Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh: The English word "Rosh" comes from the Hebrew word (Strong's Concordance #H7218) which means "head" or "chief." It means either the individual who is the chief or leader of this alliance or the nation which leads it.
Gog is identified as the prince of Meshech and Tubal. These entities have long been identified by Christian teachers as designating Russia in the modern world, and they are correct. There is much support for this designation. According to Ezekiel's prophecy Russia will lead an attack.
Persia is the region now called Iran. In ancient times, these people were known as the Medo-Persians. The word "Medes" is derived from the word for their ancestor named Madai, a son of Japheth in Noah’s formative family:
"Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, MADAI, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah . . . The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan." (Genesis 10:1-3, 6-7)
The next nation named as Russia’s ally is Ethiopia, which is derived from the Hebrew word for Cush (Strong's Concordance #H3568). Cush’s descendants do include the nation of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa, but they are only a small portion of Cush’s descendants. Most Cushites migrated eastward toward and into the Indian subcontinent and the name of their forefather Cush is still on the "Hindu Kush" mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The next ally is called Libya. The Hebrew word translated "Libya" is Phut or Put (Strong's Concordance #H6316). Phut is a nation descended from Phut, a son of Ham (Genesis 10:6), and Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible defines Phut / Libya as " . . . the region W(est) from Egypt along the African coast." This describes the region which includes Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, etc. Ezekiel’s prophecy does not specifically state "all of Phut" will join Russia’s alliance, so time will tell whether all or part of this region joins Russia.
The next Russian ally is labeled Gomer, who was one of the sons of Japheth (Genesis 10:2-3). The Hebrew word translated as "troops" in Ezekiel 38:6 means "bands." Gomer will have an extremely large population and it will have many internal ethnic groups defined as "bands" or "troops." The nations of Japheth are found in the Oriental regions of Asia and especially in the most populous nation on earth: China.
The last major ally listed is Togarmah, who was a son of Gomer (Genesis 10:2-3). This group is described as being populous and having many ethnic groups ("bands"). It will be located in the "far north" regions of Asia and its close relationship with Gomer indicates it will be located just north of Gomer’s latter-day descendants.
The other alliance
The second large global alliance, attacked by the first one led by Russia, is called "Israel," "or "the house of Israel":
" . . . In the latter years you (the global alliance led by Russia) will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of ISRAEL . . . "
"Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day when My people ISRAEL dwell safely, will you not know it? Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against my people ISRAEL like a cloud . . ."For seven months the HOUSE OF ISRAEL will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land." (Ezekiel 38:8, 14-16, 39:12)
The "house of Israel" or "Israel" is is a common biblical term for the ten of the tribes of Israel, prophesied in Hosea 1:10 to be vastly increased in population after they were exiled from the land of Palestine circa 723 B.C.
The lost tribes and Jesus
The well-known Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote in the first century A.D. that Israel's ten tribes had hugh populations in Asia, and Parthian Magi were led by God to worship Jesus in Matthew 2. When Parthia's massive empire fell in the 3rd century A.D., the millions of Parthian refugees poured into Europe and were called "Caucasian" tribes as they migrated out of Parthia into Europe via the "Caucasus" Mountains. These Caucasian tribes were the Goths, Germans, Saxons, Vandals, etc., and they eventually inundated the Roman Empire and furnished the population base of modern European nations. Many of the migrating Caucasian tribes were the descendants of the Israelite people mentioned by Josephus.
The tribes and clans of Europe eventually formed modern European and Scandinavian countries that also colonized still other new lands. These nations today are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. Today they are allied or united in groups. They also have allies around the world who are part of the Western Alliance. Such countries include the Israelis (the modern Israelite tribe of Judah), Eastern and Southern European nations, Arab states, and still others. Important in the Pacific region of the globe is Japan. It is a critically important nation in the Pacific region and the Bible does not neglect to mention it in Ezekiel's 38th - 39th expansive prophecy.
A THIRD power bloc
After describing the sneak attack of the alliance led by Russia, China and Iran against the nations of the Western world (headed by the descendants of Israel), Ezekiel 38 mentions another bloc of nations which is NOT part of the attacking alliance. Indeed, they OBJECT to it when it occurs:
"SHEBA, DEDAN, the merchants of TARSHISH, and all their young lions will say to you (the Russian-led alliance), 'Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’ " (Ezek. 38:13)
Sheba and Dedan are likely the nation of modern India, which has a large democracy with an English-speaking history. It is increasingly being drawn toward the West via economic ties as well as mutual concerns about Islamic terrorism and the rapid militarization of China. WHO, then, are the "merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions" who also have the same negative reaction to the Gog-led attack as did the people of Sheba and Dedan?
The Merchants of TARSHISH
Genesis 10:4 identifies Tarshish as a people descended from Japheth, whose descendants are now mostly located in Asia. Tarshish was the son of Javan as well as the grandson of Japheth. Since it as one of the initial tribes of Japheth's descendants, it should also have grown into a large nation. A huge clue as to their modern identity is that Ezekiel 38:13 calls them "the MERCHANTS of Tarshish." Their entire nation is so closely linked to merchandising goods to others that they are called a nation of merchants! Japan pioneered the export-driven model of mercantile sales to other nations as a national policy. Japan perfectly fits the prophecy about Tarshish in the latter days. Japan's culture and religion is known for reverencing ancestors. The original ancestor (i.e. the father) of Tarshish was named Javan, and the name is little changed in the national name of Japan. The island of Java in Indonesia also preserves the name of Javan into the modern world. Tarshish was just one of five sons of Javan (Genesis 10:4) so there are other descendants of Javan who are not Japanese.
The prophecy of Ezekiel also states there would be "young lions" that would be closely linked to the "merchants of Tarshish" in the latter days. This prophecy has been so precisely fulfilled in the modern world that it can only mean that there is a Creator God of the Bible who is actively guiding the destinies of nations to fulfill his prophecies (Isaiah 41:21-26 quotes God as challenging skeptics to look at his ability to fulfill prophecy as proof of his reality and authorship of the Bible).
There are a number of smaller Asian nations on the Pacific Rim which have copied the mercantile, export-driven success of the Japanese nation. They are called the "young tiger" nations or "young tiger" economies of Asia. Since there were only Asian lions, not tigers, in the region of ancient Israel and Fertile Crescent, the term "young lions" could as easily be translated "young tigers" in an Asian application. Is it not amazing how precisely the Bible foretold millennia ago the modern realities and traits of Japan and various Pacific Rim powers? The "young tiger" nations include such nations as South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, etc. They are all closely-integrated into the economies of the Western world, and it makes sense they would object to an attack upon their allies and best customers!
Is Japan a close ally of the West?
An island nation, Japan lives near two powerful nations: Russia and China. It has fought wars with both nations. Russia seized Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands after World War II and its retention of these formerly Japanese islands is a bone of contention between Russia and Japan. Japan cannot hope to make allies of these nations. Therefore, it must side with the United States and the West by default. However, it and the United States have grown to be genuine allies in the period after World War II. The United States was not a harsh conqueror of Japan. The United States (after World War II) preserved the countries' monarchy, treated the people and their culture with respect and laid the foundation for its mercantile success by blending Western, democratic institutions with the countries' unique culture.
An article entitled "Abe blows Japan's trumpet, cautiously," appeared in the May 5, 2007 issue of The Economist. It cited a January visit by the Japanese Prime Minister to Europe to "emphasize that Japan was a staunch democratic partner on NATO's eastern flank." It also noted that:
"Japan is playing 'a huge great game' in which it must compete with a rising China and a newly-confident Russia for resources, power and prestige."
The Europeans reportedly welcomed Mr. Abe's insistence that "Japan should play an ever more energetic role in the alliance." Importantly, The Economist article also stated
"seeks closer ties with democratic India and recently formalized a security alliance of sorts, only Japan's second, with Australia (and seeks) an 'arc of freedom and prosperity' from Japan . . .."
The Wall Street Journal, wrote in a Sept. 1, 2006 article that
"Washington and Tokyo agreed . . . to expand cooperation on a joint ballistic-missile-defense shield, committing themselves to joint production of interceptor missiles" (article Japanese Agency Seeks More Funding for Missile Defense).
A nuclear power?
An editorial in the July 13, 2007 Wall Street Journal observed that:
"Japan has already greatly expanded joint military ties with the U.S..."
The editorial also commented on the threat to Japan from North Korea (it did not cite the even greater threat from China) in stating that a "nuclear armed Japan is 'probably' inevitable," and in a further significant observation, estimated that Japan could become a nuclear power within "days or weeks."
Obviously, one does not design and build nuclear weaponry within "days or weeks." Japan's pacifistic constitution is now a vestigial relic of World War II, and its provisions do not allow her to be a nuclear power. Efforts are underway to revise the constitution to remove the language which now hinders a fuller role for Japan in the Western alliance. In order to "go nuclear" within days or months, the country must already have constructed all the components of nuclear weapons, so that all that is needed is mere "days or weeks" to assemble the components of nuclear weapons together once a new constitution is in place permitting such weaponry. Japan is, therefore, only "days or weeks" from becoming a major nuclear power whenever it wishes to do so.
The Economist in an article in its February 24, 2007 issue stated that the Iwakuni Military Base near Hiroshima, Japan is "America's most important base in northeast Asia." That Japan has already made security agreements with the United States and Australia and is seeking closer ties with India illustrate that the prophecy of Ezekiel 38:13 is coming to pass.
TWO ways of interpreting Ezekiel 38
One could read the prophecy stated in Ezekiel 38:13 two ways. The FIRST way to interpret Ezekiel 38:13 is that a bloc of Asian nations, including Japan, are an ally of the ten tribes of Israel. The SECOND way to interpret the prophecy is that the alliance, including Japan ("Tarshish"), is a neutral bloc between two warring alliances. Based on research, Japan will be a military ally of the United States in the final world war at the end of our age even if they and other Pacific Rim nations are not initially targeted when Russia, China and Iran attack the Western alliance, the United States would surely retaliate with forces based in Japan. Additionally, Japan, India, etc. would all surely realize that if the United States and the West fell, Japan, India and the other nations would be the NEXT target for attack by Russia, China, Iran, etc. Matthew 24:21-22 calls this climactic world war at the end of our age the "Great Tribulation," a time which will result in the death of "all flesh" if God were not to Divinely intervene to stop it:
"For then there will be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, NO FLESH would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:21-22)
Ezekiel 38-39 prophesies that God will intervene in this final world war to fight on the side of the ten tribes of Israel and their allies. The nations who are on the side of Russia, China, Iran, etc. will suffer an incredibly high death rate of their populations (Ezekiel 39:1-6).
Ezekiel the 38th and 39th chapters contain a prophecy that fortells the composition of world alliances and how the great and last world war, at the end time, will unfold. We would do well to take heed of such prophecies.