Russia and Her Allies

Ezekiel 38-39


Dr. John Hoole


All of us have been outside and have looked down to see our own shadow on the ground in front of us.  All of us know, however, that the shadow is not us - not our substance. In some ways it resembles us, but in many other ways, not at all. Yet it is a sign. For instance, when you see John Hoole's shadow, you can count of John Hoole being near at hand.


In the same way, coming events often cast their shadow upon this world before they arrive. This is what Jesus called "signs of His coming" or "signs of the times." Future events are beginning to cast their shadow in the world today.


These shadows seem to be everywhere, but nowhere are they more evident than in the current scenes in the Middle East. The alignment of nations is coming together exactly as the Bible prophesied would happen.


The Bible tells us that in the final days, Russia  will join forces with a number of allies who will invade the nation of Israel to take spoil and wipe Israel from the earth.


Last week, we began identifying the players involved in this invasion of Israel. In the first 6 verses of Ezekiel 38, God, through the prophet Ezekiel, presents 10 names of this alliance. As of last week, we have discussed who is represented by the first two on the list. Gog and Magog. We look at the final eight today.


Ezekiel 38:1-6 NKJV


1   Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

2    "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

3 and say, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.

4    I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.

5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;

6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops — many people are with you.




The next name that appears on God's "Top Ten Most Wanted List in Ezekiel 38 is ROSH. There are scholars who disagree on who is represented by this name. Many would say it is indicating the nation of Russia. Others counters by saying, “You can’t establish a fact just because two words are similar.”


I agree that we should not equate an English word with a Hebrew word just because the two words sound somewhat alike. But I do believe we can identify the Hebrew word ROSH with the nation of Russia, and that it is not based upon similarity of sound.


Before examining the historical evidence, let’s look at how this word appears in the various Bible translations.


Ezekiel 38:2 NKJV


2    "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,


Here is how this verse looks in the New International Version (NIV).


Ezekiel 38:2 NIV


2    "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him


Do you notice the difference? The NIV translates the Hebrew word “rosh” as “chief.”  But the NKJV leaves it as a proper name, rather than as an adjective. Other translations that leave ROSH as a name include:  NKJV, NAS, ASV, Ampl., Darby, New Jerusalem Bible, and Young’s Literal Translation. Those translating it as an adjective are: NIV, KJV, RSV and New Living Translation.


Almost all proper and personal names in the Bible had meanings other than identifying a person or place.


For instance:

•  Peter means “a rock.”

•  Abraham means “father of many nations.”

•  Bethlehem means “house of bread.”


The word Rosh in Hebrew simply means – head, chief, first, top, summit. It is a fairly common word and it may surprise you to know that the word ROSH occurs approximately 750 times in the Old Testament.


All of you have heard of Rosh HaShanah.

 In this case, “ROSH, means “first.”

HA means ‘of.”

SHANAH is the Hebrew word for “year.”

ROSHHASHANAH is the Jewish New Year.


So, does Ezekiel’s “Rosh” have any relation to the nation we know today as Russia.


      Wilhelm Gesenius, who died in 1842, was considered by modern Hebrews scholars as one of the greatest Hebrew authorities in recent centuries. He unquestionably believed that ROSH in Ezekiel was a proper noun identifying Russia. I quote him:


“Rosh in Ezekiel is a proper name of a northern nation, mentioned with Meshech and Tubal; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by the Byzantine writers of the tenth century, under the name The Ros, dwelling to the north of the Taurus (Mtns)…and as dwelling on the Volga (river).”


Johann Keil, of the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary of the Old Testament, agrees with Gesenius that Rosh should be translated as a proper noun. I also believe there is considerable historical evidence that a place known as ROSH was very familiar in the ancient world.


While the word had a variety of spellings and forms, it is clear that the same people are in view.


Another source for treating “ROSH” as a name rather than an adjective is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament called the Septuagint version and translated in the third century B.C. This document left ROSH as a place name. This is important because this Old Testament translation from Hebrew into Greek was not that far removed from when Ezekiel wrote his book of prophecy.


Yes, I believe there is evidence that:

1.   The word “ROSH” should be treated as a proper name.

2.   The place this word identifies is the nation of Russia.




The next two names – Meshech and Tubal – seem to be shown as associated with Rosh and Magog. In Ezekiel 38 & 39, these two are always linked. Meshech was the 6th sons of Japheth, the son of Noah and      Tubal was the 5th.


Some Christian writers have taken this word and tried to link it with the city of Moscow. This was popularized by the Scofield Bible (1909). By using the same process, some would say that Tubal is the origin of the Russian city, Tobolsk.


There are also a number of present-day Bible scholars who agree, that these two names point to the cities of Moscow and Tobolsk, such as Dr. David Jeremiah, Tim Lahaye, Joel Rosenberg.


But, is the only evidence to support this conclusion is because of the similarity in their sounds.


In the 5th century B.C., Herodotus identifies Meshech as being the Muschovites.


Josephus writes:  “…the people of his day called Moschevi and Thobelites were founded by Meshech and Tubal.”


Gesenius, the Hebrew scholar wrote:


      “Meshech was founder of the Moschi, a barbarous people, who dwelt in the Moschian Mountains.”


He also wrote that the Greek word “Moschi” is derived from the Hebrew name Meshech and is the source word from which we get Moscow.


One problem arises when investigating other passages in the Bible where Meshech and Tubal are mentioned.


Ezekiel 27:13 tells us that both Meshech and Tubal were traders of many different product.  In the passage, we are told that they traded with Tarshish and Tyre. We know Tyre is located on the Mediterranean Sea, in the modern country of Lebanon.


We are told that the prophet Jonah tried to run away from the command of God to go to Nineveh. He caught a boat at Joppa and was heading to Tarshish. Tarshish is somewhere along the Mediterr-anean Sea. Some scholars point to Spain.


So, wherever Meshech and Tubal are located, it is near trading routes with access to the Mediterranean Sea. That would make it highly difficule that Meshech represents the city of Moscow.


Josephus also identifies them with Cappadocia, which is in central Turkey. Herodotus says they were located southeast of the Black Sea. One document stated that Meshech and Tubal were located near the Black Sea, in what is now Turkey.




We have discussed thus far five of God's 10-most-wanted names in Ezekiel 38 & 39. Verses 5 & 6 will complete the list of allies that will attack Israel under their leader GOG.


Ezekiel 38:5 NIV


5    Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets,


Persia is probably the easiest of all the names to identify. The nation of Persia existed until March 1935, when its name was changed to Iran.




There are two North African nations mentioned in Ezekiel’s list. The first is Cush.


Ancient Cush was called Kusu by both the Assyrians and Babylonians,


            •  Kos or Kas by the Egyptians,

            •  and Nubia by the Greeks.


Some Bible translations, like the KJV, NKJV, NAS, translate this country as Ethiopia. Most, however, do not translate it, leaving it as Cush. The ancient nation of Cush in Ezekiel’s day was the nation directly south of Egypt on the Nile River. Today, the nation that occupies that land is Sudan.


Following a successful military coup-d’éta in 1989, Sudan became a militant Islamic nation. Iran and Sudan today have a very close relationship.




The next ally of Gog mentioned in Ezekiel 38 is called Put or Phut. Like Cush, Put was a son a Ham, Noah’s second son (Genesis 10:6). The name PUT occurs in the Old Testament six times outside Ezekiel 38.


The most commonly accepted placement of Put is modern Libya. In ancient times, it was the land just west of Egypt. An ancient Babylonian inscription records that Nebuchadnezzar did battle with Egypt in his 37th year and penetrated as far as Puta. The Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament, renders the word PUT as Libues.


So, the eighth person on the list is Libya.




Gomer is another son of Japheth. Some place Gomer and all his bands in eastern Europe. Others place them in present-day Turkey




Most Bible versions translate the word “beth.” The NIV and NAS versions leave it as part of the proper name. The word “Beth” means “House,” and most translations render this verse to say “house of Togarmah.”


According to Genesis 10:3, Togarmah was a son of Gomer – or a great-grandson of Noah. Its roots are tied to the Armenian peoples.


Togarmah comes from Sanskrit – “Toka” (tribe) and “Arma” (Armenia). Although Armenia today is a small nation on the east end of the Black Sea, ancient Armenia was much larger, including much of the eastern half of Turkey.


These people were located in northeast Turkey and the area between the Black and Caspian Seas. We have completed our identification of God’s “10-most-wanted” list.


But when you look at our map, all of them are some distance from Israel. None of them border Israel. Also, notice that all but Russia, and possibly Gomer, are Muslim nations today.




As I state at the beginning of this lesson, the alignment of nations involved in this invasion are coming together exactly as the Bible prophesied would happen.


70 years ago, these nations were nowhere close to being a tight nit alliance. Turkey was very close to France and Great Britain. Turkey was an Islamic nation, but leaned westward, having a democratic governance. Today Turkey has turned away and has decided to be close to Russia.


Persia was tied to Great Britain by mutual interest and treaties, and very close to the United States and to Israel. It was hard to imagine that Persia could ever be tied to the Soviet Union.” 90 years later, it’s all changed. Today it is one of the closest allies of Russia. And Iran would jump at a chance to invade and annihilate Israel.


At one time, Libya had been one of the centers of Christianity. One of the early church fathers, Augustine, was from Libya. Today, Russia has great influence in Libya.


Sudan, until a year ago, was very close to Iran, and became a supplier of weapons for Hamas, Islamic Brotherhood and others. More recently, they have joined the Abraham Accord group of Arab countries. But, their government is divided on the issue, and could quickly revert back to its supporting of terrorists.


In any case, you can see that that which seemed impossible 70 years ago is now falling into place. And Putin might be ready to make his move.