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Gog and Magog – Gog and Magog (/ˈɡoʊɡ … ˈmɑːɡoʊɡ/; Hebrew: גּוֹג וּמָגוֹג, Gōg ū-Māgōg) appear in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran as individuals, tribes, or lands. In Ezekiel 38, Gog is an individual and Magog is his land; in Genesis 10, Magog is a man and eponymous ancestor of a nation, but no Gog is mentioned; by the time of Revelation 20:8 Jewish tradition had long since changed Ezekiel’s “Gog from Magog” into “Gog and Magog”.
The Gog prophecy is meant to be fulfilled at the approach of what is called the “end of days”, but not necessarily the end of the world. Jewish eschatology viewed Gog and Magog as enemies to be defeated by the Messiah, which would usher in the age of the Messiah. Christianity’s interpretation is more starkly apocalyptic: making Gog and Magog, here indicating nations rather than individuals, allies of Satan against God at the end of the millennium, as described in the Book of Revelation.
A legend was attached to Gog and Magog by the time of the Roman period, that the Gates of Alexander were erected by Alexander the Great to repel the tribe. Romanized Jewish historian Josephus knew them as the nation descended from Magog the Japhetite, as in Genesis, and explained them to be the Scythians. In the hands of Early Christian writers they became apocalyptic hordes. Throughout the Middle Ages, they were variously identified as the Vikings, Huns, Khazars, Mongols, Turanians or other nomads, or even the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
The legend of Gog and Magog and the gates were also interpolated into the Alexander romances. In one version, “Goth and Magothy” are kings of the Unclean Nations, driven beyond a mountain pass by Alexander, and blocked from returning by his new wall. Gog and Magog are said to engage in human cannibalism in the romances and derived literature. They have also been depicted on Medieval cosmological maps, or mappae mundi, sometimes alongside Alexander’s wall.
The conflation of Gog and Magog with the legend of Alexander and the Iron Gates was disseminated throughout the Near East in the early centuries of the Christian and Islamic era. They appear in the Quran in chapter Al-Kahf as Yajuj and Majuj (Arabic: يَأْجُوجُ وَمَأْجُوجُ; Yaʾjūj wa-Maʾjūj), primitive and immoral tribes that were separated and barriered off by Dhul-Qarnayn (“He of the Two Horns”) who is mentioned in the Quran as a great righteous ruler and conqueror. Some contemporary Muslim historians and geographers regarded the Vikings as the emergence of Gog and Magog. In modern times they remain associated with apocalyptic thinking, especially in Israel and the Muslim world.