Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 5)

Dr. Thomas Ice

"Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, theprince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him."

-Ezekiel 38:2

As we have seenpreviously, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew took Rosh as a proper noun and identified them with thepeople of Southern Russian and the Ukraine. Such a translation indicates that the Greek-speaking Jews inNorth Africa believed that Roshwas a proper noun and referred to a known people. After providing an impressive amount of data to support thenotion that the Rosh people refer to modern day Russians, Clyde Billingtondeclares:

Therefore, it is almostcertain that the ancient people whom the Greeks called Tauroi/Tursenoi wereidentical to the people known as "Tiras" in the Bible. These same Tiras people of Genesis 10:2were also called in other languages by a variety of names based upon the nameTiras. For example, note thenames: Taruisha [Hittite], Turus/Teresh [Egyptian], Tauroi/Tursenoi [Greek],and Tauri/Etruscan [Latin].[1]

Second,Billington tells us, "From a variety of sources it isknown that a people named the Ros or Rus lived in the same area near the BlackSea where the Tauroi people lived."[2] Billington also tells us that "earlyByzantine Christian writers identified the Rosh people of Ezekiel 38-39 with anearly group of people of southern Russia whom they called the "'Ros.'"[3] We further learn that "the Byzantine Greeks used the LXX spelling [Ros] of thename because they unquestionably identified the Ros/Rus/Russian people ofsouthern Russia with the Rosh people mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39."[4]

Third,"it is well-known that the first Russian state was founded by a people known asthe Varangian Rus."[5] Many current scholars like Edwin Yamauchi support the notion that the nameRus, from which the modern name for Russia is derived, is a Finnish word andrefers to Swedish invaders from the North, not from the Rosh people in theSouth. He says that the name Rusdid not come to the region until the Middle Ages when it was brought by theVikings.[6] However, while Yamauchi is a respectedscholar, his dogmatic conclusion stands in direct opposition to the substantialhistorical evidence presented by the Hebrew scholar Gesenius, James Price, andClyde Billington.

Billingtonprovides six objections to Yamauchi's claim of a Northern origin of Rus insteadof a Southern one. First, theByzantine use of the word Rus for those who became the Russians pre-dates byhundreds of years the later Northern claim. Second, Byzantine sources never speak of these people ashaving immigrated from the North to the South. They "were long time inhabitantsof the Black Sea-Russia-Ukraine-Crimea area, and none of the Byzantine sourcesstates that the original homeland of the Ros was Scandinavia."[7] Third, since various forms of the Roshpeople are found in use all the way back to the second century b.c., it is most unlikely that the Finnsinvented the name Rus. Fourth,"there is no logical reason why the Ros people should have adopted the foreignFinnish name of "Ruotsi" after migrating to southern Russia."[8] Fifth, "all modern scholars agree thatthe Varangians never called themselves (and they were never called by others)'Ros' while they still lived in Scandinavia near the Finns."[9] Finally, Byzantine and Western recordsindicate that there were people in Southern Russia who were already callingthemselves by the name of "Rus" many years before the Northern invasion.[10]

Itis clear when one sifts through the evidence that the Varangians who migratedfrom Scandinavia into Southern Russia were called by the name of "Rus" whenthey moved into that area which had already been known by that name for manyyears. Billington summarizes: "Aswas argued above, the Varangian Rus took their name from the native peoplenamed the Ros who had from ancient times lived in the area to the north of theBlack Sea. In other words there were two Ros peoples: the original SarmatianRos people and the Varangian Rus people."[11]

It should beclear by now that Rosh doesindeed refer to the modern day Russian people. Both grammatical and historical evidence have beenprovided. This is why I agree withthe overall conclusions of Billington, who says:

1. Ezekiel 38-39 doesmention a people called the "Rosh" who will be an allies of Meshech, Tubal, andGog in the Last Days.

2. There were Rosh peopleswho lived to the north of Israel in the Caucasus Mountains and to the north ofthe Black and Caspian Seas.

3. Some of the Rosh peoplewho lived to the north of Israel came in time to be called "Russians."

4. The name Russian isderived from the name Ros/Rosh which is found in Ezekiel 38-39.

5. And, in conclusion, itis clear that Russian peoples will be involved along with Meshech, Tubal, andGog in an invasion of Israel in the Last Days.[12]

Who IsMeshech?

Inow move on to the much easier task of identifying to whom Meshech refers. Meshech appears 10 times in the HebrewOld Testament,[13] includingits first usage in the Table of Nations (Gen. 10:2). In Genesis 10 Meshech is listed as a son of Japheth. The genealogical descent from Genesis10 is repeated twice in 1 Chronicles (1:5, 17). Other than references in Psalm 120:5 and Isaiah 66:19, theother occurrences of Meshech are all found in Ezekiel (27:13; 32:26; 38:2, 3;39:1). The three references inEzekiel 38 and 39 all group "Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" together, as does Isaiah66:19 but in a different order. Mark Hitchcock tells us:

All we know about Meshechfrom the Old Testament is that Meshech and his partners Javan and Tubal tradedwith the ancient city of Tyre, exporting slaves and vessels of bronze inexchange for Tyre's merchandise. That's all the Bible tells us about ancient Meshech. However, ancient history has a greatdeal to say about the location and people of ancient Meshech.[14]

SomeBible teachers in the past have taught that Meshech is a reference to Moscowand thus refers to Russia. This isthe view of The Scofield Reference Bible, Harry Rimmer[15]and Hal Lindsey.[16] Rimmer says of Meshech: "hisdescendants came to be called 'Mosche,' from which derived the old term'Muscovites.' While this laterword is and has been applied to all Russians who come from Moscow and itsvicinity."[17] The identification of Meshech withMoscow is merely based upon a similarity of sound. There is not real historical basis to support such a view,therefore, it must be rejected.

AllenRoss, based upon historical and biblical information in his dissertation on thetable of nations says:

Tubal and Mesek are always foundtogether in the Bible. Theyrepresent the northern military states that were exporting slaves and copper(Ezekiel 27:13, 38:2, 39:1, 32:26 and Isaiah 66:19). Herodotus placed their dwelling on the north shore of theBlack Sea (III, 94). Josephusidentified them as the Cappadocians. . . . Mesek must be located in theMoschian mountains near Armenia. Their movement was from eastern Asia Minor north to the Black Sea.[18]

Thearea southeast of the Black Sea is modern day Turkey. "At every point in the history" of Meshech, notes Hitchcock"they occupied territory that is presently in the modern nation of Turkey."[19] Such a conclusion is not acontroversial one since virtually all scholars agree with this view.

Who Is Tubal?

"Tubal" appearseight times in the Hebrew Bible[20](Gen. 10:2; 1 Chron. 1:5; Isa. 66:19; Ezek. 27:13;32:26; 38:2, 3; 39:1). Tubal isidentified as the fifth son of Japheth and the brother of Meshech in the tableof nations (Gen. 10:2). Asnoted above by Ross, Tubal is always grouped together with Meshech in the Bible and Ezekiel 38 is no exception.

Some prophecyteachers have taught that Tubal is the derivative that became the modernRussian city Tobolsk. This viewwas popularized by The Scofield Reference Bible and a number of other teachers. However, as was the case with Meshech,such a view is developed from similarity of the sound of Tubal andTobolsk. This view lacks a solidhistorical basis. The historicalrecord, as was the case with Meshech, is that Tubaland his descendants immigrated to the area southeast of the Black Sea in whatis modern day Turkey. Meshech and Tubal clearly provide the population base forthe country we now call Turkey.

TodayTurkey is considered a secular country. However, Turkey has a long history as a Muslim dominated country thatfor hundreds of years headed up the Muslim empire. Turkey is just a step away from returning to its Islamicpolitical heritage, which would provide a basis for aliening with the otherMuslim dominated territories that will one day invade Israel. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)


[1] Clyde E. Billington, Jr., "The Rosh People inHistory and Prophecy (Part Three)," Michigan Theological Journal 4:1 (Spring 1993), pp. 42-43.

[2] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.44.

[3] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.48.

[4] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.50.

[5] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.51.

[6] Edwin M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1982), p. 20.

[7] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.52.

[8] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.53.

[9] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.53.

[10] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," pp.52-53.

[11] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.57.

[12] Billington, "The Rosh People (Part Three)," p.62.

[13] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version6.9.2.

[14] Mark Hitchcock, After The Empire: BibleProphecy in Light of the Fall of the Soviet Union (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), p.56.

[15] Harry Rimmer, The Coming War and the Rise ofRussia (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1940), pp. 55-56.

[16] Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970).

[17] Rimmer, The Coming War, pp. 55-56.

[18] Allen P. Ross, "The Table of Nations in Genesis"(ThD dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976), pp. 204-05.

[19] Mark Hitchcock, Iran The Coming Crisis:Radical Islam, Oil, And The Nuclear Threat (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006), p. 184.

[20] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version6.9.2.