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"Gog = Russia" is a false prophecy

Reader comment on item: Middle East threats, American retreat
in response to reader comment: The Gog Magog War

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), Sep 26, 2014 at 16:16

Hi, Lujack

I'm trying to catch up with some of these unanswered posts.

You seem intent, on putting "Russia" into Ezekiel 38-38, when, indeed, it is not there. The "Russia" craze gained tremendous ground about around the time of the Jesus Movement. Much of this fervor was no doubt generated by Chick Tracts. Jack Chick, in turn, drew his theme from earlier interpreters of a particular bent:

"Those who found Russia in Ezekiel 38 rested their case in part on the
phrase "chief prince" in verse 3, a translation of the Hebrew nesi
rosh. The editors of the 1611 King James Bible rendered "rosh" as
"chief," but later scholars argued that it was a proper name and that
the phrase should be translated "prince of Rosh". […]

"[German Hebraicist] Gesenius, whose Old Testament lexicon of
1828 long stood as a standard reference work, viewed "Rosh" not
only as a proper name but as an early form of the word "Russia". In
another step that would prove highly influential for prophecy
interpretation, he also claimed that "Meshech" and "Tubal" were
present day Moscow and the Siberian city of Tobolsk (Boyer, 1992,
154).

"While certainly not an uncontested claim among scholars, the contention that Rosh was Russia made intuitive sense to many lay people not only because of the similarity in sound but also because Russia was definitively north of Palestine (as described in Ezekiel 38:15 – see the quote at the beginning of this paper) and in a position to attack the Holy Land."

-- http://www.acme-journal.org/vol6/JDi.pdf

As you can see, this is a very recent understanding, hailing back to the "Adventist" days during which the Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists and the forerunners of the Jehovah's Witnesses and others were peddling their end-times scenarios. "Rosh" (which does not mean and never has meant "Russia") was mis-translated, because those early adventists needed a contemporary country to fill the place in their predictions. Britain, or Germany of course, could not be implicated; because those theologians were largely English- and German-speaking. The ball therefore landed in Russia's court. Turkey, which at the time was the Ottoman Empire, was not even considered because it was in such a state of decay.

Most Evangelicals today are products, to some degree or another, of the Jesus Movement; and of pseudo-prophets such as Hal Lindsay and Jack Chick. Their predictions drew from those adventist-era theologians; but their vitality came from the Cold War. One would think that they would have changed their tune with the fall of the Soviet Union; but alas, Russia has been resurrected as a world bogeyman. Few believe that it actually is, seeing that it has a gross domestic product (PPP) of less than a sixth that of the US; but reality has seldom had much of an impact on people with deeply entrenched prejudices.

Is Russia north of Israel? Yes, it is: above Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the Ukraine. In Ezekiel's day, it did not exist. "Russia" came about during the Middle Ages, named after a Scandanavian tribe called the "Rus". Curiously, the kingdom set up by the Rus was not even in Russia, but in what is now the Ukraine; its capital was Kiev. Also curiously, Israel didn't exist during the days of the Rus either.

What is now Turkey, on the other hand, contained in Ezekiel's day nearly all the countries mentioned by the prophet: "Magog" corresponded, by its association with other sons of Japheth, to Anatolia. Javan = Ionia, or the West Coast of Turkey; Tiras is usually placed at Troas or Thrace; Gomer was the Cimmerrii of the Pontic coast of Turkey; Meshech and Tubal were in Cappadocia, and Madai was in Kurdistan (mainly southeastern Turkey). It requires a real vacation from history, to place Magog anywhere other than Turkey.

Gog is described in Ezekiel as ruling in the land of Magog (Anatolia), and being the "chief prince" of Meshech and Tubal (in Central Anatolia). This Gog was the historical Gyges or Gugu, the founder of the ruling dynasty of Lydia in Ezekiel's time; and Lydia was located in the western part of modern Turkey -- including the area of the modern capital, Ankyra.

The United States is on the decline? Have you noticed how Russia is doing? GDP growth there, between January and July, 2014, was 0.7%; and their inflation rate was 7.8%. Their economy is based on petroleum and natural gas, an area in which they have just been surpassed by the US.

Now let's look at Turkey: GDP growth was 4% in 2013, and is forecast to average 6.7% between 2011 and 2017. Their inflation rate is a mere 5-6%. Their per capita GDP was $19,080 in 2013, nearly as much as the $23,589 of Russia. Their economy is extremely diversified, being mainly in textiles, food processing, autos, electronics, tourism and mining. Far from comparing unfavorably with the US, Russia is likely to be surpassed by Turkey in a few years.

Finally, consider that Ezekiel 38-39 does not say anywhere that "Gog, the land of Magog, Chief Prince of Mesech and Tubal" is a major world power. It simply says it is a country that will attack Israel after the Jewish people have returned to their land and become prosperous.

Prophecies are not intended to be understood, until the time of their fulfillment is at hand. In this case, the time of fulfillment was not in the 1830s, when the "Russia" doctrine came into being, nor in the 1960s, when Jack Chick began publishing his comic tracts. At the earliest, it will be fulfilled in the coming years. Those earlier interpretations were based on a world that no longer exists.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (41) on this item

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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