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DRAFT: A Commentary on Ezekiel 39

Kuruvilla Thomas
Published on 1 September 2022


Ezekiel 39 details the first of the three "Gog and Magog" wars. This war between the coming Messiah and the Beast army at the start of the Millennial Reign takes place around May 2027, according to our parse of Daniel 12 (this battle is also mentioned in Rev 19:17-21, 14:14-20).

We will use the NIV translation for this commentary. Parts of the passage have been retranslated - see notes below the commentary.


1. A Commentary on Ezekiel 39

1 “Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, the prince leading [a] Meshek and Tubal.

Who is Gog? The earth is divided among powerful angels (Deuteronomy 32:8-9, Psalm 82) called "princes" (as in Daniel 10:20), and, unlike earthly kings, a "prince" may remain in charge of a region even if the people that occupy that region are replaced by other tribes (see 2 Kings 17:24-26). Here, Gog is the title of the "prince" of the Japhetic tribe of Magog; but Gog now leads the Japhetic tribes of Meshek and Tubal, because these tribes occupy land that was originally assigned to Magog (see also Eze. 38:2, see the tribal names in Gen. 10:2).

Who is Magog? Magog originally referred to the Mongols who had occupied parts of China - southern China was called Mangi, and both Mongol and Mangi are apparently derived from Magog (Magog can refer to the land or the people). The Chinese, who are the descendants of Meshek and Tubal (and some of the other patriarchs listed in Genesis 10:2-5), inherited the Magog name when they took over this region. ( Note that in a similar way, the Greeks were called Javans and parts Greece were called Kittim, where both Javan and Kittim are the names of Chinese tribes that originally occupied Greece - see Dan 11:2,30, Ezekiel 27:13 in Hebrew.) 'Babylon' has set up China/"Magog" to be the next world power - China is the 7th king and the leading power of the 8th king of Rev 17:10-11. ( Interestingly, counterparts to Gog and Magog can be found in the eschatological texts of other religious traditions - "Yajuj and Majuj" in Islam and "Koka and Vikoka" in Hinduism; some of the commentary from these traditions also seem to connect these entities to China.)

The attacks on Israel by Gog and Magog - Satan's physical army at the time of the Millennial Reign or the "beast army" - are predicted to occur in 3 distinct periods and at 3 different locations:

Note that all three "Gog and Magog" wars occur on the "mountains of Israel", but "mountains" refers to a different aspect of the new Israel in each case.

2 I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.

God will incite the army of the Beast alliance into attacking the New Israel from the north east ("far north" in vs 2 is better rendered "sides of the north"), and He will supernaturally defeat and destroy them at the mountains of the New Israel (see Rev 19:17-21, 14:14-20). We believe that this great defeat will take place on a highway (the "way of travellers" - vs 11) that goes through a mountain pass ("valley" - vs 11) at the borders of the New Israel ("outside the city" - Rev 14:20), and according to our parse of Dan 12 [1], this will occur on 13 May 2027. This enemy army will be killed in a short time, and so the bodies will lie out in the open, unburied for a time, along a distance of 180 miles on this highway (Rev 14:20) - they will be carrion "in the open field"

We propose that this "highway of death" is the strategically important Karakoram highway between China and Kashmir, that runs along the great Indus River for a significant distance ("along the River" in vs 11 below) (the Indus can be considered to be in the same league as the Euphrates and the Nile, because it hosted one of the earliest great civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilisation, 3300-1300 BC). This storied highway, that traces a part of the ancient Silk Road, cuts across the Karakoram mountains at the Khunjerab pass; astoundingly, Khunjerab, in the local language, means "Stream of Blood" (see Rev. 14:20). The pass has an elevation of around 15,000ft, and so it is snowbound and closed to heavy vehicles from December to April.

6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.

The people who remain behind in "Magog", those responsible for sending the army, and those in the other nations that contributed to this assault in any way will also be killed (see Isaiah 15:8,9, Isaiah 25:10-12).

7 “‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. 8 It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.

God had hardened the hearts of the Israelites against Himself as punishment for their waywardness, and so they had worshipped other gods and idols until this time. At the start of the Millennial Reign, God will reveal Himself to them again, and they will turn back to Him in a sudden, great awakening, as predicted in many prophetic passages (Ezekiel 37:23, Isaiah 1:27-29, Isaiah 27:9...).

9 “‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and carry away the weapons [b] and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. 10 They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.

The people of the towns around this highway will scavenge from this army's abandoned weapons and vehicles - the weapons of ancient war as listed in vs 9 represent modern military equipment. For 7 years, they will use the combustible parts of the equipment and the fuel in the vehicles to make fires (see also Isaiah 9:5). This is the humiliating end of this mighty army that had ruled the world and had plundered and looted the people of God.

11 “‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel along the River [c]. It will cover the noses [d] of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.

Gog's soldiers will be buried in a mass burial site in a mountain pass ("valley") - the highway that goes through this pass will also run along a great river. People travelling by this grave site will have to mask their faces from the stench of rotting corpses in the initially open burial site. The pass will be renamed "The valley of Hamon Gog" and a nearby town will be renamed Hamonah (see vs 16) - both Hamon and Hamonah (the feminine) mean multitudes; though the fallen angel that holds the title of Gog is not physically buried here (he is thrown into the Lake of Fire - Rev 19:20), the army that represents his physical power on earth is.

12 “‘For seven months the Israelites will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. 13 All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I display my glory will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord. 14 People will be continually employed in cleansing the land. They will spread out across the land and, along with others, they will bury any bodies that are lying on the ground.
“‘After the seven months they will carry out a more detailed search. 15 As they go through the land, anyone who sees a human bone will leave a marker beside it until the gravediggers bury it in the Valley of Hamon Gog, 16 near a town called Hamonah. And so they will cleanse the land.’

After this mass death around 13 May 2027, on account of the large number of bodies, all the people of that region will take part in the burial, not only the grave diggers (see also Rev 14:20). They will try to complete this burial in the 7 months that the pass is open (the pass is snowbound from around December to April). In the years after that, any remaining bodies will be marked, so that the professional gravediggers can find them. It is common in these snowy, remote, high altitude parts to find a body long after the person has died, even in times of peace. Note that the number "7" is repeated 3 times in this chapter (vs 9,12,14), probably to signify the complete end of Satan's power on earth.

This dwelling on grisly details serves to accentuate the ignominious death of Satan's people; it serves to warn against Satan worship and it represents the humiliation and torment that Satan's people must endure in the Lake of Fire in the spiritual realm.

17 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. 19 At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. 20 At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.

Scavenger birds and animals are invited to a sacrificial feast of human corpses at this open burial site (both "horses" and "riders" refer to the men of this army, as in Zech. 12:4) (cf. Rev 19:17,18). Satan and his demons demand human blood sacrifices from their worshippers (the "murderers" of Rev 22:15) in exchange for wealth, power and fame; millions have been tortured and killed in ritual human sacrifices and also in mass sacrifices through manufactured wars, famines, pestilences etc.. This blood sacrifice of Satan's forces is a part of God's judgement for this evil (cf. Isaiah 34:6-7).

21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay on them. 22 From that day forward the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.

By supernaturally defeating this mighty army, God displays his power and his righteous anger against Satan's forces to the people of the earth. For He is a God of justice who does not spare even his own people from the punishment they have earned (see Isaiah 29:9-10).

25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

God will reunite the scattered Israelites into the New Israel, restore their fortunes and protect them. They will once again turn back to their God, and remain faithful to Him throughout the Millennial Reign (see Isaiah 60:4-5, Romans 11:26, Isaiah 29:22-24...).

Footnotes on the retranslation:
We have chosen alternative translations to some phrases in the NIV version as below:
a. "the prince leading" instead of "chief prince of" in verse 1 (or "the prince, the head of").
b. "carry away the weapons" instead of "use the weapons for fuel" in verse 9.
c. "along the River" instead of "east of the Sea" in verse 11. (The word translated "east" can also mean "over against" and the word translated "Sea" can refer to a mighty river.)
d. "cover the noses" instead of "block the way" in verse 11. (This word can mean "muzzle" - see KJV translation.)


[1] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 10-12. Part 3: Daniel 12.