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Updated: Dec 14, 2023

On Ezekiel's prophecy about the end of days, Ch. 39 in narrative format with insights from the teachings of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur



VERSES 1-5


And you, O mortal, prophesy what was not foretold by prophets before you. For it is said, “Are you the one spoken of in ancient times?” Declare this prophecy as I have chosen you for a purpose beyond what previous prophets have foreseen.


You will proclaim, “Behold, I turn to you, Gog.” You will prophesy that after his downfall, he will once again regroup and lead his armies against Jerusalem. “And I will bring you up from the far north,” as it predicts his second ascent towards the mountains of Israel for war.


When Gog invades the land of Israel, his downfall shall be swift. He will face immediate defeat upon crossing their borders and setting foot on their land. However, in a second attempt, he will advance further, reaching the mountains, and besiege Jerusalem.


And then I will fight against him and he will not be able to use his bow and arrows. The mountains of Israel will become your grave, where you will be devoured by birds and beasts. You will fall upon the open field like a plague, as my wrath descends upon the attackers of Jerusalem.” And just as it is written: “They shall fall upon the open field.”


VERSE 6


As punishment, I will unleash a fiery plague that will not only ravage Magog, his own land, but also spread to lands across the seas, where the inhabitants have lived in peace. They will come to understand my true power and realize that I am the Almighty.


VERSE 7


I will reveal My holy name to all. It is through this holiness that I will guide and elevate Israel above the natural ways of man. And I will not allow My name to be tainted, for they shall no longer say it is due to My lack of power. Until all nations bear witness to My presence in Israel, leading them with divine providence and miraculous guidance.


VERSE 8


Do you see it? The day is approaching, hidden and sealed by the Lord. Not one prophet or seer knows its true nature, nor can it be seen in visions or foretold. Only when the day arrives will my words come to life and be fulfilled in action.


VERSES 9-10


The inhabitants of the cities of Israel will go out, those who had not gone out to war until now, to collect the spoils. They will take the weaponry, not to be used for combat or self-defense, but for more productive purposes, such as burning them as fuel for warmth and cooking food. The shields, bucklers, bows and other armaments will become obsolete, as the Lord has promised: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”


The weapons will be so plentiful that they can be used for firewood for seven years without needing to collect wood from the fields, as is commonly done in areas with sparse forests. In places with abundant forests and easily accessible wood, they will choose to gather the weapons instead due to their abundance. Some may suggest cutting down trees from nearby forests would be easier, but taking the weapons will be the preferred option: “They will despoil those who despoiled them and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Sovereign God.” They will also gather iron from any remaining weapons from their plunder, to repurpose these weapons as tools.


VERSES 11-12


And on that fateful day, just as Daniel prophesied about Gog, he will pitch his royal tents between the seas and the sacred Mount Zion. However, this will ultimately lead to his downfall.


That is, as they journey through the treacherous valley between two mountains, the king’s royal camp will approach the sea. Hindered by the terrain and unable to pass, the travelers will succumb to the wrath of the Lord as they attempt to return to their tents near the shore. Their final resting place will be in that very spot where they fall, buried in the sea.


The dead bodies of their enemies will be left to rot, as there will be no one left alive to bury them. However, the people of Israel will take it upon themselves to cleanse the land and rid it of the putrid stench and impurity. This somber task will span across seven long months, a grim reminder of the toll of war.


VERSE 13


The bodies will be buried according to the usual practice during a plague. It is important to be cautious, as those who have been left unburied for several days may emit decay and spread disease. Special individuals will be designated for this task, and people will take precautions around them to avoid contagion.


At that time, all the people of the land will come together to bury the dead. This will be a sign that they are protected by the Lord and do not fear contagion or plague, just as it is written, “You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness.” It shall be a day of great glory for the Lord, displaying His honor and special providence over Israel, shielding them from all harm, as it is written, “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil.”


VERSE 14


All able-bodied individuals will be assigned the task of burying the fallen soldiers near the battlefield. In addition, specific individuals will be tasked with traversing the land to bury those who perished from the plague during their invasion. These fallen enemies will be buried on site in order to purify the land.


The task at hand would be a lengthy one, spanning seven long months. In that time, the decaying flesh would attract scavengers, who would devour whatever remained of the slain. At the end of the seven months, there would be an effort to collect and properly bury any remaining bones. This search and inquiry would ensure that all remnants were respectfully marked and laid to rest.


VERSE 15


As they pass through the desolate land, seven months after the plague has ravaged it, they will come across human bones, a grim reminder of the devastation that occurred. In order to avoid contamination or further spread of the disease, the travelers will erect a marker near the bones and steer clear of the area.


This miraculous protection against the plague will only last for seven months before fading away. They will then mark the locations but refrain from coming into contact with the remains until the designated buriers arrive. They will collect the bones and bury them in the Valley of Hamon Gog.


VERSE 16


The valley will forever be known as the Valley of Hamon Gog, in memory of the fateful event that occurred there. Likewise, the city where they set up camp near the valley will bear the name City of Hamon Gog, serving as a reminder of the miraculous event and the downfall of those who opposed it. This designation serves to brand the city as a place of impurity, akin to the dwelling place of nations, ultimately leading to the purification of the land.


VERSE 17


And you, O mortal, explain why at the end of seven months there will be no more slain with flesh upon them. Because the Lord has prepared the beasts and birds to eat their flesh. This is what it means by saying to every kind of bird, “Gather yourselves.” The scattered ones will be gathered together, and after being collected, they will assemble the place of the slain.


VERSES 18-20


You shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, rams, lambs, goats, bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. The quantity of the food being ample enough to satisfy, and the blood sufficient to cause drunkenness.


As you dine at My table, know that it will never be cleared. Even after the feast, the table will remain set, a reminder of the abundance and victory we have earned. The fallen enemies will provide for us, their horses and chariots now ours to use, and their bounty filling our plates.


VERSE 21


As promised, “I will spread My glory among the nations,” as stated in “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations.” The nations will witness God’s glory in two distinct ways:


1. Through witnessing the judgments that God has executed upon them for their sins. The punishment they receive will be commensurate and precisely suited to their transgressions, reflecting the principle of “measure for measure.”


2. Through observing God’s power, as the punishment will occur through miraculous means, revealing the strong hand of the Lord.


VERSES 22-24


And they shall know, leading to two consequences:


1. To Israel, from that day onward, they will know that I am the Lord their God, with My divinity relating to them in a providential and miraculous guidance.


2. “And the nations shall know” ─ for at first it was a desecration of God’s name, in two respects:


a. About the exile, where it was said, “They are the people of the Lord, yet they have been driven out of His land.” Now the nations will know that the Jewish people were exiled due to their own sins, because they transgressed against Me, and therefore I hid my face from them.


b. The desecration of God’s name during the exile itself, as there were times when they were sold for slaughter, yet the Lord did not save them. Now it will be known that their falling by the sword and the devastations and decrees during the exile were due to their own impurity and transgressions. Therefore, I hid My face from them during the exile. Had it not been for their transgressions, they would not have been exiled, and had it not been for their sins, there would not have been a hiding of My face even during the exile.


VERSE 25


Therefore, I am driven by passion for My holy name; I cannot stand to see it desecrated, which is why I am vocal about ensuring its sanctity. Thus says the Lord, in response to the exile, I will now bring back the captives of Jacob, and in response to the troubles they suffered during the exile, I will have compassion on the house of Israel. Here the term “Jacob” refers to the ten tribes who were exiled and will eventually be restored to their rightful place. “Israel” refers to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who have faced numerous tribulations and thus require compassion and understanding.


VERSE 26


The people will forget their shame, a result of being exiled and shamed for their sins. They will dwell securely on their own land and no longer be in exile, allowing them to finally forget their past transgressions..


VERSE 27


And I will be sanctified through them, says the Lord. When I bring them back from among the nations and gather them from the lands where they were scattered, it will be a great miracle recorded in many places. Through their good deeds and the miracles I perform for them, the Lord will be sanctified in the eyes of many nations. And through this, their transgressions will be forgotten.


VERSE 28-29


In the future, they will come to know and understand that even during their exile among foreign nations, I remained their Lord and guided them towards ultimate good.


The redemption by Cyrus the Great (son of King Achashverosh (Xerxes) and Queen Esther), who helped with the construction of the Second Holy Temple, was not true salvation, nor was it the appointed time for complete rectification.


This is because firstly, they returned to their land by the will of Cyrus, but in the future I will personally gather them back. Secondly, at that time, not all of them returned to the Land of Israel, but in the future, none will remain behind. Thirdly, in the past, He chose to conceal His face from them constantly, similar to the era of the Greeks and Romans. However, in the future, I will reveal Myself and not hide My presence any longer. Fourthly, the Holy Spirit and prophecy were taken away from them. It was said that “the word of the Lord was rare in the Second Temple.” However, there will come a day when I shall pour out My Spirit upon the house of Israel, and they will once again be blessed with the gift of prophecy and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Malbim then delves into the timing of this prophecy, situating it in the twenty-fifth year of Jehoiachin’s exile, which predates the Temple’s destruction by eleven years. This places Ezekiel’s revelation fourteen years post the calamity of Jerusalem, coinciding with the Jubilee year. He explains that the previous Jubilee occurred 36 years prior to the Temple’s destruction, during the 17th year of King Josiah’s reign, marking a period of liberation and renewal, symbolized by the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur and the emancipation of slaves.


In a note, Malbim acknowledges the divergence of his interpretation from that of Rabbi Judah’s in the Talmud. While he calculates the Jubilee as occurring during Ezekiel’s prophecy, Rabbi Judah views the Jubilee as part of a seven-week cycle, placing it 17 years earlier. Rabbi Judah’s perspective is rooted in his belief that the Jubilee year commences at its start, emphasizing the crucial role of the shofar blowing as per various rabbinic texts.


Finally, Malbim interprets the phrase, “The hand of the Lord was upon me,” as indicative of divine guidance leading Ezekiel towards profound and awe-inspiring visions, specifically transporting him to Jerusalem, the city that had suffered destruction. This interpretation underscores the depth of Ezekiel’s prophetic experience, driven by a direct and powerful connection with the divine.

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Updated: Dec 14, 2023

On Ezekiel's prophecy about the end of days, Ch. 38. in narrative format with insights from the teachings of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

VERSES 1-3

As I sat alone in prayer, the voice of G-d came to me and commanded: “Set your face against Gog.”

In the end times, nations will gather to battle around Jerusalem. The armies of Egypt, Assyria, and Elam (also known as the Ishmaelites) will stand on one side, while Meshech, Tubal, Edomite princes, and northern kings will oppose them. They will engage in bloody combat on the battlefield, where they all perish. Though the identities of Gog and the Land of Magog are uncertain, they are described as princes of Meshech and Tubal, the uncircumcised descendants of Japheth.

Ancient prophecies foretell the arrival of Gog, who will come upon Jerusalem three times in the end of days. (The first two conquests are discussed here, and the third appears in Zechariah Ch. 14.) But when Israel settles in their promised land and lives in peace, Gog will be incited by the Lord Himself, as it says, “Behold, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”

Edom, the Romans, who were responsible for destroying the Second Temple, fought alongside Meshech and Tubal as allies in the conquest. And in the end of days, it is said that the Lord desires for them to confront the sons of Ishmael, who exiled and inflicted suffering upon Israel. Then He will bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where they will face judgement for their actions.


VERSE 4

And with a strong grip, I will turn you around and guide your steps forward. The creature, hidden in its mysterious land, will be lured out by My guidance. Whether it comes willingly or by force, I will lead you on your journey, pulling you along with hooks if necessary. Assemble your army of valiant horse riders and cavalry, armed with swords and dressed in full armor. Alongside them, a great nation of volunteers will join the cause. They will form a massive assembly carrying shields and bucklers to defend against the impending swords and bows. And every one of them will be skilled swordsmen ready for battle.


VERSE 5

On the opposing side, the forces of Ishmael will be mobilizing, joined by fellow nations Persia, Cush, and Put. Persia will come as allies with Elam, while Cush stands in close proximity to Assyria and Put aligns with Egypt. (These are the nations referenced in Ch. 32: Egypt, Assyria, and Elam.)


VERSE 6

As the battle rages on and alliances are formed, the uncircumcised people of Gomer and its troops will march alongside the house of Togarmah from the north (to exclude Togarmah dwelling in the land of Yavan, who are related to the Ishmaelites, and they will go with Egypt on the other side), as well as a multitude of peoples, Edom and all its princes, the northern princes, all of them, and all the Sidonians.


VERSE 7

Assemble your troops, for a great battle is on the horizon. Ready yourselves and spread out across the land, preparing for all possible attacks. Know that among those who gather against you will be the Ishmaelites, Persia, Cush, and Put.

But do not fear, for you shall be their guard, protecting them from harm. For when the Ishmaelites attack Jerusalem, the Edomites will retaliate with force. And in turn, the Ishmaelites will be defeated and the Edomites will fall victim to internal conflict. The sword of every man shall turn against his brother (as prophesied in section 32). So ready yourselves and stay vigilant, for the future holds great challenges yet to come.


VERSE 8

You will be summoned after many days, appointed to receive punishment for your past deeds that brought evil upon Israel. In the latter years, you will come to a land that has been restored, a land with a clear distinction between your arrival now and in ancient times.

For centuries, Israel has dwelt upon their land, enduring devastation and being scattered among nations. But soon, they will be restored from the sword and gathered back to their homeland from all corners of the earth. The desolate mountains of Israel will bloom once more as their people are allowed to return and settle securely without fear of war. You have no claim to this land or these people.


VERSE 9

As you ascend, your presence will be felt in two distinct ways: like a tempest and like a cloud. With the multitude of horses and horsemen behind you, it will appear as though a fierce storm has descended upon the land, ready to darken their light and claim victory over them. But at the same time, you will also be like a protective cloud, covering the land with your army and offering shelter to those not of your own people.

Though Israel may be few in number, your force will be mighty and overwhelming, even appearing as a dark and ominous cloud that brings rain and covers the land with its vast expanse. It will be unclear at first whether you come to conquer and exile the inhabitants of the land like a tempest, or if your true intention is to settle and prosper alongside them like a benevolent cloud that brings rain and showers of generosity upon all who live there.


VERSE 10

This is the decree of the Lord: And it will come to pass on that day, as you begin your ascent, that you will be unsure of your intentions. Will you destroy the land or seize control and settle its people?

Only when you have reached your destination will new ideas will surface, thoughts that had never crossed your mind before. And among them, a sinister plan will take shape, an evil thought born from the uncertainty of your journey.

VERSES 11-13

As you ponder the thoughts that arise in your heart, you may question the necessity of fighting in this land. After all, fame and honor may not be easily gained in a place that is difficult to conquer for three reasons:

1. If the landscape itself acts as a natural fortress, surrounded by towering mountains, impenetrable rock fortresses, vast oceans, or raging rivers. However, you may still have hope and say, “I will go up to a land of unwalled villages.”

2. If the people who inhabit this land are fierce warriors, always prepared for battle with their neighboring tribes. But even then, you may confidently declare, “I will come upon those who live in peace and security,” implying that they are not warriors but peaceful beings who do not need to prepare for battle against any adversary due to their sense of security.

3. If the towering walls of the cities loom before them, a formidable barrier against any potential invaders. But you may argue that these cities are not fortified and their inhabitants live without fear.

However, do not let this deceive you, for your true intention in coming here is to plunder and pillage. There are three reasons for this: To collect riches and treasures from the spoils of war; to lay waste to the rebuilt ruins and decimate any signs of progress; to subjugate the people who have gathered from various nations and engage in trade and commerce, thus making themselves wealthy at the expense of others.

This trade must be stopped, for it threatens to harm the entire world, as these traders deal in silver, gold, and precious stones from Israel. It is necessary to put an end to this exploitation that has made these cities the center of trade for all nations, causing imbalance and suffering for those who come to conduct business there.

The powerful and wealthy nations of Sheba, Dedan, Tarshish, and all their magnates will look upon you with suspicion and fear. They will question your motives for coming to their lands, wondering if you seek only to strip them of their riches and plunder. The air will be thick with tension as they confront you, daring you to take what is rightfully theirs - silver, gold, livestock, and other valuable goods. They will see you as a greedy invader, ready to seize whatever spoils you can lay your hands on.


VERSE 14

Through miraculous wonders and divine intervention, I will reveal Myself to all as the supreme judge of nations and punisher of transgressors.

Therefore, O mortal, speak to Gog, for there are two prophecies that must be spoken. The first foretells of Israel’s suffering during the destruction of the Second Temple and their exiles.The second prophecy concerns the punishment that Gog will receive in the latter days upon the mountains of Israel.

It is there, on that day, when my people dwell securely, that you will finally understand what will become of them. And as it was written (verses 15-16), “You will come from your place out of the far north and you will come up against my people Israel like a cloud.” Yes, you ascended like a dark cloud seeking to conquer and rule over them, for the Romans coveted power over Israel and sought to expand their kingdom. But fear not, for in the latter days it shall come to pass that those who bring you onto My land do so not to destroy it, but so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified in you before their eyes, for through the wonders that I will perform in you, all will recognize My divinity, how I judge the nations and chastise the transgressors.


VERSE 15

From the distant, icy north you will emerge, surrounded by a multitude of people astride powerful horses. A grand gathering and a formidable army, marching forth under your command.


VERSE 16

Like a looming storm cloud, you will descend upon My people Israel, casting a shadow over the land. It shall come to pass in the days to come, that I will bring you against My land, so that all nations may bear witness as I sanctify myself through you, Gog. The land will tremble at your approach, and the skies will darken with your presence. For you have been chosen as an instrument of My wrath, and through your actions shall My power be made known to the world.


VERSE 17

Thus says the Lord: Are you he, the forgotten king of a long-lost nation? Gog and Magog, once feared and revered, now reduced to mere whispers in the winds of time. In those days, when their names are no longer known, the prophecy will come to pass and their true identity will be revealed.

This is the fateful moment that has been foretold, when King Gog will emerge and his intentions will become clear. ‘In the latter days, it will be,’ proclaims the Lord, “and I will bring you against My land.” The people will stand witness to this ancient prophecy being fulfilled before their very eyes. And then they will know, beyond any doubt, that this is indeed Gog, the one spoken of by the prophets of old.

“Are you he?” they will ask in wonderment and fear. For centuries the prophets have prophesied about this day, their words echoing through the years until now, when it all comes to fruition. And in these days of years, as the sages say, Gog’s arrival may come not just once, but twice or thrice, as fate dictates.


VERSE 18

And on that day, the words I spoke in ancient days will come to pass, as I bring your military expedition against them.

As Gog approaches, My wrath will be unleashed in all its fury. “My wrath will arise” signifies the intense anger and resentment that has been brewing within Me due to their wickedness in the past. It will now manifest outwardly with righteous force. This distinction between wrath and anger highlights the depth and complexity of My emotions towards those who have wronged Me.


VERSE 19

In a burst of anger and blazing wrath, I have decreed: On that day, the land of Israel shall be struck by a terrible earthquake, shaking the very foundations of the earth.

My jealousy burns for My people and the evils done to them by others. Can you not hear the rumbling, the roaring commotion that will overtake all on that fateful day? It will be a collective outcry of indignation, spreading through every corner and touching every heart.


VERSE 20

The creatures of the sea, the birds soaring in the sky, the wild beasts grazing in the fields, and even the smallest creeping insects on the ground will all tremble before Me. The mighty mountains will be shaken to their very core, causing cliffs to crumble and walls to topple as if they were sandcastles. Even the strongest fortresses will be no match for the power of My presence.

And every living being, from humans to animals, from those that crawl on land to those that fly in the air, will feel the tremors and be filled with fear. The earth itself will seem to quiver under the force of this great upheaval, echoing the words spoken by Zechariah: “You shall flee from the noise of the earthquake, etc.” This trembling can be taken literally, as a powerful earthquake shaking the earth, or it can be seen as a metaphor for the chaos and destruction that will come upon the world in the last days.

For this is what was foretold by the prophet - a time of great turmoil and commotion, with wars raging and weapons thundering like an earthquake demolishing mountains. And all of this was seen by him in a vision of overwhelming noise and chaos.


VERSE 21

With steady determination, I will summon the power within Me, calling forth a tremor that will shake the very foundations of the mountains. The sword in My hand will lead the charge, turning these once peaceful peaks into places of carnage and bloodshed.

But do not be mistaken, for this is all metaphorical. The true enemy lies within, as this blade represents the internal conflict between brothers. It is a battle between Edom and Ishmael (foretold in great detail in Ch. 32). With this weapon, I will bring about destruction and chaos to those who have brought harm upon us.


VERSE 22

The mighty hand of justice shall be dealt, executing judgment upon Gog. The beginning of this judgment will be marked by pestilence and blood, natural and common occurrences that could easily be dismissed as chance or nature’s doing. But in war, where much blood is shed and disease spreads like wildfire among the fallen, these events signify the presence of a higher power at work.

It is said in a passive voice, as if the judgment itself occurs with them, for they will still deny the might of His hand. And in the aftermath, torrential rain and hailstones shall pour down from the heavens, along with fire and sulfur, divine and miraculous punishments that leave no doubt that it is the finger of God at play.

Then, as if to further prove this point, “And I will magnify myself,” they will finally recognize the greatness of the Almighty and how all causes stem from Him alone. They will see that He is holy and exalted above nature, performing signs and wonders beyond mortal comprehension. Thus, “And I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”

With great power and authority, I will exalt myself and set myself apart as holy. My name will be proclaimed among the nations, and all will come to know that I am the almighty Lord.



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