Ezekiel 38 Takes Shape?

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A startling series of events in recent days has gone all but unnoticed in the mainstream media. Canada’s respected, National Post ran this article:

Peter Goodspeed, National Post
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011

Goodspeed Analysis

When WikiLeaks made thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables public last fall, Turkey’s Aksam newspaper dubbed the document dump “The Sept. 11 of Diplomacy.”

There was a definite note of anxiety in thousands of cables sent to Washington describing how Turkey, for the first time since becoming a republic in 1923, was moving to become an active player in the Middle East.

The diplomats described Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, as an autocratic Islamist who surrounds himself with an “iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors,” who understand little beyond Ankara and foster “exceptionally dangerous,” “neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies.”

Mr. Erdogan, 57, a former Istanbul mayor, who as a youngster sold snacks on street corners in that city’s tough Kasimpasa neighbourhood, may be the most successful leader in modern Turkey since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But U.S. diplomats focused on his “overbearing pride,” “unbridled ambition” and “the belief God has anointed him to lead Turkey.”

They also discussed his “overweening desire to stay in power which, despite his macho image, renders him fearful and prone to temporizing, even at moments which call for swift and resolute decisions.”

One U.S. ambassador insisted Mr. Erdogan has “an authoritarian loner streak,” while another said he “simply hates Israel.”

All of which suggests Barack Obama, the U.S. President, was braced for a “frank and forthright exchange of views” when he met Mr. Erdogan Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

With a booming economy that is the envy of the Middle East, Turkey is poised to carve out a muscular new role in the region.

Last year, its gross domestic product grew 9%, second only to China. The Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development predicts Turkey will have the fastest growing economy in the group until 2017.

As a NATO member, with Europe’s largest standing army and U.S. military bases that are critical to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Turkey is already a strategically important U.S. ally.

Just last week Ankara cut a deal with Washington to place a missile defence radar in Turkey to protect against Iranian missile attacks.

But in the turmoil unleashed by the Arab Spring, Turkey, with its new confidence and growing wealth, is also beginning to consider itself a leader of a politically transformed Islamic-rooted Middle East.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Foreign Minister, talks openly of Turks being the “New Ottomans,” noting that like Britain with its Commonwealth of former colonies Turkey might reassert influence in corners of the old Ottoman Empire, in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Mr. Erdogan voiced a similar ambition last June, when he delivered a victory speech on the night of his third consecutive national election win.

“Believe me, Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul,” he said. “Beirut won as much as Izmir; Damascus won as much as Ankara; Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank and Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir.”

In the absence of any strong Arab leaders, the Turkish PM believes his unique combination of political power, self-confidence and Muslim piety have positioned him to assume a powerful new role in the region.

That could only be reinforced by the hero’s welcome he received last week when crowds in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia hailed him as the “saviour of Islam.”

“Erdogan’s tour warmed the hearts of millions of proud nationalist Turks, who enjoyed the spectacle of their Prime Minister, as in their words, ‘King of the Arab street,’ ” said Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Ankara’s posture in the Middle East — and the Arab world’s apparent receptivity to it — simply confirmed what Erdogan had been telling Turks for some time: A prosperous, powerful and democratic Turkey can influence the world around it.”

But the new assertiveness is also straining relations with the United States.

Tensions between Turkey and Israel, which Mr. Erdogan last week publicly condemned as “the West’s spoiled child,” were expected to dominate Tuesday’s talks with Mr. Obama.

Washington wants to prevent any further rupture between its two closest Middle East allies.

But Mr. Erdogan’s emphatic support for the UN granting statehood to Palestine has also placed Washington and Ankara on opposite sides of another crucial issue.

Both countries are struggling to find common ground on a multinational bid to end the repression in Syria and depose President Bashar Assad.

As Syria’s immediate neighbour, Turkey will play a crucial role in enforcing sanctions and could apply additional pressure on the country’s business elite.

Yet another bump in relations is an emerging crisis over Greek Cyprus’s decision to drill for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey refuses to acknowledge the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government. Before he left for New York, Mr. Erdogan announced Turkey will launch its own oil exploration off the north coast of Cyprus.

As an emerging regional power, he also said Turkey will step up monitoring the region around the island with jet fighters, frigates and torpedo boats.

National Post

pgoodspeed@nationalpost.com – SOURCE: http://www.nationalpost.com/m/news/blog.html?b=fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/09/20/peter-goodspeed-u-s-grapples-with-newly-muscular-turkey

If Turkey’s Prime Ministery Erdogan makes good on his ambitions of raising Turkey to even some of the military and regional prominence of the former Ottoman Empire, it’s worth taking a fresh look at the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 to see if modern-day Turkey fits with the interpretation of that passage.

Ezekiel, in his remarkable prophecy spanning chapters 38-39, lists several names as allies of Gog in the last-days invasion of the land of Israel. In order, they are, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-Togarmah.

Genesis 10 lists Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah among the descendants of Noah’s son, Japheth.

Turkey: ancient and modern - click to enlarge

I’ve talked on this blog, or on Historicism.com, about most of these before. But let’s take a fresh look at them again, taking our cues from Moody’s Bible Atlas.

Magog – “[Magog]..must be situated in central or western Turkey. Josephus equated Magog with the Scythians (people known to have lived in the vicinity of the Black Sea).”

Tubal – “The Tubal, or Tabali, are a people group linked to Anatolia in the vicinity of modern Caesarea (Mazaca).”

Meshech – “Known as the Mushki/Mushkaya in first-millennium b.c. Akkadian texts,36 this is a people located in eastern Asia Minor, in the area later known as Phrygia. [See map 112.] Herodotus placed the Meshech in eastern Asia Minor, and Josephus equated them with the Cappadocians.”

Gomer – “Gomer is mentioned in cuneiform sources as Gimirrai and in classical texts as Cimmeria, referring to a nomadic people living in north-central Turkey. After being defeated by the Assyrian monarchs Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal,29 they conquered Gugu/Gog of Luddi (Gyges of Lydia; cf. Ezek. 38:2) and colonized that area of Cappadocia. According to Herodotus30 they were displaced by the Scythians and eventually settled in the area around Lake Van. The Behistun trilingual inscription equates the Gimirrai with the Saka/Scythians,31 and Josephus states that the Greeks referred to the descendants of Gomer as Galatians.”

So, according to Moody’s atlas, these names refer to places that can be found on the map in “central or western Turkey”, “modern Caesarea (Mazaca)” (in Cappadocia, according to Wikipedia), “Phrygia” or Cappadocia, “north-central Turkey” or “Lake Van” (in Van Province of far eastern Turkey, according to Wikipedia) or Galatia.

So what about “Beth-Togarmah“, or the “house of Togarmah” in Hebrew? The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives this information:

Probably Armenia or a Tract Connected Therewith:
In Ezek 27:14 Togarmah is mentioned after Tubal, Javan and Mesech as supplying horses and mules to the Tyrians, and in 38:6 it is said to have supplied soldiers to the army of Gog (Gyges of Lydia). In the Assyrian inscriptions horses came from Kusu (neighborhoed of Cappadocia), Andia and Mannu, to the North of Assyria. Both Kiepert and Dillmann regard Togarmah as having been Southeastern Armenia, and this is at present the general opinion. The ancient identification of their country with Togarmah by the Armenians, though correct, is probably due to the Septuagint transposition of “g” and “r” (Grk: Thorgama for Grk: Togarmah), which has caused them to see therein the name of Thorgom, father of Haik, the founder of their race (Moses of Khor, I, 4, secs. 9-11). Ezek 27:14 (Swete) alone has “g” before “r”: Grk: Thaigrama. The name “Armenia” dates from the 5th century BC.

Given Prime Minister Erdogan’s visions of grandeur, it is not hard to imagine Turkey, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, gaining influence over Armenia, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia–much less Palestine and Syria. A Turkey like that presents a serious threat to Israeli national security. A Turkey like that could even mean that most commentators in the past were mistaken to think that Gog would be Russia, much less Gomer the European Union or France. This does not mean it’s time to scrap previous speculations, but it does mean we should keep our eye on these new and dangerous developments. As you consider these things, let me leave you with these chilling words, excerpted from the National Post article above:

In the absence of any strong Arab leaders, the Turkish PM believes his unique combination of political power, self-confidence and Muslim piety have positioned him to assume a powerful new role in the region.

That could only be reinforced by the hero’s welcome he received last week when crowds in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia hailed him as the “saviour of Islam.”

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