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The Battle of Gog and Magog

The Battle of Gog and Magog

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The prophet Ezekiel (chapters 38-39) describes a climactic battle that will be instigated by Gog and/of Magog, and will be waged against Israel and G‑d. The defeat of Gog and Magog will precipitate the Messianic Redemption. It is difficult to dwell on this topic because it is so shrouded in mystery. We are uncertain as to the identity of Gog and Magog, whether Gog and Magog are the names of nations or individuals, whether this battle will be a physical or spiritual battle, and even whether it has already occurred or not.

Some say that Elijah will arrive before the war of Gog and Magog, while others say that he will arrive three days prior to the revelation of Moshiach.

According to tradition, the central personality in this war is Moshiach ben YosefAccording to tradition, the central personality in this war is Moshiach ben Yosef—Moshiach of the tribe of Joseph. Jewish tradition speaks of two redeemers, each one called Moshiach. Both are involved in ushering in the Messianic Era. They are Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Yosef. (The unqualified term "Moshiach," however, belongs exclusively to Moshiach ben David, the ultimate redeemer.)

Moshiach ben Yosef will be killed in the war against Gog and Magog. Again, it is unclear whether the death will be in physical battle, or as a result of the spiritual battles which he will wage against the forces of evil. Either way, the prophet Zechariah (12:10) describes the national mourning that will follow his death.

Apparently, though, the death of Moshiach ben Yosef is not inevitable. The master-kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Arizal, said that when saying in the Amidah the words, "speedily establish the throne of Your servant David," one should beseech G‑d that Moshiach ben Yosef should not die in the course of his struggles.

According to certain sources, Moshiach be Yosef will serve as Moshiach ben David's viceroy. Thus finally bringing to an end the schism between the northern Ten Tribes, which were ruled by Joseph's descendants, and the Kingdom of Judea, which was ruled by the Davidic dynasty.

Click here for a more comprehensive discussion regarding Moshiach ben Yosef.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Angela Gershenwald Plantation, Florida February 13, 2017

I believe that you can also take this war all the way back to the Spanish Inquisition, and then you can take it further back to the destruction of the first and second temple, of when it was first given in the Tanach. There are periods of time that are all connected forward in time. Then you have to count the Holocaust and the continuous fight of the Jewish People, for just building in their homeland, or the oppression right now by Islam and Christianity has always played it's part. But what I do believe that since Our Creator spoke in time about when enough is enough and has to attack for itself, will be the beginning to the end of this World's non-sense. And I do believe that it is all fixed in time, from the original thought before creation. Our Creator knew how this was going to go and what it would have to look like for the planet to become one with our Creator and for it to be allowed this time. Reply

Pat October 9, 2016

I'd love to know more about the classical Jewish sources that relate to the "Gog and Magog" tradition, besides Yehezqel. Always looking for new Jewish classics to read -- or maybe I already know where they are on the web. Thanks. Reply

Yosef El Paso, TX September 9, 2016

I have heard from a great rabbi that the people of gog or 'roof' are those who trust in the physical for protection and not in the clouds of heaven. They will attack the people of the clouds. It fits perfectly with sukko and its meaning and hiw in those days the nations will go and perform that ritual. Reply

Anonymous here November 15, 2014

gog and magog to me represent those who gain profit in the name of religon and kill in the name of religon... two things that are fully the opposite of truth following religons purpose... signed, ben david :) Reply

Bertrand ESCAFFRE FIGEAC, France December 20, 2013

there is one anti-GOG nation that says "ma" for "no". in this meaning it could have been as well the "la GOG" tribe(s)

no similarity can be random Reply

Colin Winkler Salem, OR October 17, 2011

Rabbi תודה for sharing this insight.

We really ought to talk about this.

It makes a lot of sense. Reply

i live by the river windsor, ontario May 4, 2010

interesting, educational, thought provoking and profound. Reply