Russia Becomes the Dominant Player in the Middle East

Russia is gaining a strong foothold in the Middle East.  Coming to the aid of Bashar Al-Assad on the pretext of eliminating the threat posed by ISIS, Russia has moved dozens of airplanes, gunships, tanks, as well as hundreds of operational personnel into Syria.  Mr. Putin and his military have warned the U.S. and the French to stay out of the way of Russian fighter-bombers as they target any and all groups opposed to their barbaric ally, Assad, including both ISIS and the so-called moderate Free-Syrian army (half-heartedly supported by the U.S.).  The story occupies considerable air time on mainline media.  But the backstory is much more strategic, although no one will hear it discussed in much depth on FOX, CNN, or any other mainline media outlet.  No one wants to alarm the American people to the point where the nation calls for a meaningful response to Russian aggression from this administration.

Current Russian Airstrikes and Battles in Syria, October 9, 2015
Current Russian Airstrikes and Battles in Syria, October 9, 2015

What is that backstory?  Russian intends to dominate the Middle East and push the U.S. out of the premier geopolitical position, especially in the so-called “fertile crescent” which begins in Syria, crosses the northern parts of Iraq, and includes much of Iran. As virtually everyone knows, because of the oil-rich lands spread across virtually the entire Middle East, this area comprises one of the most important expanses impacting the entire global economy.  Combined with the recent nuclear technology deal made between Iran and five other nations IN WHICH RUSSIA PLAYED A KEY PART, Mr. Putin now stands tall throughout this region. Writer Mark Langfan breaks through the clutter of opinion to nail exactly what the real story is:

Russia intends to collect the Saudi Arabian part of the Black Gold Triangle and leave Mecca to Iran.  The Black Gold Triangle is the topographic delta formed by the Tigris and Euphrates River in the Fertile Crescent that holds 56% of the world’s oil supply.  Iran’s goal is to buy Russian military protection for its oil pipeline and hegemonic ground empire to the Eastern Mediterranean.  Unlike the United States, Putin won’t idiotically retreat and return the Sunni’s oil riches to a power vacuum after he occupies them.  He’ll keep them for his Russian Mafiacracy.  Unfortunately, the world can’t wait for Russia and Iran to fight over the leftovers. [1]

On the surface, Russia worked cooperatively with Western states to conclude the pact with Iran.  Unlike other Western nations that celebrate the agreement, Russia like Iran, emerged from the negotiation in a much stronger position.  Now Russia eagerly sells military weapons to Iran, (including the impressive anti-aircraft missile system, the S-400) and shows itself a friend to the Shia in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.  As Russia exercises its military muscle, the rest of the region has awakened to the fact that the U.S. is not the essential player it once was.  Mr. Putin will now be calling the shots. The request this week from Shite Iraqi leadership asking Russia  to attack ISIS, demonstrates that fact plainly enough.  Symbolically, all that President Obama could muster when meeting with Putin at the U.N. last week was a frown as he toasted Putin.

A Frowning Obama Toasts Putin
A Frowning Obama Toasts Putin

Because of the significant events of this past month, it is time once again for students of Bible prophecy to reflect on the “latter days'” Battle of Gog and Magog and to revive the conventional view that Russia, not Turkey or Saudi Arabia, will constitute the leader coordinating the Islamic pack described in Ezekiel 38-39.

Is the Daughter of Babylon Included in Ezekiel’s Prophecy of Gog and Magog?

I will defer, however, the somewhat academic task to another time–that of listing all the parties and their ancient names and geographical locations cited in Ezekiel’s description of God and Magog and its confederation (I will take that up when writing Part 2 of the article “Is Gog Just a Turk?” published here and in Prophecy Watchers Magazine a few days ago).   Here I wish to introduce a different subject but one that has been discussed in my book, Is Russia Destined to Attack the U.S.?   That subject entails the presence of the daughter of Babylon, which I believe lies implicit within Ezekiel 38-39.  Moreover, I argue that this passage pertains not just to the controversial view that Russia is Gog, but that the United States is the “land of unwalled villages”.


It has been my contention (and many others with me, including my co-authors of The Final Babylon, Douglas W. Krieger and Dene McGriff), that the U.S. constitutes the fulfillment of the daughter of Babylon (see Jeremiah 50-51, Isaiah 47, Zechariah 2, and Psalm 137).  Given the vast importance of the battle of Gog and Magog in the last days scenario, it is not unreasonable to suggest that there are a number of important aspects of prophecy encoded biblically in Ezekiel’s passage that connect its prophecies to others in the Bible dealing with the identical, fateful times of the last days.  As the Lord allows, I will delve into other matters in the future that can be unearthed from digging into Ezekiel 38-39.

At the outset, we plainly see that Ezekiel 38-39 provides an intensive description of Gog’s attack plan upon Israel.  In the first eight verses of chapter 38, Ezekiel tells us that Gog should assemble or “convoke” (Strong’s H6950,kä·hal) the armies surrounding Israel.  It will kahal or  gather together (the same word used when Moses gathered together the assembly of Israel) numerous nations to come against the land of Israel.  We are told by Ezekiel that this land will have been restored from a waste, from violence, and will provide a safe habitation for the people of God.

After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. (Ezekiel 38:8)

However, at this point it is crucial to ask, “Exactly what does it mean that Israel shall dwell safely? ” The word safely (Strong’s H983) is the word (transliterated) betach (beh’takh).  The word connotes a sense of ease, being carefree, having no fear of being harmed.  It is used 42 times in the KJV of the Old Testament, 26 of which are translated safely or safety. Jeremiah talks of the regathering of Israel in the latter days as well and uses very similar language to Ezekiel.  “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.” (Jeremiah 32:37)  Jeremiah assures Israel that the Lord intends only good for them:  “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41)  It is in this passage that we see the covenantal promise explicitly stated once more: “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (verse 38).  No mention is made that Israel should continue to fear attack, for betach promises deliverance from all the matters that have threatened the Jewish people through the ages.

However, in verse 11, just three verses later, most respected commentators suggest a different meaning for betach. Here is that verse:  “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.”

My friend and true scholar Gary Stearman recently indicated on his Prophecy Watchers television program (October 5, 2015),  that the word in this specific verse infers a “false sense of security”–a sense of safety based upon factors such as reliance upon the United States for its protection or confidence based upon the many prior successful operations of the Israel Defense Force (IDF).   Gary cites noted Hebraic-Christian scholars including the likes of noted prophecy expert  Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum who, like Gary, contends this particular translation to be its true meaning.  The conventional and respected view, which Gary holds, is that the land of unwalled villages is Israel. I might add, as Gary points out rather colorfully, that Prime Minister Netanyahu used the two words Shalom Betach (peace and safety) as his campaign slogan in his recent electoral campaign!

Given this interpretation, Gary and Dr. Fruchtenbaum assert that the use of “unwalled villages” should in this case not be taken literally –but taken figuratively.  Concurring with his interpretation (in part), the old standard, Vines Bible Dictionary, suggests it may indeed, on occasion, convey a sense of overconfidence.  We see this in Isaiah 47:8, where translators express the Prophet’s rebuke against about the daughter of Babylon with these words, “Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly (betach) that sayest in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children'”.  Clearly, the context demonstrates that betach, in this instance, conveys a sense of braggadocio or overconfidence.

But does this specific passage, Ezekiel 38:10-13 (specifically, verse 11), provide the same context as Isaiah 47?  Are we talking about Israel in this passage in Ezekiel, or are we encountering a prophecy pertaining to some other people (s) or land (s) as we are in Isaiah 47?  It should be noted that the King James Version translators back in the seventeenth century did translate the word betach as “carelessly” in several passages just as we cited in Isaiah 47:8. But they did not do so in Ezekiel 38:11.  Certainly the translators knew the Hebrew word betach could mean overconfidence or a false sense of security, but in the instance of Ezekiel 38:11, they chose not to translate it this way.  Their translation of betach was  “dwell safely”.  Was their translation correct or incorrect?  I argue that they got it wrong.  That as Stearman and Fruchtenbaum contend, betach should have been translated “carelessly” implying a false sense of security.  However, as we are about to see, this actually is the key to understanding that Israel is not the subject of this passage.  And that sets my analysis apart from the conventional view, for better or for worse.

I would go further and ask whether when betach is taken to mean “overconfidence” does it not conflict with the other verses in which genuinely God promises Israel protection? Does the Lord indicate that Israel will still be harassed or threatened after it has returned to its land?  The answer is clearly in the affirmative due to the mere fact that the overall thrust of the passage indicates Gog will attack Israel with so many armies that it will be as if Gog’s hordes seek to “cover the land.”  So yes, the prophets warn that Israel will experience another threat.  Indeed, Christian expositors suggests Israel will be the subject yet again of a massive persecution  even after it has returned to its land in the latter days and even after it has been delivered from Gog.  It won’t be until the final battle, the Battle of Armageddon, when Israel finally and forever lives in complete betach.  For in this last battle it will still suffer greatly, some into “captivity” and certainly others killed.  Scholars often refer to last battle as “the Battle of Jerusalem.”

Zechariah 14:2 says, “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

This final war will not just be Gog and the nations confederated with him, but the nations from all over the world. It will be a concluding, no holds barred, all out war against this single nation which to everyone is the world (almost), seems to be the troubler of mankind.  Nevertheless, the end of this war will ultimately culminate in complete betach for Jerusalem:  “And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” (verse 11)

However, when looking at the passage in Ezekiel 38, there are reasons to distinguish between “dwelling safely” and “dwelling overconfidently” and to ascribe to that distinction an intentional differentiation in the subject of the prophet’s comments.  In other words, not all of the predictions about Gog’s plans are directed toward Israel. To prove this case, it requires we take into account  all the scriptures in the Old Testament where the word betach is used.  This is the key to decoding the meaning of Ezekiel 38:10-13.

What Betach Usually Means and Why that Matters

My case begins with the fact that the overwhelming majority of uses of the word can be cited to show that “overconfidence” is not the typical sense of the term betach.   To underscore this point, allow me to share other verses where betach obviously does not mean overconfidence.  For example, prior to chapter 38, Ezekiel frequently previews the use of the term in the context promising peace and safety to Israel,  “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.”  (Ezekiel 34:25).  Likewise, we see further similar affirmations in the same passage:

And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.  And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. (Ezekiel 34:27-28)

I could go on to cite 33 other instances where betach simply means “safely” or “safety”.  There are only a handful of verses where it means “carelessly”, implying a false sense of security.  But looking at those verses that are “outliers” comprises the key to understanding why Ezekiel 38:11 is not referencing Israel.  

The word betach occurs 42 times in the Old Testament.  Judges 8:7 and 18:7 conveys overconfidence.  Judges 8:7 refers to the enemies of Gideon. Judges 18:7 speaks of a people of Laish put to the sword by 600 Danites. Afterwards, the destroyed city was renamed Dan (it was here where Micah the son of Manasseh was installed as priest for an idolatrous perversion of Judaism). Ezekiel 30:9 also infers “carelessness” (referencing the Ethiopians in that instance), as does Isaiah 47:8 (referring to the daughter of Babylon).  Ezekiel 39:6 refers to gentiles that dwell in Magog and nations far from Israel, who “dwell carelessly in the isles”, “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  Likewise, in Zephaniah 2:15, we read regarding the city of Nineveh that the Lord would destroy the Assyrian city, “This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.”  In these six instances, all dealing with gentiles and the enemies of God, the word betach was translated by the KJV as “carelessly”  However, in all 36 other verses, dealing with the righteous and with Israel, the translators used the words “safety” or “safely” and not carelessly.  Therefore, to sharpen my point:

  • It is highly improbable that Ezekiel 38:11 references Israel dwelling carelessly or overconfidently.  If it did, it would be the only place in scripture that uses the word betach pejoratively when applied to Israel.
  • If in Ezekiel 38:11 betach is being used pejoratively (and I believe it is so used although the KJV has in this instance translated it incorrectly), then it must not reference Israel.  In all cases where the word betach is translated implying a “false sense of security”, it refers to gentiles or the enemies of God who are overconfident and careless.

Thus, the argument from the whole of Old Testament scripture seems strong and clear:  As it relates to who is dwelling safely, it is either Israel–and Israel must be in fact be secure in the promise of God (that they will dwell safely)–or it is not Israel because the people to whom Ezekiel makes his prediction are overconfident and arrogant.  Therefore, Ezekiel 38:11 does not refer to Israel.  Consequently, we do not need to suppose that the day of the Lord is held up because Israel is NOT living in peace and security.  The scripture does not convey that it will be in that paradisiacal state when Gog amasses its armies to attack it.

Again, to reiterate,  the typical understanding of verse 11 is that it refers to Israel when it uses the words “shall dwell safely.”  But Israel isn’t the object of this prediction.  Ezekiel adds some significant metaphors to amplify his condemnation of this people that is the subject of his castigation: it is a land of unwalled villages, its people dwell without walls around their city, and these cities employ neither bars nor gates to keep out invaders.  They dwell carelessly because they think they are invincible.

On the other hand, while the identity of the people in verse 11 is debated, we know unquestionably, that the personage in verse 11, is Gog.  Verse 9-10 says,

“Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought.”

The many nations enumerated by Ezekiel such as Persia, Libya, Put, Meshech, Tubal, etc., come like a storm with Gog to “cover the land”.  Gog assembles a confederation that would be judged as “overkill” when opposing the tiny land of Israel.

So, since the usage of betach in other verses asserts the promise of peace and safety to Israel, why would verse 11 be a pejorative (a criticism) against Israel, and no longer a promise?  What is it that makes Ezekiel 38:11 different from the other verses where betach is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel?  Is it because the verse mentions unwalled villages (which Jerusalem and Judea is not, possessing a 417-mile wall to protect its people from Palestinian terrorists)?  No, Israel is neither overconfident nor is it secure at this time.  It is not a land of unwalled villages.  Don’t think that using the phrase  “gates and bars” (or “neither gates nor bars”) changes the meaning.  This phrase is used commonly in the KJV of the Old Testament to underscore that a village is either walled and protected, or unwalled and unprotected (for instance, see Deuteronomy 3:5, I Samuel 23:7, 2 Chronicles 8:5, 14:7, Jeremiah 49:31 among many others).  It is a common catchphrase used in the Hebrew Scriptures much like “signs and wonders” which is used throughout both the Old Testament and the New.  The people referenced in verse 11 believe they live securely and do so overconfidently (as in Isaiah 47:8), living in unwalled villages without gates or bars.

Thus,  the word betach in Ezekiel 38:11, should have been translated “carelessly”, if it was as has been shown above, it would clearly indicate that the prophet is NOT condemning Israel. The inference of criticism in verse 11 references a different land altogether.  Therefore, could the “land of unwalled villages” be America?

Notice that Isaiah’s use of  betach is a pejorative–the use of the word betach is almost cynical when saying to the effect, “You think you dwell safely, but you have a false sense of security”.  To cite this instance once again for the reader’s convenience: “Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, (betach) that sayest in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children'”. (Isaiah 47:8)  The daughter of Babylon constitutes “overconfidence incarnate.”  This clearly seems to be an essential element of its undoing as other passages mentioned above plainly express.  It is an arrogant nation.  Jeremiah says that the daughter of Babylon is an arrogant land twice saying in Jeremiah 50:31-32, “O thou most proud”.  While Israel has certainly sinned against its God and spoke arrogantly against him as the prophets lament so many times, in Ezekiel 38-39 there are no statements that castigate Israel for being “overconfident.”  Israel is ripe and ready to receive the fact that Jehovah is its God and its salvation.

Also and At the Same Time

Indeed, another most striking element of the verse consists in the manner in which the original King James Version translated verse 10.  Compare the words and the translation of the KJV with that of the New American Standard Bible (note the links to the various words aligned by the providers of the Blue Letter Bible with the English translation of those Hebrew words).

  • The KJV translates Ezekiel 38:10 in this way: “Thus saith the Lord GOD;  It shall also come to pass, that at the same time H3117 shall things H1697 come H5927 into thy mind, H3824 and thou shalt think H2803 an evil thought..” 
  • The NASB translates Ezekiel 38:10 with these words: “Thus says the Lord GOD“It will come H1961 about on that day, H3117 that thoughts H1697 will come H5927 into your mind H3824 and you will devise H2803 an evil H7451 plan…” H4284

There are two key words used at the beginning of the verse.  The word for day, yowm (Strong’s H3117), and the word for “come to pass”, hayah (Strong’s H1961). The Hebrew word, yow, translated typically as “day” actually comprises an ambiguous term as the word yowm can literally mean so many different things, i.e., many different time periods… from one day, two days, up to one year less-one-day, an era, forever, continually, or just a period of a man’s life.  For those who argue that yomn, or day, never means anything other than a 24-hour period, consider these many uses according to the lexicon in the Blue Letter Bible:

The KJV translates Strongs H3117 in the following manner: day (2,008x), time (64x), chronicles (with H1697) (37x), daily (44x),
ever (18x), year (14x), continually (10x), when (10x), as (10x), while (8x),
full 8 always (4x), whole (4x), alway (4x), misc (44x).

(When one argues that the day of the Lord must be a 24-hour period, which many do, the extensive uses of day argues quite to the contrary–the period many be held to consist of a wide-variety of durations).

In contrast, hayah, is very specific.  It means an emphatic occurrence such as “it shall surely happen” or “it will most certainly come to pass”.   Thus, the translation that virtually all versions employ conveys something to the effect that “on that day” or “at that time” it will “come to pass”.  But it should be emphatically stated as “on that day, it will most certainly come to pass, that…”  For our purposes here, the point is that day is not necessarily a single day, but is likely a compressed period of time–perhaps a matter of weeks or several months.  “At the same time” could mean within the same 24-hour period, but it might also mean “during this same period of time.” However, its emphatic usage suggests the Prophet wanted to stress how two events were tied together and occurred within a short span of time.

What is different about the KJV translation, which is generally missed perhaps because the other translations do not include the word, is the insertion of the small adverb also. We know that also is used to link a series of items or events.  Also is not necessary unless it is specifying something distinct from what the speaker was previously discussing.  To express this more clearly, one could use these words, “In addition, it shall also be the case…” meaning that in addition to what I just told you, let me tell you something else which is not the same thing as what I just told you.”  In this instance, the KJV suggests that what is about to be shared in the verses that follow amounts to something different than what has been said previously. Perhaps we could consider this prophecy in Ezekiel 38:10-13 to be a parenthetical comment. It is an “aside” as we now say. However, we term it,  the inference is that we are not dealing in these verses with the land of Israel.  We are dealing with a different land or several other lands.  For at the same time that Gog is thinking about attacking Israel he also has yet another evil thought.  He will go up against “the land of unwalled villages” where those that dwell securely do so carelessly, overconfidently.  It is most intriguing that the translators of the King James Bible, when examining this passage, judged Gog to be about two things, not just one.  While Gog is planning to come up against Israel along with what the consensus agrees comprise the Islamic hordes, Gog thinks up another evil action.  “At the same time, you Gog will also think of attacking a land of unwalled villages.”  I contend this use of “also” was not accidental or careless (no pun intended). So who is this land?  What is going on there?

This land, like Israel, constitutes a land that is at rest.  It is a wealthy land, it has cattle and goods. Its people, like Israel, have been gathered from many nations.  Unlike Israel, its cities lie without walls.  Because of their dwelling so peaceably, Gog will think to himself,

I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.

What we see are contrasting peoples. One is a land promised safety but has not yet achieved it and will thus be threatened by Gog–so much so that when it is delivered, only God can be given credit for its salvation. This land is Israel. God will be glorified by Israel’s deliverance (Ezekiel 38:23, 39:22, 27). The other land is not promised safety at all, but judgment. And it is stunned when it is attacked. We can see this by considering its comments upon being attacked in Ezekiel 38:13.

Indeed, verse 13 buttresses my case for these peoples being chiefly the daughter of Babylon.  The standard view is that in this verse we read about Sheba and Dedan, the Merchants of Tarshish, and its “young lions.” Almost every author and scholar from Hal Lindsey and John Walvoord in 1970, to Chuck Missler and Bill Salus today, propose these peoples are easy to identify.  Sheba and Dedan refer to those that live on the Arabian peninsula, the Merchants of Tarshish are Europeans (most likely England, but also Spain and Portugal), and the young lions are the “offspring”–the colonies–of these European nations which include the countries of the Americas, but most importantly, the United States.  Those that have written about this verse interpret the meaning of the words Ezekiel uses to suggest that these peoples protest about the invasion of Gog as it comes against Israel, but do nothing.  As author and teacher Ron Rhodes says in his book, Northern Storm Rising, the verse smacks of a “lame protest”.  But it is my contention that there is much more to the statement in verse 13 than just a protest, an expressed astonishment that Gog would have the nerve to attack Israel.

It is my assertion that the verse could just as easily convey a shock or surprise as if these nations are in fact the recipients of Gog’s attack.  In other words, these nations are not protesting what Gog is planning for Israel, they are expressing their astonishment at what Gog is actually doing to them!  Read verse 13 in light of this possibility:

Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil?  Hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?

If America were the subject of the attack, we would ask ourselves “why are we being attacked Gog?”  We would wonder (rather quickly I would suppose as there would be little time to conjecture), why Gog’s missiles are heading toward us,  “Are you planning to take away our cattle and goods, our silver and gold, to take us away as captives?  Gog, what’s up?”  The subjects in verse 13 are not as concerned with Israel being attacked as much as they are concerned that they are being attacked.  But does this square with other verses in Ezekiel 38-39?  Absolutely.

Those that Live in the Isles

Ezekiel 39 supplies the details of how Gog is judged on the mountains of Israel.  The prophecy says that five-sixths (83%) of his armies will be destroyed. (Ezekiel 39:2)

They that shall dwell carelessly (betach ) are those that dwell in the isles:  “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 39:6)  The land of Gog, Magog, will be the recipient of God’s judgment.  But Magog is not the only land targeted by judgment.  Those that “dwell in the isles” are subjected to fire as well.  Who are these people?

The scripture paints a picture of these “island” people typically as merchants, as Canaanites (Canaan means merchant), as the people of the Canaanite (Phoenician) city of Tyre and Sidon (aka Zidon), and the merchants of Tarshish.  We already encountered the merchants of Tarshish in Ezekiel 38:13.  But the reference here to this same people seems quite clear when one considers the use of the little Hebrew word for isle, the small word iy (pronounced “e”, Strong’s H339).  The word iy, appears 36 times in the Old Testament–30 times it is translated as isle.  Its usage, however, seems idiomatic for Old Testament writers connoting those lands from “far the center of the world” which was, of course, Jerusalem. A good example of its usage is seen in Isaiah 23. And guess who is the subject of this passage?

  • Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon (Sidon), that pass over the sea, have replenished. (Isaiah 23:2)
  • Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle.  (Isaiah 23:6)
The Minoan Civilization, contemporary to Ancient Egypt, 2,500 years before Christ.
The Minoan Civilization, contemporary to Ancient Egypt, 2,500 years before Christ.

In the one instance where the translators of the KJV employ the word “country” instead of isle, we see the same people once again:  “Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country H339 of Caphtor.” (Jeremiah 47:4) [2]   The Old Testament tells us at the very beginning that the sons of Japheth will inhabit the isles (the countries far away).  This testimony is supplied in Genesis 10:2-5.  “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (Genesis 10:5)  It should be apparent that the Bible does not often use the term iy explicitly to convey an “island” although it can mean that.  Instead, the biblical meaning relates to lands that are distant, far from the shores of Israel.

Likewise, in Isaiah 11:11, we see the term iy used in regard to the “second regathering” of Israel:  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” In fact, Isaiah uses the word iy 16 times.  His last usage reinforces the same theme I underscore here:  “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, toTubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”

There are many cases, as the instances above demonstrate, in which the isles relate to Tyre, Sidon, and Tarshish.  Yet another reference is in Jeremiah 25:22:  “And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea.  As I argue with my co-authors in The Final Babylon, these reference are to the lands of the New World, lands discovered and exploited by the ancient powers like the Phoenicians dating at least as far back as Solomon (1000 BC) and possibly to the time of the Minoans (2000 BC).    When Ezekiel declares that God will send fire on Magog and those that dwell carelessly in the isles, he is most likely conveying that the lands explored and settled by the Sidonians (aka the Canaanites or Phoenicians), will be judged with fire as well.  For these reasons, I contend that America is the daughter of Babylon and is encoded in Ezekiel 38-39.

Even Sir Halford MacKender in his pivotal strategy known as the Heartland Theory (first published for the Geographic Society of England in 1904, and which serves as the basis for geopolitical theory today–see Zbigniew Brzezinski–The Grand Chessboard), considers the “heartland” to be the contiguous continents of Europe and Asia (nowadays called Eurasia), with the rest of the world as the “islands” that are disadvantaged by being outside the world’s core landmass.  MacKender’s theory laid the groundwork for understanding how those who lie beyond the Heartland (like England and America), must play what the British called The Great Game in the nineteenth century, predominantly with Russia (as the Ottoman Empire of the Turks had crumbled).  The Crimean War (1853-56), where Britain and France allied themselves with the Turks against Russia, was the last vestige of life for the Old Ottoman Empire.  World War I ended what was already a decimated and tired kingdom. Thereafter, only Russia and China would contend with England and be future rivals to the Anglo-American world of the twentieth (and the twenty-first century).  Consequently, to understand the current situation in the Middle East, one must understand the notion of “heartland” and the “isles” that exist outside Eurasia, and how the geopolitical game is to be played.  Arguably, the current U.S. administration does not fully grasp MacKender and does not play the game great which much skill.


In conclusion, the standard bearers of biblical prophecy from Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye in the 1970s to Chuck Missler and Bill Salus today, uniformly agree that the reference in Ezekiel 39 to those that “dwell carelessly in the isles” likely means the Americas.  My conviction is that not only is their informed speculation right, there remains almost no doubt that this is so.  Whether we are reading the Bible or evaluating current world geopolitics, we should draw the same conclusion.  When we dig deeply into the prophetic mindset of the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and especially in Ezekiel, we understand that the world in the last days will consist of the lands and people of (1) Gog from Magog supported by the nations surrounding Israel, (2) those that dwell in “isles” far away across the seas, and (3) Israel.  And in the final analysis, Israel will stand alone with only its God, Jehovah, to protect it in its concluding days before the coming of its Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The daughter of Babylon will be destroyed by Gog, Gog will be destroyed by God, and then only the little horn of Daniel, the Antichrist, will remain to gather up what’s left of the world of the pieces to bring these resources, weapons, and soldiers to bear against tiny Israel, God’s people.

Returning to the context of what’s happening in Syria, which is where we began this paper, we must point out that the U.S. appears destined to fail there while Russia appears destined to install itself as the prime mover and shaker not only in Syria but in all the lands just to the north of Israel, from whence the prophets of the Bible uniformly assert the powers seeking to destroy Israel always originate.  Gog will be no different.

Author Taimoor Khan  says as much in his analysis just published today, October 9, 2015:

The prime mission in the region is to eliminate ISIS, but for that very purpose, the U.S. and Russia have adopted different approaches. The U.S. believes that defeating ISIS will not be possible without removing Assad, while Russia sees Assad as a heroic fighter against terrorism, as recently characterized by Putin in a 90-minute meeting with Obama.

American intentions are clear in the region, as they not only want to end terrorism but also the long regime of Bashar al-Assad to introduce democracy and ensure that peace ensues through this ideology. However, it appears to be an interesting waiting game considering that Washington is once again pursuing the same approach that has never worked in such a volatile region and is a mission that is already set for failure. [Emphasis added]  [3]

As Ezekiel prophesies, this failure in geopolitical strategy will have disastrous consequences for the nation whom the Bible calls the Daughter of Babylon.


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[1] Mark Langfor, October 5, 2015, Israel Nation News.  For link, click here.

[2] Caphtor seems likely to be referencing crete or cyprus.  It is generally thought that the Philistines originated from the Minoans on the island of Crete, whose ancient civilization dates back to 3,000 B.C. was destroyed when a massive volcanic explosion occurred in 1627 B.C. on the nearby island of Santorini (the volcano Thera–whose volcanic ash has been radiocarbon dated to this time and piled up over 21 meters high in lands east of the volcano). There was only a remnant that survived this volcanic eruption estimated to have been ten times more powerful than Krakatoa event in 1869.

Ash from the Minoan Eruption of 1627 B.C.
Ash from the Minoan Eruption of 1627 B.C.

[3]  Taimoor Kahn, ValueWalk, October 9, 2015.  For link, click here.

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