The debate of the Gog Magog battle

“The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭38:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Has anyone ever noticed the geography given for all the nations/regions mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy? If you look at a Bible atlas you will see the region of Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.


Many prophecy teachers designate the Hebrew word rosh as a proper name for Russia. Thus many believe Russia will lead this  invasion. But knowing rosh is used around 600 times in the Bible to mean head, leader, chief, etc. (Consider the holiday Rosh Hoshana, for example. It is the head day of the year). And given the context in which this word is used in this prophecy it becomes clear that it is not referring to Russia, but to the chief prince or leader of this land mass of Turkey.

Look at the map and you will see Meschec, Tubal, Togarmah, Gomer, Magog, etc., are all in this same region. Now consider the context of the majority of the Old Testament that puts Israel at the center of God’s program, and the history of her enemies being her neighbors. The far parts of the north is referred to the Babylonian empire in Jeremiah 6:22. We know by the context that God was referring to Bbylon. So why would this reference to the utter parts of the North referred to by Ezekiel be interpreted as Russia? All the other names mentioned (the context) are in Asia Minor.

Briefly put, we should keep an eye on Turkey and this end times leader referred to by God as Gog. This man from Asia Minor will be the main leader, not Russia.

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14 comments

  1. Am not so sure we can easily dismiss ideas about Russia from discussion of Ezekiel 38, Korey. Yes, we keep a watchful eye upon Turkey but current events tend to confirm the connection between Russia and Persia/Iran. For example, latest US-Russian-Iranian developments to save Syria (http://debka.com/article/24796/Russia-and-US-woo-Saudis-to-help-save-Assad—albeit-putting-Israel-and-Jordan-in-danger-from-S-Syria)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Richard. I appreciate it.
      While I don’t write off any of Russia’s involvement in the region during that time, I do however try to avoid headline prophecy, as tempting as that can be. I believe this portion of Scripture is highlighting the main point, and that is Turkey being the main leader, the spearhead, if you will. It also says “many nations with you,” and that means there are undisclosed countries in alliance with Gog’s invasion. However, to say Russia is the leader is a far stretch, in my opinion.

  2. Yes, its wise not to be too dogmatic on this as am well-aware of Turkey’s ambitions and growing influence, especially in light of Joel Richardson’s and Mark Davidson’s ideas.
    Nevertheless, am revisiting/rethinking arguments regarding Russia relating to ancient Scythians who lived north of The Black Sea. So, it’s noteworthy that Putin has invaded Crimea and parts of Ukraine. Fascinating times!

  3. One thing I would consider is how the nations of Persia, Lydia, Babylon, and so on, are all interpreted using the historical grammatical method (i.e., Persia=Iran, Babylon=Iraq, etc.) but when it comes to the Scythians and Magog and “Rosh” many use the bloodline lineage interpretation. Why? Why not stick to the same method for Magog, Meschech and the rest? It seems inconsistent to switch methods to accommodate the current geopolitical headlines of the day (during the Cold War in the Scoffield Bible).

    1. And I’m not saying looking at the headlines and seeing their relevance to the Bible is a bad thing! What I am saying is that it is safer to be as faithful to the text as hermeneutically as possible then looking to see if current events line up. It’s a challenge.

  4. […] to blog about the Iranian deal in connection with Ezekiel 38, fellow blogger Korey Allen opens a debate on the identity of Gog-Magog. […]

  5. Thanks for your further comments Korey. Am researching and mulling this over so your stimulating post has proved most valuable.

    1. Most Excellent, Richard. I take that as a compliment from a prolific writer as yourself. God bless you from the States.

      1. Thanks and indeed you may and it’s especially fascinating for these reasons.
        First, I haven’t dug into this aspect in any depth, so wasn’t aware of these issues. Secondly, was about to put my thoughts online and the timing is therefore ‘God-incidental’, as I term it. Thirdly, there may be a good possibility of fresh insights; eg. could the Lord be behind what we’d term ‘scribal error’? If it’s not that, then what could He be pointing us to in this identity question?? Just a few thoughts my friend…

      2. Something else to consider is the broader context of the preceding 10 chapters all address Israel’s surrounding neighbors. Chapters 38 and 39 are most often isolated without considering the preceding chapters.
        I don’t believe it would be a scribal error because some Bibles even insert Roman Empire in brackets into the text of Daniel ch. 2 when the Scripture does not expressly name it as such, for example. This would be the interpreter’s error of that particular version.

  6. Couldn’t agree more with you on broader context for I was discussing that yesterday morning with friend and author of ‘SIGNS’. Certainly the preceding chapters 36 & 37 appear to have happened in modern times, or are doing so. But 38:vv 8-11 ‘a land recovered from war…unwalled villages etc’ definitely doesn’t apply to today’s security situation.

    So it may mean local terrorism/war is over and a peace deal has been implemented with a State of Palestine, or else Psalm 83 war over and done with and a rapprochement between Turkey and Iran becomes an alliance. That is, fulfillment of that chapter is still some time in the near or distant future – and Russia may or may not be involved.

    My thoughts on errors are not those of translators and their personal unwarranted modifications, but any slips in Greek or in the original Hebrew made by the Septuagint and Hebraic manuscripts’ original and copyist scribes.

    Incidentally Korey, may I ask of your whereabouts over the pond? I’m in East Hampshire and about 25 miles from the south coast.

    1. Yes, good thoughts on the subject.
      I am sunny California

  7. […] more on this topic see The Debate of the Gog Magog Battle and ensuing discussion thread on The […]

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