Monday, May 24, 2010

Gog and Magog

The tradition of Gog and Magog begins with cryptic Biblical references regarding apocalyptic prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel. The ambiguity of this tradition cannot be overstated. The very nature of these entities differs greatly in the discourse according to the places and times of the sources. They are variously presented as human beings, supernatural beings (giants or demons), nations, or as lands. Part of the confusion is the difference between the Tanakh and Septuagint (BHS p.967) and internal contradictions in the text.

References to Gog and Magog appear in the Book of Revelation, in the Qur'an as Yajooj-Majooj (Arabic يأجوج و مأجوج, Yecüc-Mecüc in the Turkish spelling) and occur widely in mythology and folklore.

The Biblical Gog and Magog

Magog in Genesis

The first occurrence of "Magog" in the Bible is in the "Table of Nations" in Genesis 10, where Magog is the eponymous ancestor of a people or nation (without any accompanying apocalyptic symbolism, or mention of Gog):

2. The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras
3. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. (Genesis 10:2-3)

In this occurrence Magog is clearly the name of a person, although in the anthropology proposed by Genesis, ethnic groups and nations are founded by, and usually named after, their founding ancestors. The names of Gomer, Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah also occur in Ezekiel.


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