It is interesting to note that many of the countries listed in Ezekiel 38 are actually seen in other portions of scripture. In fact, Genesis 10, which is often referred to as the “Table of Nations” refers to several of these same countries. The first eight verses of Genesis 10 (NASB) tell us:
“…Now these are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.
6 The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 8 Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth…” (emphasis added)
Did you catch all of those similarities to the countries identified by Ezekiel? Let’s take a closer look at some of the main characters detailed by Ezekiel more than 2,500 years ago.
Ezekiel 38:2 details the first of the main characters when he states “…Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him…”. This first person, and yes it is a person not a county, is called Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. Gog as used here would actually be more of a ‘title’ not a specific name. Think of it as you would the title ‘Pharaoh’, ‘Czar’ or ‘President’. So essentially he is the President of Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.
Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal
The Philosophical Dictionary by Voltaire combined with the writings of Josephus in “The Antiquities of the Jews” (Book 1, Chapter 6), give us a clue as to the modern day identity of Magog as they are referred to as the Scythians. Josephus tells us that “Magog founded the Magogians, and the Magogogites were the people called Scythians by the Greeks”. The Scythians were a nomadic tribe who ultimately inhabited what is now referred to as Russia and the “Stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, etc.).
The Masoretic Text and Septuagint both point to Rosh being a specific place. In fact in Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament written in the 19th Century, Rosh was referred to as Russia. This same researcher, Wilhelm Gesenius, identified Meshech as the founder of Moschi (meaning mountains) now referred to as Moscow. Tubal is believed by most to refer to the Tobolsk region in Russia.
The next in our cast of characters is Persia which is now referred to as Iran. In fact, prior to 1935, modern day Iran was actually called Persia.
Cush and Put
Cush and Put are both named in Genesis chapter 10 and were two of the sons of Ham and grandsons of Noah. According to the writings of Josephus, Cush, the son of Ham, was in possession of the lands south of Egypt, specifically modern day Ethiopia and the Sudan. Put, the son of Ham, was referred to as Phut by Josephus and his territory included modern day Libya and most likely Tunisia and Algeria.
Sheba and Dedan
Sheba and Dedan are mentioned as the grandsons of Cush in Genesis 10:7. There is also a reference in Genesis 25:3 naming Sheba and Dedan as two of the grandsons of Abraham. It is not clear exactly which pair of men are the ones referenced by Ezekiel, however, most commentaries identify the countries represented as modern day Saudi Arabia and parts of the Persian Gulf Region.
Beth Togarmah literally means “the house of Togarmah”. There is still some lack of clarity over the exact identity of Togarmah, however the most convincing evidence points to Armenia and parts of modern day Turkey. In fact, there are Assyrian records which refer to modern day Armenia as “the house of Togarmah”. Many commentaries refer to these people as individuals who migrated from Cappdocia (Turkey), which in Ezekiel’s time included a city known as “Tegarma” or “Tagarma”, into Armenia and then up into Turkistan and even further north into Siberia and Mongolia.
Finally we have Gomer. There is much debate over the identity of this country. Voltaire claimed that Gomer was a reference to modern day France or Spain. Some have identified this as other parts of Eastern Europe as Gomer may have inhabited areas of the Rhine and Danube Valleys in Germany. However, one of the most compelling identifications is that the Gomerites were the ancient Cimmerians. The Cimmerians were expelled in 700 BC from the Southern portion of Russia into the land we refer to today as Turkey.
Overall, we can see that all of these ancient characters still exist today and that they are beginning to align together based on their mutual enemy – the nation of Israel. In fact a recent Yahoo! news article mentioned that with the latest unrest occurring in Iraq, the United States has begun to pull it’s citizens out of the country due to safety concerns. This void is giving Russia an opportunity to step into Iraq to “help” provide resources to fill this occupancy vaccuum. This development is especially interesting when coupled with the fact that Iraq is not specifically referred to in Ezekiel 38.
In the fall of 2007, Russia (Rosh) and Iran (Persia) declared a military alliance largely based on their desire to “defend against western aggression”. This alliance has continued to strengthen and expand over the last seven years. In 2014, we have seen a real resurgence and re-strengthening of Russia with the annexation of Crimea and now the border battle with the Ukraine.
Ezekiel does not tell us specifically when this war will happen, but he does give us four clues as to the timing of the event. Specifically verses 8-14 tell us:
- This will happen in future years (latter days).
- The land (Israel) will be recovering from war.
- The residents of the land (Israel) will be gathered from many nations and brought out from the nations.
- The land will be made up of unwalled villages and a peaceful, prospering and unsuspecting people.
However, the current military actions this month in Gaza show clearly that Israel is not currently at peace. Israel is currently at war, not recovering from war. Could a victory in this current military situation lead to Israel being a “land recovering from war”?
It is also interesting to note that Hamas has built tunnels from Gaza into Israel. On July 19, 2014, the New York Times reported that “…Israeli troops have uncovered 13 tunnels from Gaza into Israel since the start of the ground operation, some of them as much as 30 yards underground, with multiple entry points beneath greenhouses and open fields, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said on Saturday. He said that the 13 tunnels, now under Israeli control, were all over the periphery of Gaza and that he believed there were “tens” more…” Could this be the beginnings of “unwalled villages”?
These are exciting times for those awaiting the return of the Messiah! Keep your heart focused on the Lord and your ears listening for that trumpet sound…HE is coming quickly!