The Sounds of Gog Umagog
I. Positive Kolot
The word for "sound" in Hebrew is קול - Kol (plural - Kolot). The word קול is very much connected to the coming of Mashiah. To name a few examples:
קוֹל אֹמֵר קְרָא, וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא; כָּל-הַבָּשָׂר חָצִיר, וְכָל-חַסְדּוֹ כְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה.
עַל הַר-גָּבֹהַּ עֲלִי-לָךְ, מְבַשֶּׂרֶת צִיּוֹן, הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ, מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם; הָרִימִי, אַל-תִּירָאִי, אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה, הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.
- Hoshana Rabba prayer:
In addition, we have the sound of the Shofar. During the giving of the Torah, it says (Shemot 19:19):
and as Pirkei deRibbi Eliezer explains, this Shofar at the giving of the Torah was used the left horn of the ram used in Akeidat Yitzhak. The right horn will be used for the ingathering of the exiles speedily in our days.
However, the concept of Kolot - sounds - is not merely used in a positive light for the Jewish people - it is also used in a negative sense for the nations, as we will discuss.
II. The Kolot of the Hail
In the Exodus from Egypt, during the seventh plague of hail, there were sounds that accompanied the hail, as is mentioned by the verses themselves:
כח הַעְתִּירוּ, אֶל-יְהוָה, וְרַב, מִהְיֹת קֹלֹת אֱלֹהִים וּבָרָד; וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה אֶתְכֶם, וְלֹא תֹסִפוּן לַעֲמֹד.
כט וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, מֹשֶׁה, כְּצֵאתִי אֶת-הָעִיר, אֶפְרֹשׂ אֶת-כַּפַּי אֶל-יְהוָה; הַקֹּלוֹת יֶחְדָּלוּן, וְהַבָּרָד לֹא יִהְיֶה-עוֹד, לְמַעַן תֵּדַע, כִּי לַיהוָה הָאָרֶץ.
לג וַיֵּצֵא מֹשֶׁה מֵעִם פַּרְעֹה, אֶת-הָעִיר, וַיִּפְרֹשׂ כַּפָּיו, אֶל-יְהוָה; וַיַּחְדְּלוּ הַקֹּלוֹת וְהַבָּרָד, וּמָטָר לֹא-נִתַּךְ אָרְצָה.
לד וַיַּרְא פַּרְעֹה, כִּי-חָדַל הַמָּטָר וְהַבָּרָד וְהַקֹּלֹת--וַיֹּסֶף לַחֲטֹא; וַיַּכְבֵּד לִבּוֹ, הוּא וַעֲבָדָיו.
Verse 28 is notable as the sounds are called קלת אלקים - sounds of G-d. However, Onkelos translates it as קלין דלוט כאלין מן קדם ה' (accursed sounds like these from before Hashem). Targum Yonatan translates it similarly and the Peirush Yonatan there explains why it was translated like this. He says that אלקים denotes Hashem's attribute of unmitigated justice, so it is logical to call them sounds of curses.
Rabbeinu Bahye has a different explanation why G-d's name is used here. He says that as these sounds that accompanied the hail were really thunder, thunder is something that breaks the heart, makes the body tremble, and comes with great power.
III. The Kolot of the Hail will come again
There is a famous Midrash mentioned often (e.g. Shemot Rabba 12:8) that says that the hail stopped in mid-air and resumed during Yehoshua's battle with the Emorites (Yehoshua 10:11) and the rest will be used in the War of Gog Umagog (Yehezkel 38:22). But how about the Kolot?
The Midrash Tanhuma says that the hail will come during Gog Umagog, but the Kolot were suspended until the days of Elisha, where the sounds of horses, chariots, and a great army miraculously scared away the army of Aram (Melachim Bet 7:6). One might want to infer from this Midrash that the sounds will not reoccur during Gog Umagog since the Midrash differentiates between the hail and the sounds. However, it is not so clear.
In contrast to the Midrash Tanhuma, the Ba'al Haturim comes up with a different answer. He is apparently bothered by verse 29, where Moshe Rabbeinu tells Par'o: הַקֹּלוֹת יֶחְדָּלוּן, וְהַבָּרָד לֹא יִהְיֶה-עוֹד [the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail], which implies that only the hail shall be no more, but the Kolot will only cease, but will resume at a later date. He explains that indeed the sounds of thunder will resume during the giving of the Torah. We can use the gemara in Zevahim 116a near the bottom as a support to the Ba'al Haturim. That gemara has an aggadic beraita whereby the nations of the world complained to Bil'am about the terriying sounds that they were hearing from one end of the earth to the other.
I'd like to say, perhaps, that the Ba'al Haturim would also say that the Kolot will resume in Gog Umagog as well. The Or HaHayim is apparently bothered with how the hail will not fall any more if it is destined to fall during Gog Umagog, as per the Midrash. He therefore says that new hail will not fall again, but the old hail - the hail that was in the process of falling during the plague of hail - will fall during Gog Umagog. If we use the Or HaHayim, it seems that the Kolot as well will resume during Gog Umagog. When it resumed at the giving of the Torah, those were brand new sounds, whereas the sounds during Gog Umagog will be the same sounds as were there during the plague of hail.
IV. The Sources for Kolot During Gog Umagog
Are there actual sources that say that there will be Kolot during Gog Umagog? Yes - and plenty.
- Yehezkel 38:19:
וּבְקִנְאָתִי בְאֵשׁ-עֶבְרָתִי, דִּבַּרְתִּי: אִם-לֹא בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִהְיֶה רַעַשׁ גָּדוֹל, עַל, אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל.For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken: Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
However, Rashi explains רעש גדול as Kolot and thunder.
- Yeshaya 66:6:
קוֹל שָׁאוֹן מֵעִיר, קוֹל מֵהֵיכָל; קוֹל יְהוָה, מְשַׁלֵּם גְּמוּל לְאֹיְבָיוHark! an uproar from the city, Hark! it cometh from the temple, Hark! the LORD rendereth recompense to His enemies.
See Metzudat David and Radak there.
- Some or all of Psalm 29 is said to be referring to Gog Umagog.
א מִזְמוֹר, לְדָוִד: הָבוּ לַיהוָה, בְּנֵי אֵלִים; הָבוּ לַיהוָה, כָּבוֹד וָעֹז.
ב הָבוּ לַיהוָה, כְּבוֹד שְׁמוֹ; הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לַיהוָה, בְּהַדְרַת-קֹדֶשׁ.
ג קוֹל יְהוָה, עַל-הַמָּיִם:
אֵל-הַכָּבוֹד הִרְעִים; יְהוָה, עַל-מַיִם רַבִּים.
ד קוֹל-יְהוָה בַּכֹּחַ; קוֹל יְהוָה, בֶּהָדָר.
ה קוֹל יְהוָה, שֹׁבֵר אֲרָזִים; וַיְשַׁבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶת-אַרְזֵי הַלְּבָנוֹן.
ו וַיַּרְקִידֵם כְּמוֹ-עֵגֶל; לְבָנוֹן וְשִׂרְיֹן, כְּמוֹ בֶן-רְאֵמִים.
ז קוֹל-יְהוָה חֹצֵב; לַהֲבוֹת אֵשׁ.
ח קוֹל יְהוָה, יָחִיל מִדְבָּר; יָחִיל יְהוָה, מִדְבַּר קָדֵשׁ.
ט קוֹל יְהוָה, יְחוֹלֵל אַיָּלוֹת-- וַיֶּחֱשֹׂף יְעָרוֹת:
וּבְהֵיכָלוֹ-- כֻּלּוֹ, אֹמֵר כָּבוֹד.
י יְהוָה, לַמַּבּוּל יָשָׁב; וַיֵּשֶׁב יְהוָה, מֶלֶךְ לְעוֹלָם.
יא יְהוָה--עֹז, לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן; יְהוָה, יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמּוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם.
See Rashi on Tehilim 29:9, Radak on 29:3, and Metzudat David on 29:10. See also Me'iri on Psalm 29. See also פרק שירה עם ביאור בתורתו יהגה, pp. 81, 274.
Why would Hashem use Kolot as a punishment toward the other nations? What do Kolot signify?
The Keli Yakar on Shemot 7:17 and repeated in 9:14 explains that the Kolot were Mida Keneged Mida for Par'o not listening to Hashem's voice, and arrogantly saying, "Who is Hashem that I will listen to His voice?" He therefore is punished with the terrible sounds. (He even uses Psalm 29's קול ה' על המים and קול ה' חצב להבות אש to show how Hashem's sound accompanied the hail.)
The aformentioned Rabbeinu Bahye says that it was the sounds - not the hail - that really got to Par'o and got him to cave temporarily. And it is only when the sounds ceased that he retracted his permission to the Israelites to leave.
VI. Today's Kolot
It says in Micha 7:15: 'As in the days of thy coming forth out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things.' However, the mirror image of that verse speaks of the punishment to the nations in Yeshaya 23:5: כַּאֲשֶׁר-שֵׁמַע, לְמִצְרָיִם, יָחִילוּ, כְּשֵׁמַע צֹר and Shemot Rabba 9:13 tells us that all that was done to Egypt will be done to Edom in the End of Days. When we have nations not treating Israel and Jews properly, blaspheming to say, "Who is Hashem that we should listen to His voice?" they are thereby not heeding the word of Hashem, and will likely also get the punishment of the Kolot sooner or later.
Shirat Devorah has been bringing us periodic updates of unexplained sounds that have been occurring in the past year or so. Whether there is a perfectly reasonable and scientific explanation for these sounds or not, the publicization of these sounds right now is remarkable. They are not everywhere at the same time and place, as with Par'o. However, one can think of them as warnings of things to come.
The gemara (Megilla 17b) says בששית קולות - on the sixth year, sounds. This is generally explained as rumors of Mashiah's arrival. Perhaps, we can alternatively explain this as Gog Umagog sounds, which will frighten millions of people. This precedes the seventh year of wars, followed by Mashiah's arrival.
May Hashem save us from being frightened by the Kolot of Gog Umagog and allow us to only hear the Kol Sasson VeKol Simha, Kol Hatan VeKol Kallah. Amen.