to himself to command even the waves of the sea, being proud above the condition of man, and to weigh the heights of the mountains in a balance, now being cast down to the ground, was carried in a litter, bearing witness to the manifest power of God in himself:

So that worms swarmed out of the body of this man, and whilst he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell off, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to the army.

And the man that thought a little before he could reach to the stars of heaven, no man could endure to carry, for the intolerable stench.

And by this means, being brought from his great pride, he began to come to the knowledge of himself, being admonished by the scourge of God, his pains increasing every moment.

And when he himself could not now abide his own stench, he spoke thus: It is just to be subject to God, and that a mortal man should not equal himself to God.

 

Continuing now with: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/inter3.htm

 

Having finally achieved the liberation of Jerusalem, and the restoration of their religious practices in the Temple, Judas and his rebels now turned their attention to the task of seeking to liberate all of Palestine from pagan control. Within a rather brief period of time they were able to regain possession of much of the land. However, their successes were short-lived, for Lysias, now acting as king after the death of Antiochus, who had died during a military campaign in Persia, gathered a large army and marched upon Jerusalem.

 

In the autumn of 163 BC, Lysias, and an army of 120,000 men and 32 war elephants, met Judas and his army 10 miles SW of Jerusalem. Lysias made the elephants drunk on grape and mulberry wine so they would stampede over the Jewish rebels (I Maccabees 6:34). This time Judas was unable to prevail, and although they killed 600 of the enemy soldiers, they were nevertheless forced to retreat into the city of Jerusalem. During this battle, Eleazer (the younger brother of Judas) died in a most heroic manner when he single-handedly attacked a large elephant that he believed to be carrying the enemy king (I Maccabees 6:42-46). Lysias surrounded Jerusalem in the hopes of starving the Jews into submission. But during this siege he learned that one of his rivals was marching against his own capital city in an effort to overthrow him and take the throne. Being anxious to return home and defend his throne, he made an offer of peace to Judas — the Jews would be allowed to worship their God unmolested, if they would remain politically loyal to the Seleucid Empire. Judas agreed to these terms, and Lysias and his army departed.

[End of quote]

 

At this point we read that (II Maccabees 12:1): “When these covenants were made, Lysias went to the king, and the Jews gave themselves to husbandry”, for the Jews were apparently, according to Ezekiel (38:12), “stock-breeders and tradesmen”.

 

Nicanor

 

Contrary to the view above that king Antiochus had “sent out some of his less capable generals”, the highly-regarded Nicanor, for instance, was “ranked as Illustrious” (I Maccabees 7:26), and was “in the closest circle of the King’s Friends” (II Maccabees 8:9). Now, Nicanor’s brief was brutally straightforward: “Ptolemy immediately appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus … and sent him with more than 20,000 troops of various nationalities to wipe out the entire Jewish race. Ptolemy also appointed Gorgias, a general of wide military experience, to go with him”. And:

(I Maccabees 7:26): “… king [Demetrius] sent Nicanor … who was a bitter enemy to Israel: and he commanded him to destroy the people”.

It was on this occasion, when faced with Nicanor, that Judas Maccabeus would remind his army of the great Jewish victory over Sennacherib’s massive force of 185,000 (7:41).

Just as Ezekiel had foretold the anticipation of the merchant nations for Jewish booty (38:13): “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil?”, so do we read in 2 Maccabees 8:10-11:

 

Nicanor determined to make up for the king the tribute due to the Romans, two thousand talents, by selling the captured Jews into slavery. So he immediately sent to the towns on the seacoast, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, not expecting the judgment from the Almighty that was about to overtake him.

 

And again (v. 34): “The thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews …”.

Nicanor, as we read earlier in this series, had come against the Jews with an “international” force, and this claim is further substantiated by I Maccabees 6:29: “There came also to [Nicanor] from other realms, and from the islands of the sea hired troops”.

General Nicanor’s final effort to defeat the heroic Judas Maccabeus is narrated in I Maccabees 7:43-49:

 

And the armies joined battle on the thirteenth day of the month Adar: and the army of Nicanor was defeated, and he himself was first slain in the battle.

And when his army saw that Nicanor was slain, they threw away their weapons, and fled:

And they pursued after them one day’s journey from Adazer, even till ye come to Gazara, and they sounded the trumpets after them with signals.

And they went forth out of all the towns of Judea round about, and they pushed them with the horns, and they turned again to them, and they were all slain with the sword, and there was not left of them so much as one.

And they took the spoils of them for a booty, and they cut off Nicanor’s head, and his right hand, which he had proudly stretched out, and they brought it, and hung it up over against Jerusalem.

And the people rejoiced exceedingly, and they spent that day with great joy.

And he ordained that this day should be kept every year, being the thirteenth of the month of Adar.

 

And once again, more elaborately, in II Maccabees 15:25-36:

 

Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs, but Judas and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation.

When the action was over and they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor. Then there was shouting and tumult, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors. Then the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his people, the man who maintained his youthful goodwill toward his compatriots, ordered them to cut off Nicanor’s head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem. When he arrived there and had called his compatriots together and stationed the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel. He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and that profane man’s arm, which had been boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty. He cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up these rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary. And they all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled!” Judas hung Nicanor’s head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to everyone of the help of the Lord. And they all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—which is called Adar in the Aramaic language—the day before Mordecai’s day.

 

Though the Seleucids had intended for the Jews to be lying dead in heaps, as food for birds and worms, this turned out to be the fate, instead, of their vaunted leaders, such as king Antiochus, dying of worms and foul stench, and Nicanor, his tongue fed “piecemeal to the birds”.

 

Reader Suggests “Gog is Satan”

 

 

 

A Reader’s opinion: Your view on Gog and Magog is similar to James Jordan’s old view that it was about the Maccabees. Jordan changed his mind and believes it refers to Esther. Personally, I disagree with both approaches. I see Gog and Magog (and the other prophecies of an eschatological battle) as referring to the war of the Church to convert the nations throughout her history. Gog is the eschatological wicked king mentioned in Numbers 24, and it is stated there that the messiah’s kingdom is higher than Gog. For complex reasons I don’t have space to go into now, I think Gog is Satan.

 

Mackey’s Response: This interpretation, Gog being Satan, reminds me a bit of the suggestion of some regarding the nephilim giants of Genesis 6:4, that they were fallen angels.

As I have previously noted, following the view of Fr. John Echert, an interpretation such as this can run into what Fr. Echert here calls, “metaphysical complications”:

 

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 1/22/2006:
Genesis records a strange hybrid which resulted from sexual unions between the “daughters of men” and the “sons of God.

6:1 When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 6:2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

While many scholars prefer to dismiss this entirely as myth which is borrowed from pagans cultures of the ancient near east, it is more appropriate to look for some truth and reality behind this mythical sounding text. Some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Augustine, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria suggested that the “sons of God” may refer to righteous descendants (men) of Seth who took descendants (women) of Cain as wives. In such a case, “sons of God” associates the men with the goodness of God whereas “daughters of men” would be intended as a contrast to this. This is typical of ancient Semitic expressions which must not be interpreted literally as we understand such constructions but in accord with the customary use of language at the time. Knowing the background of Cain as a killer and the bad blood of his descendants, it is no wonder that such unions would be regarded in a negative light, which unions led to a situation in which humanity was corrupted and unacceptable to God. On the other hand, it is said of Seth and his line that these were the first to reverence the Name of Yahweh. The word “Nephalim” literally means “fallen ones” which sense would be consistent with an interpretation that views this group as a corrupt mixture of good and bad blood. Other commentators have suggested that the “sons of God” were (fallen) angels who somehow mated with human women, but this does present metaphysical complications in light of the natures of each. For now, I find the Patristic solution the most satisfying. ©

 

There is a serious need today for a return to the studying of a sound Philosophy of Being, with its clear distinctions between the various levels of being (whether created or uncreated).

 

I find it most difficult to regard the “Gog” of Ezekiel 38 and 39 as being anything other than a human being, he being a prince-ruler of provinces known to us from the Assyrian records:

 

Gog and Magog Part Four: The Geography (ii) Assyrian based

 

https://www.academia.edu/22618667/Gog_and_Magog_Part_Four_The_Geography_ii_Assyrian_based

and said to be leading an international army comprising soldiers from known places at the time, such as Persia and Ethiopia (Cush), these invading Israel, and there meeting catastrophic defeat.

The nephilim giants perished in the Flood – demons, of course, don’t drown.

The Gerasene “Legion” may, perhaps have had their ‘wings dampened’, but it was only the herd of swine that actually drowned (Mark 5:12-13): “The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them’. He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned”.

Likewise, one does not bury Satan (‘I will give Gog a burial place in Israel’), nor his demon army. Neither will one find Ezekiel’s “human bone” remnants amongst non-human demons (39:11-16):

 

‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east of the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the Israelites will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I display my glory will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord. People will be continually employed in cleansing the land. They will spread out across the land and, along with others, they will bury any bodies that are lying on the ground. After the seven months they will carry out a more detailed search. As they go through the land, anyone who sees a human bone will leave a marker beside it until the gravediggers bury it in the Valley of Hamon Gog, near a town called Hamonah. And so they will cleanse the land’.

 

James B. Jordan, who has written some interesting articles, had thought to connect the phonetically alike names, “Hamon” and “Haman” (the wicked conspirator in the Book of Esther). But he, as I noted in:

 

Gog and Magog. Part Three: Could Haman be Gog?

 

https://www.academia.edu/37906693/Gog_and_Magog._Part_Three_Could_Haman_be_Gog

 

had realised that a connection between the two was problematic: “The main argument against my hypothesis would be that Ezekiel 38-39 picture an invasion of the land of Israel, whereas the events of Esther happened throughout the Persian Empire”.