The two names first appear together in chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel, but here Magog is a place and not an individual:It's a place that becomes a person. It's a morality tale about the dangers of nationalism, of rendering topography as an Uncle Sam, or a John Bull.Son of man, direct your face towards Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him. Say: Thus said the Lord: Behold, I am against you, Gog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal.Gog's allies - Meshech and Tubal, Persia, Cush and Put, and "Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north" - are all, with the exception of Persia, taken from the Table of Nations. Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Beth Togarmah can be identified with real 8th and 7th century peoples, kings or kingdoms of Anatolia, modern Turkey. "Why the prophet's gaze should have focused on these particular nations is unclear," says Daniel Block in a recent study of Ezekiel 25-48, but suggests that their remoteness and reputation for violence and mystery "made Gog and his confederates perfect symbols of the archetypal enemy, rising against God and his people."
Around the middle of the 2nd century BC, the Sibylline Oracles mention the "land of Gog and Magog" as "situated in the midst of Aethiopian rivers", but in a second mention links it with the "Marsians and Dacians", in eastern Europe; in both cases they are about to receive "woe," and according to Boe, "there can be little doubt about the direct use of Ezekiel's oracles" in their composition. The Book of Jubilees, known from about the same time, mentions Magog as a son of Japheth to whom land is allocated, while Gog is a region on Japheth's borders. 1 Enoch tells how God stirs up the Medes and Parthians (instead of Gog and Magog) to attack Jerusalem, where they are destroyed; an indebtedness to Ezekiel 38-39 has also been asserted. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Messiah will rule "over all the peoples and Magog," and Magog is allocated land next to Gomer, the first son of Japheth. The sole fragment where the two names are combined as "Gog and Magog" is too small to be meaningful. The 1st century Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum is notable for listing and naming seven of Magog's sons, and mentions his "thousands" of descendants.
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, made during this period, occasionally introduces the name of Gog where the Hebrew original has something else. Thus at Numbers 24:7 it replaces Agag, a mysterious but clearly powerful figure, with Gog, and at Amos 7:1 the Greek has Gog as the leader of a threatening locust-like army. The Greek translation of Ezekiel takes Gog and Magog to be synonyms for the same country, a step which paved the way for the Book of Revelation to turn "Gog from Magog" into "Gog and Magog."
By the end of the 1st century, Jewish tradition had long since changed Ezekiel's Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog, the ultimate enemies of God's people, to be destroyed in the final battle. The author of the Book of Revelation tells how he sees in a vision Satan rallying Gog and Magog, "the nations in the four corners of the Earth," to a final battle with Christ and his saints:When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.Ezekiel's Gog from Magog was a symbol of the evil darkness of the north and the powers hostile to God, but in Revelation, Gog and Magog have no geographic location, and instead represent the nations of the world, banded together for the final assault on Christ and those who follow him.
Friday, 13 April 2012