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Eze 38:1-23. THE ASSAULT OF GOG, AND GOD'S JUDGMENT ON HIM.
The objections to a literal interpretation of the prophecy are--(1) The ideal nature of the name Gog, which is the root of Magog, the only kindred name found in Scripture or history. (2) The nations congregated are selected from places most distant from Israel, and from one another, and therefore most unlikely to act in concert (Persians and Libyans, &c.). (3) The whole spoil of Israel could not have given a handful to a tithe of their number, or maintained the myriads of invaders a single day (Eze 38:12, 13). (4) The wood of their invaders' weapons was to serve for fuel to Israel for seven years! And all Israel were to take seven months in burying the dead! Supposing a million of Israelites to bury each two corpses a day, the aggregate buried in the hundred eighty working days of the seven months would be three hundred sixty millions of corpses! Then the pestilential vapors from such masses of victims before they were all buried! What Israelite could live in such an atmosphere? (5) The scene of the Lord's controversy here is different from that in Isa 34:6, Edom, which creates a discrepancy. (But probably a different judgment is alluded to). (6) The gross carnality of the representation of God's dealings with His adversaries is inconsistent with Messianic times. It therefore requires a non-literal interpretation. The prophetical delineations of the divine principles of government are thrown into the familiar forms of Old Testament relations. The final triumph of Messiah's truth over the most distant and barbarous nations is represented as a literal conflict on a gigantic scale, Israel being the battlefield, ending in the complete triumph of Israel's anointed King, the Saviour of the world. It is a prophetical parable [FAIRBAIRN]. However, though the details are not literal, the distinctiveness in this picture, characterizing also parallel descriptions in writers less ideally picturesque than Ezekiel, gives probability to a more definite and generally literal interpretation. The awful desolations caused in Judea by Antiochus Epiphanes, of Syria (1 Maccabees; and PORPHYRY, quoted by JEROME on Ezekiel), his defilement of Jehovah's temple by sacrificing swine and sprinkling the altar with the broth, and setting up the altar of Jupiter Olympius, seem to be an earnest of the final desolations to be caused by Antichrist in Israel, previous to His overthrow by the Lord Himself, coming to reign (compare Da 8:10-26; 11:21-45; 12:1; Zec 13:9; 14:2, 3). GROTIUS explains Gog as a name taken from Gyges, king of Lydia; and Magog as Syria, in which was a city called Magog [PLINY, 5.28]. What Ezekiel stated more generally, Re 20:7-9 states more definitely as to the anti-Christian confederacy which is to assail the beloved city.
2. Gog--the prince of the land of Magog. The title was probably a
common one of the kings of the country, as "Pharaoh" in Egypt. Chakan
was the name given by the Northern Asiatics to their king, and is still
a title of the Turkish sultan: "Gog" may be a contraction of this. In
Ezekiel's time a horde of northern Asiatics, termed by the Greeks
"Scythians," and probably including the Moschi and Tibareni, near the
Caucasus, here ("Meshech . . . Tubal") undertook an expedition against
Egypt [HERODOTUS, 1.103-106]. These names might be adopted by Ezekiel
from the historical fact familiar to men at the time, as ideal titles
for the great last anti-Christian confederacy.
3. His high-sounding titles are repeated to imply the haughty self-confidence of the invader as if invincible.
4. turn thee back--as a refractory wild beast, which thinks to take
its own way, but is bent by a superior power to turn on a course which
must end in its destruction. Satan shall be, by overruling Providence,
permitted to deceive them to their ruin
(Re 20:7, 8).
5. Persia . . . Libya--expressly specified by APPIAN as supplying the ranks of Antiochus' army.
6. Gomer--the Celtic Cimmerians of Crim-Tartary.
7. Irony. Prepare thee and all thine with all needful accoutrements
for war--that ye may perish together.
8. thou shall be visited--in wrath, by God
Probably there is allusion to
Isa 24:21, 22,
"The host of the high ones . . . shall be gathered
. . . as prisoners . . . in the pit . . .
and after many days shall they be visited." I therefore prefer
English Version to GROTIUS rendering, "Thou
shalt get the command" of the expedition. The "after many days"
is defined by "in the latter years," that is, in the times just before
the coming of Messiah, namely, under Antiochus, before His first
coming; under Antichrist, before His second coming.
12. midst of the land--literally, "the navel" of the land (Jud 9:37, Margin). So, in Eze 5:5, Israel is said to be set "in the midst of the nations"; not physically, but morally, a central position for being a blessing to the world: so (as the favored or "beloved city," Re 20:9) an object of envy. GROTIUS translates, "In the height of the land" (so Eze 38:8), "the mountains of Israel," Israel being morally elevated above the rest of the world.
13. Sheba, &c.--These mercantile peoples, though not taking an active
part against the cause of God, are well pleased to see others do it.
Worldliness makes them ready to deal in the ill-gotten spoil of the
invaders of God's people. Gain is before godliness with them
(1 Maccabees 3:41).
14. shalt thou not know it?--to thy cost, being visited with punishment, while Israel dwells safely.
16. I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me--So in Ex 9:16, God tells Pharaoh, "For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth."
17. thou he of whom I have spoken in old time--Gog, &c. are here
identified with the enemies spoken of in other prophecies
Isa 26:20, 21;
Jer 30:23, 24;
Mic 5:5, 6;
Isa 14:12-14; 59:19).
God is represented as addressing Gog at the time of his assault;
therefore, the "old time" is the time long prior, when Ezekiel uttered
these prophecies; so, he also, as well as Daniel
are included among "the prophets of Israel" here.
18. fury shall come up in my face--literally, "nose"; in Hebrew, the idiomatic expression for anger, as men in anger breathe strongly through the nostrils. Anthropopathy: God stooping to human modes of thought (Ps 18:8).
20. fishes--disturbed by the fleets which I will bring.
22. plead--a forensic term; because God in His inflictions acts on
the principles of His own immutable justice, not by arbitrary impulse