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Gog and Magog: Locating Magog
Prophet Yehezkel is commanded in the prophecy to face the "land of Magog" ■ Our Sages (Haza"l) told us who is the "land of Magog" but their words were like riddles until now ■ In the past mistakes have been made in placing the "land of Magog" as result of relating to the people and not to the land ■ An old book opens a new windows to understand our Sages’ words ■ Exact location of "the land of Magog" is possible by fitting that book to the words of historians
With the help of HaShem The Almighty
For those who are short in time: there is a brief summary of this article towards it’s end under the title "Land of Magog: Brief Summary", and you can read it and take a look at the map in the end of the article in order to get the idea.
During the last few days I tried again to locate the anonymous "land of Magog" that is mentioned in the prophecy about the Gog and Magog War. This is something I repeat once in a while, when I have new findings that might solve the mystery. This time I can say clearly that with a great help from Above that I had, I succeeded to locate the clear and absolute location of "the land of Magog". I’m sure that this revelation is very important, because not only Jews are asking themselves who is this land of Magog, but also Christians and Moslems, that according to traditions of all of them (that are taken from Judaism) this land appears in the last war that will be in the end times.
The reason that I focused in my search specifically in the "land of Magog" was pretty simple to anyone familiar with the history of the old peoples. The prophecy about the Gog and Magog War, that is brought in Yehezkel 38-39 mentions names of many peoples (in order): Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beith-Togarmah, "many peoples", Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish. But Magog is the only one mentioned as a land ("land of Magog"), and this is of great importance, because most of the peoples that are mentioned here are peoples whose placement has been changed during the thousands of years since the old days until our days, so although it’s possible that the prophecy is talking on their original lands, it’s also possible and logical that it’s talking about the peoples themselves, who are not placed in their initial land anymore. But about Magog it’s written clearly that we’re talking about "the land of Magog". Also, the prophet is commanded to face this land, and this clearly means that the direction that the prophet faced, is the place where the prophecy will be fulfilled.
Although I tried to be brief in this article, it’s still very long, because I needed to prove the facts clearly, So whoever wants to jump to the essence of things, may scroll this page until the headline: "land of Magog: brief summary".
First, Magog is mentioned in a prophecy about Gog and Magog War that is in the book of Yehezkel. Although most of the prophets gave prophecies about this war, only the book of Yehezkel uses these names Gog and Magog:
In this prophecy, prophet Yehezkel (who is called "son of Adam", because as it is known, he was the reincarnation of Adam’s first born, Kain) is commanded to set his look towards Gog and towards "the land of Magog". But where is this land of Magog.
Our Sages (חז"ל, Haza"l, the great Sages that written the Mishna, the Midrash and the Talmud 1500-2200 years ago) have interpreted in the Talmud, in the Midrash and in the translations to Aramic, who is Magog, and gave a few names. This has been summarized in the past, and now we’ll bring here the necessary sources to locate "the land of Magog".
The name Magog is mentioned two more times in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), excluding Yehezkel’s prophecy. Magog was the name of the son of Yefet (Japhet), the grandson of Noah, and the people of Magog was, his descendants, were named after him: "Magog". As it is known, most of the peoples in the list in Yehezkel are from the descendants of Yefet. In the Tanach the following verses appear:
And our Sages interpreted in a few places the names of these peoples, and we’re going to focus now only in the land of Magog, as mentioned in the preface. The Babylonian Talmud in tractate Yoma interprets the names of the settlements mentioned in the Tanach this way:
The Talmud continues there to count names of peoples with the names of their lands as there were known in the times of our Sages, but for the current subject we don’t need them.
The Jerusalemite Talmud was sealed, as it is known, before the Babylonian Talmud. This Talmud, that originated from the land of Israel, also mentions interpretations for the names of Yefet’s descendants, and says:
According to Midrash Bereshit Rabba (Pr37A, see commentary of Radal), Magog is Girmanya.
The Holy Yonathan Ben Uziel who translated the Tanach to Aramic also interprets the name of Magog. Also here we have a few versions from different manuscripts, and according to them Magog is: Germania/Germaya/Gtya.
Interestingly, when Yonathan Ben Uziel translated the prophecy of Gog and Magog War, he refrained from translating any name, and used the Hebrew names: Magog, Meshech etc. The only place where he changed this method was in Yehezkel 38:6, where he translated "state of Germamia", and that may indicated that this land is the only land that surely will participate in the Gog and Magog War.
So, here are all the interpretations given in the different versions to Magog:
1. "Germania" that was garbled to "Germaya", "Girmania" etc.
2. "Gitya" that was garbled to "Gtya", "Gitnya", "Gintya", "Kintya" and "Kunta" (it is known that Gimmel and Kof were replaced in the old times, and even until today a large part of the Arabs pronounce the Kof (ق) as Gimmel in the spoken Arabic (although in the literaturic Arabic they use it properly). This is the case in all the area of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Egyptians, by the way, switch the Kof with Aleph).
When there are so many names, surely it’s hard to locate the land. I avoided bringing here words of commentators that came after our Sages, that according to some of them the land of Magog should have been located near the Black Sea. The truth, as it will be explained, that these commentators interpreted the location of Magog as the location of the people of Magog at that time, but our Sages interpreted the location of the land of Magog, and as it will be cleared later, according to historians, there is a large distance between the two.
(those who don’t want to get into the mess of the historical explanation, is invited to skip this part to the next headline, where locating the area begins)
As it was said above, there were commentaries that linked the name Magog to the Black Sea and its neighborhood, or to Asia Minor (in Turkey’s region).
The oldest Jewish interpretation to "Magog", other than our Sages’, is by Josephus Flavius, AKA "Yossef Ben Matityahyu" and "Yossef Ben Guryon", the Jewish commander in the time of the Temple’s destruction by the Romans, that after the war began to write the history of the Jews, first stage: "Wars of the Jews" covering the era from the end of the Tanach and forth. and in second stage: "Antiquities of the Jews" which tells earlier history. In this book, Josephus also writes how the peoples emerged from Noah and his descendants, and so he writes:
And this is the source of the mistake of all the commentators about the location of Magog, because even if we assume that Josephus knew what he was talking about, and merely explained to the Greeks (those he wrote the book for) who are the "Magogites" tribes in their own language, he did NOT try to interpret where is the land of Magog but who are the "Magogites" tribes, as he calls them, and this intention of Josephus is highly important, as we shall see.
About the Scythians (who are called in different Hebrew sources also: Skitim, Zkitim etc) we know today generally a lot, and there’s a big articles about them in Wikipedia, and this is part of it that discusses their origins:
From this, and from the other things that are written in Wikipedia there, it’s clear that the Scythians were an Iranian nomadic people who spoke Iranian language, but their origins is unknown. The first mentioning of an area where they settled is discussed in archaeological findings from 700BCE, as it’s mentioned above. The Scythians became an empire in some period, and this is a map that describes the empire’s estimated extent in the first century, the same period where Josephus lived:
BUT, and that’s a big "but", all the information about the Scythians begins, as mentioned above, only from 700BCE (and the above map is an estimation of 800 years later), but The Flood and the settlement of Noah’s descendants began 1400 years earlier (since The Flood was approximately 2100BCE, in the year 1656 to The Creation of the world), and during all this period we have no knowledge whatsoever about the Scythians nor about their origins, while the historians tell us that they were nomadic tribes (speaking an Iranian language).
The land of Magog that we are looking for is not the land where the Magogites tribes arrived in a certain time, but the land where they originated from, and because the Scythians were nomadic tribes, there’s no big importance to their locations thousands of years after The Flood, as l’havdil there’s no meaning to the location of the Jews in the medievals compared to their location in the time of Tanach. In 1400 years the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, were redeemed from there, settled in the Land of Israel, partially (the ten tribes) exiled by Sanheriv and then all exiled by Nuvuchadnetzar, returned to the Land of Israel (2nd Temple), the 2nd temple was destroyed and they returned to exile.
So although Josephus said that the Magogites tribes are the Scythian tribes (which was what confused a few who tried to locate the land of Magog), it still doesn’t help us much to know what was their origin land, "the land of Magog". In contrast to Josephus, our Sages interpreted the names of the original lands of each descendant that were settled after The Flood (since they were interpreting the names of the lands in the verse talking about the settlements after The Flood), and the land that was initially inhabited by the Magogites, aka "land of Magog", should probably be the origin state of the Scythian tribes, and this land is the one we’re after (later you’ll see that this land was indeed located, and its name clues the fact that it was the land where Scythians came from).
The book that was an eye opener in this matter, and was the source that brought me to search again the pages of history, is the book of Rabbi Yehi’el Tzvi Hirshenzon זצ"ל, named "Seven Wisdoms" (1883, שבע חוכמות), He devoted a part of his book to the matter of the locations of Noah’s descendants’ lands when they began their settlement, according to the words of our Sages. First he begins in explaining the system in which the nations were ordered, then he explains where are the names of the lands that our Sages mention:
So in accordance to "Seven Wisdoms", the land that our Sages called "Germania/Germamia/Germaia" is a Persian land in the area of the Persian Gulf, that swallows an area called "Baludshistan", and that land is bordering in the east with the Indus River, and in the north with the Himalayas.
Later I read in "Me’asef Nidahim" (מאסף נידחים, misc. collections under this name that were published in Hebrew magazines more than 100 years ago) critical remarks on the "Aruch" (הערוך) book’s editor, that affirm what was written above:
Obviously I was very pleased with these two books’ findings, because I saw two different books that come to the same conclusion about the location of Magog. Now I tried to find on the internet a piece of information to help me clear the things above this Germamia or Kermania. Since I had only Hebrew names I tried to search in Hebrew, but it was not helpful. To search in English I had to try many spellings, because the names originally appeared in Hebrew without Nikud (vowels), and initially I had no idea how exactly to spell them in English.
The place was located precisely: In today’s Iran there is a big province called Kerman, with population of over two million people. The capital of the province is also called by this name, and today more than 400,000 people live there. This province, Kerman, that was probably the original land of Magog, includes many archaeological cities, that their timings matches more or less the period of the end of The Biblical Flood.
The next part was the part that made me very happy, because it confirmed actually all that was mentioned above, and actually was a final approval that the Biblical Magog, who is Germania in the words of our Sages, is indeed in Iran. This part was taken from Wikipedia:
And this is a proof to even the most skeptics among us, that this Germania is exactly Kermania, that was one of the states in old Persia (like Medes, Persia, Parthia etc) in the ancient times.
According to the livius research site of the old world, it seems that the old Kermania included also the coastal strip that today is separated from Iran’s Kerman, and called today "Hormozgan" province (the name’s source is "Hormoz", which is the name that the Greeks gave to the most important city in Kermania in ancient times, named after a Persian idol).
To those who don’t want to get the things complicated, I advise to finish reading the article here, because this is a clear proof to the location of Magog.
As written above, our Sages used two different names alternatively to describe Magog’s land. The first one was versions of the name Germania, and we understood now where it is, while the second name is versions of then name Gytia.
The assumptions that I found about Gytia in the books were varied and sometimes even strange, and to locate the place this time was much harder than before, but due to help from Above, it seems to me that this place was also found now. The principle that stood before my eyes was clear: in our Sages’ words the rule "both these words and these are words of G-d" (meaning even when there are two different opinions in our Sages’ words, they always mean the same thing, only that you have to find it out) is always fulfilled, so it’s only reasonable that when Midrash Rabba says "Germania" and the Jerusalemite Talmud says "Gytia", these are probably different names for the same area more or less.
In his interpretation about Germania, the "Seven Wisdoms" explained:
I didn’t have an idea where this "Baludshistan" is located, although it was clear that it’s supposed to be very near to the Kerman area. But pretty fast I discovered, with great help from Above, that the same Baludshistan is also located inside Iran, and called today province of "Sistan and Baluchistan", and indeed located as next to Kerman from the east.
Now pay attention to a point that’s related to what was said in the beginning of the article (about the Scythians): The province of "Sistan and Baluchistan" was not always called this way. Historically it was called "Sakastāna and Baluchistan", and these are the words of Wikipedia about this province:
Who are those "Sakas"? This is revealed to us by Wikipedia in an article by that title, and says there:
Now, although historians say that Sakastana was given this name only around the first century by Scythians who occupied the area, we should pay attention to an interesting point: The Scythians occupied many lands, as we saw above in the map of their empire, but none of their occupations got the name "land of the Scythians" or "land of the Sakas" (which is the meaning of the name Sakastana, as mentioned above, and according to this article from Wikipedia it also means "HOME of the Scythians"), except for this place. Anyone who takes a look at the map of the livius research site of the old world we’ll be able to see (in the northern part of the map) that the Scythians occupations were called in different and strange names (all with the prefix "Saka" meaning Scythians as mentioned above), but never "land of the Saka", or anything similar. My assumption is that the reason for this name was a tradition that the Scythians had that this was their origin land.
But whether this assumption is right or not, the fact that the name of the place means "land of the Scythians", and Josephus called the Scythians "Magogites", clearly means that even according to Josephus the name of this land means "land of Magog", and later we’ll see how exactly these matters are settled accurately with our Sages’ words.
Later on I discovered that the region named Baluchistan is actually divided today between three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In western Pakistan there’s also a province names Baluchistan, next to the Iranian Baluchistan.
In the map you can see Pakistan (reddish colors), Iran (greenish colors) and Afghanistan (bluish colors). Dark red is the Pakistani Baluchistan province, that indeed borders to the east approximately with the Indus river, as the "Seven Wisdoms" says. Marked with light green is the Iranian Baluchistan province, next to Kerman, as you can see. And marked with dark blue is an estimated area of the Afghan Baluchistan (in Afghanistan there’s no province named Baluchistan).
Well, if "land of Magog" is Kerman and Baluchistan combined together (and as written above the original Kerman probably included the coastal strip as Baluchistan), and Kerman is Germania, as it was proved by historians, then it’s only reasonable that the other name that our Sages used for Magog was to describe the second part of Magog, which is Baluchistan. But what relation is there between "Baluchistan" and "Gytia" or the rest of the versions?
It turns out that in the time of ancient Persia, Baluchistan was not called by this name at all. The names of this regions changed a few times during history. The name of the region that is mentioned historically since the sixth century BCE is in English "SattaGydia" , in Farsi "ساتاگيديه", and in Arabic (where the Farsi letter گ does not exist): "ساتاكيديه" (SattaKydia). Apparently "Satta" is an old Iranian prefix meaning "settlement" (see here) or "power" (until today in some Indian language Satta means power, and Iranian and Indian languages have the same origin). And if we omit the prefix we’ll stay with Gydia or Kydia, and without knowing this, the "Seven Wisdoms" already said:
And so, because when foreign names were transcribed to Hebrew in the ancient times, many times the letters Dalet and Tav were swapped (this is brought by the "Seven Wisdoms" above, and also by Rabbenu Bahye in his commentary of Bereshit (Genesis) 36:39: "it is known from the wisdom of our holy language, that the letter Dalet is swapped with the letter Tav in the letters DTLNT"), we can see how our Sages’ Gytia is Gydia or Kydia, who is actually SattaGydia or SattaKydia.
By the way, Livius ancient world research site notes, that in the old Persian empire of Koresh and Daryavesh (Achaemenid Empire) there was no mentioning of the name Kermania, and he concludes that it’s possible that in that time Kermania was a part of an other province (although he thinks that this might be Persia or Gedrosia provinces), but according to what turns out, because the name SattaGydia was mentioned in that period numerous times, you can say pretty certainly that Kermania has been treated in the past as a part of SattaGydia, and this is also the reason why our Sages relate to Magog once as "Gytia/Kydia" meaning SattaGydia, and once as "Germania" meaning Kermania, since in the ancient past they were one province.
As we can see from the maps above, SattaGydia is placed east of Kermania, and reaches the Indus river in the east (Britannica also says that the eastern border of this land was the Indus river), the eastern border of Magog according to the "Seven Wisdoms". In the map from the historical atlas (see above) this area is also called Arachosia, and Wikipedia describes its northern border as Hindu Kush mountains, who are the Indikush mountains mentioned by the "Seven Wisdoms" as the northeast border of Magog, hence we see that Magog indeed includes Baluchestan.
And now we understand that our Sages described the exact location of the "land of Magog" according to the names of the states that were during their times: Germania and Gytia/Kydia. The fact that after the fifth century the name SattaGydia totally vanished, and was not used anymore (see here), explains why this name appears in our Sages’ words, but until now it wasn’t easy to know where it was located (different from Kerman(ia), where a province in this name exists until this day).
And in this we can summarize, that according to our Sages’ words, as they have been explained and interpreted by historical evidence, the map of our days look approximately like this:
And trying to be a bit more accurate about Magog’s natural borders in the east and northeast (it’s hard to define the western border accurately, and it’s reasonable that it might be more to the west). I didn’t know if to include the Hindu Kush mountains inside Magog, so I left them out, and this is the approximate result:
This is a short summary of the above:
I will try to be short in this part, because it doesn’t relate directly to the subject of this article, but to End of Days in general (if you hadn’t done so already, you’re invited to read Yeranen Yaakov’s three parts translation of "End of Days: Where are we?": part1, part2, part3)
However, the answer is: No, and this is part of the explanation:
Rabbi Tanhum Ben-Rabbi Yossef HaYerushalmi (13th century) brings in his book "Kitab El-Bayan" (’book of interpretation’ which is a commentary of the Tanach according to the ancient commentators. The book is still in manuscript, but parts of it were published in Me’asef-Nidahim by Rabbi Avraham Harcabi ז"ל) the words of Rabbenu Saadia Gaon (9th century, period of the Gaonim) about the begining of Yehezkel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog war, and these are his words (translated from Arabic):
We learned from here that "Gog and Magog" are two different nations, and Gog is the president of one of the nations, whom Rabbenu Saadia Gaon compared to the Moslem Caliph in his days, because Gog will also rule many peoples. But it is clear from here, that Gog isn’t from Magog, and it seems to be talking about a war between the two of them. I could bring more quoatations that affirms this one, but I’m trying to be short now, and it’s enough to clear that still the opinion that was brought by many, including the Tsunami forseeing Rav, that Gog is you-know-who, stands still, especially after we understood exactly where the "land of Magog" is located…
Finished and Completed