Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

09 December 2018

Russia is NOT Rosh, Gog or Magog

Roman Empire
Popular interpretations in the West claim “Rosh” in the book of Ezekiel refers to Russia, therefore the prophet predicted a Russian-led attack against the nation of Israel.  Ezekiel’s had a vision of an invasion of Israel led by “Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:1-2).
    Two arguments are used to support this proposition. First, the perceived similarity of sound and spelling between the “rosh” and ‘Rus’; second, Ezekiel’s description of a hostile nation from the “far north” (Ezekiel 39:2). Furthermore, this belief validates the geopolitical beliefs of some groups.
    But the linguistic evidence demonstrates that any similarity in spelling or pronunciation is superficial. ‘Rosh’ is the common Hebrew noun for “head.”
    Due to geographical conditions, invasions of ancient Palestine normally came from the north regardless of the invader’s place of origin. Invaders from Mesopotamia, for example, traditionally followed the Euphrates or Tigress River to a point to the north of Palestine before turning south to invade. And Russia is by no means the only nation located north of Israel.
What is decisive to this question is how the book of Revelation applies Ezekiel’s prophecy to a global effort by all nations united to annihilate God’s people.
    The American Standard Version translates Ezekiel 38:2, “set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” In contrast, the King James Version reads, “set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”
    In the American Standard Version rosh” is transliterated, not translated, and becomes one of three lands ruled by Gog. In the King James Version chieftranslatesrosh” and combines it with “prince.” This difference is the crux of the matter.
    Rosh” occurs at least six hundred times in the Hebrew Bible and most often means “head.”  Derivative meanings include “chief,” “top,” “sum,” “foremost” and “principal,” all derived from the literal sense “head.”
Rosh” is not a proper name in the Old Testament, with the possible exception of Genesis 46:21 (“Rosh,” a son of Benjamin). Nowhere does the Hebrew Old Testament mention a nation, people, territory or city named “rosh,” the only possible exception being “Rosh” in Ezekiel 38-39.
    Rosh” is the same noun used to name the start of a year or rosh Hashanah, the head of the year,” as well as each new month (rosh chodesh or “new moon” [Exodus 12:2; Numbers 10:10]). Other examples of this sense include “chief” of tribes (Deuteronomy 1:15; 5:23), “chief priest” (2 Kings 25:18; 1 Chronicles 27:5; 2 Chronicles 19:11; 26:20), and the “chief prince” (1 Chronicles 7:40).
    Rosh” occurs thirty-eight times in Ezekiel and always denotes “head,” with the only possible exceptions of Ezekiel 38:2-3 and 39:1.  For example, Ezekiel 1:22 refers to the “heads” of the living creatures; in 5:1 Ezekiel is commanded to shave his “head” (see also 6:13; 7:18; 8:3; 9:10; 10:1; 10:11; 11:21; 13:18; 16:12; 16:25; 16:31;16:43; 17:19; 21:19; 21:21; 22:31; 23:15; 23:42; 24:23; 27:30; 29:18; 32:27;33:4).
    In Ezekiel 17:4 rosh” refers metaphorically to the “top” or “head” of a branch (also 17:22), in 27:22 to the “chief” of all spices, and in Ezekiel 40:1 to the “head” or “first” of the year (see also Ezekiel 42:12; 43:12; 44:18; 44:20). Ezekiel thus consistently and repeatedly uses “rosh” for “head,” whether for a literal “head” or metaphorically for the “head” of something.
    Note also the structure of the Hebrew clause in which rosh” or “chief” follows the noun “prince” (nasi), which puts it in the attributive position. This is the normal construction when one substantive modifies another (the so-called Hebrew ‘construct state’). While the clause may not disallow the translation “prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal,” the “chief prince” is the more natural reading (Ezekiel 38:2).
    Meshech and Tubal” elsewhere in Ezekiel are always paired and without any mention of “Rosh” (27:13; 32:26). They are commonly listed together in Ezekiel and the rest of the Old Testament (Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicle 1:5; 1:17). They are not elsewhere linked to any person or location named “rosh” but often are listed alongside “Javan" or Greece (Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicle 1:5; 1:17; Ezekiel 27:13). This pairing is based on geography; both nations were located in Asia Minor to the northwest of Israel.
    The nations listed in Ezekiel chapter 38 were known to ancient Israel. Besides Tubal and Meshech,” the chapter includesPersia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah,” regional powers known to Israel.  All of them are included in the judicial pronouncements against Tyre and Egypt in Ezekiel 26-32 (27:26; 29:10; 30:4-5). The trading partners of Tyre are listed eastwards, beginning from Spain (Tarshish) through Greece (Javan), Asia Minor (Tubal, Mescheck, Togmarah) and the Aegean Islands (27:12-15), then listed south to north (27:16-17). Finally, Arabia and parts of Mesopotamia are named (27:18-24). Nowhere is any entity called “Rosh” included among the nations surrounding Israel.
    Gomer” is not mentioned before chapter 38 but probably is identical with the “Gammadim” found in Ezekiel 27:11, a Hebrew rendering of the “Gimirra” people known to Assyria, and the “Cimmerians” found in Greek literature, a nomadic people from eastern Asia Minor also to the north of Israel. Elsewhere “Gomer” is included with Magog in lists of descendants of Japheth (Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicle 1:5).
    All the nations listed in Ezekiel 38-39 are known from other Bible passages and ancient documents; all were known to Israel with the exception of the alleged nation of “rosh.”
    No kingdom known by the name “Russia” or “Rus” existed in the sixth century BC, whether in the immediate or more distant regions to the north of Israel; consequently, no such nation was known to Ezekiel or his Israelite compatriots exiled in Babylon.
    Similarities in spelling and pronunciation are offered as primary evidence that “rosh” is Russia, but the similarities are more apparent than real.  “Rosh” is written with three Hebrew consonants, Resh (ר), Aleph (א) and Shin (ש), and in earlier times only with Resh and Shin. Aleph was added in later phases of biblical Hebrew to mark the long vowel sound or ‘ō,’ and Aleph is not pronounced when “rosh” is spoken.
    The kingdom of ‘Rus’ centered in Kiev did not exist prior to the ninth or the late eighth century AD, some fifteen hundred years after Ezekiel’s time. Its name does not appear anywhere in the Hebrew Bible.
    Since the ninth century AD Rus has been transliterated into Hebrew as רוס with the consonants Resh (ר), Vav (ו) and Samech (ס), not using Resh (ר), Aleph (א) and Shin (ש). The letter Vav in  רוס marks a long vowel sound, ‘ū,’ and is not pronounced. Samech is a different letter than Shin and more akin in sound to ‘s’ than to the ‘sh’ of shin. The only sound in common between “rosh” and “rus” is the initial ‘r’ sound. ‘Russia’ in modern Hebrew is spelled רוסיה).
    The nations listed in Ezekiel 38-39 are not only from the north but also from regions to the east and south of Israel.  “Gog” leads this alliance to invade from the direction of its home territory to the north of Palestine.
    Due to the geography and climate of the Fertile Crescent, invading armies entered Palestine from the north.  The Old Testament speaks of several hostile nations that attacked from the north, including Aram, Assyria and Babylon (Isaiah 8:4-7; Jeremiah 1:13-15; 25:9-10).  Such references are too common to determine a nation’s identity by the compass direction of its attack.
   The decisive factor is how the book of Revelation interprets and applies Ezekiel’s prophecy; it alludes to the prophecy in Revelation 16:12-16, 19:17-21 and 20:7-10. The reference in Revelation 16:12-16 is brief. The sixth bowl is to “prepare the way for the kings of the east.”  Unclean spirits “gather the kings of the whole habitable earth to the great day of God the Almighty…And he gathered them unto a place called in the Hebrew tongue ‘Mountain of Megiddo.”  The language is from Ezekiel 38:7-8: “Be prepared, you and all your companies that are assembled unto you…in the latter years you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword that is gathered out of many peoples upon the mountains of Israel.”
    The borrowing from Ezekiel is more obvious in Revelation 19:17-21. An angel cries to “The birds of the air to come and gather yourselves to the supper of the great God, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered to the war against him that sat on the horse.” 
    Note the parallel descriptions from Ezekiel 39:17-19: Speak to every feathered bird and to every beast of the field, Gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth.”
    The use of Ezekiel’s prophecy is explicit in Revelation 20:8-9. Satan deceives the “nations from the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they ascended over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city.”
    Common to all three passages in Revelation is the transformation of regional nations from Ezekiel 38 into the “kings of the whole earth and their armies,” nations from every “corner” of the earth are “gathered to the war,” singular. The same event is in view in all three passages.
    Rather than descend from the north, this force “ascends” over the entire earth to attack not Israel but the worldwide “saints” of God. “Saint” in Revelation refers to men and women from every nation that follow the Lamb (Revelation 5:8; 8:3; 11:18; 13:7; 14:1-4).
    The decisive factor in identifying Rosh, Gog or Magog is how the book of Revelation interprets them, not perceived similarities in pronunciation or contemporary geopolitical perspectives. Russia may participate in this final assault but only in the same sense as the other countries that make up “all nations” in Revelation 20:8-9. Presumably, this would also include Canada, Germany, South Africa and the United States of America, among many others. In Revelation “all” means “all.” The point is that all the regimes of the world unite under the “Beast” in a final attempt to annihilate God’s people across the globe.
    What the book of Revelation does is apply Ezekiel’s prophecy to its picture of Satan’s final assault against God’s people at the end of history.  “War” refers not to conventional battles between national armies, but to worldwide persecution of men and women who follow the Lamb “wherever he goes.”

No comments:

Post a Comment