Ezekiel 39 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In this chapter, the War of Armageddon (which was introduced in ch. 38) is brought to its final conclusion. In the opening battle, during the first half of the Tribulation period, the forces of Gog and Magog (and their allies) will invade Israel with overwhelming force, but will be turned back as the LORD pours His wrath upon them with a combination of 'natural' calamities, military power, and His direct intervention.
     However, the false messiah, who had previously guaranteed Israel's security, through his strong covenant, will take the credit for saving Israel. Rejecting the LORD's obvious protection of Israel, the false messiah will seat himself, in the newly built Temple in Jerusalem, and declare that he is not only Israel's protector, but also their Savior and their God (Dan 11:36-43; 2The 2:3,4; Rev 13:4-9).
     The Antichrist's reign, of blasphemy against God and persecution of God's people, will continue for 42 months (the last half of the seven year Tribulation period). Near the end of that time, the armies of the world will assemble against him. This force will include the weakened forces of Gog and Magog and their allies, which will be reinforced by a large army from the east {eg., China} (Dan 11:44,45; Rev 16:12-16). The Antichrist will begin to take action against these armies, but will soon join forces with them against the true Christ, as He returns to earth (Zech 14:1-7; Rev 19:11-21).
     It is the final battle of Armageddon and its outcome which is in view in ch. 39. As Ezekiel viewed these future events from the distant past, the details of both battles overlapped and blended together. (eg., The LORD's wrath against the invading forces, as described in Eze 38:18-23, applies to both events.) Yet, the two depicted battles remain sufficiently distinct.
6. The War of Gog and Magog, ch. 38-39
A. First Campaign, 38:1-23
    (The Invasion by Gog, met by the Wrath of God)
  1. The Time and Circumstances, v.1-13
  2. The Purpose and Power of Gog, v.14-16
  3. The Purpose and Power of God, v.17-23
B. Last Campaign, 39:1-29
    (The Glory of God, revealed in the Disposal of Gog)
  1. Return Engagement, v.1-7
  2. The Aftermath, v.8-20
  3. God's Glory revealed through Israel's Judgment and Restoration, v.21-29
1. Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,
and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I [am] against thee, O Gog,
the chief prince
{or, the prince of Rosh...} of Meshech and Tubal:
2 And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee,
and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,
and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand,
and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel,
thou, and all thy bands, and the people that [is] with thee:
I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort
{lit., every wing},
and [to] the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field
{lit., the face of the earth}:
for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog,
and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles:
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel;
and I will not [let them] pollute my holy name any more:
and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
...Behold, I am against thee... and I will turn thee back...
...and will cause thee to come up from the north parts... upon... Israel...
The LORD again addresses Gog, with language very similar to Eze 38:2-4. Therefore, some see ch. 39 as a review and amplification of the battle described in the previous chapter. Others (like the editor) see two distinct battles which share numerous similarities.
     The phrase 'I will turn thee back...' can have more than one sense:
  • In 38:4, it has the sense of being turned in a previously unconsidered direction (ie., to invade Israel).
  • In 39:2, the apparent sense is: 'I will cause thee to return (to where you had been)...' ie., back into Israel, from which he had recently been driven.
...and leave but the sixth part of thee... {or, 'drive you on' [NASB], 'drive you forward' [ESV], 'lead thee' [Darby], 'enticed thee' [YLT]}
The difference between the KJV and most other translations is due to a Hebrew word which only occurs here. This word is derived from one of two similar words {shashah, to divide into sixths} or {shasha', to lead, to drive}. Translators differ as to which root word applies.
     As this chapter continues, it becomes evident that the invading forces will be annihilated. Therefore, if 'a sixth part' of Gog's army remains, it represents the survivors from the first invasion, which were driven back to their northland (in ch. 38). (Some suggest that Gog will feel so pressed, that he will enlist all but one sixth of his country's population in this second military venture.)
     If the alternate reading is preferred {eg., 'I will drive you forward...'}, it corresponds with the clauses that follow in the same verse (39:2), and further emphasizes that it is the LORD who will drag Gog, back to Israel, and to his destruction. [However, because this point is already emphasized by two statements, there seems to be little need for further emphasis. Therefore, the editor favors "leave but a sixth part of thee" as the meaning of the preceding clause.]
...I will smite thy bow... thine arrows... out of thy... hand...
The LORD will disarm the well equipped invader, rendering his weapons useless. Psa 46:8-11; Isa 54:17
Aspects of the battle description, in Eze 38:18-23, apply here also. Through the confusion and dust of battle, we must not fail to see that the LORD alone will win the battle and silence His enemies (Rev 19:15; Isa 63:1-6).
...thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel... I will give thee to the ravenous birds... to be devoured.
The fate of Gog and his army is predetermined. Their dead bodies will become food for 'birds of every wing' and for wild beasts. This corresponds with the conclusion of the battle of Armageddon (Isa 34:2-8; Rev 19:17-21). The disposition of these corpses will be described further in subsequent verses.
     On this occasion, Gog, allied with a great eastern army {eg., from China}, will re-enter the land of Israel, to fight against the Antichrist (Dan 11:44,45). Note that Gog and the Antichrist {also called 'the beast'} are distinct individuals, as shown by their differing fates. Gog will be slain in battle, to be devoured by birds (v.4). Whereas, the Antichrist will be cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20,21).
...I will send a fire upon Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly {ie., confidently, securely} in the isles {ie., coastlands}...
Magog is the homeland of Gog. Perhaps 'the coastlands' represents the homeland of the Antichrist. It has been suggested, that the second clause (of v.6) is an apt description of the USA, which has more coastline than any other country, and whose citizens enjoy wealth and stability unknown to much of the world's population. The fire could represent nuclear warfare between these nations.
     The Lord's judgment upon lands far from the zone of conflict (ie., distant from Israel) will cause survivors, in those lands, to "know that I am the LORD" (just as His judgment of those on the battlefield was instructive to those who survived the first battle, in Eze 38:16,23).
     As the forces of Gog and of the Antichrist begin to clash, they will be distracted by the visible return of Christ (Mat 24:27-30). But, rather than bowing in repentance before Him, they will join their forces against Him (Zech 14:1-10).
     By His defense of Israel, the nations and also the Jewish people will "know that I am the LORD, the holy One in Israel."
  • Previously, these nations had disparaged and hated the land and people of Israel.
    But then, they will see that the LORD identifies Himself with them, for Israel is at the center of God's purposes.
  • Previously, Israel had profaned the LORD's Name,
    through their disregard for His Word, and by their trust in false confidences.
    But then, when their false gods and messiahs are brought to nothing, they will turn in faith to the One who is their only Hope, the Holy One of Israel. Jer 14:8; 17:13; Isa 12:1-6
B. Last Campaign, 39:1-29
2. The Aftermath, v.8-20
8. Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD;
this [is] the day whereof I have spoken.
9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth,
and shall set on fire and burn the weapons,
both the shields and the bucklers,
the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears,
and they shall burn them with fire seven years:
10 So that they shall take no wood out of the field,
neither cut down [any] out of the forests;
for they shall burn the weapons with fire:
and they shall spoil those that spoiled them,
{cp. Isa 33:1}
and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day,
[that] I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel,
the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea:
and it shall stop the [noses] of the passengers:
and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude:
and they shall call [it] The valley of Hamongog
{meaning 'the Multitude of Gog'}.
12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them,
that they may cleanse the land.
13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury [them];
and it shall be to them a renown
the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD.
14 And they shall sever out men of continual employment,
passing through the land to bury with the passengers
those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it:
after the end of seven months shall they search.
15 And the passengers [that] pass through the land,
when [any] seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it,
till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.
16 And also the name of the city [shall be] Hamonah
{meaning 'a Multitude'}.
Thus shall they cleanse the land.
...Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this... the day whereof I have spoken.
He speaks, of the future judgment in the Day of the LORD, as accomplished fact. It is absolutely certain to come, because His Word is sure. About eight years before Jerusalem fell to Babylon, the LORD had spoken through Ezekiel, with the same 'past tense' certainty (Eze 7:2-10). Although the people had disregarded and mocked His message, that day had indeed come. The future day of judgment is no less certain (cp. Rev 16:17; 2Pet 3:1-10).
Verses 9-16 describe the disposal of the debris of battle, by the people of Israel.
They will cleanse the land of pollution caused by the decaying bodies and wrecked weapons of Gog and his multitude.
  • his weapons will be burned by Israel (v.9-10)
    • Israel's city dwellers will 'go forth,'
      not to battle, but to spoil the defeated enemy (cp. 2Kin 19:35).
    • Israel's citizens will burn their enemies' weapons as fuel, for seven years.
      While modern weapons may not be made of wood, Gog's large mechanized army will be dependent upon a vast supply of fuel, which Israel will re-purpose for heating and other civilian applications.
  • his corpses will be buried by Israel (v.11-16)
    • A place of burial - will be designated in Israel.
           The valley of Hamongog {meaning 'the multitude of Gog'} will be located 'east of the sea.' It is uncertain which sea, and which valley is intended. Various locations have been suggested, including:
      1. the Valley of Megiddo, the scene of Armageddon,
        which is east of the Mediterranean;
      2. tight mountain passes east of the Dead Sea (cp. Isa 63:1-3);
      3. an area east of the Sea of Galilee,
        considering that Gog will approach from the north, to fall 'on the mountains of Israel' (v.4), and that the Golan is a mountainous region which belongs to Israel, while the area east of the Dead Sea is not presently in their possession.
      4. It is also possible that this valley does not yet exist,
        since there will be major topographical changes, during the Tribulation period (eg., Eze 38:19,20). When the time comes, the LORD will prepare a burial place for these invaders.
           However, because the area is also called "the valley of the 'passengers'" {HB='abar, those who pass through}, it may refer to a region crossed by important transportation corridors (ie., highways or railroads).
    • A need for burial - the huge number of carcases will pollute the land.
      The stench of death will 'stop the noses' of the 'passengers' {those who pass through}. Note that the word 'noses' is in brackets (or, italics in many printed Bibles) indicating that it has been supplied by the translators (v.11). This may mean that this valley, through which travelers must pass, will be 'stopped' {ie., obstructed, become impassable} due to the great quantity of carcases.
    • A plan for burial - Israel will employ full time workers in this task (v.14).
      The enormity of their job is shown by its seven month duration, and by the need for all who pass through the area to assist the workers in locating human remains.
         The importance of their job is shown by the repetition of the need for 'cleansing' of the land, not only to prevent disease, but also to purge spiritual defilement (v.12,14,16; cp. Num 19:16; Deu 21:23).
    • A place of bones - In the warm climate, it will not take long for exposed carcases to be reduced to bones.
      Observe what the LORD will accomplish:
      Israel's dry bones (of ch. 37) will live and prosper, while their powerful enemies will become dry bones.
    • A place of 'renown' {HB=shem, a name, fame} (v.13) -
      The 'fame' of Israel will not be in their work of burial, but in the Glory of their God, who has done great things for them. Deu 26:18,19; Psa 126:2,3; Jer 33:8,9; Zeph 3:19,20; see also Eze 39:21,22
17 And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD;
Speak unto every feathered fowl
{lit., birds of every wing},
and to every beast of the field,
{cp. Rev 19:17,18}
Assemble yourselves, and come;
gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you,
[even] a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel,
that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.
18 Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty,
and drink the blood of the princes of the earth,
of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
19 And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken,
of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
20 Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots,
with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
Having foretold the slaughter of Gog and his multitude (v.4), the LORD issues an invitation to the wild birds and beasts, to come and feast on their carcases. The basic meaning of the word for 'sacrifice' is 'slaughter.' Some occasions for sacrifice were accompanied by feasting, to which guests were invited (cp. Zeph 1:7).
     In v.18, 'the flesh of the mighty... and... the blood of princes...' is compared figuratively with cattle of various sizes and differing strengths, all of which had been unusually powerful, like the cattle of Bashan (a fertile region known for producing exceptionally well nourished and robust livestock).
     [If the flesh of rams, lambs, goats and bullocks is meant to be taken literally, the site of this slaughter is identified as the region of Bashan, which is known as the Golan, today.]
     The formidable enemies of Israel, of every rank and role, will be reduced to bird food (cp. Eze 38:4; Psa 76:5,6; Hag 2:22). The birds will consume the flesh. Israel will bury the bones.
     That which the enemies had intended to do to Israel, will be done to them, when the Lord fights for them, at Armageddon (cp. 1Sam 17:44-47; Rev 19:11-21). The outcome, of that future battle, was determined by His historic victory on Golgotha (Psa 22:12-24; Joh 12:31-33).
B. Last Campaign, 39:1-29
3. God's Glory revealed through Israel's Judgment and Restoration, v.21-29
21 And I will set {ie., display} my glory among the heathen,
and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed,
and my hand that I have laid upon them
{ie., upon the nations}.
22 So the house of Israel shall know
that I [am] the LORD their God from that day and forward.
23. And the heathen shall know
that the house of Israel went into captivity
{ie., exile} for their iniquity:
because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them,
and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.
24 According to their uncleanness
and according to their transgressions have I done unto them,
and hid my face from them.
{cp. Deu 31:17,18; Isa 59:2}
The LORD's own actions will reveal the greatness of His Person, through the execution of judgment...
25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob,
and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel,
and will be jealous for my holy name;
26 After that they have borne their shame
{ie., dishonor, reproach (due to their sin)},
and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me,
when they dwelt safely in their land,
and none made [them] afraid.
{eg., Deu 32:14-21}
27 When I have brought them again from the people,
and gathered them out of their enemies' lands,
and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
28 Then shall they know that I [am] the LORD their God,
which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen:
but I have gathered them unto their own land,
and have left none of them any more there.
{eg., Eze 28:25,26; 34:30}
29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them:
for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
With the close of the time of Jacob's Trouble (the Tribulation period, which ends at Armageddon with the return of Christ to earth), Israel's warfare will be ended, and her sin will have been pardoned, by the One who was foretold by the prophets of old (Isa 40:1-5). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Glory of God's people Israel (Luk 2:32; 1Cor 2:8).
     He will regather His people to the land from which He drove them. He will regenerate them by His Spirit, when they recognize and receive Him. He will restore them as one nation, under one King, so that the whole world will come to know the God of Israel (eg., Eze 36:24-38; 37:21-28).
     The remaining chapters, in the book of Ezekiel, provide a foreview of the Millennial Kingdom.

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