The Prophecy Studies Series: The Magog War & Babylon-America’s Demise – Chapter 1
Prophecy Study Series
The Magog War
Editor’s Note: We have already posted an introduction to this series. See LINK HERE.
Chapter 1. Definition of Gog
Who or What is Gog?
This term is found in the Bible for the very first time in First Chronicles 5:4 as the given name of a person, an Israelite in the geneology of Reuben. We do not see it occuring again until Ezekiel’s prophecy starting Chapter 38 where it is used in association with the term “land of Magog” although in the Hebrew it should be better translated as “land of THE Magog” or some rabbi’s who are quite picky translate this as “of the Magog Land.”
So then the opening phrase of verse 2 could be more accurately rendered from the Hebrew as:
“Son of Adam, set your face to Gog of the Magog land”…
We see the term “Gog” show up at the very start of Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezekiel 38 verses 2 and 3 as follows:
V.2 “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.”
V.3 “And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:”
If you check Strong’s Concordance you will find the term in the Hebrew is “Gohg” (See Strong’s #1463). Your English Bibles then are a transliteration of the Hebrew term. Lexographers tell us that the origins of this word are uncertain. but the general meaning of the word is “mountain.” According to the Lexographer, Gesenius, the word was used in ancient times by the Arabians to refer to a geographical area or a region of land as opposed to being used as a title or a name. The idea of Gog being used as a proper name of a person (such as John, Jim or Joe, etc) is of recent origin by interpreters making assumptions.
So, the term “Gog” is not a personal name but rather a descriptive noun indicating a function such as a leader or chieftan or as used in Ezekiel a Senior leader with other leaders underneath him in rank.
The second phrase of verse 2 casts further light on the term, Gog. It reads as follows:
“…the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”
Now some interpreters will argue that the two words “chief prince” should not be translated as a title or position of power, but rather as a place name. How so?
The term “chief” is the word “rosh” (Strong’s #7218 = rosh) and its original root meaning “to shake.”
It is a common word used 598 times and in the KJV it is translated as “head” in 349 instances and 91 times as “chief” in the KJV. It is also translated in the KJV 73 times as “top,” and 14 times as “beginning,” plus 12 times as “company” and 10 times as “captain,” and 6 times as “first” along with 5 times as “principal” and 2 times as “rulers.” There are 36 other instances of usage translated as other, various miscellaneous terms.
The definition of “rosh” has 8 generally different aspects.
1. Head (of man, animals)
2, top, tip (of a mountain)
3. height (of stars)
4. chief, head (of man, city, nation, place, family, priest)
5. head, front, beginning
6, chief, choicest, best
7. head, (of a division, company or band)
8. sum, amount
Lexographer Gesenius tells us that sometimes when used as the title of a position of power it refers to someone with “supreme” power or at the top of a chain of command.
The second term in the second phrase of verse 2 is the word translated as “prince.” (Strongs #5387)
It is the Hebrew word “nasiy” (pronounced nah-see).
The primary definition of this Hebrew word is:
1. One who is lifted up. chief, prince, captain, leader
2. Rising mist or vapor i.e. “clouds.”
Gesenius tells us it was often used of a prince or princely leader and often applied to Kings not merely the sons of the King. Yet it had various usages and was often applied to sons of families as princes or as prince of a whole tribe. The prince of the tribe of Levi was called “nasiy.”
Here again the term refers to a title of positional power, often times in association with blood-line.
The combination of the two words together indicates that Gog refers to someone with a position of Supreme authority or perhaps better put, a Supreme Commander, not only of a military (army) but also of a political
grouping, such as a supreme leader of a group of leaders of nations.
In other words Gog is someone who is a supreme leader of a group of nations and he has authority over the armies (soldiers) of those nations. In other words, he is like a president of a confederation of nation or provinces, perhaps some organization such as a type of NATO.
Now some interpreters will argue against such an interpretation claiming instead that “rosh” is a reference to the nation that today, we call “Russia.” This idea gets derailed by linguists as well as anthropologists and archaeologists.
Linguists are language experts who study the science of languages. They will argue that to try and force the term “rosh” to apply to Russia is a fanciful leap that defies linguistics, although to the casual English user it might seem plausible. Such thinking is due to a myopic view of English as “the” language.
One of today’s top Hebrew scholars who just happens to be a very conservative, evangelical Christian is Dr. Michael S. Heiser. In his book, “Islam and Armageddon he writes about this controversial passage (pages 103-105)
“In my view, the entire premise underlying this speculated reconstruction, that “rosh” is the name of a place is without exegetical foundation, and connecting this grammatically misguided assertion with Russia seems like a “cold war” hermeneutic.”
Heiser goes on to add:
“Ancient Hebrew scribes took the Hebrew manuscripts containing only consonants (Hebrew was originally composed without vowels) and added vowel markings sometime after the fifth century A.D. When they did this, they also had to determine how words in phrases should be combined for accuracy in reading. Hence they added what scholars refer to as ‘accents’ – our equivalent of punctuation. The way the scribes punctuated our disputed phrase nasiy rosh, which is actually two nouns, was that it should read ‘head prince’ or ‘chief prince,’ not ‘prince of Rosh.’
“Some have disputed the above punctuation markings by saying that the scribes errantly linked two nouns together and produced the awkward situation of having a meaning where one noun, (rosh) has to act as an adjective. That both nasiy and rosh are nouns makes the syntax difficult but is neither impossible nor without Biblical precedent. For example, the very common phrase ‘high priest’ is at times expressed with exactly the same construction – two nouns rather than an adjective modifying a noun. Thus in II Kings 25:18 and II Chronicles 19:11 read (kohen harosh; ‘high priest’ or ‘chief priest’). One would not say ‘priest of Rosh’ but ‘chief priest.’
Now Heiser’s notation that such usage is common for such terms as chief priest or high priest simply helps us to realize that the idea that our phrase in question refers to a place name such as Russia is simply invalid, particularly since our term “rosh” is identified with “chief priest.” If we took the logic of those claims “rosh” is Russia, then consider using that same term with priest throughout the Old Testament and we’d have an odd combination as “Russian Priest” or “priest of Russia.”
Other scholars note also that if ‘rosh’ is to be understood as the first in a series of names, the conjunction should precede the term “Meshech.”
Consequently, it seems obvious that ‘rosh’ must therefore be considered as a common noun, appositional to and offering a closer definition and explanation of the Hebrew word nasiy.
So, it seems that the correct view is “the prince, chief of Meshech and Tubal.”
Now opponents of that view who claim “rosh” is a reference to a place would argue otherwise. They point to the Greek Septuagint which clearly takes the idea of rosh being a place, tribe or nation. Aside from that, those who hold such a view simply cite each other’s conclusions with little hermeneutic evidence.
Of course those who claim “rosh” is Russia then go on to make 2 other linguistic mistakes in trying to claim that the term “Meschech” applies to the Russian city of Moscow and the term Tubal is a reference to the Russian city of Tobalsk. Again, linguistic rules are thrown out the window to arrive at such conclusions.
Instead, Meschech and Tubal are a reference to other peoples or tribes. We will examine these and the names of other confederation allies in part 2 of this series of articles, “The Magog Confederation.”