Eze 38:1-23. The Assault of
Gog, and God's Judgment on Him.
The objections to a literal interpretation of
the prophecy are—(1) The ideal nature of the name Gog, which is
the root of Magog, the only kindred name found in Scripture or history.
(2) The nations congregated are selected from places most distant from
Israel, and from one another, and therefore most unlikely to act in
concert (Persians and Libyans, &c.). (3) The whole spoil of Israel
could not have given a handful to a tithe of their number, or
maintained the myriads of invaders a single day (Eze 38:12, 13). (4) The wood of their invaders'
weapons was to serve for fuel to Israel for seven years! And all
Israel were to take seven months in burying the dead! Supposing a
million of Israelites to bury each two corpses a day, the aggregate
buried in the hundred eighty working days of the seven months would be
three hundred sixty millions of corpses! Then the pestilential vapors
from such masses of victims before they were all buried! What Israelite
could live in such an atmosphere? (5) The scene of the Lord's
controversy here is different from that in Isa 34:6, Edom, which creates a discrepancy. (But
probably a different judgment is alluded to). (6) The gross carnality
of the representation of God's dealings with His adversaries is
inconsistent with Messianic times. It therefore requires a non-literal
interpretation. The prophetical delineations of the divine principles
of government are thrown into the familiar forms of Old Testament
relations. The final triumph of Messiah's truth over the most distant
and barbarous nations is represented as a literal conflict on a
gigantic scale, Israel being the battlefield, ending in the complete
triumph of Israel's anointed King, the Saviour of the world. It is a
prophetical parable [Fairbairn].
However, though the details are not literal, the distinctiveness
in this picture, characterizing also parallel descriptions in writers
less ideally picturesque than Ezekiel, gives probability to a more
definite and generally literal interpretation. The awful desolations
caused in Judea by Antiochus Epiphanes, of Syria (1 Maccabees; and
Porphyry, quoted by Jerome on Ezekiel), his defilement of Jehovah's
temple by sacrificing swine and sprinkling the altar with the broth,
and setting up the altar of Jupiter Olympius, seem to be an earnest of
the final desolations to be caused by Antichrist in Israel, previous to
His overthrow by the Lord Himself, coming to reign (compare Da 8:10-26; 11:21-45; 12:1; Zec 13:9; 14:2,
3). Grotius explains Gog as a name taken from Gyges,
king of Lydia; and Magog as Syria, in which was a city called Magog
[Pliny, 5.28]. What Ezekiel stated more
generally, Re 20:7-9
states more definitely as to the anti-Christian confederacy which is to
assail the beloved city.
2. Gog—the prince of the land of Magog.
The title was probably a common one of the kings of the country, as
"Pharaoh" in Egypt. Chakan was the name given by the Northern Asiatics
to their king, and is still a title of the Turkish sultan: "Gog" may be
a contraction of this. In Ezekiel's time a horde of northern Asiatics,
termed by the Greeks "Scythians," and probably including the Moschi and
Tibareni, near the Caucasus, here ("Meshech … Tubal") undertook
an expedition against Egypt [Herodotus,
1.103-106]. These names might be adopted by Ezekiel from the historical
fact familiar to men at the time, as ideal titles for the great last
Magog—(Ge 10:2; 1Ch 1:5). The name of a land belonging to
Japheth's posterity. Maha, in Sanskrit, means "land." Gog is the
ideal political head of the region. In Re 20:8, Gog and Magog are two peoples.
the chief prince—rather, "prince of
Rosh," or "Rhos" [Septuagint]. The Scythian Tauri
in the Crimea were so called. The Araxes also was called "Rhos." The
modern Russians may have hence assumed their name, as Moscow and
Tobolsk from Meshech and Tubal, though their proper ancient name
was Slavi, or Wends. Hengstenberg supports English Version, as
"Rosh" is not found in the Bible. "Magog was Gog's original kingdom,
though he acquired also Meshech and Tubal, so as to be called their
3. His high-sounding titles are repeated to
imply the haughty self-confidence of the invader as if invincible.
4. turn thee back—as a refractory wild
beast, which thinks to take its own way, but is bent by a superior
power to turn on a course which must end in its destruction. Satan
shall be, by overruling Providence, permitted to deceive them to their
hooks into thy jaws—(Eze 29:4; 2Ki
5. Persia … Libya—expressly
specified by Appian as supplying the
ranks of Antiochus' army.
6. Gomer—the Celtic Cimmerians of
Togarmah—the Armenians of the
Caucasus, south of Iberia.
7. Irony. Prepare thee and all thine with all
needful accoutrements for war—that ye may perish together.
be … a guard unto them—that is,
if thou canst.
8. thou shall be visited—in wrath, by
29:6). Probably there is
allusion to Isa 24:21, 22, "The host of the high ones …
shall be gathered … as prisoners … in the pit … and
after many days shall they be visited." I therefore prefer
English Version to Grotius
rendering, "Thou shalt get the command" of the expedition. The
"after many days" is defined by "in the latter years," that is, in the
times just before the coming of Messiah, namely, under Antiochus,
before His first coming; under Antichrist, before His second
the mountains of Israel … always
waste—that is, waste during the long period of the captivity,
the earnest of the much longer period of Judea's present desolation (to
which the language "always waste" more fully applies). This marks the
impious atrocity of the act, to assail God's people, who had only begun
to recover from their protracted calamities.
but it is brought … and they shall
dwell—rather, "And they (the Israelites) were brought …
dwelt safely" [Fairbairn]. English
Version means, "Against Israel, which has been waste, but which
(that is, whose people) is now (at the time of the invasion) brought
forth out of the nations where they were dispersed, and shall be found
by the invader dwelling securely, so as to seem an easy prey to
9. cloud to cover the land—with the
multitude of thy forces.
10. an evil thought—as to attacking
God's people in their defenseless state.
11. dwell safely—that is, securely,
without fear of danger (compare Es 9:19). Antiochus, the type of Antichrist,
took Jerusalem without a blow.
12. midst of the land—literally, "the
navel" of the land (Jud 9:37,
Margin). So, in Eze 5:5,
Israel is said to be set "in the midst of the nations"; not physically,
but morally, a central position for being a blessing to the world: so
(as the favored or "beloved city," Re 20:9) an object of envy. Grotius translates, "In the height of the
land" (so Eze 38:8),
"the mountains of Israel," Israel being morally elevated above the rest
of the world.
13. Sheba, &c.—These mercantile
peoples, though not taking an active part against the cause of God, are
well pleased to see others do it. Worldliness makes them ready to deal
in the ill-gotten spoil of the invaders of God's people. Gain is before
godliness with them (1 Maccabees 3:41).
young lions—daring princes and
14. shalt thou not know it?—to thy cost,
being visited with punishment, while Israel dwells safely.
16. I will bring thee against my land, that the
heathen may know me—So in Ex 9:16, God tells Pharaoh, "For this cause have
I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power; and that My name may be
declared throughout all the earth."
17. thou he of whom I have spoken in old
time—Gog, &c. are here identified with the enemies spoken
of in other prophecies (Nu 24:17-24; Isa 27:1; compare Isa 26:20, 21; Jer 30:23, 24; Joe 3:1; Mic
5:5, 6; Isa 14:12-14; 59:19).
God is represented as addressing Gog at the time of his assault;
therefore, the "old time" is the time long prior, when Ezekiel uttered
these prophecies; so, he also, as well as Daniel (Da 11:1-45) and Zechariah (Zec 14:1-21) are included among "the prophets
of Israel" here.
18. fury shall come up in my
face—literally, "nose"; in Hebrew, the idiomatic
expression for anger, as men in anger breathe strongly through
the nostrils. Anthropopathy: God stooping to human modes of thought
19. great shaking—an earthquake:
physical agitations after accompanying social and moral revolutions.
Foretold also in Joe 3:16;
(compare Hag 2:6, 7; Mt 24:7, 29; Re 16:18).
20. fishes—disturbed by the fleets which
I will bring.
fowls, &c.—frightened at the sight
of so many men: an ideal picture.
mountains—that is, the fortresses on
steep places—literally, "stairs"
2:14); steep terraces for
vines on the sides of hills, to prevent the earth being washed down by
every wall—of towns.
21. every man's sword … against his
brother—I will destroy them partly by My people's sword,
partly by their swords being turned against one another (compare 2Ch 20:23).
22. plead—a forensic term; because God
in His inflictions acts on the principles of His own immutable
justice, not by arbitrary impulse (Isa 66:16;
blood … hailstones, fire—(Re 8:7;
16:21). The imagery is taken
from the destruction of Sodom and the plagues of Egypt (compare Ps 11:6). Antiochus died by "pestilence"
(2 Maccabees 9:5).