One cannot do justice to Richardson’s work on ‘Gog’ in Mideast Beast unless his script is carefully copied word for word. However, this section will uncover a small sampling of Richardson’s heavily notated work which stands to convince the strongest of critics against Turkey as the Biblical Magog of Ezekiel 38:
DOES MAGOG REFER TO TURKEY? In conducting the research for this chapter, I consulted numerous reputable Bible atlases, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and commentaries, and compared them to a large sampling of popular Bible prophecy books. The discrepancies between these references and the prophecy books were shocking. While practically every popular prophecy book or treatment of Ezekiel places Magog in Russia, this position is almost never given serious credence in the more scholarly reference works. While some say it is not possible to know the location of Magog with any certainty, the overwhelming majority say that Magog likely refers to modern-day Turkey. Consider the following sampling of reference works and scholars who support the Turkish-Magog position. As you do, ask yourself why this view is utterly ignored in virtually every popular prophecy book on this subject:
– Old Testament scholar Daniel I. Block, in the New International Commentary on Ezekiel, says, “It seems best to interpret Magog as a contraction of an original mât Gugi, ‘land of Gog,’ and to see here a reference to the territory of Lydia in western Anatolia [Turkey].”
– The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary states, “Magog, possibly meaning ‘the land of Gog,’ was no doubt in Asia Minor [Turkey] and may refer to Lydia.”
– The IVP Bible Background Commentary lists Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Togarmah as “sections or peoples in Asia Minor” [Turkey].
– The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, under the entry for “Magog,” states, “It is clear that Lydia [Turkey] is meant, and that by ‘Magog,’ we must understand, ‘the land of Gog.’”
– The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary places Magog in Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey.
– The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It seems more probable that … Magog should be identified with Lydia [Turkey]. On the other hand, as Mosoch and Thubal were nations belonging to Asia Minor, it would seem from the text of Ezechiel that Magog must be in that part of the world. Finally, others with Josephus identify Magog with Scythia, but in antiquity this name was used to designate vaguely any northern population.”
– The Holman Bible Atlas places Magog in Turkey.
– The New Moody Atlas of the Bible also places Magog in Turkey.
– The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible places Magog in Turkey.
– The IVP Atlas of Bible History places Magog in Turkey.
Now let’s consider some of the historical sources that support this position:
– MAIMONIDES, also known as Rambam, the revered Jewish sage, in Hichot Terumot, identified Magog as being in Syria on the border of Turkey.
– PLINY THE ELDER Pliny the Elder was a first-century Roman military commander, author, naturalist, and philosopher. He spoke of a city called “Bambyce, otherwise called Hierapolis; but of the Syrians, Magog.” Ancient Heirapolis sat on the border of modern-day Turkey and Syria; thus, according
to Pliny, so did Magog. 4
And the list goes on!
With Magog satisfied, some may still object to a Turkish interpretation because of Ezekiel’s reference to “Rosh” as in “the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal“ – surely that must be “Russia”, right? Richardson defers to Old Testament scholar Daniel I. Block:
Block acknowledges the need to translate rosh as a noun, but also recognizes that it should be translated according to its normal usage throughout the Bible as a reference to “chief,” as well as its appositional relationship to the other names in the text. Block’s translation reads as follows: “Set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, chief of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:3)….
While Block’s translation is now widely accepted by a vast majority of scholars, most prophecy teachers are not aware of this, and still clinging to the outdated view.5
So what about the other cities, you may ask — Tubal and Meshech?
AND TUBAL In keeping with its Russian-centric interpretation of Ezekiel 38, the Scofield Study Bible identifies Meshech as the city of Moscow, and Tubal as Tobolsk, a city in central Russia. This position was followed by numerous prophecy books for many years, but because of the complete lack of any historical support for this position, today it has been abandoned by virtually all. Following is a partial list of reference works that place both Meshech and Tubal in the region of modern-day Turkey:
– Holman Bible Atlas
– Oxford Bible Atlas
– IVP New Bible Atlas
– The IVP Atlas of Bible History
– New Moody Atlas of the Bible
– Zondervan Atlas of the Bible
– Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary
– The Macmillan Bible Atlas
– Baker Bible Atlas
It is important to note that today, nearly all scholars identify both Meshech and Tubal as relating to modern-day Turkey. As we have stated throughout our study, to properly identify Magog, the homeland of Gog, we must first identify both Meshech and Tubal. Because both of these areas would have been understood by Ezekiel to be found in the region of modern Turkey, we can also deduce that Magog is also a reference to Turkey.6
The other nations in the confederacy of Gog have also been similarly analyzed within Mideast Beast, and overwhelmingly point to the Islamic nations.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Many scholars see Ezekiel’s list as detailing only one major nation from each corner of the compass as indicating that Ezekiel’s list is a non-comprehensive summary…. Is it possible that Russia will participate in the last-days invasion? Yes, but nowhere is this ever expressly prophesied in Scripture. To discuss this possibility would be nothing more than speculation. As we have said from the beginning of this book, as students of the Scriptures, our end-time perspective should emphasize that which the Scriptures emphasize, and where they are silent, we should remain silent or use extreme caution. Because this prophecy so clearly emphasizes Turkey as the head of the coming Antichrist’s invasion of Israel, it would seem quite reasonable for Bible students to watch Turkey very carefully. Of course, in light of the great debate and wide range of opinion that has surrounded this passage for thousands of years, in our watchfulness, we must also remain humble and cautious. As always, it is God who knows best. 7
Could it be that due to a misunderstanding of Ezekiel 38, some Christians are praying against one of the only oppositional forces attempting to defeat ISIS? God forbid. Surely, I believe that Russia will fight against the West, and other NATO countries – but justifiably so.
These are difficult times, but as Christians we need to pray to be on “the right side” of the battle. Let us add our prayers to the chorus of those co-laboring with the Lord declaring, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…“(Matthew 6:10a) Let our conviction follow that of former US President Abraham Lincoln:
During the war, Lincoln overheard someone remark that he hoped “the Lord was on the Union’s side.” Lincoln responded with this sharp rebuke:
I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.
Lastly, Richardson reveals that the epic battle of Gog, is none other than the notorious Battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19. He contends that Gog is the Jewish word for “Antichrist”. Perhaps this will be the subject of another blog. Until then, happy reading!
¹ Richardson, Joel (2012-06-08). Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist (p. 203). Kindle Edition.
² Ibid., 203
³ Ibid., 203-07
4 Ibid., 205-06
5 Ibid., 214
6 Ibid., 215-16
7 Ibid., 220