The meaning of this name is uncertain.
1. A descendant of Reuben.—1Ch 5:3, 4.
2. The name is found in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel and is there applied to the leader of a stormlike, multinational assault against God’s people. The attack comes after Jehovah has gathered his people out of the nations and restored them to the previously devastated “mountains of Israel.” Because they dwell in security, with no visible signs of protection, and because they enjoy abundant prosperity, Gog is drawn into waging a vicious, all-out attack upon them. He congregates a vast army from many nations for this purpose. But his assault sets off Jehovah’s rage and brings terrible defeat and destruction upon Gog and his entire crowd. Their carcasses become food for birds and beasts, and their bones are buried in the valley that thereafter is called the Valley of Gog’s Crowd (literally, Valley of Hamon-Gog).
The Assault’s Source and Intent. The assault has a source far distant from the land of Israel. Gog is “of the land of Magog,” situated in “the remotest parts of the north.” (Eze 38:2, 15) He is the “head chieftain [“great prince,” AT; “chief prince,” KJ, RS] of Meshech and Tubal.” (Eze 38:2, 3) Some translations here read “the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (AS, JB), thus making “Rosh [Heb. for “head”]” refer to a country or people. No such land or people is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, however. Meshech and Tubal, like Magog, are names given to sons of Japheth (Ge 10:2), and the three lands bearing these names lay to the N of Israel. (See MAGOG No. 2; MESHECH No. 1; TUBAL.) Other northern members of the attacking forces, also Japhetic, were Gomer and Togarmah (thought to be the progenitors of the ancient Cimmerians and Armenians, respectively). Japhetic Persia lay to the NE. But the conspiracy embraced southern Hamitic members also—Ethiopia and Put down in Africa. (Eze 38:4-6, 15) Gog’s role, therefore, is as commander of a massive assault force that applies tremendous pressures designed to crush Jehovah’s people as though they were in a vise.
Israel is described as “dwelling in the center of the earth.” (Eze 38:12) Ancient Israel not only was located at a central point as regards the Eurasian and African continents but also was the center of pure worship of the true God and was counted by him as “the pupil of his eye.”—De 32:9, 10; Zec 2:8.
Jehovah states that he will ‘put hooks in Gog’s jaws’ and lead him to this attack. (Eze 38:4; compare 2Ki 19:20, 21, 28.) The prophecy clearly shows, however, that this is already Gog’s desire, the scheme being a product of his own heart. (Eze 38:10, 11) Jehovah draws Gog out, nonetheless, by restoring and prospering his own name people. This incites Gog to manifest his malevolence toward God’s people and he willingly advances into a course that brings swift destruction upon himself and all his associates. By the defeat and annihilation of Gog and his forces, Jehovah magnifies and sanctifies his own name before all observers.—Eze 38:12-23; 39:5-13, 21, 22; compare Joe 3:9-17.
Identification of Gog. The lands and peoples mentioned in the prophecy relating to Gog are known from the Bible and to some extent from secular history. But efforts to identify Gog with some historically known earthly ruler have not been successful. Most frequently suggested is Gyges, king of Lydia in western Asia Minor, called Guggu in the records of Assyrian monarch Ashurbanipal. (Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, by D. Luckenbill, 1927, Vol. II, pp. 297, 351, 352) Gyges, however, had died decades before the writing of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Hence, such identification is unacceptable. Additionally, the prophecy itself places Gog’s attack in “the final part of the years,” “in the final part of the days.” (Eze 38:8, 16; compare Isa 2:2; Jer 30:24; 2Ti 3:1.) For these reasons, the name Gog is evidently cryptic or symbolic, not being that of any known human king or leader.
The evidence points to a fulfillment in what is elsewhere called “the time of the end.” (Da 11:35; 12:9; compare Re 12:12.) Bible scholars and commentators generally recognize the prophecy as relating to the time of the Messianic Kingdom. As an example, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge comments: “Gog appears as the leader of the last hostile attack of the world-powers upon the kingdom of God.” (Edited by S. Jackson, 1956, Vol. V, p. 14) No fulfillment on natural Israel is known. The fulfillment in “the final part of the days” logically is with regard to spiritual Israel, the Christian congregation (Ro 2:28, 29; Ga 6:16), described by the apostle Paul as children of, and directed by, the “Jerusalem above.” (Ga 4:26) These points aid in arriving at the identification of Gog.
Further aid is found in the book of Revelation. Prophetic visions there foretold a great increase in persecution against the Christian congregation on the part of the symbolic dragon, Satan the Devil. This was to follow his being cast down, with his demons, from the heavens to the region of the earth, an act accomplished by the Kingdom of God through Christ at the time of Jesus’ beginning to exercise kingly authority. (Re 12:5-10, 13-17) The massing of earthly nations against God, his Son, and God’s faithful servants on earth figures prominently in these visions, as does also the total defeat and desolation of such enemy forces. (Re 16:13-16; 17:12-14; 19:11-21) The feasting by birds on the corpses of such enemies of Christ’s Kingdom rule likewise finds a correspondency here.—Compare Eze 39:4, 17-20 with Re 19:21.
The prophecy in Ezekiel concerning Gog points to a vicious, earth-wide assault on God’s people. Although Gog evidently represents a coalition of nations making the assault, it will be engineered and led behind the scenes by Satan the Devil. This attack is what triggers the complete wiping out of such Satanic forces by means of God’s awesome power.—Eze 38:18-22.
Burial of Gog’s Crowd. The burial of “Gog and all his crowd” is in “the valley of those passing through on the east of the sea.” (Eze 39:11) An American Translation here reads, “the valley of Abarim, east of the Dead Sea.” The name Abarim is used at Numbers 33:47, 48 with reference to the mountains E of the Dead Sea. (See ABARIM.) There are two deep valleys, or gorges, in this region, the Arnon and the Zered. The Arnon is some 3 km (2 mi) wide at the top and is about 520 m (1,700 ft) deep. The Zered is an even more formidable canyon, its steep cliffs dropping some 1,190 m (3,900 ft). Either of these valleys may be used to represent this prophetic burial place, the Arnon being due E of the sea, while the Zered, at the SE, was the more traveled of the two. Or, since the picture presented is symbolic, no specific valley may be intended. This burial in a deep place by the Dead Sea likewise finds some parallel in Revelation’s description of the disposal of the opposers of God’s Kingdom by their being cast into the symbolic lake of fire, and by the abyssing of Satan.—Re 19:20; 20:1-3.
Is the Gog referred to in Revelation the same as the one in Ezekiel?
3. Revelation 20:8 also speaks of “Gog and Magog.” Both names are shown to apply to “those nations in the four corners of the earth” who allow themselves to be misled by Satan after he is released from the symbolic “abyss.” Since other texts show that the Millennial Rule of Christ brings an end to national rule and divisions (Da 2:44; 7:13, 14), it would appear that such “nations” are the product of rebellion against his earth-wide dominion. They advance “over the breadth of the earth” to encircle “the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city.” This comes after the Millennial Rule over earth by Christ Jesus has reached its completion.—Re 20:2, 3, 7-9.
The use of the names “Gog and Magog” evidently serves to emphasize certain similarities between this post-Millennial situation and that of the earlier assault. Both in Ezekiel and in Revelation, the opposers are numerous (those in Revelation being of an indefinite number, “as the sand of the sea”); the attack is the result of a widespread conspiracy and is directed against God’s servants when they enjoy great prosperity. So, the use of “Gog and Magog” to describe those led into a post-Millennial rebellion is very fitting. Their end is absolute destruction.—Re 20:8-10, 14.