Q389 : When was Gog Prophesied before Ezekiel 38:17?

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Q389 : When was Gog Prophesied before Ezekiel 38:17?

In Ezekiel 38:17, we read:

17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them? (Ezekiel 38:17)

I can't find a direct quote from the prophets related to Gog.

However, in Numbers 24:7 we have

7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. (Numbers 24:7)

The Masoretic text mentions Agag, but the LXX and other versions mention Gog in the place of Agag. Is it possible that Ezekiel is referring to that passage?

I know that Balaam was not a prophet from Israel, but Moses is the one that compiled that prophecy in his book. And so, other prophets might just build on what Moses compiled concerning that prophecy.

I am not saying that I'm right but it just a thought.

A389 : by Tony Garland

There are a number of possibilities regarding how to understand the reference to Gog in Ezekiel 38:17.

One view sees the statement as alluding to the variant reading of "Gog" for "Agag" — as you have suggested.

. . . a variant reading [of Numbers 24:7] substitutes "Gog" for "Agag." This reading has wide support, being found in the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. According to this reading, Balaam foresees a king from Jacob who would be exalted over Gog, the end-time enemy of Israel (Ezek 38:3). Thus, the passage links this prophecy with Messiah's day, when He will have victory over the eschatological foes of Israel. The "Gog" reading is supported by the context, in which Balaam says he is speaking of "the end of days" (Num. 24:14). . . . . Additionally, in Ezek 38:17, there is a recognition that Gog is known from earlier Scripture. There the Lord addresses Gog and asks, "Are you the one I spoke about in former times?" This is an obvious reference to the variant reading in Num 24:7.1

Another possibility is that the passage is proleptic: the passage in Ezekiel (Eze. 38:17) could be written from the perspective of what those in Gog’s time will say when Gog appears on the stage of history. In other words, the prophesy referred to may be Ezekiel 38:17 itself.

The most common view is that the invasion by Gog was foreseen in more general terms by earlier prophets.

Perhaps this means earlier prophets had predicted the coming of invading armies against Israel in the last days, which Ezekiel now associated specifically with Gog (cf. Joel 3:9–14; Zeph. 3:15–20).2

The nature of the question presupposes that the previous generalities are now being particularized in the person of Gog.3

The statement, that Gog is he of whom God had already spoken by the earlier prophets, does not mean that those prophets had actually mentioned Gog, but simply that Gog was the enemy of whose rising up against the people of God the prophets of the former time had prophesied, as well as of his destruction by a wrathful judgment of the Lord. [Karl Fredrich Keil]4

That the prophets of Israel had already named Gog is directly excluded by the interrogation. If they mentioned names, these were rather other national forms, but behind all these there remained a point of interrogation; and for this reason, that especially accompanying all the prospects of grace for Israel, there remained in prospect a final judgment over his and God’s enemies, over the world that withstands the kingdom of God (over the heathen world). This interrogative realizes itself here in Ezekiel by this Gog. [Wilhelm Julius Schröder, "Ezekiel"]5

The use of Gog/Magog in Revelation 20:8 to refer to an entirely different event in a different historical context, but with similar characteristics — attacking the people of God and Jerusalem only to be overwhelmingly destroyed by God — would support this third interpretation.


1.Ref-1272, 38-39
2.Ref-1544, 1301
3.Ref-0089, 1207
4.Ref-0175, 335
5.Ref-1304, 365


Ref-0089John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997).
Ref-0175Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002).
Ref-1272Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010). ISBN:978-0-8054-4654-8a.
Ref-1304John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008).
Ref-1544Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983), 1-1225-1321.

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