Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gog and Magog

“Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.” -- A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush

The news is agog! So, it was a holy war after all? I knew this was LoS terrain soon as I read it, but I have to confess: I didn't know my Gogs from my Magogs ... so I decided to dust off my Bible and goggle and Google my way deeper ... I still haven't figure out what to make of it all, but I have worked out a general sense of the history, which I’ll splay out here in hopes that any readers can correct my misunderstandings and fill in the gaps in my thinking.

Magog in Genesis and 1 Chronicles is, on face value, an actual person. Ezekiel reinterprets Magog as a nation (Genesis is certainly open to an interpretation of Magog as a peoples or a place, although 1 Chronicles resists this reading). Ezekiel and places Gog as the leader of Magog (i.e., presumably, "mat-Gog" = "the place of Gog"), and he prophesizes that Israel will squash a Gog-led invasion from the north. Amos and Numbers also, by some scholars' reckoning, mention Gog. I don't quite have this straight yet, but Amos’ rendering of Gog as the king of the locusts seems to be key to the kind of interpretation that Bush and other contemporary Christian apocalyptic "thinkers" take.

Anyhow, flash forward to Revelations which reinterprets Ezekiel's prophecy by suggesting that Gog/Magog are not some specific peoples north of Israel, but are instead the enemies of the righteous in general. Not only are Gog/Magog generalized, but so, too, are the people they attack. In other words, Revelations opens up the notion of who is besieged, presumably to include Christians not in Israel.

Ezekiel is, of course quite open to this interpretation, just as Genesis was open to Ezekiel's interpretation—but with each new prophecy, there is an reshaping of the combatants, and therefore the nature of the battle. John's (Revelations') expanded sense of the besieged allows his community to join the ultimate winners and line up against a common enemy pressing from all sides.

This proved to be popular—so popular that we apparently have Bush quoting Revelations in attempt to inspire Chirac: "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (v.20:7-8).

Contemporary Christian apocalyptics seem to maintain John's notion of the generalized righteous under attack—yet they seem to revert back to Ezekiel's notion of a specific enemy located somewhat north of Israel. During the Cold War, these contemporaries often pegged Scythians as Magog, and there was an assumption that the U.S.S.R. was actually holding back the relevant Muslim population (i.e., the Magog) who were too busy with being downtrodden Soviet "citizens" to be bothered with fulfilling the prophecies by invading Israel.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, some people assumed that, in Ezekiel's words, the "hook" was released from the fish's mouth—i.e., Magog was now let loose to start the apocalypse by invading Israel. When that didn't happen, these theories sort of floundered (groan), I think ... until the current line of thinking that holds Bush.

One curious and key thing is that unlike John (i.e., Revelations), Bush and other current crackpots seem to maintain Ezekiel's sense of Israel as the "navel of the Earth" (v.38:12, NAB). Why? I think that there must be another piece of their apocalyptic vision at play here. I seem to recall something about a temple in Israel that needs to rebuilt or captured or something before the Final Kingdom at the end of times? Need to track this down....

Anyhow, this odd re-focus on Israel which contemporary apocalyptic Christians seem to have picked up from Ezekiel has really got a whole 'nother set of crackpots all riled up, somehow turning everything on its head by presenting Bush himself as Gog and, I think, Israel as Magog? How do they pull off this interpretation? I haven't gone down that rabbit-hole of research yet. I do know that Gog/Magog are in the Koran but this seems to have nothing to do with it? The Sibylline texts do seem to reinterpret Gog/Magog, but again I don't see this as relevant here?

But in short, and most importantly, what's the real story here? Why are so many people yearning for the world to end and assuming that they can somehow help to orchestrate the playing out of the fates? The ego is astounding: "I am an agent of God!" they cry, unable to sense that this eliminates their own freewill and therefore the freewill of others and so therefore the possibility of controlling destiny at all, and thus they fail to see the utter black puppetry, nothing but marionettes grasping at each others' strings, f*cking Punch and Judy with actual real nuclear bombs....

I can only assume that relaxing by a lake will reveal all, so I’m going to take the next week off and mull it over.

Meanwhile, here are a few final tidbits to consider:

* The word “gog” means bog or quagmire, which of course has often been used to describe the U.S.’ role in Iraq.

* People also used to use the word “gog” when they were scared to use the Lord’s name in vein, i.e., “by gog’s blood!” Did they somehow invoke Gog’s wrath?

* Why on Earth are there are pair of giant statues in London named Gog and Magog? This type of idolatry cannot be a good idea....

Meanwhile, stay tuned, post corrections and answers, and lemme know yr take on it all....

Addendum, 8/25/09

* A list of sources is published here.


  1. This is sure to be the first in a flurry of comments on this excellent post, so it's a bit spotty, just some initial impressions.

    1. The article you link to from the Secular Humanist started all this, as I recall. I suppose this revelation could be taken in many ways.

    On one hand the French journalist is either a) making it up or b) he's telling the truth and Chirac is lying. There could be numerous reasons to lie, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are, only that is remains possible.

    If they are both telling the truth and I have a hunch they are, it's a scary confirmation that Bush was making decisions based on Biblical prophecy.

    Even scarier though is that millions of Americans will find this acceptable, reasonable and the best course of action possible.

    2. I've come across the Gog / Magog thing a lot in extreme right and anti-Semitic contexts. I confess to not really remembering the details, but its seems to be a fairly common theme. Makes me think of the term ZOG: Zionist Occupied Government.

    Our pal Swinedriver would probably have some more in-depth knowledge to share with us on the subject; I know that he's researched a lot of the fringe of the fringe far right stuff: Christian Identity etc.

    3. When you speak of dusting off your Bible I remember a church in Deland that had one of those illuminated signs upon which to put messages. My all-time favorite: "The Devil Smiles on a dusty Bible." So buck up, Gid, you gave the Devil a chuckle.

    4. I wonder if this relates to Bush's reference to "the Angel in the Whirlwind" in his first inaugural address. He was quoting Thomas Jefferson, not a particularly ardent Christian. This guy links the expression to a couple Bible verses but the phrase "angel in the whirlwind" never appears verbatim in the Bible.

    Which has led to speculation that it's an Illuminist code etc.

    5. Finally, some more verse references would be useful! I'm not gonna go flipping thru Amos for my Gog fix....

    OK, more to come. Just a few scattered thoughts.

  2. Yo -- I posted =sources here.

    I hate to toot my own horn, but for anyone who stumbles across this message, my list of sources is the most comprehensive reference list available ... in the world. I'm serious.

  3. Hmm, my link didn't work.

    Here is the world's best list of Gog/Magog sources:

  4. Hey man, toot that horn all you want. I'm gonna need a lifetime just to click on the linked references....excellent work, Gid. A valuable post.

  5. Just re-reading this and saw my comment mentioned ZOG. Thought I'd share this still from the film Astro Boy


    You know about the ZOG theory? Basically a "Jews control the world" conspiracy theory with a new name.... ZOG


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