The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Timing Gog-Magog: Identifying Rosh


In this series of articles called Timing Gog-Magog, we are looking to the Bible to discover when the great battle the prophet Ezekiel described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is going to take place.

We’ve identified the nations in the Gog-Magog Battle as a coalition of nations against the nation of Israel. Ezekiel states that the invading coalition consists of nations from the ancient territories of Rosh, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Gomer and Beth-togarmah (Ezek. 38:1-6). We’ve also gone to the history books and tracked down what the modern equivalents are to Ezekiel’s list of ancient national lands. The nations that inhabit those lands now are:

  1. Rosh = Russia
  2. Magog = Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan (and possibly Afghanistan)
  3. Meshech + Tubal + Gomer + Beth-togarmah = Turkey (and possibly Azerbaijan, Armenia)
  4. Persia = Iran
  5. Ethiopia = Sudan
  6. Put = Libya (and possibly Algeria, Tunisia)

Before continuing on with looking at the different views in the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle, though, I want to revisit Rosh being claimed as modern-day Russia. Because Russia doesn’t seem to fit into the Islamic national identity that the other coalition nations now share, the historical debate over the identity of Rosh, and the questions readers have been asking, it is important to identifying the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle that we look at why Rosh is indeed properly identified as Russia. We’ll look at the research given by Dr. Ron Rhodes in his authoritative book on the topic called Northern Storm Rising (Harvest House Publishing, 2008), and I’ll add some of my own points.

The Translations

Looking at Ezekiel 38:3 in the New International Version, the King James Version, the English Standard Version and others — the word “Rosh” is missing from the list. If one looks at the New King James Version, New American Standard Version, Amplified Version, the Darby Translation and others — Rosh is present in the list of nations. Why the differences in translation?

The difference, Dr. Rhodes reports, is the challenge for the translators to interpret the word “Rosh” or “Ros” as a noun based on the actual land, or as an adjective based on the Hebrew word “Rosh” which means “head,” “top,” “summit,” or “chief” (p.105). The NAS translators went with the noun form of “Rosh,” while the NIV translators went with the adjective form. Translations based on the Greek Septuagint (LXX) follow the noun form, while those based on the Latin Vulgate follow the adjective form.

Support for Rosh = Russia

While I love studying in the NIV, for the following reasons I believe that the noun interpretation of “Rosh” as a distinct land that is modern-day Russia is the valid interpretation.

1) Various Hebrew scholars such as G.A. Cook believe the noun form of “Rosh” is true to the original Hebrew (p.106).

2) The Septuagint (LXX) translation predates the Latin Vulgate by 700 years and is only three centuries removed from the time of Ezekiel, making it a translation more contemporary with Ezekiel.

3) Tenth Century Byzantine writers such as Ibn-Fosslan identified a group of Scythian’s dwelling in the northern parts of Taurus upon the river Volga as the Ros (p.108).

4) Ninth Century B.C. Assyrian texts that predate Ezekiel’s time also refer to the Rosh or Rashu (p.108).

5) Even farther back in time as early as 2600 B.C., ancient Egyptian and other Middle-Eastern B.C. inscriptions and texts such as in Sargon’s inscriptions, in a cylinder by Assurbanipal, in an annul by Sennacherib, and five times in Ugaritic tablets record the existence of the Rosh/Rash/Reshu people (p.109).

6) The early Byzantine Church claimed that the Ros peoples are the people who live far north of Greece in the area today we call Russia (p.109).

7) Ezekiel 39:1-2 claims Rosh to be “from the remotest parts of the north.” No other nation exists more directly north and is more remote than modern-day Russia.

8) Current news reports repeatedly show that Russia has very quickly solidified economic and military ties with the nations involved in the Gog-Magog coalition. Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran and arming Islamic nations. Russia has also made known their expressed interest in getting a foot-hold into the Middle East to help control its vast oil reserves. Israel’s newly found gas deposits are a direct threat to Russia’s hold over the natural gas supply line.

9) Russia nationally has a long and historic violent streak of Anti-Semitism that God won’t leave unresponded to.

10) When all arguments for or against Russia as being Rosh are put on the table, pure “Vulcan” logic would dictate that Russia can be the only logical descendent of the Rosh people.

We will continue exploring more views on the specific timing of the Gog-Magog Battle in the next installment of this series titled During the Tribulation.

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.

31 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Dear Nathan, the moment I have dreaded has arrived, the apostasy have increase to levels never seen, every evangelist even here in Nicaragua since I have know our Lord Jesus, 20 year ago, have predictions towards the evil New York?? Why, do you believe that New York is Babylon; I don’t think so, United States are an ally of Israel, if United States fall from this with the New Administration, Dooms Day for North America, our efforts must be, evangelize, prepare to be raptured and seek Jesus Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. Our Prayers on United States, God Bless Dr. David Reagan Ministry and all Staff, including you Nathan Jones, please tell Dr. Reagan I admire his sincerity, easy reading articles, since I studied, I have great spiritual growth and knowledge of our beloved Master Jesus Christ, thank you very much, humbleness are greats attributes of an Jesus servant, stay it so.

    God bless you all…

    Greetings from Managua, Nicaragua.
    Carlos Chamorro Schutze

  • Hola, El Milenio. I have linked your blog on my blog, Read it for Yourself.

    It’s is good hearing from you on Dr. Reagan’s blog again. Do not be a stranger: visit more often.

  • son of thunder;
    you are absolutely right, putin and mahamasomething are thick as thieves and even biblically illiterate people know that. i think the battle follows almost in rapid succesion to psalm 83, maybe 5 months or so. if my understanding is correct the identity of rosh as russia has been around for centuries. i remember the 80s when the common fear was the rapture, nukes and russians. anyone remember those days? i firmly believe its russia

  • Hey, hartdawg, that is Godzilla (my all-time favorite movie monster) circa 1954.

    Rosh as Russia has been around a long time. Matthew Henry wrote in 1706 about Ezekiel 38 “The critical expositors have enough to do here to enquire out Gog and Magog. We cannot pretend either to add to their observations or to determine their controversies. Gog seems to be the king and Magog the kingdom; so that Gog and Magog are like Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Some think they find them afar off, in Scythia, Tartary, and Russia. Others think they find them nearer the land of Israel, in Syria, and Asia the Less.”

    I remember the Cold War very well, ‘dawg. Hal Lindsey wrote in his book “The Late Great Planet Earth” that Russia was going to be a big trouble maker in the End Times. He was made fun of because there was no Russia, only a USSR. Now the USSR is a footnote in history and RUSSIA has come to the fore-front.

  • Son of thunder, I was a one-time Hal Lindsey mocker. He may be imperfect (who of us aren’t?) and off base with the timing but I think he’s been vindicated in large part. On ya, Hal!

  • i like hal too, xept for his placement of the timing of the battle. the name gog also means high mountain, summit, high prince and a ruler. i believe it is a direct reference to a very high demon someone suggested it may be satan himself but i thought it may be a stretch but not much of one. after looking up the name i think now it is very possible, my money is still on a pricipality cause it could easily be transalated into that without much stretch but it could be satan.

  • I disagree with Hal’s placement of the battle, too, but there’s not much else I disagree with.

    I have never even considered that Gog could be a highly placed demon. This is definately something to consider.

  • And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: – Ezekiel 38:15

    John Wesley wrote in 1765 about verse 15: “The north parts – From Scythia, from the Euxine and Caspian seas, and countries thereabouts.” Which points right to modern day Russia.

  • About Scythians.

    Josephus wrote: “Now, as to the Scythians, they take a pleasure in killing men, and differ little from brute beasts; yet do they think it reasonable to have their institutions observed. They also slew Anacharsis a person greatly admired for his wisdom among the Greeks, when he returned to them, because he appeared to come fraught with Grecian customs. We find many punished among the Persians, on the same account.”
    Josephus, Flavius ; Whiston, William: The Works of Josephus : Complete and Unabridged. Peabody : Hendrickson, 1996, c1987, S. Apion 2.269

    And: 1. “Now they were the grandchildren of Noah, in honor of whom names were imposed on the nations by those that first seized upon them. Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountain Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais, and along Europe to Cadiz; and setting themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names; for Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians [Galls], but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.”
    Josephus, Flavius ; Whiston, William: The Works of Josephus : Complete and Unabridged. Peabody : Hendrickson, 1996, c1987, S. Ant 1.121

  • I know I’m probably boring everyone by now, but this stuff is important.

    Jerome identifies Magog as the “Scythian nations, fierce and innumerable, who live beyond the Caucasus [mountains] and the Lake Maeotis, and near the Caspian Sea, and spread out even onward to India.”

    ROSH, Ezek. 38:2, 3; 39:1, probably a proper name, referring to the first of the three great Scythian tribes of which Magog was the head. – Smith’s Bible Dictionary

    MA´GOG (region of Gog). In Gen. 10:2 Magog appears as the second son of Japheth; in Ezek. 38:2; 39:1,6 it appears as a country or people of which Gog was the prince. The notices of Magog would lead us to fix a northern locality: it is expressly stated by Ezekiel that he was to come up from “the sides of the north,” Ezek. 39:2, from a country adjacent to that of Togarmah or Armenia, ch. 38:6, and not far from “the isles” or maritime regions of Europe. ch. 39:6. The people of Magog further appear as having a force of cavalry, Ezek. 38:15, and as armed with the bow. ch. 39:3. From the above data we may conclude that Magog represents the important race of the Scythians. – Smith’s Bible Dictionary

  • i gotta say this not dogmatically but as for the battle occuring before the rapture i gotta disagree with you cuz in the bible the early church was looking for the rapture to happen any day and there was no alliance that even remotely resembled russia-iran and furthermore the revival and such happens AFTER the rapture. HOWEVER you could still be right. the simple fact is i am not certain but my bet is AFTER the rapture. i know its before the tribulation. i have a wait and see perspective now

  • i certainly know that. my official take is the rapture could happen either right now (that would be nice) before psalm 83, after it, before or after Gog/magog. either one of us can be wrong. i just want to be of service and win the lost to jesus fervently each day. then some day i’ll live in glory. how beutiful heaven must be

  • I hear heaven’s nice.

    I just hope some of the references and commentaries I’ve dug up about Gog and Rosh are helpful and enlightening to whoever may read them. Flavius Josephus’ writings alone go back to just after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

    The thought that Russia is Rosh goes way back to Old Testament times (over 2,500 years) and isn’t some new thing.

  • people at the time of the rapture will be eating drinking and marrying. . .life as usual which wont be the case after Gog/magogwhich is another reason i think the rapture comes first. just a thought

  • At the weding feast we, the Bride of Christ, will be in Heaven with Jesus. We will not be on this earth.

    I believe the Harpazo occurs just shortly after the War of Gog/Magog.
    I tend to tie this time with Romans 11:25, the fullness of the times ofthe Gentiles and the partial blidness imposed upon Israel is lifted by God.

    In Ezekiel 37 we see a direct reference to both a Temple (sanctuary – miqdash) to be built and also the Lord’s dwelling place therein (tabernacle – mishkan.

    However, before these occur there is the War of Gog/Magog in chapters 38 and 39.

    In the context of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, there is no reference to a Temple standing or Temple worship occuring.

    In chapter 40 the people of Israel are then the free to build their Temple.

    Somewhere between Ezekiel 39 and Ezekiel 40 is when the Harpazo might occur.

  • mr osborne
    there is NO temple in the GOG/MAGOG war the temple can be built ANYTIME between the rapture to the early part of the tribulation. the fact that there is no temple does not neccesarile mean the battle happens after the rapture. that being said ezekiel 40 is in the millineum. you may very well be right but i believe the rapture happens immediately before, during or immediately after the battle.

  • i think its during the battle. i think the rapture or harpazo as you correctly call it will be accompanied by a catyclismic event. before russia and iran attack the may launch a preemptive strike on america possible using chavez so we wouldnt be able to stop them. with all the devastation going on people wont notice the millions missing in the rapture for days or weeks, they will assume they are casualties. if millions up and vanished it would be obvious what happened due to the left behind books and hal lindseys books. just a thought

  • At one time I would have agreed with you, hart, but we’re ignoring yet another puzzle piece: 2012. Not that I put any stock in it (personally, I think it’s a full bedpan), but a LOT of New-agers do.

    If you don’t know much about it, on Dec. 21 (the winter solstice), 2012, mankind is supposed to move on into a greater understanding, with — now pay attention– those who refuse to accept this new world of harmony VANISHING.

    I’m not date setting (like I say, I think it’s a load of, um, stuff), but they say that Christians will be the only ones who disappear because we are unworthy and will only cause trouble in this new world.

    I do accept it as a plausible, humanistic explanation for millions of people vanishing. In fact, they can’t wait until Christians are gone so they can set things right.

  • This is a little off subject, but it’s very important. Hal Lindsey wrote in his World Net Daily commentary 3/20/09 – “Israel Today is reporting that the Obama administration is not just cool to Israel. It alleges that President Obama ‘is about to break America’s long ties of friendship with Israel, and maybe even take steps toward the dissolution of the Jewish state.’

    “If true, America is in even more serious trouble than even the most pessimistic assessment can reflect. If America betrays Israel, then America is rejecting the Word of Israel’s God.”

  • son of thunder
    here is my prayer, since it will be life as usual at the time of the rapture when God is finally p.oed he will say enough is enough and remove us then judge america first after we are gone then russia/iran then the rest of the nations in the tribulation. i would like to see nathan do a post on 2012 cuz even christians are decieved by this outhouse trash. thats where it belongs, in the outhouse

  • SeanOsborne says, “In the context of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, there is no reference to a Temple standing or Temple worship occuring.

    In chapter 40 the people of Israel are then the free to build their Temple.

    Somewhere between Ezekiel 39 and Ezekiel 40 is when the Harpazo might occur.”

    Sean, Ezekiel was not seeing some a tribulation temple to be constructed on the Temple Mount in Ezekiel 40. In fact, Ezekiel “describes in great detail a temple in Israel that is much too large to fit on the present Temple Mount site. The Temple of Ezekiel proper measures about 875 feet square, and it sits in the middle of a large consecrated area. Ezekiel’s temple is also very different in many details from any previous temples that have existed in Israel (or elsewhere). Therefore most Bible scholars believe there will one day exist in the Holy Land a Fourth or ‘Millennial’ Temple… According to many Christian Bible scholars, the Fourth Temple (Ezekiel 40-45) will be ‘memorial’ – a teaching center apparently to instruct men about the holiness of God and proper worship during the coming kingdom of Jesus on the earth. As sinful men and women continue to be born into the world in the millennium, the temple is supposed to remind everyone of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross, as the ‘Lamb of God,’ some two thousand years earlier.”

    If you want to insist that Ezekiel’s temple is sequential to the Gog-Magog war, then you should therefore acknowledge that the Gog-Magog war in Ezekiel in fact culminates at Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation since Ezekiel’s temple is indicative of some type of “Millennial Temple” and is unlike any other temple before it.

    I actually agree with you that the gathering will occur somewhere in between Ezekiel 39 and 40, after the tribulation.

    Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

    Revelation 10:7, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

  • I have no horse in the timing discussion. But as far as Rosh being Russia I have to agree.

    Nothing Biblical in my comments but I grew up in the 70s – during the Cold War when the air raid sirens went off at the end of every month and we’d get under our desks at school practing to survive a nuclear bomb from Russia (funny thought now).

    I didn’t trust Russia then or when they supposedly were our “friends” when the Cold War “ended” or now. My dislike and mistrust of those atheist commies makes it easy for me to believe Russia will invade Israel someday.

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