Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 9)

Dr. Thomas Ice

Persia,Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer with allits troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all itstroops-many peoples with you.

-Ezekiel 38:5-6

Verses five andsix complete the allies that will attack Israel with their leader Gog. The identity of the first ally appearsto be very clear since its ancient name is widely known down through history,even in our own day. Persia refersto the Persian people who make up a majority of the modern country ofIran. There is consensus amongfuturists that historic Persia clearly refers to modern Iran. "The name Persia, which was written allover the pages of ancient history, was changed to Iran in foreign usage inMarch 1935,"[1] notes MarkHitchcock.

Iran and Russia

Anyone followingthe news headlines the last few years certainly are aware of the warmrelationship between Russia and Iran. Russia has been a supplier of many of the elements Iran wants in order todevelop a nuclear bomb. It isclear that Iran aspires to control the entire Middle East so that they canspread their view of Islam in order to reunite the Muslim world under a singleauthority, an Iranian rule. Wehave all heard that their President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said on multipleoccasions that he aspires to wipe Israel off of the map. For the last fifteen years, everyIsraeli administration has repeatedly said that Iran is Israel's greatest threat. Today many wonder if Israel will bemoved to act preemptively, perhaps with the help of the United States, to takeout Iran's nuclear capability before it is fully realized. We will certainly know the answerbefore President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009, since it isunlikely that a new President would be involved in such an adventure.

Iran very likelycould be the key ally in the Russian led invasion of Israel in the lastdays. Perhaps Iran will takeadvantage of the new bellicose posture of Russian President Valdimir Putin is reinstallingtoward the West, especially the United States. No matter how these future events unfold there is no doubtthat Russian and Iran are developing the type of relationship that could easilylead to just such an invasion of Israel as the prophet Ezekiel has foretold.[2]

Ethiopia

The New AmericanStandard translation which I use translates the Hebrew word Cush as Ethiopia. Many English translations have transliterated it from theHebrew into the English word "Cush." Cush occurs 29 timesin the Hebrew Bible.[3] Genesis 2:13 refers to an antediluvianland named Cush. Three times inthe table of nations it refers to Cush who is a descendant of Ham. Most of the other uses occur in Isaiahand Ezekiel (13 times) and refer to the same region mentioned in Ezekiel28:5. One Hebrew lexicon says thatCush refers to "the lands of the Nile in southernEgypt, meaning Nubia and Northern Sudan, the country bordering the southern RedSea."[4] Another tells us that Cush "refers tothe region immediately south and east of Egypt, including modern Nubia, theSudan, and the Ethiopia of classical writers."[5] Thus, the Bible clearly locates Cushjust south of Egypt in what is the modern nation of Sudan.

TodaySudan is one of the most militant Islamic nations in the world. Hitchcock notes, "that the modern nationof Sudan is one of only three Muslim nation in the world with a militantIslamic government."[6] I was surprised to also learn that"Sudan is the largest nation in territory on the African continent and has apopulation of 26 million." It isinteresting to realize that Iran and Sudan have become the closest of alliesduring the last twenty years. Theyhave entered into trade agreements, militaries alliances, and Iran alsooperates terrorist training bases in Sudan.[7] Sudan also is the place that protectedOsama bin Laden from 1991 to 1996 until he went to Afghanistan.[8] Based upon current alignment of nationsthat we see today it is not at all surprising to think that Sudan will be aSouthern ally that descends upon the land of Israel in the last days withRussia, Iran and others.

Put

Put is anothertransliteration from the Hebrew and occurs only seven times in the OldTestament.[9] Twice it is used in a genealogy thatsays that Put is a descendant of Ham (Gen. 10:6; 1 Chron. 1:8). The other five times it is used in theProphets to refer to Put as a nation, usually in a military context as we havein Ezekiel 38. A Hebrew lexiconsays, "probably not the same as Put but Libya."[10] "From the ancient Babylon Chronicle it appears that Putu was the 'distant' land to the west ofEgypt, which would be modern day Libya."[11] "In the invasion," notes Randall Price,"these countries will be joined by other nations (38:5) that represent theother three directions of the compass: Persia (modern Iran) from the east, Cush(northern Sudan) from the south, and Put (modern Libya) from the west."[12]

Justlike Iran and Sudan, Libya is a radical Islamic nation headed by strong manColonel Mu'ammar al-Gadhafi. LikeIran, Gadhafi has tried to develop nuclear weapons in the past, but claims tohave given up all attempts to produce them. "Ever since the rise of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gadhafi to powerin 1969," notes Hitchcock. "Thenation of Libya has been a constant source of trouble and terrorism for boththe West and Israel. Libya wouldcertainly jump at the chance to join forces with the Sudan, Iran, Turkey, andthe former Muslim republics of the Soviet Union to crush the Jewish state."[13]

Dressed ToKill

Verse five endswith the statement: "all of them with shield and helmet." We saw in verse four that the Hebrewword for "shield" (sinna)refers to a "large shield covering the whole body."[14] In verse four it said, "a great companywith buckler and shield," however, in verse five it says, "with shieldand helmet." The Hebrew word forhelmet is (koba') and refersto a "helmet," usually made of bronze.[15] All six uses[16]of this word in the Hebrew Old Testament refer to a metal helmet worn by asolider for military conflict. Thus, this passage emphasizes the fact that "all" of the invaders arewell outfitted in military attire for their invasion into the land ofIsrael. Price says that thispassage paints a picture where, "Israel will be defenseless and 'surrounded' onall sides by its enemies."[17]

Gomer

Thetransliterated name Gomer occurs five times in the Hebrew Old Testament,[18]not counting those that refer to the wayward wife of Hosea. Every use except the one in Ezekieloccurs in a genealogy (Gen. 10:2, 3; 1 Chron. 1:5, 6). Gomer is said to be a son of Japheth inthe table of nations (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chron. 1:5). The issue is where do the modern day descendants of Gomernow reside? "His descendants are usuallyidentified as the Cimmerians who moved onto the stage of history from the areanorth of the Black Sea in the eighth century b.c."[19] Jon Ruthven has a map in which heplaces Gomer and his descendants as having settled in the area north of theBlack and Caspian Seas.[20] However, the descendants of Gomer werepushed out of that area and into "the area of Cappadocia, which today is incentral and north-central Turkey. Josephus identified the people of Galatia with Gomer. He says that the people the Greekscalled the Galatians were the Gomerites."[21] Today these "Gomerites" live in thewest-central part of Turkey. Therefore, the descendants of Gomer along with some other peoples wehave yet to consider indicate that modern Turkey will be part of those whoinvade the land of Israel.

The passage says,"Gomer with all its troops." It isalready clear from prior statements in this prophecy that many nations will becoming down on Israel and the descendants of Gomer will be with them. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)

ENDNOTES
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Mark Hitchcock, After The Empire: Bible Prophecyin Light of the Fall of the Soviet Union (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), p. 72.



[2] For a couple of more recent books that focus onthe current events of the Gog and Magog invasion see Mark Hitchcock, IranThe Coming Crisis: Radical Islam, Oil, And The Nuclear Threat (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006), and Joel C.Rosenberg, Epicenter: Why The Current Rumblings in The Middle East WillChange Your Future (Carol Stream,IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006).



[3] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.3.



[4] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).



[5] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and BruceK. Waltke, editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), vol. 1, p.435.



[6] Hitchcock, After The Empire, p. 79. At least that was the case in 1994.



[7] Hitchcock, After The Empire, pp. 79-83.



[8] Hitchcock, Iran The Coming Crisis, p. 185.



[9] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.3.



[10] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.



[11] Hitchcock, Iran The Coming Crisis, p. 185.



[12] Randall Price, "Ezekiel," in Tim LaHaye & EdHindson, editors, The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary: Understanding theMeaning of Every Prophetic Passage(Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2006), p. 191.



[13] Hitchcock, After The Empire, pp. 85-86.



[14] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Hebrewand English Lexicon of the Old Testament (London: Oxford, 1907), electronic edition.



[15] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic edition.



[16] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.3.



[17] Price, "Ezekiel," p. 191.



[18] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.3.



[19] Harris, Archer, and Waltke, TheologicalWordbook, vol. 1, p. 168.



[20] Jon Mark Ruthven, The Prophecy That Is ShapingHistory: New Research on Ezekiel's Vision of the End (Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press, 2003), p. 81.



[21] Hitchcock, After The Empire, p. 62.