Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
4. AGAINST GOG AND MAGOG FOR THE GLORIFICATION OF JEHOVAH IN THE WORLD (CH. 38 AND 39)
CHAP. 38 1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 2Son of man, set thy face towards [against] Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him. 3And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4And I lead thee back, and give rings in thy jaws, and bring thee forth, and thy whole army, horses and riders, all of them perfectly clothed, a numerous assemblage, 5with long shield and short shield, all handling swords: Persia, Cush, and 6Phut with them, all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer and all his squadrons; the house of Togarmah, the farthest north, and all his squadrons; many 7nations with thee. Be prepared and hold prepared for thyself, thou and all thy assemblages which assemble around thee, and be a guard unto them. 8After many days thou art visited; at the end of the years thou shalt come to a land recovered from the sword, gathered from many nations, upon the mountains of Israel, which were perpetually for devastation; and it was brought forth out 9of the nations, and all of them dwell securely. And thou ascendest, as a tempest shalt thou come, like a cloud to cover the land shalt thou be, thou and all thy squadrons, and many nations with thee. 10Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: And it comes to pass on that day, words shall ascend upon thy heart, and 11thou devisest an evil device; And sayest, I will go up to a plain country, I will come upon those who are at rest [quiet], who dwell securely, all of them dwelling 12where there is no wall, and they have no bars and gates, To take spoil and to seize prey, to draw back thy hand over (re-) inhabited ruins, and to a people gathered from the heathen, who acquire cattle and goods, dwelling upon 13the navel of the earth. Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, and all his [her] young lions, will say to thee, Comest thou to take spoil ? hast thou assembled thy assemblages to seize prey ? to lift silver and gold ? to take cattle 14and goods ? to take great spoil ?—Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In that day when My people Israel dwell 15securely, shalt thou not know [experience] it? And [yet] thou comest out of thy place, from the farthest north, thou and many nations with thee, all of them 16riding upon horses, a great assemblage [community], and a numerous army; And goest up upon My people Israel, like a cloud to cover the land; in the end of the days it shall be, and [yet] I make thee come upon My land, that the heathen may know Me when I sanctify Myself on thee before their eyes, O Gog. 17Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Art thou he of whom I spoke in former days by the hand of My servants, the prophets of Israel, who in those days 18prophesied for years that I would bring thee upon them? And it comes to pass on that day, on the day of the coming of Gog upon the land of Israel—19sentence of the Lord Jehovah—My fury shall come up in My nose. And in My jealousy, in the fire of My wrath, do I speak, if there shall not be on that 20day a great shaking over the land of Israel! And the fishes of the sea, and the fowl of heaven, and the beast of the field, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the ground, and every man that is on the face of the earth shall tremble before My face; and the mountains are thrown down, and the cliffs 21fall, and every wall shall fall to the earth. And I call the sword upon him at all My mountains—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—the sword of every one 22shall be against his brother. And I carry on My plea with him in pestilence and in blood; and overflowing [gushing] rain and hailstones, fire and brimstone, will I rain upon him and upon his squadrons, and upon the many nations that 23are with him. And I show Myself great, and sanctify Myself, and make Myself known before the eyes of many heathen nations, and they know that I am Jehovah.
Ezekiel 38:2. Sept.: ... κ. την γην τ.. M. Vulg.: terram M., principem capitis … de eo. (Another read.:על ג׳.)
Ezekiel 38:3. ... Ὶωγ και ἀρχοντα.
Ezekiel 38:4. Κ. περιστρεψω σε … κ. συναξω σε … ἐνδεδυμενους θωρακας παντας πελται χ. περιχεφαλαιαι χ. μαχαιραι. Vulg.: Et circumagam te—
Ezekiel 38:6. Another read.: תורגמה.
Ezekiel 38:7. Sept.: ... κ. ἐση μοι εἰς προφυλαχην. Vulg.: … eis in præceptum.
Ezekiel 38:8. ἑτοιμασθησεται … ἐπι τ. γην τ. Ἰσρ.
Ezekiel 38:11. Sept.: ... ἐπι γην ἀπεριμμενην—
Ezekiel 38:12. ... του ἐπιστρεψαι την χειραν μου … πεποιηχοτας χτησεις,—
Ezekiel 38:13. ... κ. οἱ μποροι Καρχηδονιοι κ. πασαι αἱ χωμαι αὐτων—
Ezekiel 38:14. ... ἐξεγερθηση—
Ezekiel 38:16. ... παντα τ. ἐθνη—גוג is omitted, or they transfer it to following verse.
Ezekiel 38:19. ... σεισμος—Vulg.: … commotio—
Ezekiel 38:20. ... κ. ῥαγησονται τ. ὀρη κ. πεσουνται αἱ φαραγγες—Vulg.: … et cadent sepes et.
Ezekiel 38:21. ... ἐπ’ αὐτο παν φαβον μαχαιρας—
Ezekiel 38:22. Κ. χρινω αὐτον—
Ezekiel 38:24. Sept. ... κ. ἐνδοξασθηασομαι—
Ezekiel 38:2. See Ezekiel 6:2 Magog is known from Gen. 10:2 (1 Chron. 1:5); he is one of the Japhetites. The article pointing to what is known, הַמָּגוֹנ, shows that he, or rather the people denoted by him, is meant. Already Josephus, and doubtless in accordance with generally received tradition, recognises in them the Scythians. Comp. Häv. p. 599 sq., and also Gesen. Lex. When אֶרֶץ is expressly added, it is not necessary, with Hitzig, to seek in the syllable Ma from the Coptic and the Sanscrit the idea of land. Even if the translation is not to be “Gog, prince of the land of Magog,” yet it does not need to be translated, with Hävernick and Ewald, as dependent on שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ: “against Gog, towards the land of Magog;” but אֶרֶץ הַמָּגוֹג is a brief expression for: in or of the land of Magog. As he is immediately entitled נְשִׂיא, it lies on the surface to see in נּוֹג the king of the land of the people of Magog. A Reubenite “Gog” is named in 1 Chron. 5:4.—It appears that we have before us rather an official than a personal name. A comparison of the word (in full יְגוֹג, like the Arab, “yagug”) with נָּג, “roof,” the “top” of the altar, would countenance this, if the latter is to be derived from גֵּאֶה, גֵּא, “to be high;” hence: the high, sublime, supreme. The Tartaric and Turkish “kak,” “chakan,” “khan,” has been thought of (a traveller calls a Tartaric chief of the 13th century “Gog Khan”). [COCC.: “Gog denotes him who sets himself like the roof in the midst between heaven and earth, between God and men” (Ezekiel 28:14, 16).] The very probable formation of the name from “Magog” would confirm the interpretation and derivation which it implies, since the national character (for this people is to be conceived of as on the Caucasus, which Herodotus calls the greatest mountain range of the earth), and thus their nature and residence in the high north, might be very suitably outlined in the official name of their leader and representative. In form it would be as if we said, instead of the Chinese Emperor: the Chin of China. Rev. 20:8 takes “Gog and Magog” from Ezekiel as title for “the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.” That Gog represents Magog is the less surprising, because Magog on its side represents a whole complex of nations: Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. For the two latter see on Ezekiel 27:13, 32:26; the former between the sources of the Phasis and Cyrus, below Colchis, the latter on the coast of the Euxine, west of Trapezus. It is not exactly said that “they dwelt in the neighbourhood of Magog” (KEIL), but that they are in a state of subjection, as vassals, to Gog; and this Hengstenberg, like Ewald, and ancient translators and expositors before them, find expressed by נְשִׂיא רֹאשׁ, which they render: “chief prince” (king of kings)—a combination which would be allowable (מלך ראש on coins) if it were meant to be the translation of גּוֹג, whence also it might be repeated unabbreviated in Ezekiel 38:3; Ezekiel 39:1. (It cannot be translated appositionally: “the prince, the head of Meshech and Tubal.”) But some who are of this opinion appeal more to the non-occurrence elsewhere (in Scripture or in Josephus) of a people Rosh; while on the other side, reference has been made to the Byzantines of the tenth century, who mention οἱ Ῥῶς, a barbarous people about the north of Taurus. An Arabian writer of the same age knew of the heathen nation “Rus,” on the Wolga itself. (Whether the inhabitants of “Rass,” Koran 25:50, are to be cited, is very questionable.) Gesenius observes that it can scarcely be doubtful that the first trace of the Russians is here given. Comp. Hävernick, p. 604. It is curious that Hengstenberg cannot bear to see the “poor Russians” ranged among the enemies of the kingdom of God. Hitzig points out that also in Gen. 10. there is subjoined to Meshech and Tubal a third nation, Tiras, which von Hammer brings into connection with Rosh, conjecturing their original abode to have been on the Araxes. The name (Ross, horse) seems to indicate an equestrian people, like the Scythians, under which name the Greeks very early comprehended all the nations of the north; especially as living from mare’s milk, they are described (Iliad, xiii. 5, 6) as “mare-milkers.” In the name Roxolani (Rhoxalani), whom Bochart combines, “ala” means the same as horse (HITZIG).
Ezekiel 38:3. Comp. 26:3, 28:22, 29:3, 10.
Ezekiel 38:4. Hitzig translates the Pilel שׁוֹבֵב, “allure,” just as the Targ.: “decoy.” [KEIL: in the sense of: to a dangerous undertaking. HÄVERN.: with force, as a will-less beast out of his land, away from his former path, and on to the way of destruction.] HITZIG: “The Scythian is in the outset thought of as a wild beast, which rushes aside from the path, and must first be brought back.” But שׁוֹבֵב means properly: to cause one to return (a repeating and strengthening form), a meaning which Hengstenberg justly retains as the simplest and most natural. He interprets thus: in Gog, the earlier enemies of God’s people, namely, the Chaldeans, reappear. For the signification of the word adopted by him he appeals to Ezekiel 38:8 and Ezekiel 39:27, and compares also Ezekiel 38:12, remarking at the same time, that in the appearance of Gog, Ezekiel 38:17 and Ezekiel 39:8, the fulfilment of earlier prophecies is recognised in which Gog is not expressly contemplated. The giving of special prominence to the Chaldeans is not in accordance with Ezekiel’s manner (see Introd. to Ezekiel 25:32, and on Ezekiel 21:28 sq.). It is at all events more obvious, and permits us to retain exactly the proper signification of שׁוֹבֵב, to assume a reference to the inroad of the Scythians (B.C. 633) related by Herodotus (I. 103–6), the news of which induced Cyaxares to raise the siege of Nineveh. This effect, and still more the fact that the Scythians were a powerful army (as Herodotus says), which under the command of their king Madyas defeated the Medes, who thereby lost the dominion over Asia, of which the Scythians took entire possession, fitted these latter to be a serviceable form for our prophecy. It was a kind of collision of nations, like the later barbarian migrations. The polemic of Delitzsch (comp. Strauss on Zephaniah) against the “Scythian hypothesis,” which Winer also calls most uncertain, is well founded as regards Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk. But if the Scythians, whose equestrian hordes, marching south through Syria in B.C. 626, overran Judea, neither plundered nor laid waste Palestine, etc. (Delitzsch, Habakkuk, p. 18.), but “quietly went up again along the coast of the Mediterranean as they had come down as far as Philistia” (?), at any rate left behind them pre-eminently the impression of a quite sudden (that is the Apocalyptic feature, comp. Luke 17:24) and unexpected irruption, and not that of a definite judgment of God on Israel, like the Assyrians and Babylonians,—then the silence of the sacred record regarding this inroad of the Scythians, who (according to Herodotus) let themselves be turned away from Egypt by Psammetichus through means of presents and entreaties, is comprehensible, the question of Ezekiel 38:17 made intelligible, and the compulsory bringing back in our verse explained. As they disappeared after they had shown themselves, to people’s great surprise, so would they also have remained out of sight; but Jehovah will bring them back, according to His purpose and by His power, otherwise than they came the first time, and in a still different manner of appearing. For Kliefoth’s observation regarding nations hitherto unhistoric, more properly nations not yet come into consideration for the kingdom of God, is applicable to the matter in hand. The prophecy points, as we shall see, far beyond the immediate historic present and its nations; and a complex of nations coming thus from the far north, such as the generic name “Scythians” (for: uncultivated barbarians) suggested, after the above-mentioned inroad into Media, etc., was excellently adapted for that purpose. Moreover, what is here said in order to give due prominence to the divine direction, and above all to the higher intention and guidance: And give, etc., and bring thee forth, is accounted for in Ezekiel 38:10 sq. from the natural will of the people in these respects. Their wild ungovernableness is evident from the figurative expression: give rings in thy jaws (for which comp. Ezekiel 29:4), coming between שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ and הוֹצֵאתִי, and explaining both; even to the shambles (EWALD). The force which makes Gog return takes him from his own land.—םוּםִים וּפָרשִׁים, comp. Ezekiel 27:14. Here, at all events, horses and riders is a decidedly Scythian trait, for the richness in horses of these hordes, mostly equestrian tribes, was already known to Herodotus; while with the expression: all of them perfectly clothed (see Ezekiel 23:12), an Assyrian element is introduced, thus the figure of Gog is enlarged.—קָהָל רָב (Ezekiel 17:17) resumes כָּל־חֵילֶךָ, in order by the description of the armour (comp. Ezekiel 23:24) to suggest doubtless the Chaldeans. Hitzig rightly considers the large shield as respecting only an army of cavalry. We may suppose infantry, but it is better to suppose a description embracing all and sundry kinds (handling swords, etc.), for the Scythians are only the nucleus (צִנָּה וּמָגֵן, loosely combined). To such a description correspond also
Ezekiel 38:5—Persia (Ezekiel 27:10), representing the far East, Cush (Ezekiel 30:4 sq.), the remote south, and Phut (Ezekiel 30:5, 27:10), the south-west; thus, especially as the farthest north is expressely added in Ezekiel 38:6, altogether (like Rev. 20:8) τα ἐθνη τα ἐν ταις τεσσαρσι γωνιαις της γης.—(Shield and helmet, as in Ezekiel 27:10.)—Gomer, Gen. 10:2 (1 Chron. 1:5), the Cimmerians, already mentioned by Homer (Odyss. 11:14 sq.), dwelling at the end of the earth and Okeanos, where the entrance to the lower world is,—wretched men, enveloped in cloud, darkness, and night, and never shone upon by Helios; afterwards placed on the west coast of Lower Italy, near Cumæ, and still later supposed to be on the northern shores of the Euxine, so that the entrance into the Palus Mæotis was called the Cimmerian Bosporus; after this they were removed to the Rhipæan Mountains, into the neighbourhood of the Hyperboreans, and finally became identified with the German Cimbri and the Celtic Cymry. “The old sound of their name is still retained in the mouth of the inhabitants of Wales, who call themselves Cumri or Cymry, and their land Cymru” (DELITZSCH), May not the name be derived from χειμεριοι, corresponding to the cloudy, wintry nature of their territory? (Hesychius interprets χεμμερος ἀχλυς ὁμιχλη.) See DUNCKER, Gesch. d. Alterth. 1. p. 739 sq.—On וְכָל־אֲגַפֶּיהָ, comp. on Ezekiel 12:14.—The house of Togarmah (Ezekiel 27:14), as Knobel thinks, including the Phrygians; just as the Armenians still to this day call themselves “house of Torgom” (Torkomatsi)—on Assyrian monuments “Tarkheler,” from “Tagoma.”—A pictorial and manifestly symbolical grouping of nations.
Ezekiel 38:7 announces from the decree concerning Gog the demand made upon him. הִכֹּן, inf. abs. Niph. pro imperativo, very energetic, and the more so as imperat. Hiph. וְהָכֵן (Ezekiel 7:14) follows: he himself is to be ready, and to make everything ready for leading out; or, the former referring to אַתָּה and the latter to וְכָל־קְהָלֶיךָ׳, recapitulated and combined by וְהָיִיתָ לָהֶם לִמִשְׁמָר, abstract for concrete, that is, he who takes care of them. [HENGST.: Thou art authority to them = they are obedient to thee. HÄVERN.: And thou art a law to them, as leader and commander-in-chief. EWALD: And thou servest as ensign to them. HITZIG (SEPT.): And thou shalt be to Me a reserve, which I hold in readiness for the coming day (Ezekiel 38:8), etc., or: and stand thou at My order.] Half ironical, for it will be seen immediately how the matter turns out.
Ezekiel 38:8. The time when and the direction in which this preparation and equipment shall take place. מַיָּמִים רַבִּים׳, comp. Isa. 24:22, according to which parallel, תִּפָּקֵד seems to signify: to “visit,” and that in wrath, as the word (according to Delitzsch) does not occur in the sense of gracious visitation. Hitzig replies that it is not yet time to speak in the connection here of the infliction of punishment, and denies that פָּקַד with accus. of the person signifies to visit in a bad sense. But the ambiguous expression only says even here that the judgment upon Gog will begin to be prepared, hence it is not immediate infliction of punishment; the sallying forth from his land, to which he will be moved, is his visitation referred to in the connection—תִּפָּקֵד equivalent to שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ׳, Ezekiel 38:4. The radical signification of the word in the Hebrew is: to seek = to examine, to inspect, to survey, from which “to visit” easily follows; hardly, however, as HITZIG: “thou shalt receive command,” or as HÄVERN.: “thou art missed,” that is, considered as a nation that has disappeared and perished; “then, however, thou burstest forth unexpectedly with so much the more formidable forces into the land of promise.” Hävern. according to this takes בְּאַחֲרִית הַשָּׁנִים as antithetical to מִיָמִים רַבִּים, whereas the expiration of a long time is expressly supposed to be in the last time, which is the consummation not only of the kingdom of God, but of the world generally. Days and years interchange harmoniously; that which appears in the single event as many days is, for the Apocalyptic eye, which ranges over the whole, the summation for that which is still outstanding, that is, still in arrears, in years or time generally. Of the future in general, and hence of an indefinite time, nothing is accordingly said. HENGST.: the catastrophe belongs to a quite new order of things; both phrases denote the Messianic epoch. (But as to its final terminus), Rev. 20:7 sq.—That now the land comes to view is for the purpose of joining on to Ezekiel 37, as the mountains of Israel point to Ezekiel 36. What is said of the land, מְשׁוֹבֶבֶת׳ (part. p. Pil., comp. שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ, Ezekiel 38:4), “made to return from the sword,” that is, after war had raged over it (Ezekiel 6:5), applies in substance to the people of the land, as also מְקֻבֶּצֶת׳ (Pu. pass.)—comp. Ezekiel 11:17, 20:34, 41, 36:24, 37:21—shows, and still more clearly וְיָשְׁבוּ׳, as conclusion. [HITZIG: the turned away from the sword, not in the sense of: which has desisted from war, but: which expects no war, in careless security.] Keil connects עַל הָרִי׳ with חָּבוֹא Comp. Ezekiel 37:22. The closer designation of them as perpetually, that is, continuing a long time for devastation (Ezekiel 5:14), rather connects the mountains of Israel with the people assembled upon them, who possess and inhabit them. The time referred to during which they were laid waste is to be considered as previous to what was prophesied in Ezekiel 36. 37; moreover, the phrase: from many nations, does not necessarily point beyond the Babylonian exile, although the spiritual sense: that “the Son of God gathers, protects, and upholds for Himself an elect church, etc., out of the whole human race,” readily results from it. Comp. on לָבֶטַח, Ezekiel 28:26, 34:25, 27.
Ezekiel 38:9. וְעָלִיתָ, not a mere vox militaris (Isa. 7:1; comp. Rev. 20:9), but coloured by בַּשּׁוֹאָה, which signifies “subversion,” destruction, as well the state (waste, desolation), as the cause which produces it; storm, as it may also denote the moment of devastation, the crash (שָׁאָה,שׁוֹא, “to come smashing down”). The continuation of the comparison by כֶּעָנָן (Ezekiel 30:18) makes the translation given too obvious for its needing to be interpreted, with Hengstenberg, “like ruin.” (“Gog is, as it were, desolation incarnate.”) [“The cavalry of the Tanjou frequently consisted of two or three hundred thousand men, formidable by the matchless dexterity with which they managed their bows and their horses, by their hardy patience in supporting the inclemency of the weather: unchecked by torrents or by precipices, by the deepest rivers or by the most lofty mountains, they spread themselves over the face of the country, and overthrew all who opposed them.”—GIBBON.]—But that, notwithstanding this, only the “covering” is held up to view, limits essentially the evil significance of this expedition; it is in the first instance merely threatening.
Ezekiel 38:10 completes, through means of subjective morality, the representation given theocratically in principle from the divine purpose in Ezekiel 38:4. For although a host not only so numerous, but also so tumultuous, wild, and disorderly, is a temptation, yet Gog too is put in the position with respect to the people and land of peace on the mountains of Israel, to settle down in this peace with his nations and participate in it, as the salvation from the Jews is announced to all the world, even to its remotest corners and ends. If, therefore, Gog’s impetuosity and urgency to depart from his abodes is not thence explained, then behind the thoughts of his heart we will have to assume in addition (Rev. 20:7 sq.) ὁ σατανας and his πλανησαι τα ἐθνη, and to conceive of the relation to Ezekiel 38:4 as of that of 1 Chron. 21:1 to 2 Sam. 24:1, and generally to direct our view to the world of nations, which has remained unreceptive, notwithstanding that the gospel has been preached in the whole world πασῃ τῃ κτισει. On the expression: on that day, comp. Ezekiel 29:21.——יַעֲלוּ illustrates וְעָלִיתָ in Ezekiel 38:9.—דְבָרִים are not: “things,” but (as and sayest, Ezekiel 38:11, immediately proves) in the first instance: words, which ascend upon the heart, after they were thoughts in the heart (and so proceed out of the heart, Mark 7:21), חָשַׁב, to settle something inwardly, to conceive in thought, to devise, especially in a bad sense, denotes the inward process which precedes and accompanies.
Ezekiel 38:11. The evil purpose is well characterized by the contrast to אֶרֶץ פְּרָזוֹת, a plain country, which has no mountain fortresses, no walled cities; whereby is intended, not so much: which lies open on all sides (HITZIG), as: which offers no incentive for conquest; comp. Esth. 9:19; Zech. 2:4. In accordance with this, בְּצוּרוֹת, in Ezekiel 36:35, is to be understood of a high secure position. The whole description, and particularly what follows, is an idyl, which, rather than matter for dogmatism, has a symbolic character, and is especially designed to bring out the guilt of Gog through his device against such peace of God. Comp. in addition, Judg. 18:7; Jer. 49:31; Micah 5:10 sq.
Ezekiel 38:12. As such an attack is an evil device, so also is the intention of plundering. [Hengst. makes “the community of God to be depicted in its want of earthly defence or help, in this its disadvantage against the world, while God has reserved to Himself to be its defence.” It is not, however, “the perception of this defenceless state which presents the occasion for the undertaking of the enemy;” this proceeds rather from the wanton self-sufficiency of carnal power and might.] לְהָשִׁיב יָדְךָ, a fresh instance of what the heathen had done before, connects itself with the “and sayest” in Ezekiel 38:11. In מִקְנֶה (see GES. Lex.) here, while in other passages the sense of the word is otherwise defined (Gen. 31:18, 36:6, 34:23), the possession of flocks by the patriarchs is referred to, and the synonym קּנְיָן is to be defined in accordance therewith; comp. on Ezekiel 38:13. “Very beautifully does the Archaic expression delineate the revival of the patriarchal state, the resemblance which the future bears to the past” (HÄVERN.). [HITZIG: “attending to productive labour and commerce.” EWALD: “who possess land and goods.” Both translations obliterate the idyllic character of the description.] As טַבּוּר can be said of any height, curved elevation (Mount Tabor!), so it here signifies the same as το πλατος της γης (Rev. 20:9), the symbolical elevated plateau of the earth, in contradistinction to the four corners of the earth,—a position thus of prominent centrality (see Hitzig)—“the highlands of the Spirit,” as Lange expresses it. Comp. on Ezekiel 5:5. “The designation applies so much the more closely, because the land itself lies high, and, sloping both to the east and the west, exposes a navel to view” (HITZIG). Israel’s peacefulness and significance—the Israel of the fulfilment in Christ—are meant to be counter-types to the restless and the essentially mean, to the rapacious, materialistic disposition of the Christless heathen world. שָׁלָל and בַּז show what alone Gog wants with the Lord’s people. Hävernick rightly remarks that “the inward significance” of the conflict is meant to be portrayed. “The heathen power has assembled its forces, as if about to fight with one of the greatest world-kingdoms. According to mere human opinion, and in view of such disparity of outward power, the evil appears here to march to certain victory.” Ought we not also to be able to infer from the representation given, that the community of God has at the time ceased to appear in “dominant churches,” and has also dispensed with the support of the temporal arm in the way of state churches? It looks here quite like το μικρον ποιμνιον, Luke 12:32, which possesses nothing except the εὐδοκησεν of the Father and the δουναι την βασιλειαν. Hävernick mentions in this connection the “true destination of the theocracy, as it is already set before us in the law,” and then adds: “Israel was not intended to stand out among other nations as a politically great people in the outward sense; its weapons and honour were, in direct contrast to the powers of this world, to belong to an incomparably higher sphere.” He nevertheless makes “the theocracy be an object of allurement for covetousness and plunder,” in that he makes “the new nation rich in flocks and possessions,” as already the Chaldee Paraphrast does,—an idea, however, which the text does not express, and which is not contained in עשֶֹׁה׳. In that case one could not but choose to hear in Ezekiel 38:13 the “similar interest of avarice,” the “participation in joy over such a robbing expedition;” against which HITZIG “but why are traders named, and not rather arch-enemies, like Edom and Moab?” Sheba; see Ezekiel 27:22, 23. Dedan; Ezekiel 27:15, 20. The merchants of Tarshish; Ezekiel 27:21, 36, 12, 25. First of all, traffic which crosses sea and land presents a contrast to the settled system and peaceful procedure, Ezekiel 38:11, 12. Then further, those named by means of the clause: וְכָל־כְּפִירֶיהָ (Hitzig: “its,” the land of Tarshish’s, “authorities;” KEIL: “the rapacious rulers of these commercial nations;” GROTIUS: “sea pirates”),—comp. Ezekiel 19:2, 3 (Ezekiel 32:2),—are placed alongside of the greedy and rapacious Gog. (“The magnates of Tarshish are designated as fierce lions on account of the heartless cruelty which goes hand in hand with the spirit of trade,” HENGST.) The meaning, however, is not: “where there is spoil the traders gather,” so that “the question, in the case of affirmation, implies a prospect of joyful participation” (HENGST.), for finally they figure as connoisseurs, as men skilled in robbery and plunder; and this not merely “for bringing out the evident desire of Gog’s hordes” (KEIL)—for if it is “evident,” what need is there of the “bringing out”?—but rather to place an almost ironical point of interrogation after the greed and rapacity of Gog in respect to the patriarchal possessions and goods mentioned in Ezekiel 38:12; somewhat thus: what wilt thou get then? as if even for them who delight to rob and plunder for their living, the greatness of the attack bore no proportion to the smallness of the object! Moreover, what is put into their mouth is in keeping with this. In the first place, they simply take up Gog’s intention (Ezekiel 38:12), asking in his own words, Comest thou with this intention? are thine assemblages for this? Then, however, very characteristically, the merchants, the connoisseurs, immediately speak of “silver and gold” as that above all which should reward such an expedition as Gog’s. This, however, is not mentioned in the description in Ezekiel 38:12, so that the naming again of the מִקְנֶה וְקִנְיָן looks antithetical, and this the more as the questioners conclude: to take great spoil. To take cattle and goods of that kind must recommend itself poorly to hordes which have come from such a distance.
After those skilled in pillage have given their dictum by their question, Jehovah now says, Ezekiel 38:14, that Gog will find it just as those of kindred spirit to him have already said.—Therefore, because in fact it is as those say, the prophet also shall, on God’s part, confirm it (הִנָּבֵא). The interrogatory: And say to Gog, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In that day … shalt thou not know it? is parallel to the interrogating speakers in Ezekiel 38:13 (יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ). It is so, and therefore will also be so when Gog shall be in a position to know it. [תֵּדעָ has been most commonly, as already by the Chaldee Paraphrast, understood of knowing through punishment. Hävernick regards at least “the whole foregoing leading forth” as that “of the truth” of which “Gog shall have living experience.” Ewald and Hitzig read תֵּעֹר (SEPT.): “wilt thou set thyself in motion?”]—On that day, Ezekiel 38:10.
Ezekiel 38:15. Although thou comest to this knowledge, nevertheless thou comest, etc., because (Ezekiel 38:16) I make thee come according to My intention.—Comp. Ezekiel 38:8, 6, 9.—Riding horses, etc., comp. Ezekiel 23:6. It is related of the Scythians that they eat, drink, and sleep in the saddle. Duncker remarks on Herodotus’ expedition of the Scythians: “Only on the west shore of the Caspian Sea, only through the pass of Denbend was it possible that the numerous bands of cavalry (he supposes the Sarmatian tribes, which pressed forward towards the Caucasus, and that neighbouring hordes of the Scolots, from the Tanais (Don) to the Tyras (Dniester), joined in this movement) could take and open up for themselves the way to the south. It led into the heart of the Median territory.”—Ezekiel 26:7.
Ezekiel 38:16. Comp. Ezekiel 38:9.—בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים combining the two designations of Ezekiel 38:8.—לְמַעַן׳, the divine purpose at Ezekiel 38:4, in distinction to Gog’s purposes, Ezekiel 38:12. That which was meant to end in a plundering expedition issues in the knowledge of Jehovah; while by the expression: when I sanctify Myself on thee, Gog is exhibited as a parallel and at the same time an antithesis to Israel,—a parallel as Jehovah has sanctified Himself in judgment, an antithesis as He has sanctified Himself in mercy in His people. [“Known as the Holy One, whose honour and estate no one is permitted to touch, even in His weak protegées,” SCHMIEDER.] Comp. Ezekiel 20:41, 28:22, 36:23.
The vocative גּוֹג, Ezekiel 38:16, prepares for הַאַתָּה־הוּא, Ezekiel 38:17. The interrogative form is not so much intended to make a stronger affirmation, as to call special attention to the former prophetic announcement. The affirmation to the question also does not lie in the last clause of the verse (KEIL), for this clause rather expresses the immediate contents of the earlier prophecy referred to,—what will come upon the community of God as end and consummation. That the prophets of Israel had already named Gog is directly excluded by the interrogation. If they mentioned names, these were rather other national forms, but behind all these there remained a point of interrogation; and for this reason, that especially accompanying all the prospects of grace for Israel, there remained in prospect a final judgment over his and God’s enemies, over the world that withstands the kingdom of God (over the heathen world). This interrogative realizes itself here in Ezekiel by this Gog. Hence it is not only difficult to point out distinct sayings of the older prophets (EWALD: Isa. 10:6, 17:14; HENGST.: Joel 3:3 [2:30] sq.; Isa. 24–27, 34; Deut. 32; KEIL: Joel 3:2, 11 sq.: Isa. 25:5, 10 sq., 26:21; Jer. 30:23, 25), but also superfluous to do so, and above all to imagine “lost” passages (EWALD). The judgment of the world shall, according to the word of the prophets of Israel, be the transforming of the Church militant into the Church triumphant. [“The predictions of the earlier prophets are in so far alluded to as the victory of the kingdom of God over the heathen world, and the judgment of the Lord on it, are announced in them. It is only thus that the reference to the prophecies accords with the other contents of the section. The special announcements regarding the invasion and overthrow of Assyria and Babylon may also be included,” HENGST.]—קַדְמֹנִים,קַדְמֹנִי, what in relation to the speaker, or some one else referred to, belongs to ancient times.—בְּיַד׳, Dan. 9:10.—בַּיָמִים הָהֵם reproduces בְּיָמִים קַדְמוֹנִים, in order to designate by the accusative of duration, שָׁנִים, “during years,” the prophecy as one “going through the whole course of the times” (HENGST.). [Others, e.g. Hävernick, take it as an asyndeton. EWALD: “who prophesied in those days of years.”]
Ezekiel 38:18 is, according to Hitzig, a quotation from the former prophecy, of which we do not see the necessity. Our verse brings to actual fulfilment what was prophesied by: that I would bring thee upon them (Ezekiel 38:17).—On that day, more definitely: on the day of the coming of Gog, etc., upon the land of Israel, explains upon them (Ezekiel 38:17).—Comp. moreover, Ps. 18:9, 16 (8, 15). בְּאַפִּי, not: “in my wrath,” but the short breathing of the nose, anthropopathically as the gesture indicative of an angry man, or poetically, as in general also of the horse, lion, crocodile, etc. (אף, from אָנַף, i.e. to breathe through the nose, to puff, correl. נָפַשׁ,נָשַׁף, through the mouth). Comp. Ezekiel 24:8.
Ezekiel 38:19. (Ezekiel 5:13, 36:6.) Comp. Ezekiel 21:31, 22:21.—דִּבַּרְתִּי, prophetic perfect, not, as Hitzig, = דִּבַּרְתִּי in Ezekiel 38:17, as repetition before introducing the expression left out in Ezekiel 38:18, so that Ezekiel 38:18 continues itself with Ezekiel 38:19b. Forced and artificial.—By דִּבַּרְתִּי,אִם־לֹא becomes an oath: surely. The “shaking” is not merely a shaking of the earth, because the land of Israel is immediately mentioned. For this reference is made obvious by the locality of the judgment, and besides, רַעַשׁ takes place over (עַל) the ground and soil of Israel, just as Hupf. on Ps. 18 directs attention to the shaking of the earth by thunder, and the violence of Eastern tempests. What is meant by רַעַשׁ is explained in Ezekiel 38:20; and at the same time the “greatness” of the shaking: וְרָעֲשׁוּ מִפָּנַי׳. That the mountains, etc., are thrown down (Ezekiel 30:4), is only one element in the whole, which, as a whole, is described as a cosmic catastrophe, sympathized in by every κτισις (comp. Zeph. 1:3; Jer. 4:25; Gen. 7:21), like a world’s overthrow. הַמַּדְרֵגוֹת, according to Gesenius, particularly: “stair-like rocks” (like κλιμαξ), from דָּרַג, from which Miter deduces the signification: rift, fissure. Proceeding from the Arabic, מַדְרֵגָה might denote something to be ascended, a height.—Every wall that is to fall includes natural walls, as well as those made by man.
Ezekiel 38:21. עָלָיו, because the judgment of the fury and jealousy of Jehovah is aimed at Gog and his bands.—The sword, thus his own weapon (Ezekiel 38:4 לְכָל, etc., HITZIG distributive: on all, sq.; KEIL: towards all, sq., indicating the direction. This, which is certainly not “forced into the connection” (HITZIG), is explained from Ezekiel 38:9 (16) from the cloud covering the land. Gog’s bands are in all directions, therefore also the sword is in all directions (Ezekiel 39:4).—My mountains, the Lord says, casting a glance at His people there (Ezekiel 38:8). [Hitzig grounds it on Zech. 14:4 sq. (?).] For what purpose the sword is called for is indeed self-evident; but here one assails the other therewith in discord (contrast to the assembling at first, Ezekiel 38:7), probably as usual at the dividing of the booty made. Comp. Zech. 14:13. Previous types, Judg. 7:22; 2 Chron. 20:23. In the first instance Jehovah merely “calls.”
Ezekiel 38:22. He grasps it still more personally as a judge: נִשְׁפַּטְתִּי, Ezekiel 17:20. The colouring for the farther description reminds us of the plagues of Egypt, whence Hengstenberg makes them be “partly taken, and from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah,” Gen. 19:24. Comp. also Ezekiel 28:23, and on Ezekiel 13:11, 13 (Josh. 10:11). Ezekiel 38:23 proves that it is an intervention of Jehovah Himself, His fighting for His people, who are small compared with the greatness of Gog (Ezekiel 38:15).—הִתְגִּדִּלְתִּי is to be understood from the contrast to the greatness of Gog. Comp. on Ezekiel 36:23. On הִתְקַדִּשְׁתִּי, comp. on Ezekiel 38:16.—נוֹדעַתּי, comp. Ezekiel 35:11 (Ezekiel 39:7, 20:5, 9).—The many heathen nations, corresponding antithetically to the repeatedly-mentioned “many nations” (according to Ezekiel 38:22).—Comp. Ezekiel 38:16.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,