The Imminent Invasion of Israel

Appendix 4: Where is MAGOG?

Magog is a real nation occupying a territory known to Ezekiel and his readers in the 5th century BC. The evidence shows Magog refers to the ancient tribal groups that once occupied the area that now comprises Russia and modern Central Asia including several of the southern Islamic republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, formerly the USSR). Most prophecy teachers agree. 

Magog was the 2nd son of Japheth, the son of Noah (Genesis 10:2), and his descendants are often referred to by their Greek name, the Scythians. Magog’s name appears in 1Chronicles 1:5, Ezekiel 38:2, 39:6. One early reference to Magog was by Hesiod, father of Greek didactic poetry, a virtual contemporary of Ezekiel, who identified Magog with the Scythians and southern Russia (7th century BC). 

Another major source on the ancient history of the Middle East is Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews) who clearly identified Magog as what is today Russia: “Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who are by the Greeks called the Scythians.” He went on to say these people lived in the northern regions above the Caucasus mountains, settling north of the Black Sea.

The ancient Scythians were a great nomadic tribe who inhabited the ancient territory from Central Asia all across the southern part of ancient Russia. The descendants of Magog were the original inhabitants of the plateau of Central Asia. The various descendants of Magog terrorised the southern steppes of Russia from the Ukraine to the Great Wall of China, from the 10th century to the 3rd century BC. The name Scythian designates a number of nomadic tribes from the Russian steppes, one group of which invaded the Near East in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. After being repulsed from Media, many of the later Scyths settled in the fertile area of the Ukraine north of the Black Sea. Other related tribes occupied the area to the east of the Caspian Sea. The noun “Gog” is from the original tribal name “Magog.” 

Today the land of Magog includes the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and possibly even northern parts of modern Afghanistan. Within their borders they have a combined population of 60 million. All of these nations today have one thing in common: Islam. 

When the Soviet Union came crashing down in December 1991, the people of Central Asia immediately and exuberantly embraced Islam, the religion they had been forced to renounce or secretly practice for 74 years. Since 1991, militant Islam has been on the rise in Central Asia. Over the last ten years, Iran, Turkey, and Russia have each exerted influence and sought to develop closer ties to the nations of Central Asia. The Bible says that soon a great leader will come from this part of the world who will weld together a great coalition of nations to invade Israel. The developing situation in Central Asia today points toward this end-time scenario. 

Another first-century writer was the Roman writer Philo, who also identified Magog with southern Russia.: “Hierapolis, taken by the Scythians, was afterward called Magog.” He shows that the dreaded barbaric people called the Scythians were identified with their ancient tribal name. Ancient history traces the Scythians to be a principle part of the people who make up modern Russia. 

Most of our information comes to us from Herodotus, who wrote extensively in the 5th century BC. He is known as theFather of History. He wrote the earliest important historical narrative, in which he described the background and the course of the great war between the Greeks and the Persians in the 5th century BC. Numerous archaeological discoveries have clearly confirmed Herodotus's reports in general, and his Scythian accounts in particular. Herodotus describes the Scythians as living in Scythia (the territory north of the Black Sea). 

The Pulpit Commentary agrees and identifies the Scythians with a people whose country lay on the borders of the sea of Azov in the Caucasus region. 

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge places the location of Magog in the land mass between ancient Armenia and Media - in short, the republics south of Russia and north of Israel, comprised of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Chechnya, Turkey, Iran, and Dagestan. Significantly, all of them are Muslim nations. This suggests that the people from this region migrated northward across the Caucasus mountains and thus filled Ezekiel's northern horizon. It supports this view by referring to Assyrian inscriptions.

Young's Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible speaks of Magog as ancient Scythia or Tartar, a name used to describe southern Russia in past centuries. Dr. Young said the name Gog was derived from a phrase that meant a high mountain, and that the land of Magog in Ezekiel 38 referred to “Scythia in the north of Asia.” 

The authoritative reference work, Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible, came to the same conclusion: “Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Gomer were all sons of Japheth (Noah's son). They gave their names to Indo-European peoples living in the Black Sea/Caucasus region, on the northern fringe of the then known world.”

Arno. C. Gaebelein in The Prophet Ezekiel wrote on the identification of Magog: “Magog's land was located in what is called today the Caucasus and the adjoining steppes. And the three Rosh, Meshech and Tubal were called by the ancients Scythians. They roamed as nomads in the country around and north of the Black and the Caspian Seas, and were known as the wildest barbarians.” 

The Biblical and Theological Dictionary: “Magog signifies the country or people, and Gog the king of that country; the general name of the northern nations of Europe and Asia, or the districts north of the Caucasus or Mount Taurus.”

The Comprehensive Commentary of the Holy Bible, edited by Dr William Jenks, provided some fascinating information on Magog. “The Jews of his day thought Magog to be the Scythian nations, vast and innumerable, who are beyond 

Mount Caucasus and the Palus Maeotis, and near the Caspian Sea, stretching even to India.'” He then quotes Biochart: “The Koran, and a Christian poet of Syria (Ephraem the Syrian) before the Koran was published, both alluded to a fable of Alexander's shutting up the barbarous and troublesome nations, Gog and Magog, near the Northern Pole by an iron and brazen wall. The mountain Scythians extended hence (from the river Araxes) to the Caucasus, and those of the plain to the Do, the Sea of Azof, and the Northern Ocean. It is credible that from the Rosh and Meshech nations dwelling about the Araxes, are descended the Russians and Moscovites.”


Professor G Rawlinson wrote a definite study of the ancient tribes and empires that ruled the Middle East, called Five Great Monarchies. His section on Assyria included this footnote: “The Scythians proper of Herodotus and Hippocrates extended from the Danube and the Carpathians on the one side, to the Tanais or Don upon the other.” These areas are located in the south of Russia and in the southern republics of the CIS (the former USSR). 

Dr John Gill wrote A Commentary on the Old Testament in 1748, with fascinating comments on Magog's identification: “The countries of Gog and Magog, according to the Arabic geographers, are surrounded by Mount Caucasus, which Bochartconjectures has its name from thence: ‘Gog-hasan’, ‘of Gog's fortress’. This land of Magog is the same with Cathaia or Scythia. Gog is further described as the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: some render it, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal taking Rosh, as the rest, for the name of a place, a part of Scythia, from whence the Russians came, and had their name. So it is rendered by the Septuagint, Symmachus and Theodotion; and some later Greek writers [Zonaras, Cedrenus] make mention of a country called Ros, which they say, is a Scythian nation, situated between the Euxine Pontus (Black Sea) and the whole maritime coast to the north of Taurus, a people fierce and wild.”

One of the most important scholarly tools employed in the exegesis of Scripture is Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon. This book is a major authority on the precise meaning of Hebrew and Chaldee words found in the original manuscripts of the Old Testament. Regarding Magog, he wrote: “Magog, a son of Japheth, Genesis 10:2; also of a region, and a great and powerful people of the same name, inhabiting the recesses of the north, who are at some time to invade the Holy Land, Ezekiel 38,39. We are to understand just the same nations as the Greeks comprised, under the name of Scythian (Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 1.6.1).” Gesenius' comment on “Gog” described him as a “Prince of the land of Magog, also of Rossi, Moschi, and Tibareni, who are to come with great forces from the extreme north (38:15, 39:2), after the Exile (38:8, 12) to invade the Holy Land, and to perish there, as prophesied by Ezekiel.” Gesenius identified Magog as a real country, to the extreme north of the Holy Land that will invade Israel in the future. He identified the land with the “same nations as the Greeks comprised under the name of Scythians.”

 

The ancient writers refer to the Great Wall of China as Sud Yagog et Magog, the “Ramparts of Gog and Magog.” Arab writers confirm that in the Arabic language, the name for the Great Wall of China is “the wall of Al Magog,” because the wall was built to keep out the invading armies from Magog (Russia). 

The prophecies in Ezekiel 38 were studied for thousands of years by Jewish sages. Consequently, the conclusions drawn by these scholars illuminate the true meaning of the Hebrew words Gog and Magog. The prophet Ezekiel named Magog along with other specific allied nations, such as Libya, Persia, and Ethiopia. This strongly suggests that Ezekiel expected the name Magog to be understood by his Jewish readers as a real nation, not as an abstract symbol of evil. In his commentary on the Torah, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Dr J H Hertz, the late chief rabbi of the British Empire wrote: “Magog - the Scythians, whose territory lay on the borders of the Caucasus” (a mountain range in western Russia).

The Jewish-Christian scholar Dr Alfred Edersheim, in Bible History - Old Testament identified Magog as the Scythians.

This agrees with Yerushalmi Megillah 3:9 which renders Magog as the Goths a group of nomadic tribes who destroyed the Scythians and made their homes in Scythian territory. Southern Russia occupies this area today.


A highly acclaimed Jewish commentary on Ezekiel, published in 1980 by the ArtScroll Tanach Series, says: “The various traditions concerning the identity of Magog, who in Genesis 10:2 is listed among the sons of Noah's son Japheth, tend to place the land of Magog in what today is southwest Russia - the Caucasian region, which lies between the Black and Caspian Seas... This is in agreement with Yerushalmi Megillah 3:9 which renders Magog as “the Goths,” a group of nomadic tribes who destroyed the Scythians and made their homes in Scythian territory... Our identification of Magog as Caucasia, which was at one time inhabited by the Goths, is based on the assumption that the land of Magog is named after Japheth's son.”

The Ezekiel commentary noted that Rabbi Chisdai Ibn Shaprut wrote to a Caucasian kingdom in southern Russia which converted to Judaism in the 8th century AD in which he addresses the king as: “prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal.” This salutation indicates they had a tradition these countries were indeed located in Russia.

This Ezekiel commentary concludes: “In this light one may understand an oral tradition passed down from the Vilna Gaon, that when the Russian navy passes through the Bosporus (that is, on the way to the Mediterranean through the Dardanelles) it will be time to put on Sabbath clothes (in anticipation of the coming of the Mashiach). Josephus, who lived at the time of Saint Paul, wrote a definitive history of the Jewish people called the Antiquities of the Jews. The historian Josephus identified Magog in these words: Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.” 

The various traditions of Magog generally agree on its location. They place it generally in the Caucasian region, lying between the Black and Caspian Seas. This includes Asia Minor, central Asia (the southern regions of the former Soviet Union) and southern Russia. Today Islam dominates much of this region. Further migration to the north means that Magog could also encompass all of Russia. This is confirmed by the fact that Gog, the leader of the invasion, is of the land of Magog. It is impossible to imagine an invasion from the area of the CIS led by any other nation than Russia.

Conclusive evidence for identifying the land of Magog as including Russia along with the rest of the CIS (the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union) lies in its geographical location as viewed from Israel, for Ezekiel’s description of Magog is that it is: “in the uttermost parts of the north.” Ezekiel puts great emphasis on this by saying it 3 times (Ezekiel 38:6, 15, 39:2). There is only one nation that is literally to the “uttermost north” of Israel - Russia. The Hebrew word that qualifies “north” means either “uttermost” or “extreme.” You need only to look at a map to verify this exact geographical fix.

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