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.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 4)

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

Fifth, the most impressive evidence infavor of taking Rosh as a proper name is simply that this translation is themost accurate. G. A. Cooke, aHebrew scholar, translates Ezekiel 38:2, "the chief of Rosh, Meshech andTubal." He calls this "the most natural way of rendering the Hebrew."[1] Why is it the most natural way of renderingthe Hebrew? Rosh appears in construct form in the Hebrew withMeshech and Tubal meaning that the grammar forms a list of three nouns. Some want to say that rosh is a noun functioning as an adjective sincethere should be an "and" if it were intended to be a list of three nouns. The same exact Hebrew constructionappears in Ezekiel 38:5, as well as 27:13 and these are clearly recognized as alist of three nouns by grammarians even though "and" does not appear in eitherlist. Normal Hebrew and Arabicgrammar supports rosh as anoun (see also 38:3 and 39:1). Actually, Hebrew grammar demands that rosh be taken as a noun. No example of Hebrew grammar has ever been cited that wouldsupport taking rosh as anadjective. Instead, in Hebrewgrammar one cannot break up the construct chain of the three nouns that havethis kind of grammatical arrangement.[2] Hebrew scholar Randall Price says, "onlinguistic and historical grounds, the case for taking Rosh as a proper noun rather than a noun-adjective issubstantial and persuasive."[3]

In light of such overwhelmingevidence, it is not surprising that Hebrew scholar James Price concludes thefollowing: It has been demonstratedthat Rosh was a well-knownplace in antiquity as evidenced by numerous and varied references in theancient literature. It has alsobeen demonstrated that an adjective intervening between a construct noun andits nomen rectum is highlyimprobable, there being no unambiguous example of such in the HebrewBible. Furthermore, it has beendemonstrated that regarding Roshas a name is in harmony with normal Hebrew grammar and syntax. It is concludedthat Rosh cannot be anadjective in Ezekiel 38-39, but must be a name. Therefore, the only appropriatetranslation of the phrase in Ezek 38:2, 3, and 39:1 is "prince of Rosh,Meshech, and Tubal."[4]

Clyde Billington says, "the features of Hebrew grammar . . . dictate thatRosh be translated as a proper noun and not as an adjective, . . . It should, however, be noted that thegrammatical arguments for the translation of 'Rosh' as a proper noun in Ezekiel38-39 are conclusive and not really open for serious debate."[5] What would Gary DeMar say about suchevidence? I do not know, since Ihave never seen him address these arguments. DeMar is merely prone to making dogmatic statements to thecontrary based upon no real evidence for his position.

Therefore, having established that Rosh should be taken as a proper name of ageographical area, the next task is to determine what geographical location is inview.Historical andGeographical Support For Rosh as RussiaClyde Billington has written a series of three scholarly articles in atheological journal presenting extensive historical, geographical and toponymic[6]evidence for why Rosh should be and is traced to the Russian people of today.[7] He interacts with the leadingcommentaries and authorities of the day in his research and presentation. Billington notes, "it is also clear that Jerome, in deciding to translateRosh as an adjective rather than a proper noun, based his decision on anongrammatical argument, i.e. that a people called the Rosh are not mentionedeither in the Bible or by Josephus."[8] However, there is considerablehistorical evidence that a place known as Rosh was very familiar in the ancientworld. While the word appears in amultitude of various languages, which have a variety of forms and spellings, itis clear that the same people are in view.

It is very likelythat the name Rosh is actually derived from the name Tiras in Genesis 10:2 inthe Table of Nations. Billingtonnotes the Akkadian tendency to drop or to change an initial "t" sound in a nameespecially if the initial "t" was followed by an "r" sound. If you drop theinitial "T" from Tiras you are left with "ras."[9] It makes sense for Ras or Rosh to belisted in Genesis 10 since all the other nations in Ezekiel 38:1-6 are alsolisted there. This means Jerome'sclaim that Rosh did not appear in the Bible or in Josephus is erroneous. Since Tiras and his descendantsapparently are the same as the later Rosh people, then Rosh does appear in boththe Table of Nations and Josephus.

Rosh (Rash) isidentified as a place that existed as early as 2600 b.c. in Egyptian inscriptions. There is a later Egyptian inscription from about 1500 b.c. that refers to a land called Reshuthat was located to the north of Egypt.[10] The place name Rosh (or its equivalentin the respective languages) is found at least twenty times in other ancientdocuments. It is found three timesin the Septuagint (LXX), ten times in Sargon's inscriptions, once inAssurbanipal's cylinder, once in Sennacherib's annals, and five times inUgaritic tablets.[11] Billington traces the Rosh people fromthe earliest times in recorded history up to the days of Ezekiel, as theyappear multiple times throughout this historical period.[12]

Clearly, Rosh orTiras was a well-known place in Ezekiel's day. In the sixth century b.c.,the time Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, several bands of the Rosh people lived inan area to the north of the Black Sea. As we approach the eighth century, Billington cites a number ofhistorical references showing that "there is solidevidence linking one group of Rosh People to the Caucasus Mountains."[13] From the same general period of time,Billington notes: "There is even one cuneiformdocument from the reign of the Assyrian King Sargon II (ruled 722-705 b.c.) whichactually names all three peoples [Rosh, Meshech, Tubal] mentioned by Ezekiel38-39."[14] Billington concludes this section ofhis historical studies as follows:

Therefore, there isirrefutable historical evidence for the existence of a people named Rosh/Rashuin 9th-7th century b.c. Assyriansources. These same Assyriansources also mention Meshech and Tubal whose names appear in conjunction withthe name Rosh in Ezekiel 38-39. Clearly the Assyrians knew of the Rosh people, and so also did theprophet Ezekiel. It should benoted that Ezekiel wrote the Book of Ezekiel only about a 100 years later thanextant Assyrian texts which mention the Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal peoples.[15]

Does The Name RussiaCome From Rosh?

The ancient Roshpeople, who have been traced back to Tiras, a son of Japheth (Gen. 10:2), whomigrated to the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, are one of the geneticsources of the modern Russians of today. However, does the name for Russia come from the Biblical word Rosh asused in Ezekiel 38:2? We have seenthat Marvin Pate and Daniel Hays have said categorically, "The biblical termrosh has nothing to do with Russia."[16] Their statement is typical of thesentiment of many critics today. But is such a conclusion where the evidence leads? I do not think so! Here's why.

First, we need toknow that the Hebrew Old Testament was translated some time in the thirdcentury b.c. and it is known asthe Septuagint (LXX is the abbreviation). The Septuaginttranslates the Hebrew word Rosh in all its uses by the Greek word "Ros" or"Rhos." The early church moreoften than not used the Septuagint as their primary Old Testament. It is still used in the Greek speakingworld today as their translation of the Old Testament. Billington tells us: "early GreekOrthodox writers, using the LXX's spelling [Ros] of the name Rosh, identifiedthe Rosh people of Ezekiel chs. 38-39 with the northern Rus people of Russiaand the Ukraine."[17] These people would be ones that livednear, but north of the Greek speaking peoples. Such close proximity would mean that they would have beenclear in whom they were identifying and they identified them with the Roshpeople. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)


[1] G. A. Cooke, A Critical and ExegeticalCommentary on the Book of Ezekiel,The International Critical Commentary, ed. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1936),pp. 408-09. John B. Taylor agrees. He says, "If a place-name Rosh could be vouched for, RV's prince of Rosh,Meshech, and Tubal would be thebest translation" John B. Taylor, Ezekiel: An Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. D.J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-varsity Press, 1969), p, 244. Therefore, this is the superiortranslation. For an extensive,thorough presentation of the grammatical and philological support for takingRosh as a place name, see, James D. Price, "Rosh: An Ancient Land Known toEzekiel," Grace Theological Journal6:1 (1985), pp. 67-89.

[2] Grammatical summary derived from Jon MarkRuthven, The Prophecy That Is Shaping History: New Research on Ezekiel'sVision of the End (Fairfax, VA:Xulon Press, 2003), pp. 21-23.

[3] Randall Price, "Ezekiel" in Tim LaHaye & EdHindson, editors, The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2007), p.190.

[4] Price, "Rosh: An Ancient Land," pp. 88-89.

[5] Clyde E. Billington, Jr. "The Rosh People inHistory and Prophecy," (Part One), Michigan Theological Journal 3:1 (Spring 1992), p. 56.

[6] Toponymic means the study of place names.

[7] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part One), pp.55-65; Clyde E. Billington, Jr., "The Rosh People in History and Prophecy (PartTwo)," Michigan Theological Journal 3:2 (Fall 1992), pp. 144-75; Clyde E. Billington, Jr., "The RoshPeople in History and Prophecy (Part Three)," Michigan Theological Journal4:1 (Spring 1993), pp. 36-63.

[8] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part One), p. 56.

[9] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), pp.166-67.

[10] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), pp.145-46.

[11] Price, "Rosh: An Ancient Land," pp. 71-73.

[12] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), pp.143-59.

[13] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), p. 170.

[14] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), p.170.

[15] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Two), p.172.

[16] C. Marvin Pate and J. Daniel Hays, Iraq-Babylonof the End Times? (Grand Rapids:Baker Books, 2003), p. 69.

[17] Billington, "The Rosh People," (Part Three), p.39.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 3)

Dr. Thomas Ice

Part III

   "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

Wehave seen that Magog is a reference to the ancient Scythians, who gave rise tolater descendants that settled along the eastern and northern areas of theBlack Sea. "The descendants ofancient Magog-the Scythians-were the original inhabitants of the plateau ofcentral Asia, and later some of the these people moved into the area north ofthe Black Sea. The homeland ofancient Scythians is inhabited today by the former Soviet republics ofKazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and the Ukraine."[1] But who is "the prince of Rosh"?

The Attackon Rosh

Theidentification of Rosh is one of the most controversial and debated issues inthe entire Gog and Magog prophecy, even though it should not be. I believe when one looks at theevidence it is overwhelming that this is a reference to the modern Russians. However, we need to first look at theevidence for such a conclusion.

Preteristprophecy critic, Gary DeMar contends, "In Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, the Hebrewword rosh is translated as ifit were the name of a nation. Thatnation is thought to be modern Russia because rosh sounds like Russia."[2] He then quotes "Edwin M. Yamauchi,noted Christian historian and archeologist, writes that rosh 'can have nothingto do with modern 'Russia.'"[3] On a Bible Answer Man radio broadcast in October 2002, the host, HankHanegraaff, asked Gary DeMar what he thought about Tim LaHaye identifying Roshas Russia, since the two words sound so much alike. DeMar responded, "The idea that you can take a word inHebrew that sounds like the word in English, and then go with that and tocreate an entire eschatological position based upon that is . . . it'snonsense." As I will show later,identification of the Hebrew word rosh with Russia is not based upon similarity of sound. That is a flimsy straw man that DeMarconstructs so that he can appear to provide a credible criticism of our view onthis matter. DeMar then declares:"The best translation of Ezekiel 38:2 is 'the chief (head) prince of Meshechand Tubal."[4]

Concerning thepossibility of a Russian/Islamic invasion of Israel in the end times, MarvinPate and Daniel Hays say categorically, "The biblical term rosh has nothing todo with Russia."[5] And later they state dogmatically,"These positions are not biblical. . . . a Russian-led Muslim invasion ofIsrael is not about to take place."[6]

A central issuein whether rosh refers toRussia is whether rosh is tobe understood as a proper noun (the Russia view) or should it be taken as anadjective (the non-Russia view) and be translated in English as "chief." This is a watershed issue for anyonewho wants to properly understand this passage.

Reasons Rosh Refers toRussia

Now, I want todeal with reasons why roshshould be taken as a noun instead of an adjective and then I will deal withwhether it refers to Russia. Theword rosh in Hebrew simplymeans "head," "top," or "chief."[7] It is a very common word and is used inall Semitic languages. It occursapproximately seven hundred and fifty times in the Old Testament, along withits roots and derivatives.[8]

The problem isthat the word rosh in Ezekielcan be translated as either a proper noun or an adjective. Many translations take rosh as an adjective and translate it as the word"chief." The King James Version,The Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version all adopt thistranslation. However, the New KingJames, the Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, American Standard Version, andNew American Standard Bible all translate rosh as a proper name indicating a geographicallocation. The weight of theevidence favors taking roshas a proper name. There are fivearguments that favor this view.

First, theeminent Hebrew scholars C. F. Keil and Wilhelm Gesenius both hold that thebetter translation of Rosh in Ezekiel 38:2-3 and 39:1 is as a proper nounreferring to a specific geographical location.[9] Gesenius, who died in 1842 and isconsidered by modern Hebrew scholars as one of the greatest scholars of theHebrew language, unquestionably believed that Rosh in Ezekiel was a proper nounidentifying Russia. He says that rosh in Ezekiel 38:2,3; 39:1 is a, "pr. n. of anorthern nation, mentioned with Meshech and Tubal; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by the Byzantine writers ofthe tenth century, under the name the Ros, dwelling tothe north of Taurus . . . as dwelling on the river Rha (Wolga)."[10]

Thisidentification by Gesenius cannot be passed off lightly, as DeMar attempts todo. Gesenius, as far as we know,was not even a premillennialist. He had no eschatological, end time ax to grind. Yet, objectively, he says withouthesitation that Rosh in Ezekiel 38-39 is Russia. In his original Latin version of the lexicon, Gesenius hasnearly one page of notes dealing with the word Rosh and the Rosh people mentionedin Ezekiel 38-39. This page ofnotes does not appear in any of the English translations of Gesenius'Lexicon. Those who disagree withGesenius have failed to refute his sizable body of convincing evidenceidentifying Rosh with Russia.[11] I do not know what DeMar would sawabout this evidence since he never deals with it.

Second, the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the OldTestament, translates Rosh asthe proper name Ros. This is especially significant sincethe Septuagint was translatedonly three centuries after Ezekiel was written (obviously much closer to theoriginal than any modern translation).[12] The mistranslation of Rosh in manymodern translations as an adjective can be traced to the Latin Vulgate ofJerome, which did not appear until around a.d.400.[13] James Price, who has a Ph.D. in Hebrewfrom Dropsie, which is the leading Jewish academic University in America says,"The origin of the translation "chief prince ofMeshech and Tubal" is traced to the Latin Vulgate. The early translators of the English Bible were quite dependenton the Latin Version for help in translating difficult passages. They evidently followed Jerome in Ezek38:2, 3; 39:1."[14] Price further explains the reason forthe erroneous translation as follows:

Evidently by the second century a.d. the knowledge of the ancient landof Rosh had diminished. Andbecause the Hebrew word roshwas in such common use as "head" or "chief," Aquila was influenced to interpretrosh as an adjective,contrary to the LXX [Septuagint] and normal grammatical conventions. Jerome followed the precedent set byAquila, and so diminished the knowledge of ancient Rosh even further byremoving the name from the Latin Bible.

By the sixteenth century a.d. ancient Rosh was completely unknownin the West, so the early English translators of the Bible were influenced bythe Latin Vulgate to violate normal Hebrew grammar in their translation ofEzekiel 38-39. Once the precedentwas set in English, it was perpetuated in all subsequent English Versions untilthis century when some modern versions have taken exception. This ancient erroneous precedent shouldnot be perpetuated.[15]

ClydeBillington explains why Jerome went against most of the evidence and went witha deviant translation:
Jerome himself admits thathe did not base his decision on grammatical considerations! Jerome seems to have realized thatHebrew grammar supported the translation of "prince of Rosh, Meshech, andTubal" and that it did not support his own translation of "chief prince ofMoshoch and Thubal." However,Jerome rejected translating Rosh as a proper noun because, "we could not findthe name of this race [i.e. the Rosh people] mentioned either in Genesis or anyother place in the Scriptures, or in Josephus. It was this non-grammatical argument that convinced Jerometo adopt Aquila's rendering of Rosh as an adjective ["chief'] in Ezekiel 38-39.[16]

Third, many Bibledictionaries and encyclopedias, in their articles on Rosh, support taking it asa proper name in Ezekiel 38. Someexamples: New Bible Dictionary,Wycliffe Bible Dictionary,and International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Fourth, Rosh is mentioned the firsttime in Ezekiel 38:2 and then repeated in Ezekiel 38:3 and 39:1. If Rosh were simply a title, it wouldprobably dropped in these two places because in Hebrew when titles are repeatedthey are generally abbreviated.

(ToBe Continued . . .)



[1] Mark Hitchcock, After The Empire: BibleProphecy in Light of the Fall of the Soviet Union (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), p.23.

[2] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1999), p. 363.

[3] DeMar, Last Days Madness, p.363. Quote from Edwin M. Yamauchi,Foes from the Northern Frontier: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), p. 20.

[4] DeMar, Last Days Madness, p.365.

[5] C. Marvin Pate and J. Daniel Hays, Iraq-Babylonof the End Times? (Grand Rapids:Baker Books, 2003), p. 69.

[6] Pate and Hays, Iraq, p. 136.

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

[8] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version6.4.

[9]C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 159. Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius'Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), p. 752.

[10] Gesenius, Lexicon, p. 752.

[11] Clyde E. Billington, Jr. "The Rosh People inHistory and Prophecy (Part One), Michigan Theological Journal 3:1 (Spring 1992), pp. 62-3.

[12] The ancient Greek translations of Symmachus andTheodotian also translated Rosh in Ezekiel 38-39 as a proper noun. Billington, "The Rosh People in Historyand Prophecy (Part One)," p. 59.

[13]Clyde E. Billington, Jr., "The Rosh People inHistory and Prophecy (Part Two)," Michigan Theological Journal 3:1 (Spring 1992), pp. 54-61.

[14] James D. Price, "Rosh: An Ancient Land Known toEzekiel," Grace Theological Journal6:1 (1985), p. 88.

[15] Price, "Rosh: An Ancient Land," p. 88.

[16] Billington, "The Rosh People in History andProphecy (Part One)," p. 60.