Gog and Magog

GOG AND MAGOG gŏg, mā’ gŏg (גֹּ֔וג, מָגֹ֔וג). Gog is the ruler of Magog and the prince of Meshech and Tubal, the demonic and sinister leader of ungodly peoples far distant from Israel, whom he leads in a final assault against the people of God, but is ignominiously defeated by the intervention of Yahweh upon the mountains of Canaan. The conflict is described in Ezekiel 38; 39 and in summary form in Revelation 20:7-9.

The origin of the name “Gog” is unknown. He has been identified with Gyges of Lydia, who is said to have expelled the invading Cimmerians with Syrian help; with Gaga, mentioned in the Amarna letters; with another Gaga, a Babylonian deity; and with Gagi, a ruler of the city of Sabi.

Magog was prob. located between Cappadocia and Media; Josephus says it refers to the Scythians (Jos. Antiq. I. vi. 1). In Revelation 20:8, Gog and Magog symbolically represent the godless nations of the world. With Gog are associated many peoples: Meshech and Tubal, of whom he is prince; Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish—all of whom come from widely separated parts of the earth—a mighty host, like a cloud, to do battle against Israel under the mighty Gog. But God’s judgment comes upon the enemies of Israel. Every kind of terror is summoned by Yahweh against Gog whose defeat is so great that his vast armaments serve as fuel for Israel for seven years and whose dead are so numerous that it takes all Israel seven months to bury them.

Gog appears again in Revelation 20:7-9, where Satan is depicted after the millennium as gathering the nations of the whole earth, that is, Gog and Magog, against the saints and the beloved city, but they are destroyed and cast into the lake of fire.

There are three major divergent interpretations of the story of Gog. Some hold it to present a literal description of a future attack on Israel by certain identifiable nations led by Russia. Others regard it as a symbolic description of some future event—either the final conflict of the nation Israel with unidentified foes, or the final catastrophic struggle between the Church and the forces of the world. Still others look upon it as a prophetic parable illustrating, not a specific historical event, but a great truth—that whenever in history evil forces array themselves to destroy God’s people, He comes to the aid of His own.

Bibliography

P. Fairbairn, The Interpretation of Prophecy (1856), 484-493.

See also

  • Magog