Who in the world is Gog?

Who in the world is Gog? I find myself asking that question as I read through Ezekiel again. The passage in question is of course Ezekiel 38-39. The prophet says:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech…”

This same person is referred to again in Revelation where John says:

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.”

As you might imagine, the interpretations for who Gog and Magog are span a wide array of choices. Let me start with St. Augustine who writes in City of God:

The peoples John calls Gog and Magog are not to be thought of as some definite barbarians dwelling in a certain part of the earth, such as the Getae and Massagetae (as some have imagined on account of the initial letters), or any other foreign tribes beyond the pale of the Roman Empire.

Let me here interrupt with some footnotes to this from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, which discuss the Getae and Massagetae:

Scythian Goths who were spread from the Balkans to east of the Caspian Sea and whom some believe were the displaced tribes of Israel. See also Herotodus 1.212ff.

Ambrose identified Gog with the Goths. He wrote this as Emperor Gratian was preparing to confront the Goths in A.D. 378.

Augustine continues:

John clearly indicates that they are to be everywhere in the world, “nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.”

Oecumenius in his Commentary on the Apocalypse writes:

These are certain nations that shall lead the nations at the time of the consummation. These nations do not at present exist, or they are certain nations which do at present exist but that are called different names by the divine Scripture. These, therefore, will fight with that God-hated Satan against the servants of Christ.

2 thoughts on “Who in the world is Gog?”

  1. I’m with Augustine. Gog and Magog are not a “definite” people. Revelation is hugely symbolic.

  2. I’m not sure. It’s tough to make sense of some of the passages if you dismiss all references to the future.

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