Gog and the Land of Magog

Ezekiel 38-39


By Dr. John Hoole


I have watched certain passages in the Bible that speak about Russia for many years now. When God pays attention to a nation and it’s behavior, I believe He wants us to pay attention too.


So, with the attack of Russia against Ukraine, could that also be foreshadowed in the Bible? I believe so. With the rhetoric of Vladmir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, I think we are witnessing the desire of Putin to revive the former Soviet Union.


 What is taking place before our eyes today will set the stage for the eventual fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39.


Let's read the first 6 verses again.


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.


In these six verses, we find 10 names that may not be especially familiar to you. With the information about these names in the rest of chapters 28 & 29 you might say that this list of names is God’s 10-most-wanted list.


What’s in a name?


Few if any of the current nations are mentioned in the Bible by their contemporary names, but those people and nations are still here.


Have you ever wondered why the Biblical prophets always seem to refer to various people by such strange names? It’s actually our fault. We keep changing the names of things.


There are a number of cities that have changed their name during their history. The city of Byzantium was later named Constantinople, and is today called Istanbul.  Down in Florida, we once had a place called Cape Canaveral, which was changed to Cape Kennedy…then back to Cape Canaveral. Also, Salem to Jebus to Jerusalem.


But we do not change the names of our ancestors. So, if you are the prophet Isaiah and were called upon to speak of the Persians over a century before they emerged as an empire, how would you refer to them? You would speak of them as the descendants of Elam, the forebears of the Persians.


Despite some controversies, the participants in the battle prophesied by Ezekiel 38 & 39 are well identified.    Just who are the people represented here by these ancient tribal names? Since many of the nations named in this prophecy are no longer identified as such, we need to explore which modern-day countries are counted among these nations.


All of us are not only descendants of Adam and Eve, but also from Noah and his wife. Noah and his three sons and their wives repopulated the entire Earth after the flood. The genealogical records of Noah and his sons are listed in Genesis 10, and what is listed there is  often called by Biblical scholars, the Table of Nations. This is a list of the patriarchal founders of seventy nations.


The following chapter – chapter 11 – is where we find the division of these people groups who dispersed according to their languages.


At least eight of the 10 names on God’s “10-most-wanted” list are found in Genesis 10.


Genesis 10:1-2 NKJV


1    Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood.

2    The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.


These verses, and the ones that follow, describe the repopulating of the earth following the flood. Although we are given the seven sons of Japheth in verse 2, they are also a table of the tribes and nations they fathered.


This was true of all the sons of Noah. Let me show you a chart with 3 or 4 generations following Noah.


Here are the descendants of Ham. You will notice that two of his sons are mentioned in Ezekiel 38. I am showing the names of those on “God’s 10-most-wanted-list” in Green.


Let me continue for two more generations. The two sons of Raamah are also mentioned in Ezekiel 38. They are not among the 10 names we already have seen. However, they are mentioned later in the 38th chapter, but are not part of God’s 10-most-wanted list.


Shem had 5 sons – I show you only three of them on the chart. Persia is one of the 10 names in Ezekiel 38. Their ancestor was Elam – a name found 30 times in the Bible.


I show Arphaxad to show the lineage of Abraham. Abraham was 8 generations after Arphaxad – 10 generations from Noah.


Now let’s look at the descendants of Japheth. You will notice that 5 of “God’s 10 most wanted list” are found here.


•  Tubal, Meshech, Gomer, Magog and Togarmah.


You now see – in green – 8 of the ten names we read in Ezekiel 38. It was customary in ancient times for the descendants of a man to adopt his name for their tribe. Genesis 10:5 reinforces this thought. Here we have it said about the sons of Ham.


Genesis 10:5 NKJV


5    From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.


From these – Gomer, Magog, Tubal, Meshech and others, “from these” families and nations sprung. Historians and Bible students have been able to trace the movements of most of these tribes. And now we can know where their descendants can be found today.


Let’s see if we can identify these names on God’s “10-most-wanted” list.




Let’s read once more the first two verses of the prophecy by Ezekiel.


Ezekiel 38:1-2 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,


The first name that appears on God’s “10-most-wanted” list is the strange name of GOG. There are four things we can say about Gog.


1.   Gog is a person, not a place.


Ezekiel says that Gog is “of the land of Magog.” It also says that he is the “prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.” This clearly identifies Gog as a ruler or prince of nations.


•  Personal pronouns are used of him. (vss. 2-4, 6, 11, 13-17, 39:1-7)


•  He has a mind and thinks thoughts and makes decisions. (38:8-9, 11, 15-16)


•  He goes from place to place like other people do.  (38:8-9, 11, 15, 16)


2.   Gog is the leader of this invasion into Israel.


In Ezekiel 38 & 39, the name Gog appears eleven times, more than any other name that is mentioned in these two chapters. This leads me to believe that Gog is the leader or key figure in this invading force.


3.   Third, although Gog could be the person's name, it is probably a title.


Gog is a term like President or General or Kaiser or Czar. It is probably the title of a leader in the end-times, who personifies the evil forces who gather against Israel to destroy her.


Why do I say Gog could be a name rather than a title? I say that because there actually is one Hebrew named GOG.


1 Chronicles 5:4 NKJV


4 The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, …


We know nothing about this son of Joel, who was a son of Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.


4.   Fourth, we know that Gog is from the land of Magog.


Verse 2 said he is from the land of Magog and rules over Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. To discern the precise land from which Gog arises, we must identify the land of Magog.




Gog is the leader of the invasion of the land of Israel, and He is said to be from the land of Magog.


The proper noun, Magog, is used four times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. We find it twice in the two chapters we are considering today in Ezekiel. The other two times are in the genealogies of Genesis 10, and 1 Chronicles 1:5.  In each of these two passages, Magog is shown to be the son of Japheth.


As we read earlier in Genesis 10, the fact that Magog is listed among the table of nations provides a basis for tracing the movement of these early descendants of Noah.


If we are able to find where these people and places were in the sixth century B.C., then we will be able to trace who would be their modern antecedents today. There are a number of historians from ancient times that help us identify Magog.


Flavius Josephus, the 1st-century Jewish historian writes:


“Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.” (Antiquities 1.6.1)


Ancient history tells us a great deal about the northern nomads called the Scythians. We know that the Scythians were a cruel, warlike people who mastered the art of horsemanship. They were among the earliest mounted archers in antiquity.  The Greek philosopher, Plato, who lived about 150 years after Ezekiel, says the Scythians could shoot as easily with the left as with the right hand.


One of the earliest references to Magog was by Hesiod, who also identified Magog with the Scythians, who lived in the southern parts of what we today call Russia. Hesiod lived in the 7th century BC, and was a contemporary of Ezekiel.


In the fifth century BC, the historian Herodotus lived. He is known as the “Father of History.” He wrote extensively about the Scythians, and how they terrorized the southern steppes of what is Russia today from the 10th to 5th century B.C.


The people of Magog (Scythians) were somewhat nomadic, and populated the region north of the Black and Caspian seas eastward, through central Asia to the borders of China.


Here is a very interesting fact. In an eighth century writing, the Great Wall of China was called: Sud Yagog et Magog – meaning the Rampart of Gog and Magog. In Arabic, the Great Wall of China is called “the wall of al Magog.” The great wall was built, in part, to keep out the invading armies from Magog.


This area has long been known as the southern steppes of Russia or central Asia. Today the land of Magog includes 5 of the former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and possible even northern parts of modern Afghanistan. All of these nations have one thing in common today – Islam. And within their borders they have a combined population of 61 million. It is not difficult for me to imagine a scenario where these Muslim nations could be drawn into an end-time invasion of Israel.


The Greek word for Scythian is Skuthes. And this word occurs in the New Testament. In Colossians 3:11, the apostle Paul stresses the fact that all believers in Jesus Christ, regardless of their backgrounds, are one in Christ.  In the previous verse, he speaks of a "renewal" in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew.


Colossians 3:10-11 NKJV


10    and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

11    where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.


      This shows that even in the first century the Scythians were considered to be savage people.


So, we have a family of people that, during the time of Ezekiel, lived in what is the southern parts of the old Soviet Union, from Ukraine to China. The descendants of Magog are more in position to fulfill Ezekiel's prophecy than at any previous time. Keep your eyes on the land of Magog.