New Defender's Study Bible Notes
38:2 Gog. “Gog” seems to be the name of the commander-in-chief of this confederation of nations which will invade Israel “in the latter days” (Ezekiel 38:16), sometime after Israel has been reestablished in its land—while still rejecting God and His Christ—as outlined in Ezekiel 37. The name “Gog” may be an accommodation to some such ethnic name as “Georgi.” Magog is evidently Gog’s country, associated also with the countries of Meshech and Tubal. All three countries were named after their founding fathers, each of whom was a son of Japheth (Genesis 10:2), and all three originally settled in what is now Asia Minor, north of Israel.
38:2 chief prince. The words “chief prince” may also be rendered “prince of Rosh,” and some translations so render it. This may well be a reference to the people known as “Rus,” who eventually became Russia. The names “Meshech” and “Tubal” may be preserved today as “Muscovy” or “Moscow,” and “Tobolsk” and “Tbilisi.” Magog is identified by Josephus with the Scythians, and there is considerable evidence that all three tribes eventually migrated farther north. Whether they can be precisely identified as equivalent to modern Russia (or other states of the former Soviet Union) is debatable, but it does appear most probable that the prophecy does refer to a “northern confederacy,” coming out of the “north parts” (Ezekiel 38:15).
38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are all ancient nations; and they are still important nations “after many days” (Ezekiel 38:8), collaborating with the northern confederation to go against Israel.
38:5 shield and helmet. The emphasis in Ezekiel 38:4-5 is that the invading armies are heavily armed. Ezekiel in his vision could only identify their armaments in terms of things he knew, so he spoke of “horses,” “swords,” etc., to refer possibly to tanks and guns, but he also summarized it as “all sorts of armour” (Ezekiel 38:4).
38:6 Gomer. Gomer was another son of Japheth, and father of Togarmah (Genesis 10:2-3). His descendants also originally settled in Asia Minor, Gomer’s name being preserved today in the Crimea, and Togarmah’s probably in Armenia (possibly also in Turkestan and Turkey). There is some indication that Gomer’s descendants later migrated west and gave their name to Germany.
38:6 many people. In addition to the tribes named, there will also be others—in fact, “many people with thee.” In Psalm 83, another confederation of peoples is shown invading Israel in the last days—Edom, the Ishmaelites, Moab, the Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon, the Philistines, Tyre and Assyria. It is significant that these were the ancient names of the peoples immediately surrounding Israel, whereas those in Ezekiel 38 are those surrounding these nations. This is probably the same invasion, seen from both an internal perspective and an external perspective, for both end the same way, in a great convulsion of nature.
38:9 ascend and come. This probably describes an aerial blitzkrieg.
38:9 all thy bands. It is noteworthy that all these “bands,” involving “many people,” are comprised either of Moslem nations or nations which were until recently Communist nations and which are still controlled by leaders who are atheists and Marxists. All of these hate Israel and would love to “cut them off from being a nation” (Psalm 83:4). In recent years, Israel has soundly defeated several smaller confederacies which attempted to destroy her, but this confederacy seems so large and strong that nothing less than divine intervention can save her. But note that it is God Himself who has said to Gog: “I will bring thee forth, and all thine army” (Ezekiel 38:4). All this is part of God’s plan to bring Israel to “know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 39:22).
38:13 Sheba, and Dedan. Sheba and Dedan are apparently rather peripheral and relatively small Arab nations, who will not join with the other Muslim nations in the anti-Israel confederation. Probably they represent oil-rich nations whose interests are mainly economic, and thus who side with “the merchants of Tarshish.”
38:13 Tarshish. Tarshish was a grandson of Japheth through Javan (Genesis 10:4). Javan was ancestor of the Greeks and Tarshish seems to have migrated still farther west. His name is always associated with a far-flung merchant marine, possibly allied somehow with the Phoenicians. In the context of the last days, however, Tarshish and “the young lions thereof” would seem to represent nations of Japhethites (which would mean primarily Europeans and Americans) with widespread economic and maritime activities. Many scholars believe the city-state of Tarshish was originally in either Spain or Portugal or England, and it was these nations, of course, that primarily settled the Americas also. Thus, England, the United States and other Euro-American nations are probably the ones who will remonstrate with Gog over the projected invasion of their friend, Israel. The invasion will be so sudden and large, however, that they will not have time to send military aid to Israel, even if they want to.
38:19 fire of my wrath. God has long been patient with the Muslim nations, who have rejected His Son as Savior, while professing to believe in God as Creator, and the Marxist/atheist nations, who have rejected Him as both Creator and Savior. But His wrath can be restrained no longer when these all collaborate in an effort to annihilate His chosen people.
38:19 great shaking. Israel will be saved not by military might, but by a tremendous earthquake. There will also be “an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:22). The gigantic convulsions of nature will affect not only the armies of Gog, but also the whole world.
38:20 shake at my presence. The entire world and all its creatures will be affected by this convulsion of nature, the greatest since the global deluge of Noah’s day. Yet this will only be a precursor of the still greater global earthquakes described during the coming tribulation period (Revelation 6:12-14; 16:18-20).
38:23 many nations. The great global convulsion will save Israel and destroy five-sixths of the armies of Gog (Ezekiel 39:2), so many that it will take seven months for their burial (Ezekiel 39:12-14). The nations of the world will be forced to recognize that this is an “act of God”—not merely in the legal sense, but as a very real case of direct intervention in the affairs of men by the God of creation. Most men will still reject Christ as personal Savior, but they will all “know that I am the LORD,” says God. Pure atheism will no longer be an option.