Joel – Chapter 4

More About Gog and Magog

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

In the Messianic era, G-d will retrieve the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem, returning them to Israel. He will entice the other nations to join Gog, king of the nation of Magog, and He will judge them for how they treated Israel in exile. They divided the land and dispersed the inhabitants (referring to the Roman exile). They traded the people like chattel. Is this how supposed allies like Tzidon and Tzor (Sidon and Tyre) treat their friends? Are they trying to “get even” with G-d for their punishments? Don’t try to escalate against G-d because He can outdo anything you can come up with!

Even before the exile, these so-called “allies” kidnapped the children of Judah and sold them as slaves to Greece. (They sold them to a distant land so that it would not become known.) G-d will restore the descendants of these captives along with all the other exiles and He will repay the nations who engaged in the practice. They will become prisoners of war to Judah and will themselves be sold as slaves.

The nations are called to prepare for war against Israel. They will beat their farm implements into weapons of war. (This is the exact opposite of the promise of peace found in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Those verses speak of the Messianic era; here we are discussing the war of Gog and Magog that precedes it.) They will be so anxious to participate in this war that the weak will claim to be mighty. The nations will gather together and G-d will break their might.

The nations will gather and G-d will judge them in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. (This appears not to be a real place name, as the name “Jehoshaphat” means that G-d judges.) Draw your weapons because the time has come. (The chapter continues the agricultural metaphor, calling the weapons sickles and saying that it’s harvest time.) The nations are full of their sins like ripe grapes are full of juice; it’s time to squeeze them. Many will fall when G-d passes judgment. The Heavenly spheres will dim, as we have discussed. G-d will “roar” because of what was done to Jerusalem; the Heavens and Earth will tremble because of His “voice.”

The shechina, G-d’s “presence,” is concentrated in Jerusalem, on the Temple mount. Jerusalem will be holy and hostile foreigners will no longer go there. The land will run with wine, milk and water; a spring will go forth from the Temple and will atone for the idolatry of Baal Peor (in Numbers 25). Egypt and Edom (Rome) will become ruins because of the violence they brought to the innocents of Judah. Judah and Jerusalem, though, will last forever. Even if G-d will forgive them for the offenses against Him, He will not forgive the violence perpetrated against the innocents. When G-d returns His presence to Jerusalem, it will remain there forever.

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