War of Gog and Magog – Appendices
Due to the length of the article on the War of Gog and Magog the author decided to place these appendices in this article. (The interested reader may refer to both the main article and appendices using different tabs on the internet browser).
This article provides detailed information on the following topics:
- Josephus – Identification of Nations.
- 4 Craftsmen – Analysis of Verses.
- 10 Plagues of this war.
Appendix 1 – Interpretation of Josephus
Josephus, a 1st century historian, in his book (Antiquities 1:6) identifies some of the descendants of Japheth using his knowledge of world history at that time. The following table lists the names of the nations from Genesis chapter 10, identification by Josephus, current name of the country, and references from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud.
Although his descriptions are different from those of the Talmud and Midrash the author will attempt to reconcile a secular historical opinion with classical religious texts albeit with limitations. For example Josephus identifies Gomer with France but the Talmud with Germania. However this difference may be reconciled because France and Germany share a border and both countries were ruled by warring tribes until the conquest of France by Julius Caesar. By contrast Rome only occupied parts of Germania.
Josephus links Magog with the Scythians who lived in the Ukraine area but their empire came to an end in the 2nd century of the Common Era. With migration of populations we see that Russia may be identified with Magog especially since the Jerusalem Talmud links Magog with the Goths who originated in Germany and spread into Russia as far south as the Black Sea.
The identification of Spain as the country of Tuval by Josephus is unusual because the Talmud and Midrash locate Tuval in Turkey. Josephus identifies Mesech with Cappadocia in central Turkey which agrees with the Talmud and Midrash.
In addition he identifies Togarmah with the Phrygians who lived in Turkey who were later absorbed by the Byzantine Empire and after that the Ottoman Turks. By contrast the Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash link Togarmah with Germania.
Appendix 2 – Analysis of Verses
The Midrash (Numbers Rabbah 14:1) lists the craftsmen using the order of the verse in Psalms 60:9, “Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, Ephraim is the strength of my head and Judah is my lawgiver.”The Midrash indentifies these craftsmen by their location or tribe and associated verse as follows:
|Location or Tribe
|Elijah the prophet
|1 Kings 17:1
|Messiah son of Joseph
|Anointed for war
|Messiah son of David
Elijah the Prophet
The bible (1 Kings 17:1) indentifies Elijah as a resident of Gilead, “Elijah the Tishbite of the settlers of Gilead spoke to Ahab.”
Messiah son of Joseph
The Midrash quotes Psalms 80:3 to identify the Messiah son of Joseph, “Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh arouse Your (divine) might, and it is for You (Hashem) to save us.” Although the verse mentions two other tribes, the tribe of Manasseh is mentioned closest to divine assistance. It is interesting to note that the verse only lists descendants of Rachel, the mother of Joseph, indicating that support for the Messiah son of Joseph may not be equally felt among the tribes of Israel. The Midrash quotes Deuteronomy 33:17 which is the blessing of Moses to the descendants of Joseph as a reference to the one anointed for war. The verse reads in a paraphrased fashion, “Joseph’s descendants are given sovereignty and majesty. With his strength (i.e. military might) he shall gore nations to the ends of the earth through the myriads of Ephraim and thousands of Manasseh.”
Anointed for War
The commentators on this Midrash point out that the priest anointed for war must come from the tribe of Levi. However this Midrash identifies the one anointed for war from the tribe of Manasseh. They explain that the father of this priest will come from Levi and his mother from Manasseh. In the opinion of the author, the Midrash emphasizes the one anointed for war is from the tribe of Ephraim to indicate that he may influence the Messiah son of Joseph to enter the war prematurely as a result of overconfidence in his military.
Messiah son of David
Although this section of Midrash did not quote a verse for the Messiah son of David, the author quotes Genesis 49:10 which speaks of the messiah and his role as law giver, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law giver from his descendants, even when Shiloh (reference to the messiah based upon Sanhedrin 98b) comes, and to him will be an assembly of peoples.”
Appendix 3 – Ten Plagues
Midrash Tanchuma Parshat Bo 4 links the ten plagues of the exodus to 10 divine interventions in the war of Gog and Magog. The following table lists the plagues, verse numbers in Exodus, corresponding miracle in the war and associated verse number in the prophets.
|Blood of slain
|Destruction of land
|Desolation of land
|Destruction of army
|Hail and floods
|Birds, wild animals
|Killing of Firstborn
|11:1-8 and 12:29-30
|Killing of nobles
The following are the verse from the prophets with a brief explanation. For ease of reading the author has in some cases paraphrased the verses.
Joel 3:3 – “I (Hashem) will perform signs in the heavens and on the earth namely blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.”
Although the connection is direct with the word blood in both contexts the meanings are different. In Egypt the Nile turned to blood to punish the Egyptians for worshipping the Nile and for throwing the male babies of the Israelites into the Nile. The prophet Joel refers to the blood of the slain on the war of Gog and Magog (Abarbanel on Joel 3:3).
Isaiah 66:6 – “There is a tumultuous sound from the city, a sound from the Temple, the voice of Hashem applying retribution to His enemies.”
In this case the connection is not literal rather conceptual, meaning that Hashem will not use frogs for this retribution but some other form of sound disturbance to frighten the enemy. Redak explains that this verse describes the defeat of Gog and his allies through Hashem’s intervention and relates to Zachariah 14:3.
Isaiah 34:8 – “For it is a day of vengeance for Hashem, a year of retribution for the plea of Zion.”
Isaiah 34:9 – “The streams (of Edom) shall become tar. Its dust into sulfur and land shall become burning pitch.”
In this chapter Isaiah predicts the destruction of Edom, the archenemy of the Israelites at the time of the messiah. In addition to the defeat of Gog and his allies Hashem will destroy the lands of Edom as retribution for the crimes against the Israelites. As in the case of frogs the connection to Egypt is conceptual and not literal.
Isaiah 34:11 – “The pelican and owl shall roam (the destroyed land of Edom) together with the night owl and raven.”
In this verse the prophet continues with the destruction of lands of Edom where wild birds roam. As in the case of lice the connection to Egypt is not literal because in the plague of Egypt the wild animals attacked the Egyptians. In the case of Edom the land is desolate where wild birds flourish.
Ezekiel 38:22 – “I (Hashem) will judge him (Gog) with pestilence and with blood.”
In this case the connection is the same word pestilence (דבר) with a difference in the victim, In Egypt the livestock and in the war Gog and his army.
Zachariah 14:12 – “This shall be the plague wherewith Hashem will smite all the nations who besieged Jerusalem. His flesh will waste away while he still stands on his feet; his eyes will waste away in their sockets; and his tongue shall waste away in his mouth.”
In this verse the prophet predicts that Hashem will destroy the forces of Gog and his allies with a debilitating plague where the soldiers decompose which is similar to the effects of a nuclear bomb. In this case the connection is conceptual with both plagues involving skin. However the boils of Egypt were less severe because the Egyptians survived after the plague.
Ezekiel 38:22 – “I (Hashem) will judge him (Gog) with pestilence, blood, rain bringing floods, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone … upon him, his hordes, and the many people with him.”
Here the prophet Ezekiel continues on the theme of destruction mentioned in connection with pestilence as discussed above. While similar in concept to the hail of Egypt this destruction is more severe because it includes floods and brimstone which will destroy the armies of Gog. In fact the Midrash Exodus Rabbah 12:7 points out that after Moses prayed to end the plague of hail the verse states (Exodus 9:33), “The thunder and hail ceased and the rain did not reach the earth” and in a spiritual sense this hail will return in the war of Gog and Magog.
Ezekiel 39:17 – “Hashem commands Ezekiel (literally son of man): Say to every bird and beast of the field to come, … eat flesh, and drink blood in the great slaughter of Hashem.
In this verse the prophet continues with the destruction of the army of Gog and his allies. The prophet predicts that birds and wild animals will consume the flesh and blood of the defeated army. Although the birds are reminiscent of the locusts of Egypt, since both creatures have wings, the plagues are different. With Gog the birds will consume flesh and in Egypt the locusts of Egypt destroyed crops and vegetation.
Isaiah 34:11 – “Hashem shall stretch over it a line of emptiness, and weights of desolation.”
In this verse the prophet continues with the destruction of lands of Edom where the words empty (תהו) and desolation (בהו) refer to the darkness of creation (Genesis 1:2) “The earth was empty (תהו) and desolate (בהו)”. In this case the darkness is not explicitly mentioned in the verse in Isaiah; rather it is inferred from the verse in Genesis. In a literal sense the darkness may refer to the aftermath of the war with smoke from bombs or missiles.
Killing of Firstborn
Ezekiel 32:30 – “The nobles of the North and all of the Zidonians will descend with the slain and will be ashamed when they are destroyed in spite of their might.”
In chapter 32 Ezekiel predicts the destruction of Egypt by the king of Babylon (ibid. 32:11). At a literal level this chapter refers to Egypt of the first temple era more than 2,500 years ago. However the Midrash finds an allusion to the war of Gog and Magog in the later verses of this chapter especially verses 26 which refers to Meshech and Tubal and verse 29 which mentions Edom. Although the quoted verse does not mention the killing of the first born, the Midrash extends this verse to the War of Gog and Magog which equates the nobles of this war to the firstborn of Egypt.