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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Magog', מָגוֹג , region of Gog [see below]; Sept. Μαγώγ, Vulg. Magog), the second son of Japhet (Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5). B.C. post 2514. "Various etymologies of the name have been suggested. Knobel (Vilke: t. p. 63) proposes the Sanscrit mah or malha, great,' and a Persian word signifying mountain,' in which case the reference would be to the Caucasian range. The terms ghogh and noghef are still applied to some of the heights of that range. This etymology is supported by Von Bohlen (Introd. to Genesis 2:211). On the other hand, Hitzig (Comm. in Ez.) connects the first syllable with the Coptic ma, place,' or the Sanscrit maha, land,' and the second with a Persian root, koka, the moon,' as though the term had reference to moon-worshippers." In Ezekiel (38:2; 39:6) it occurs as the name of a nation, and, from the associated names in all the passages where it occurs, it is supposed to represent certain Scythian or Tartar tribes descended from the son of Japhet. (See ETHNOLOGY).

Thus, in Genesis, it is coupled with Gomer (the Cimmerians) and Madai (the Medes), among the Japhetites, while Ezekiel joins it with Meshech and Jubal (נָשַׂיא ראֹשׁ, "chief prince," should be prince of Rosh), as the name of a great and powerful people, dwelling in the extreme recesses of the north, who are to invade the Holy Land at a future time. Their king is there called Gog. The people of Magog further appear as having a force of cavalry (Ezekiel 38:15), and as armed with the bow (Ezekiel 39:3). The oldest versions give the word unchanged; but Josephus (Ant. 1:6, 3) interprets it by Scythians (Σκύθαι ), and so Jerome; but Suidas renders it Persians. "Michaelis (Suppl. ad Lex. Heb. 1471), Rosenmuiller (Scholia in Genesis 10:2), and Gesenius (Thesaurus, s.v.) adopt the view that the Scythians generally are intended. Bochart (Phaleg, 3:19) suggests that the name Gog appears in Ι᾿ωγαρηνή, the name of a district near to that through which the Araxes flows (Strabo, p. 528); and this falls in with the supposition that the Magogites were Scythians, for the traditions of the latter represent their nation as coming originally from the vicinity of the Araxes (Diod. Sic. 2:43). Since Bochart's time the general consent of scholars has been in favor of regarding the eastern Scythians as the Magog of Genesis; but Kiepert associates the name with Macija, or MAaka. and applies it to Scvthian nomad tribes which forceds themselves in between the Arian or Arianized Medes, Kurds, and Armenians' (Keil and Delitzsch, Bibl. Comment. on the O.T. [Clark], 1:163); while Bunsen places Magog in Armenia; though in the map accompanying his Bibelwerk it is placed to the north of the Emuxine. Knobel also places Magog there, and connects the Scythian tribes thus named with those which spread into Europe, and were allied to the Sarmatians, who gave their name ultimately to the whole north-east of Europe, and are the ancestors of the Slavic nations now existing" (Kitto). It is certain that the term Scythian was a collective title of the remote savage tribes of the north in a similar manner to the use of Magcog (Cellarii Notit. 2:753 sq.). (See SCYTHIAN).

There appears to have been from the earliest times a legend that the enemies of religion and civilization lived in that quarter (Haxthausen's Tribes of the Caucasus, p. 55). From the accounts found among the Arabians, Persians, and Syrians. some of which are embellished with various fables. we learn that they comprehended under the designation Yajuj and Majuj all the less known barbarous people of the north-east and north-west of Asia. (See the Koran, 18:94-99; 21:96; Assemani, Bibl. Orient. IlI, 2:1, 17, 20; Hylander, Spec. op. cnsmog. pt. 20-22 [Lond. 1803]; Klaproth, Asiat. Magaz. 1:138 sq.; Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. 2:281 sq.; Flü gel, in the Halle Encycl. II, 14:78 sq.) Yet, though the Gog and Magog of the Hebrews may have had an equally vague acceptation, it nevertheless seems to have pointed more precisely to the northern tribes of the Caucasus, between the Euxine and the Caspian Seas. The people of that region, it seems, were a terror to middle Asia; and they have often been named the Scythians of the East. Jerome says of Magog that it means "Scythian nations, fierce and innumerable, who live beyond the Caucasus and the lake Maeotis, and near the Caspian Sea, and spread out even onward to India." The people dwelling among the Caucasian Mountains have preserved their original character down to the present hour, as is evident from their recent long- continued contests with the Russians. The famous Caucasian wall, probably erected by some of the successors of Alexander the Great, as a defense against the incursions of the northern barbarians, and which extended from Derbend, on the western shore of the Caspian, to near the Euxine or Black Sea, is still called "the wall of Gog and Magog." (See Reinegg, Beschr. d. Caucasus, 2:79.)

The traveler Gmelin visited this wall in 1770, in the course of the scientific mission upon which he was sent by the Russian government. From Derbend. on the Caspian Sea, the head- quarters of the Russian military guard in that country, Gmelin directed his course westward, towards the Euxine, and he soon met with some ruins of the ancient wall, which he describes as in some places thirty feet high, and for large distances nearly entire, and in other places partially or wholly fallen down. There are watch-towers along the wall at signal distances; two of these he ascended, and from their tops he could descry the snowy ridges of Caucasus. This wall seems to have been built in almost a straight line from the Caspian to the Euxine, and the watch-towers and fortresses were probably erected as a means of keeping up communication between Derbend, the garrison at the eastern extremity, and the fastnesses in the mountains. (See Bayer, De Muro Caucasio, in Acta Acad. Scientiar. Petropsol. 1:425; Ker Porter, Travels, 2:520; Ritter, Erdik. 2:834 sq.) In Revelation 20:7; Revelation 20:9, the terms Gog and Magog are evidently used tropically, as names of the enemies of Christianity, who will endeavor to extirpate it from the earth, but will thereby bring upon themselves signal destruction. But that Ezekiel, in his prophecy, meant to be understood as predicting the invasion of Palestine by Gog and Magog in the literal sense, is hardly credible. He uses these names to designate distant and savage nations;. and in the same way John employs them. Just in the same manner we now employ the word barbarians. That both writers should employ these two names in a tropical way is no more strange than that we should employ the words Scythian, Tartar, Indian, etc., in the same manner. Nothing could be more natural than for Ezekiel, who lived in Mesopotamia, to speak of Gog and Magog, since they were the formidable enemies of all that region; and that John, writing on the same subject, should retain the same names, was equally natural. (See Stuart's Comment. on the Apoc. ad loc.) (See GOG).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Magog'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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