Ezekiel 38: A Preterist Commentary

Evidence that the Battle of Gog and Magog is the First Crusade

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A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38: Summary and Highlights

As will be shown in the following Preterist commentary on Ezekiel 38, the Battle of Gog and Magog seems to have been entirely fulfilled during the first crusade.  During the thousand years between the Jewish War and the crusades, Israel grew to become an almost exclusively Christian nation.  I believe this thousand year interval is the thousand year reign mentioned in Revelation 20.  Meshek, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah, Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish were all Muslim territory in the 11th century. I believe that Gog is the spiritual ruler of this extensive empire.  Given the fact that Meshek and Tubal are in Turkey, the earthly shadow of Gog is, I believe, the emperor of the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuk Turks, Gog, conquered Israel in A.D. 1071—one thousand years after the Jewish War!  The Seljuk Turks famously all rode horses into battle in fulfillment of v. 15: “You [Gog] will come from your place in the far north [Turkey is north of Israel], you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses[.]” Furthermore, four years before the Seljuk Turks conquered Israel, an earthquake, like the one predicted in v. 19, hit central Israel killing 25,000 people.  After the Seljuk conquest of the Holy Land, these Muslims assaulted Christian pilgrims on their way to Israel.  This injustice caused the first crusade, the Battle of Gog and Magog.  In A.D. 1095, crusaders hurled stones launched by catapults and firebrands dipped in sulfur into Muslim-occupied Jerusalem in fulfillment of Ezekiel 38:22: “I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him [Gog] and on his troops[.]”

The First Crusade occurred 1000 years after the Jewish War with Rome and is the Battle of Gog and Magog.

The First Crusade occurred 1000 years after the Jewish War with Rome and is the Battle of Gog and Magog.

Evidence that the Battle of Gog and Magog is the First Crusade

Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38 Intro: During the Thousand Years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, Christian Israel Enjoyed Unprecedented Peace until the First Crusade, the Battle of Gog and Magog.

The Battle of Gog and Magog is also described in Revelation 20.  According to Revelation 20:7, the Battle of Gog and Magog was expected to occur 1000 years after the binding of Satan.  I believe that Satan was bound just after the Jewish War.  For a detailed description of a supernatural specter that may be a historical account of the binding of Satan just after the death of the beast see The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.

Interestingly, in the thousand years following the Jewish War the population of Judaea changed markedly.  Once comprised almost entirely with ethnic Jews, Judaea became 95% Christian by A.D. 614.1  This change was facilitated by the exile of racial Jews after the Jewish War and the second Jewish revolt, the Bar Kokhba Rebellion.  After the Bar Kokhba Rebellion Hadrian exiled the remaining Jews in Judaea excluding just three areas in the Jordan valley.2  Ethnic Jews were then no longer permitted to enter Jerusalem.3  Then by the end of the fourth century Jerusalem became exclusively Christian.4  This was the thousand year reign of Revelation 20:4.

Expulsion of the Jews in the Reign of the Emperor Hadrian AD 135 How Heraclius turned the Jews out of Jerusalem.

Expulsion of the Jews in the Reign of the Emperor Hadrian AD 135 How Heraclius turned the Jews out of Jerusalem.

Then in A.D. 1071,5 exactly a thousand years after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, I believe Satan was set free from the Abyss and the Seljuk Turks took control of Judaea.  Under Turkish dominion Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem were molested and assaulted.  This angered Christian Europe who then declared war on Muslim-occupied Israel in 1095 and the Crusades began—the Battle of Gog and Magog.  See Revelation 20: A Preterist Commentary.

In Ezekiel 38-39, the prophet accurately predicts the events surrounding the first crusade 1,500 years before its fulfillment:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. “‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them.

Meshek, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah were all Muslim territory in the eleventh century.

Meshek, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah were all Muslim territory in the eleventh century.

A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38:1-7: Meshek, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah were all Muslim Territory in the 11th Century. Gog is the Spiritual Ruler of the 11th Century Muslim Empire. 

Persia is modern-day Iran; Cush was in Ethiopia; Put is in North Africa where Libya is today; Beth-Togormah was located on the Black Sea; and Meshek, Tubal6 and Gomer are in Turkey.  In the eleventh century, around the time of the first crusade, North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia and all but the northeast corner of Spain were under Muslim rule.7  Thus Meshek, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah were all Muslim territory in the eleventh century.

I believe that Gog is the spiritual ruler of the Muslim Empire around the time of the first crusade.  Deuteronomy 32:8-9 reads, “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the sons of God.  For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”  The “sons of God” is the reading found in the LXX.  The MT has “sons of Israel.”  The LXX reading is almost certainly the reading found in the original manuscript.  As is the case in Job 1:6; 2:1; and 38:7, “sons of God” often refers to angelic beings.  These two verses imply that that there are spiritual forces in control of the kingdoms of the earth.  Isaiah 24:21-23, Daniel 10:13-13 and Ezekiel 28:1-19 are a few more examples in the Bible suggesting the existence of angelic authorities who rule over distinct regions on earth.

Revelation 22: A Preterist Commentary

Mesheck, Tubal and Magog are in Turkey, not Russia as is often mistakenly supposed.  Therefore, Gog is in Turkey.

A Realized Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Ezekiel 38:1-7: Given the Fact that Meshek and Tubal (Gog) are in Turkey, the Earthly Shadow of Gog is the Emperor of the Seljuk Turks. 

As stated above, Meshek and Tubal were located in southern Turkey.8 Though I believe Gog may be the angelic king presiding over the Muslim Empire, I believe this angelic figure had an earthly reflection or counterpart in the leader of Muslim occupied Judaea.  In the final battle of the first crusade, the Fatimids under vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah fought the crusaders in the Battle of Ascalon.  Interestingly, the soldiers of al-Afdal Shahanshah’s army consisted of Seljuk Turks (Meshek, Tubal and Gomer), Arabs (Sheba and Dedan mentioned in v. 13), Persians (Persia), Armenians, Kurds, and Ethiopians (Cush).  Put would have also been expected to have participated in this battle since what was once Put consisted of the western portion of the Fatimid Empire.

Preterist Revelation 20 Commetary

The territory of the Seljuk Turks during the First Crusade when Crusaders had taken back some territory in Turkey that had previously been controlled by the Seljuk Turks.

After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

A Fulfilled Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Ezekiel 38:8: As Implied in v. 8, Ezekiel 38-39 were Fulfilled 1,500 Years after Ezekiel was Written.    

This verse begins quite differently from the prophecies concerning the time of the end.  Throughout the New Testament, Jesus predicted that the end was near and at hand.  As shown in the rest of this commentary, Jesus’ was right.  Christ’s predictions concerning the end of the age began to take place less than forty years after these prophecies were spoken.  By contrast, verse 8 indicates that these prophecies would be fulfilled “[i]n future years” “after many days[.]”  As implied in the above verse, I believe the prophecies concerning Gog and Magog in Revelation 20, Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 were fulfilled about fifteen hundred years after Ezekiel was written.

According to v.8, Gog would “invade a land that has recovered from war.”  The Seljuk Turks seized control of Israel in A.D. 1071.  Between 1063 and1099, Jerusalem was involved in five wars.9  Verse 8 then goes on to say that the people of Israel would be “gathered from many nations.”  As stated above, during the thousand-year interval between Israel’s first-century war with Rome and the first crusade Israel was almost exclusively settled by Gentile Christians.  Given the fact that Israel was settled almost exclusively by Gentiles from all over, one can see how before the Battle of Gog and Magog the people of Israel “were gathered from many nations.”  Furthermore, as stated above during the thousand years between the Jewish War and the crusades, the people of Israel enjoyed unprecedented peace.  Hence the fact that v. 8 predicts that these people would all “live in safety.”  See Revelation 20: A Preterist Commentary.

You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.  10 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. 11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. 12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villageswill say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”’ 14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it?

A Preterist View and Commentary of Ezekiel 38:12: During the 1000 Years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, Israel and Especially Jerusalem became Very Rich. 

During the thousand years between the Jewish War and the crusades, Israel and especially Jerusalem became very rich.  Concerning the wealth of the Holy Land, Nick Ford writes the following:

Churches and monasteries in Jerusalem were supported by wealthy pilgrims from the west who endowed them with lands in Europe from which they would get an income to help pay their clergy, repair their buildings and assist the poor.  Donors included some Byzantine emperors and the emperor Charlemagne.

A Preterist Exposition and Commentary of Ezekiel 38:13: Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish were all Muslim Territory. 

Tarshish is likely Spain, and Sheba and Dedan were both located in Saudi Arabia.10  Verse 13 is unclear as to whether these three kingdoms actually participated in the Battle of Gog and Magog or if they simply took some interest in its outcome.  Either way, Sheba (southern Saudi Arabia), Dedan (northern Saudia Arabia) and Tarshish (Spain) were all Muslim territory.

15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army [emphasis mine].

A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38:15: All or Virtually All Soldiers in The Armies of Seljuk Turks rode Horses in Battle. 

Remember that Gog (Meshek and Tubal) is located in Turkey.  The army of the Seljuk Turks, Gog, all fought on horseback using a short, composite bow.  Centered in Turkey (Gog), this Muslim army, not surprisingly, came from the north as predicted in v. 15: “You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army.”

seljuk turks during the battle of Gog and Magog

The Seljuk Turks famously all fought on horseback with a short, composite bow.

16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. 17 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord.  19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.

A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38:19: The Seljuk Turks conquered Israel in A.D. 1071.  An Earthquake, like the One Predicted in v. 19, hit Central Israel Four Years Earlier killing 25,000 People. 

The Seljuk Turks conquered Israel in A.D. 1071.  An earthquake like the one predicted in v. 19 hit Ramleh in central Israel four years earlier, in A.D. 1067, killing 25,000 people.11  With such a catastrophic death toll this was truly an earthquake of Biblical proportions.

20 The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.  21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.

A Fulfilled Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary on Ezekiel 38:20: Mountains Represent Kingdoms in the Bible

In v. 20, the mountains are overturned.  As is implied in Daniel 9:16, mountain is a Biblical metaphor for a city or kingdom.  This is not the only verse in which this meaning is implied.  There are a multitude of examples of this implicit meaning throughout scripture (Psalms 2:6; 48:1; Isaiah 66:20; Jeremiah 51:25; Joel 3:17; etc).  See In the Bible Mountains Represent Cities or Kingdoms. When v. 20 says that the “mountains will be overturned,” this is a Biblical expression meaning cities or kingdoms will be conquered as was the case after the death of the Seljuk emperor Malik Shah.

A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38:21: After the Death of the Seljuk Emperor Malik Shah, The Seljuk Empire Broke into Dissension and the Fatimids Conquered Israel Fulfilling v. 21. 

After the death of the emperor of the Seljuk Turks Malik Shah in A.D. 1092, Syrian and Anatolian factions broke away from the emperor and strove for regional dominance.  The Fatimid Dynasty, consisting of Egypt and the former lands of Cush and Put mentioned in v. 5, were in continuous conflict with the Seljuk Turks.  After the death of Malik Shah, the Fatimids took advantage of the internal conflict that ensued and recovered Syria and Israel from the Turks.  This internal conflict within Muslim territory fulfills v. 21: “Every man’s sword will be against his brother.”

22 I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.  23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’

siege of jerusalem, 1st crusade Gog and Magog

During the First Crusade, Christians launched boulders and firebrands into Jerusalem.

A Preterist Commentary on Ezekiel 38:22: During the First Crusade, Crusaders Hurled Hailstones (Stones Launched by Catapults) and Burning Sulfur (Firebrands dipped in Sulfur) into Muslim-Occupied Jerusalem. 

In v. 22 God executes judgment on Gog’s forces with hailstones and burning sulfur.  In Revelation 16:21 hailstones signify boulders launched by catapults.  See Revelation 16: A Preterist Commentary.  The hailstones in v. 22 are also boulders lunched by catapults.  The burning sulfur also mentioned in v. 22 was similarly ejected by siege engines.  During the first crusade, crusaders launched a host of boulders and burning wood dipped in sulfur into Muslim occupied Jerusalem.  Concerning the siege of Jerusalem by the crusades, Raymond d’ Aguiliers writes:

Our men [the crusaders] began to undermine the towers and walls [of Jerusalem].  From every side stones were hurled from the tormenti and petrahae, [catapults] and so many arrows that they fell like hail. . . .  [B]ut when the machines were drawn nearer to the walls, they hurled not only stones and arrows, but also burning wood and straw.  The wood was dipped in pitch, wax, and sulfur; then straw and tow were fastened on by an iron band, and, when lighted, these firebrands were shot from the machines.  (They were) all bound together by an iron band, I say, so that wherever they fell, the whole mass held together and continued to burn.  Such missiles, burning as they shot upward, could not be resisted by swords or by high walls.12

Aguiliers records how the crusaders launched boulders and firebrands dipped in sulfur into Muslim-occupied Jerusalem during the first crusade in fulfillment of v. 22: “I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him [Gog] and on his troops[.]”

 

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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!

Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.

 

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Preterist View, Interpretation and Commentary of the End Times and Ezekiel 38: Conclusion

In the above preterist commentary, Ezekiel 38 is shown to be fulfilled in events surrounding the first crusade–one thousand years after the Jewish War.

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Ezekiel 38: A Preterist Commentary

  1. Thomas A. Idinopulas, Jerusalem Blessed, Jerusalem Cursed: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Holy City from David’s Time to Our Own (Chicago: Ivan R. Deer, 1991), 102.
  2. M. Avi-Yonah, The Jews of Palestine: A Political History from the Bar Kokhba War to the Arab Conquest (New York: Schocken Books, 1976), 16.
  3. Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries (New York: Random House, 1968), 140.
  4. Ibid., 149.
  5. Dan Bahat and Shalom Sabar, Jerusalem, Stone and Spirit: Three Thousand Years of History and Art (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1998), 108.
  6. Carl G. Howie, The Layman’s Bible Commentary vol.13: The Book of Ezekiel and The Book of Daniel (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1961), 75-76.
  7. Nick Ford, Jerusalem Under Muslim Rule in the 11th Century: Christian Pilgrims Under Islamic Government (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2004), 7.
  8. Carl G. Howie, The Layman’s Bible Commentary vol.13: The Book of Ezekiel and The Book of Daniel (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1961), 75-76.
  9. Nick Ford, Jerusalem Under Muslim Rule in the 11th Century: Christian Pilgrims Under Islamic Government (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2004), 11.
  10. Carl G. Howie, The Layman’s Bible Commentary vol.13: The Book of Ezekiel and The Book of Daniel (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1961), 76.
  11. Nick Ford, Jerusalem Under Muslim Rule in the 11th Century: Christian Pilgrims Under Islamic Government (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2004), 53.
  12. August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants (Princeton: 1921), cited in “ 5. Version of Raymond d’ Aguiliers” in http://www.ordotempli.org/seige_of_jerusalem.htm (12/27/2006).