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Gog and Magog are, respectively, the names of a mysterious Biblical land and its people, who feature in apocalyptic prophecy. They appear in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation. They are also mentioned in the Qur'an as Yajooj-Majooj (or Yecüc-Mecüc in the Turkish spelling).
The Biblical Gog and Magog
- Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. (Ezekiel 38:2-3 KJV)
The Jewish tradition of Gog and Magog is quite distinct from the Bible and describes 70 national angels, some of which have fallen and others are still with God. The biblical prophecy says that Gog — who in the tradition is the angel of the nation called Magog — will be defeated after he leads an army to attack Israel from the four corners of the land. This angel therefore represents the spirit of anti-semitism. Ezekiel 38 and 39 continues to speak of Gog, and that Gog (Lydia) together with Persia from the east, Phut from the west, Kushites from the south, and others, like Gomer and the house of Togarmah from the north, whose identities at this remove are even harder to identify. We are told that Gog dwelt north of Israel, but apart from this direction, there is little else to identify Gog in the passage. Gog and his allies are to be defeated in a mighty bloodbath; according to chapter 39, it will take seven months to bury all the dead.
Gog reappears in Revelation 20:7-8, which says:
- And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog of Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Here Gog is identified as the land in the four corners of the earth and Gog's attack here is represented as an eschatological event that will occur after the Millennium, and that will be vanquished by divine intervention.
The term "Gog Magog" or "Gogmagog" is simply a clarification which may be understood as "Gog as in those from Magog" and despite apocalyptic attempts to devise scenarios whereby nations associated with Magog will one day attack Israel, Magog is not implied in the literal readings of the biblical texts occurring as nothing more than a reference for which Gog is being mentioned.
The origin of Gog's name remains mysterious. Many Bible scholars believe that Gyges (Greek Γυγες), king of Lydia (687-652BC), is meant; in Assyrian letters, Gyges appears as Gu-gu; in which case Magog (literally "from Gog") might be his territory in Anatolia. Josephus identifies the Magog with Scythians, but this name was used generally in antiquity for any peoples north of the Black Sea.
Gog is identified as the original country of the Magog people. Magog actually means "from Gog" and although certain Celtic peoples consider themselves to be descendants of Magog (see below) (Poseidonius, for example, mentions that the Cimmerians who are considered as the original ancestors of the Celts, derived from gug and guas), Gog itself is identified as "the country at the four corners of the world". Outside of the Bible, Gog is most commonly identified as Central Eurasia. Legends present in countries throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East mention that massive copper, iron, or brass gates were built on its southern borders with the Persian Empire; this would support the identification of these "four corners of the world" as Central Eurasia, the westernmost of these gates having been built at Derbent. (These gates are usually called the "Gates of Alexander" or "Alexander's Wall", after their supposed builder Alexander the Great.) However, Magog was supposed to have a grandchild called Heber, who spread throughout the mediterranean and Greeks called such Iberes mentioning that they were refugees from Atlantis who had come to settle the Caucasus. The result is that Gog — the land of the four corners of the world — has also been identified as lands somewhere in the oceans surrounding The Old World i.e. The New World.
According to a tradition of dispensationalist Biblical hermeneutics, Gog and Magog are supposed to represent Russia. The Scofield Reference Bible's notes to Ezekiel claim that "Meshech" is a Hebrew form of Moscow, and that "Tubal" represents the minor Russian city of Tobolsk. This identification of Gog with Russia, and Cold War tensions with the West and with Israel, led Hal Lindsey to claim that the former Soviet Union would play a major role in end times prophecies. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of Russia from the role of a military superpower, other end times prophets have sought to cast Iraq or some other country in the role of Gog.
Gog and Magog in Qur'an
In the Qur'an, in Surah Al Kehf (83-98), it is written that Zulqarneyn (the one with two horns) travelled in three directions: first, to where the sun rises (to the east); second, to where the sun sets (to the west); and a third direction, which is not specified in the Qur'an.
When Zulqarneyn arrives at the third location, he meets some people who are complaining about the tribes of Yajooj and Majooj (sometimes transliterated from Arabic as Yajuj and Majuj). They ask Zulqarneyn to build a wall between them so that Yajooj and Majooj will not bother them any more. Zulqarneyn builds the wall out of a metal alloy, and even encloses them above, and Yajooj and Majooj become completely sealed within beneath the Earth, and cannot threaten anyone anymore. Two sources may have influenced this story: one is the classical legend, from the Alexander Romance , of the Gates of Alexander "which keep back the wild peoples behind the Caucasus" (as Saint Jerome put it ); the other is the fortification built by the Sassanid Khosrau I Anushirvan across the pass of Derbent. (See also: Alexander in the Qur'an.)
One of the Major signs in Islam that the world will end will be their reappearance. In the Qur'an and hadith, God says that when the time comes, Yajooj-Majooj will be able to destroy the wall, after millenia of trying, only because they said "Insh'Allah" (God Willing). They will begin to wreck havoc by their actions and their massive numbers. One hadith says that they will be so numerous that they will be nearly 99% of all mankind who ever existed on Judgement Day. In the end, Jesus, who is leading the Ummah will pray to God and as a result, a pathogen of some sort will destroy both their tribes.
Yajooj - Majooj is also mentioned in the Qur'an in Surah Al Anbiya 96.
Gog and Magog in England
Given this somewhat frightening Biblical imagery, it is somewhat odd that images of Gog and Magog depicted as giants are carried in a traditional procession in the Lord Mayor's Show by the Lord Mayor of the City of London. According to the Lord Mayor, the giants Gog and Magog are traditional guardians of the City of London. Images of Gog and Magog have been carried in the Lord Mayor's Show since the days of King Henry V. The Lord Mayor's procession takes place each year on the second Saturday in November.
The Lord Mayor's account of Gog and Magog says that the Roman Emperor Diocletian had thirty-three wicked daughters. He found thirty three husbands for them to curb their wicked ways; they chafed at this, and under the leadership of the eldest sister, Alba, they murdered them. For this crime, they were set adrift at sea; they were washed ashore on a windswept island, which after Alba was called Albion. Here they coupled with demons, and gave birth to a race of giants, among whose descendants were Gog and Magog.
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Gogmagog was a giant who was slain by the eponymous Cornish hero Corin or Corineus. The tale figures in the body of unlikely lore that has Britain settled by "Brutus" and other fleeing heroes from the Trojan War. Corineus is supposed to have slain the giant by throwing him into the sea near Plymouth. John Milton's History of Britain gives this version of the story:
- The Island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a manner desert and inhospitable, kept only by a remnant of Giants, whose excessive Force and Tyrannie had consumed the rest. Them Brutus destroies, and to his people divides the land, which, with some reference to his own name, he thenceforth calls Britain. To Corineus, Cornwall, as now we call it, fell by lot; the rather by him lik't, for that the hugest Giants in Rocks and Caves were said to lurk still there; which kind of Monsters to deal with was his old exercise.
- And heer, with leave bespok'n to recite a grand fable, though dignify'd by our best Poets: While Brutus, on a certain Festival day, solemnly kept on that shore where he first landed (Totnes), was with the People in great jollity and mirth, a crew of these savages, breaking in upon them, began on the sudden another sort of Game than at such a meeting was expected. But at length by many hands overcome, Goemagog, the hugest, in hight twelve cubits, is reserved alive; that with him Corineus, who desired nothing more, might try his strength, whom in a Wrestle the Giant catching aloft, with a terrible hugg broke three of his Ribs: Nevertheless Corineus, enraged, heaving him up by main force, and on his shoulders bearing him to the next high rock, threw him hedlong all shatter'd into the sea, and left his name on the cliff, called ever since Langoemagog, which is to say, the Giant's Leap.
There is a minor problem with the chronology of these several tales. If Britain was settled by giants during the Roman Empire, it is hard to imagine the giants being there shortly after the Trojan War.
Michael Drayton's Polyolbion preserves the tale as well:
- Amongst the ragged Cleeves those monstrous giants sought:
- Who (of their dreadful kind) t'appal the Trojans brought
- Great Gogmagog, an oake that by the roots could teare;
- So mighty were (that time) the men who lived there:
- But, for the use of armes he did not understand
- (Except some rock or tree, that coming next to land,
- He raised out of the earth to execute his rage),
- He challenge makes for strength, and offereth there his gage,
- Which Corin taketh up, to answer by and by,
- Upon this sonne of earth his utmost power to try.
The Gog Magog Hills are about three miles south of Cambridge, said to be the metamorphosis of the giant after being rejected by the nymph Granta (i.e. the River Cam). The dowser T.C. Lethbridge claimed to have discovered a group of three hidden chalk carvings in the Gogmagog Hills. This alleged discovery is described at length in his book Gogmagog: The Buried Gods. 
Other Gogs and Magogs
Magog appear as fatally parasitic aliens in the television show, Andromeda. Magog eat other sentients and often their own. They reproduce by infecting hosts with their larva that then mature and hatch killing the host.
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