[b-hebrew] Ezekiel 38:2f.; 39:1

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Tue Dec 28 23:49:35 EST 2004


In your list of "three options" for reading Ezek 38:2f.; 39:1, I think you
left out at least one possibility, which I think is actually the preferable
reading. You wrote:

> There are three options open to us on how to read the Ezekiel passage: 1) N&Y)
> and R)$ are toponyms whose identities we'd have to look elsewhere than grammar
> to identify, 2) N&Y) is in construct state to R)$, meaning the "aughority of
> R)$" with R)$ still being a toponym, which would make the total sentence Magog
> (first time) or Gog is the authority of R)$, or a third option 3) both N&Y)
> and R)$ are constructs, making Gog the authority head of M$K, but I view this
> option as the least likely. Of the three options, I view #1 as the most
> likely, given the context.

It seems to me there is at least one more option, which I will call:

4) R)$ is a construct but N&Y) is not, and the two nouns are appositive to
each other, yielding the reading "prince Gog, head of Meshek and Tubal." I
view #4 as the most likely, given the considerations I will outline or refer
to below.

In my view, your options #2 and #3 are unlikely. As corroborative data, I
note that in the two verses from Numbers--remember that the two verses from
Numbers and the three from Ezekiel are the only places in the Tanakh where a
form of N&Y) immediately follows a form of RO)$--it is clear that HANN:&IYIM
is in the absolute state and RF)$"Y is in the construct state.

> The Ezekiel passage, OTOH, has the two nouns as singular, preceeded by a place
> name and followed by others.

Are you taking GWG as a toponym rather than a personal name or epithet? I
ask because MFGWG appears only in Ezek 38:2, not in Ezek 38:3 or 39:1. In
those latter two verses, N&Y) follows immediately upon GWG, showing
unequivocally, in my mind, that GWG is being described as N&Y) RO)$ ME$EK
W:TUBFL in all three verses. I don't think that's a controversial statement.

> It is possible that N&Y) is in construct state
> with R)$, but this would be a unique case in Tanakh, especially if we then
> consider R)$ to be in construct with the following place name M$K. N&Y) does
> not refer back to MGWG the first time, nor GWG the next two times in the
> Ezekiel passage, for the construct state does not refer backwards nor does a
> place name fit in a construct state wtih "authority".

But if N&Y) is in the absolute state, as the parallel constructions in
Numbers suggest (to me, at least), then there is no problem with N&Y)
referring to GWG. I can only find one syntactic parallel, and it is probably
questionable, but I will cite it here for discussion: Ezek 34:24, WA):ANIY
translations often stick an "is" into the phrase about David in Ezek 34:24,
but I think it better to leave out the verb, as in the Hebrew clause, and
translate W- as "with:" "And I YHWH will be their God, with my servant
prince David among them.") I might also point to Ezra 1:18, L:$"$BACCAR
HANNF&IY) LIYHWDFH as another close parallel, where, by the way, the accent
pattern on these two words is the same as that on GWG N&IY) in Ezek 38:3;

In my judgment, it is best to read this as "Gog, prince, head of

> As for the possible identities of the lands should #1 be the correct reading,
> that would be the subject of a separate posting that I don't plan on making.

Since I don't think RO)$ is a toponym in these verses, I won't ask you to
make that post. ;-)


R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Armstrong Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University

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