Meshech

MESHECH (mē’shĕk, Heb. meshekh, tall)

A son of Japheth in the “Table of the Nations” (Gen.10.2) associated with Magog and Tubal, and thought by many to have been progenitors of Russians and other Slavic peoples.A grandson of Shem (1Chr.1.17); called Mash in Gen.10.23 (except niv).The people descended from the preceding. They are noted for their merchandizing with Tyre in slaves as well as articles of bronze (Ezek.27.13). Ezekiel prophesied that they would join in a northern confederation against Israel and would be destroyed on the mountains of Israel (Ezek.38.1-Ezek.38.23-Ezek.39.1-Ezek.39.29). The leader of this northern group is called “Gog.”A tribe mentioned in Ps.120.5 with (or probably contrasted with) the tents of Kedar. Probably the same as No. 3 above.


MESHECH mē’ shĕk (מֶ֖שֶׁכְ, LXX Μεσοχ, meaning: prolong, tall). A son of Japheth; a nation and people of Asia Minor.

Meshech is listed in the table of the nations (Gen 10) as a son of Japheth (grandson of Noah) along with Gomer, Javan, Tubal, and others (Gen 10:2; 1 Chron 1:5). The descendants of this man reappear in history as a nation of people who lived for several centuries in central Asia Minor, but who were eventually pushed by their enemies into the mountainous area SE of the Black Sea. They are the Mushki of the Assyrian records, and the Muschoi of the Gr. tradition. They belong to the Indo-European family of nations. In both Biblical and secular lit. they are almost always associated with Tubal (see Tubal) another of Japheth’s sons.

Meshech (with Tubal) is referred to three times in the Book of Ezekiel, and each time in a different way. The two are listed (along with Javan) as nations who exchange slaves and vessels of bronze for the merchandise of the city of Tyre (Ezek 27:13). The next reference is contained in an oracle against Egypt (32:26) where Ezekiel declares that part of Egypt’s condemnation will be to dwell in Sheol with other uncircumcised barbarians like the men of Meshech and Tubal. Meshech and Tubal along with Egypt are included among those nations who once made the earth tremble by their might, but who have now become nothing but helpless “shades” in Sheol. In Ezekiel 38 and 39 the reference to Meshech is even more unique. On this occasion, Meshech and Tubal, now one people, seem to serve as some sort of symbol. As the dominant provinces in the land of Magog, they seem to represent all the anti-God forces in the world who are maliciously bent on destroying God’s people. In apocalyptic fashion Ezekiel seems to be describing something that is to take place in the end time (Rev 20:8). The only reference to Meshech in the Book of Psalms (120:5) is likewise used in symbolic fashion; Meshech and Kedar represent “the evil society” in which the psalmist lives.

The men of Meshech first appear in secular history in the Prism Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser I, king of Assyria, around 1100 b.c. The Assyrian king tells of fighting five kings of the Mushki, and although he claimed success, it is evident that he felt the tremendous force of their arms. The Mushki appear in the records of other kings of Assyria, but most often in the Annals and Pavement Inscriptions of Sargon II (722-705). In these records a certain Mita, king of the Mushki, is a very formidable adversary of Sargon. The Assyrians tell of military alliances being formed, and strategic border fortresses being erected, in order to punish the impudence of these warlike people. After long years and many battles Mita is forced to submit and pay tribute to Assyria.

Many scholars are convinced that the Mita mentioned above is none other than the famous King Midas of the Gr. writings. There is a problem however; in the Gr. tradition Midas is king of the Phrygians, not the Mushki. On the other hand, it is possible that the kingdom of Midas (Mita) included a mixture of many different peoples. The Greeks identified the king with the people of the western part of the kingdom, the Phrygians (and the Moschoi were only an insignificant tribe of distant people), while the Assyrians identified the king with the Mushki who occupied that part of the kingdom (the eastern) which impinged on the Assyrian empire. It is likely that both Phrygians and Mushki were strong elements in Mita’s kingdom. The Assyrians defeated Mita’s armies a number of times, but were never strong enough to take Gordion, the Phrygian capital. However, some decades later it was unable to withstand the shock of the Cimmerian invasion. Excavations at the site of Gordion in 1950 by the University of Pennsylvania indicate that the Mushki (Phrygians) carried on extensive commercial relations with the Urartu, and the peoples of Cilicia and Syria.

Another Meshech is found in 1 Chronicles 1:17 as a son of Shem, but this appears to be a scribal error for Mash (Gen 10:23).

Bibliography

D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia I, II (1927) (I, 221, 276, 318; II, 25, 27, 42, 43, 96, 97); S. R. Driver, Exposition of Genesis (14th ed. 1943), 115; T. B. Jones, Ancient Civilization (1960), 128, 141; Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, K-Q (1962), 357.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)