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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Turkey's Role in Gog Umagog

In passing, I mentioned that virtually everyone holds that Turkey has a role in Gog Umagog. Which country represents it is subject to various interpretations. It is really irrelevant since Gog Umagog will include all 70 nations (as with its gematria), and would by default be included in "עמים רבים", but it would be interesting to see if it's one of the nations listed.
Let's take a look at the various interpretations mentioned here:

  • Bereishit Rabba 37:1
    תירס - רבי סימון אמר זו פרס. רבנן אמרי תורקי.
    Tiras - Ribbi Simon says "This is Paras." The rabbis say "[This is] Turkey."

    The problem is that Tiras is mentioned in Parshat Noah, but not in Yehezkel. However, Yehezkel 38:13 mentions Sheva, Dedan, and Tarshish. The Midrash Rabba says the following:
    ובני יון אלישה ותרשיש [כתים ודודנים] אלסוטרוס איטלייה דרדנייא. כתוב אחד אמר ודודנים וכתוב אחד אומר ורודנים. ר' סימון ור' חנין. ר' סימון אמר דודנים שהם בני דודיהן של ישראל. רודנים שהם באים ורודין אותם. א"ר חנניא בשעה שישראל נתונים בעליה. אינון אמרין להון בני דודכם אנן. ובשעה שהם נתונים בירידה הם באים ורודין אותם.

    And the sons of Yavan: Elisha and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. [Elisha and Tarshish are] Alsotros, [Kittim is] Italia, [and Dodanim is] Dardenaya.

    Dardenaya is likely the Dardanelles in Turkey.

    As an aside, we'll translate the rest of the Midrash:
    One verse says "And Dodanim" while one verse says "And Rodanim". Ribbi Simon and Ribbi Hanin [argue on this point]. Ribbi Simon says, "[They're called] Dodanim because they're the cousins ["bnei dodeihen"] of the Jews. They're called Rodanim because they [the Dodanim] come and subjugate them [the Jews]." Ribbi Hanania says, "When Israel is doing well, they [the Dodanim] tell them [Israel] that we're your cousins. When Israel is not doing well, they come and subjugate them."

    Turkey is a fair-weather fan of Israel. When Israel shows strength, it sides with Israel. In recent years, however, when Israel has shown weakness, it sides against Israel.
    Anyways, we see Dedan from Yehezkel is the Dodanim from Noah (as it goes together with "Tarshish"). It cannot be the Dedan who is the son of Yishmael (even though it goes with "Sheva") as Yishmael per se is not part of the 70 nations, whereas Gog Umagog is (the Malbim's pshat that Gog Umagog is Yishmael vs. Edom notwithstanding).

  • Next is the Targum on Divrei Hayamim I 1:5 and 1:7. 1:5 says that Meshech is Mosya and Tuval is Tarkey (or Mosaya and Tarkei according to the second girsa). Mosya is very likely Mysia, like mentioned here. 1:7 also identifies Rodanim as Dardenaya, while Tarshish is either Tarsus (first girsa) or Tarsas (second girsa), but which are likely the city of Tarsus, Turkey.

  • Then comes the Bavli in Yoma 10a, which also has Mosya for Meshech.

  • Next, the Yerushalmi Megilla 1:9 has Mysia for Meshech and Dardenaya for Dodanim.

  • The Vilna Gaon on Divrei Hayamim isn't as specific as far as countries go, so I'll skip that explanation.

  • R' Saadia Gaon says that Gomer is "Al Turk", which is explained by as "the Turks, mainly, the area of Asia Minor and Iran". He also says Tarshish is Tarsus "The city Tarsus in Cilicia [Southern Turkey]...".

  • The Sefer Hayashar gives 10 names to the children of Togarmah: כוזר פרצינך בולגר אליקנוס רגבינא טורקי בוז זבוך אונגר טילמץ. Turkey is one of them.

Take a look at the chart made at for a more graphical display.

Update: R' Saadia Gaon also says that Magog is Asia Minor (Turkey), Iraq, and Iran. You may think from here that Erdogan may be Gog, but that may not necessarily be R' Saadia Gaon's viewpoint - see the last 3 paragraphs here.

Update 2: The Artscroll Gemara on Yoma 10a does a pretty good job with these names. It considers "Turki" as "Thrace" (Western Turkey). More importantly, I neglected the interpretations of Tuval, which Targum Yonatan, the Bavli in Yoma and the Yerushalmi in Megilla all identify with Bythinia - also in Turkey. Also, Gomer, which is often referred to as "Afriki", is not referring to Africa, but Phrygia, also part of Turkey.

Update 3: Thanks to Neshama, who emailed me this article, which concurs with my conclusions, and adds (written while Turkey was still friendly):
1) What he prophesied, then, is an end-time battle involving the following nations coming against Israel: Turkey (Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Togarmah); Iran (Persia), Sudan (Kush), and Libya (Put).
At present, only the last three states are openly against Israel, while Turkey is the main military settlement of the Western Alliance in the Middle East.


Turkey is the main ally of these countries in the Middle East. Their apparent "friendship" with Israel should not be misleading, as the "evil one" is also the betrayer that seals an agreement to break it later.

Pretty spot-on.


At Thu Jun 03, 07:24:00 PM 2010, Blogger Neshama said...

This may sound off, but could bin Laden [or Karzai ?] (a modern Caliph) be Gog and coming from MaGog which is the area from Hashem1's nice long article in your link?

Chairman of the Interim Administration
Hamid Karzai 22 Dec 2001 - 19 Jun 2002

Head of State for the Transitional Administration
Hamid Karzai 19 Jun 2002 - 7 Dec 2004

President of the Islamic Republic
Hamid Karzai 7 Dec 2004

Interesting: "Caliph" =
where it says at the end of 2nd para.

"The title has been defunct since the Republic of Turkey abolished the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924, although some individuals and groups have called for its restoration.[1] ..."

See also: "Ottomans" and "Abolition of the institution" further down page.

At Fri Jun 04, 01:35:00 AM 2010, Anonymous ben Shlomo said...

I seem to remember an association between Magog and the Mongols.

If this is the case, then it might be interesting to note that the Turks didn't originate in Anatolia (present day Turkey), but in central Asia, around current Mongolia, and moved west in waves. The Mongol and Turks originated from the same tribal groups.The Mongol & Turkish languages are part of the Altaic language family.


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