Gog and Magog

Revelation identifies Gog and Magog as the nations from the four corners of the Earth that attack the saintsThe prophet Ezekiel received a vision of an invading army composed of regional nations that attacked Israel from the north. The force was led by “Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” - (KJV). But before it succeeded, this army was destroyed by Yahweh “on the mountains of Israel.”

Ezekiel’s vision identifies several of the nations that attacked Israel, including ones known from history, but also several whose identities remain uncertain, possibly including “Rosh” - (Translated as “chief” in the King James Version) - (Ezekiel 38:1-9).

Several interpretations identify this ‘rosh’ with modern Russia because of the perceived similarity in pronunciation. Regardless, the book of Revelation identifies “Gog and Magog” as the “nations” from the “four corners of the Earth” - (Revelation 20:7-10).


The nations listed in Ezekiel are derived from the “Table of Nations” from the tenth chapter of Genesis, the descendants of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth - (Genesis 10:1-32).

The geographic ranges of the nations listed in Ezekiel are from the north as far as the Caucasus Mountains, south to the Arabian Peninsula, east to the Iranian plateau, and west to the Aegean Sea and possibly Spain (Tarshish).

Genesis places Japheth’s descendants in the regions to the north and west of Palestine (Asia Minor, Aegean), the offspring of Ham in Africa, Mesopotamia, and Arabia, and the descendants of Shem in northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Arabia. The “Table of Nations” includes seventy nations to symbolize the totality of human civilization.

In Ezekiel, the invading force is composed of people descended from Japheth and Ham. This includes nations from the north (MagogGomer), east (Persia), and south (Libya, Ethiopia), as well as groups from the “ends” of the earth. The geographic directions are from the perspective of Israel. To the west, Palestine is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. The nations listed were known to Israel.

The entity called “Gog” is the leader of this force, not a separate nation. He is from the “land of Magog” and the “chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, identifies “Magog” with the Scythians located north of the Black Sea - (Antiquities, I.vi.1).

The name “Gog” resembles the name of the most famous king of Lydia, Gyges or Gugu. If this is correct, “Magog” may refer to the kingdom of Lydia in western Asia Minor.

While “Magog” has not been identified with certainty, “Meshech” and “Tubal” are known to historians from ancient Assyrian literature, the tribes of Mushki and Tabal from central and eastern Anatolia near the headwaters of the Tigris River.


Historically, attacking armies invaded Israel from the north due to the geographic and climatic conditions of the region, especially along the “Fertile Crescent,” an arc of arable land extending from Palestine north to the southern boundaries of the Taurus Mountains, then east along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and finally ending in Mesopotamia.

On the east, Palestine was bordered by an arid region that blended into the vast Arabian Desert and could not support any attempt to cross it by a large force. Both traders and invaders traveled to and from Palestine along the Fertile Crescent with its ready supply of food and water. Regardless of their place of origin, armies and trade goods arrived in Palestine from the north.

The frequent connection in the Hebrew Bible of the northerly direction with invading forces reflects the direction from which they arrived in Israel, not necessarily their point of origin. Babylon and Persia lay to the east, yet both attacked by marching northwestward along the Euphrates River, then southward along the Mediterranean coast.

It does not follow from the reference to the “uttermost parts of the north” that “Gog” is Russia simply because it is north of Palestine. The phrase refers to the furthest reaches of the north from the perspective of Israel.

The books of IsaiahJeremiah, and Ezekiel all describe Babylon as a nation from the “north,” from the “uttermost parts of the north,” and from the “uttermost parts of the earth,” though it lay to the east of Israel - (Isaiah 14:13, Jeremiah 1:15, 6:22, 25:32, 31:8, 50:41, Ezekiel 26:7).

Gomer” and “Togarmah” were north of Israel, and “Gog” is said to be “from the uttermost parts of the north.” However, the military coalition in Ezekiel also includes nations from the east (Persia) and south - (Cush, Put - Ezekiel 38:6, 38:15, 39:1-2).

In Ezekiel, the stress is not on the direction of the attack, but on how the invading force completely encompasses the land of Israel from all directions - (Ezekiel 38:9, 38:15-16).


The identification of “Rosh” with ‘Rus’ or Russia is based on perceived similarities in pronunciation and spelling. However, the similarities are superficial and do not reflect the Old Testament usage of the Hebrew word rô'sh (Strong’s - #H7218).

Other than for the grandson of Benjamin, rô'sh is not a proper name, and it is not one of the nations listed in Genesis - (Genesis 46:21).

Rô'sh” occurs approximately 600 times in the Bible, and almost always with the basic sense of “head.”  From this are derived metaphorical meanings including “chief, top, beginning, sum, first.” It is the same term used in the Old Testament for the “chief priest” and the “head or first of the year.”

In the relevant passage in Ezekiel, the text reads, “Gog of the land of Gog, CHIEF prince of Meshech and Tubal,” not “Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.” It refers to a rank, not to a nation - (Exodus 12:1-3, 1 Chronicles 27:5, 2 Chronicles 19:11).

Rô'sh” occurs 38 times in Ezekiel, always with the sense of “head.” The book never uses it as a proper name, whether of a person, place, or thing, and the Hebrew noun is spelled differently than the modern Hebrew word for Rus. The two words have only the initial ‘r’ sound in common.


In chapter 20 of Revelation, “Gog and Magog” are named and identified explicitly, and the attacking force is gathered to “the war,” singular. The passage uses language from Ezekiel chapter 38:

  • (Revelation 20:7-10) – “And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall come forth to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, GOG AND MAGOG, TO GATHER THEM TOGETHER to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And THEY CAME UP OVER THE BREADTH OF THE EARTH, AND COMPASSED the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and FIRE CAME DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of FIRE AND BRIMSTONE, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” - (Ezekiel 38:2, 9, 16, 22).

Thus, the army of “Gog and Magog” is identical to the “nations from the four corners of the earth.” This force ascends over the “breadth of the earth to encompass the camp of the saints.” All nations unite to annihilate the “saints.” But God destroys this attacking force with “fire and brimstone,” and Satan is cast into the “lake of fire.”

The term “Gog and Magog” does not refer to a specific country from the north of Israel, but to the gathering of all “nations” to destroy the church.

The verbal allusions to Ezekiel’s prophecy are numerous and clear, and chapter 20 of Revelation identifies this army by the name - “Gog and Magog.”

Revelation presents an all-encompassing vision that divides humanity into two opposing groups - Those who follow the “Lamb” and those who render homage to the “Beast.” The existing world order unites in its rebellion against the “Lamb” and its determination to eradicate his people.

And this attacking for is identical to the “kings of the whole habitable earth and their armies,” the group allied with the “Beast” to oppose Jesus. Before the end of the age, “Gog and Magog” will wage a final “war” of annihilation against the “saints.”



Silence in Heaven

Sorrow Not