Many prophecy teachers focus on the unimaginable scale of the slaughter that takes place at Armageddon. Thus the phrase “block the travelers” in Ezekiel 39:11 is usually taken to mean that “the Valley of the Travelers, east of the [Dead] sea,” is choked with corpses. This interpretation misses the spiritual context of Armageddon.
By studying end times prophecy without the worldview of the Hebrew prophets, we’re painted into a corner that forces us to explain how Sudan and Libya, neither of which is a functioning nation-state, can somehow pose existential threats to Israel. As we noted in an earlier article, Persia (Iran), Cush (Sudan), and Put (Libya), along with the northern coalition of Gog (all of whom were in Anatolia, modern Turkey), represented the farthest places that were likely familiar to Ezekiel’s readers in the sixth century BC. His point was that the entire world, coming from all four quarters of the earth—north, south, east, and west—would march against Jerusalem for the final battle of the age.
The Travelers of Ezekiel 39:11 are “blocked” because they are not resurrected at the last trump, as you will be, if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Paul describes the evidence and the reasons for resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:12–55. The long war between the Fallen and God revolves around whose children—the descendants of Adam and Eve or the Watchers’ hybrid offspring, the Rephaim—will be resurrected into incorruptible bodies.
Remember that in part four of our series we cited an ancient Amorite text showing that “Travelers” was a name used specifically by the pagan Canaanites for the Rephaim in rituals summoning them to the summit of Mount Hermon, where “the name of El revivified the dead, the blessings of the name of El revivified the heroes.”
This long conflict is all about resurrection of the dead.
What comes after the destruction of the army of Gog that confirms that this battle is one and the same as the battle of Armageddon. Ezekiel describes what can only be called a feast of the dead.
As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: “Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,” declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 39:17–20)
It’s unquestionably gory, but there are important clues in this passage. First, note the description of the army of Gog: “The mighty” is Hebrew gibborim, a word used in Genesis 6:4 to describe the Nephilim of the distant past. Nimrod, the would-be founder of the world’s first empire who tried to build an artificial cosmic mountain at Babel, is described in Genesis 10:8 as “the first on earth to be a mighty man [gibbôr].” Second, the Lord’s description of the “princes of the earth” as “fat beasts of Bashan” is not a literary device to describe the army of Gog as fattened animals being led to slaughter. Bashan’s connection to the underworld is what’s in view here.
Bashan was considered an evil place by the Hebrews, the literal entrance to the netherworld. It belonged to the Canaanite god Rapi’u, “King of Eternity.” By linking the princes of the earth to Bashan, Ezekiel made a theological point: The warriors fighting for Gog will be sold out to the god of Bashan, whether his name is Rapi’u, El, Dagan, Kronos, Baal Hammon, or Saturn.
In Psalm 22:12–13, the prophesied Messiah is surrounded by “strong bulls of Bashan.” Those bulls were not cattle; they were demonic warriors fighting in the army of Gog. They will fall in the Valley of the Travelers when God intervenes to save His people at a battle fought on the mountains of Israel. Even the reference to horses and charioteers in Ezekiel 39:20 recalls the description of the Rephaim in the Ugaritic texts KTU 1.20–22.
Let’s refer back to the Rephaim Texts for another important detail:
To his sanctuary the saviours [Rephaim] hurried indeed,
to his sanctuary hurried indeed the divinities [elohim].
They harnessed the chariots;
the horses they hitched.
They mounted their chariots,
they came on their mounts.
They journeyed a day
and a second.
After sunrise on the third
the saviours arrived at the threshing-floors,
the divinities at the plantations.…
Just as Anat hurries to the chase,
(and) sets the birds of heaven wheeling in flight,
(so) he slaughtered oxen and sheep,
he felled bulls
and the fattest of rams,
Like silver to vagabonds [travelers] were the olives,
(like) gold to vagabonds were the dates.
…a table (set) with fruit of the vine,
with fruit of the vine of royal quality.
In this Amorite religious text written six hundred years before Ezekiel was born, the Rephaim travel until dawn of the third day to eat a sacrificial meal on Mount Hermon, the sanctuary of El, a feast of slaughtered bulls, rams, lambs, and goats—where the Rephaim were to be “revivified” by “the name of El.” But Ezekiel prophesied a day when these warriors of Baal would become the bulls, rams, lambs, and goats offered up at a sacrificial feast for creation served by Yahweh Himself.
The imagery Ezekiel employed to describe the cataclysmic war of Gog and Magog is so intriguing that it’s easy to overlook key details that the prophet salted throughout the preceding chapters. If we turn back to Ezekiel 32, we find that the prophet offered some information about just who the gibborim are. This is a long section but trust me—it’s worth reading.
In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit:
“Whom do you surpass in beauty?
Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised.”
They shall fall amid those who are slain by the sword. Egypt is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes. The mighty chiefs shall speak of them, with their helpers, out of the midst of Sheol: “They have come down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.…
And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living.” (Ezekiel 32:17–21, 27)
The phrase translated “mighty chiefs” in verse 21 is ‘ēlê gibbôrîm, literally, “rulers of the gibborim.” The verse echoes Isaiah 14:9–11, where the “shades” (Rephaim) were “stirred up” to welcome the rebel from Eden when he was cast down. Remember, that’s in the context of our new theory that Helel Ben Shachar of Isaiah 14, generally understood to be Lucifer/Satan, was actually the Watcher chief Shemihazah (Saturn/Kronos, et al), who led the rebellion that created the “shades.”
Verse 27 deserves special attention. The Hebrew behind the words, “the mighty, the fallen,” is gibbôrîm nōphelîm. While it’s tempting to read Nephilim for “the fallen,” that doesn’t quite work. The same Hebrew word appears in verse 22, in the phrase “fallen by the sword.” Swapping “Nephilim” for nōphelîm there yields “Nephilim by the sword,” and that makes no sense.
But Ezekiel doesn’t need Nephilim in that verse to make his point. The English Standard Version is usually my preferred translation, but circumcision is not the point of this verse. A more accurate reading is, “And they do not lie with the fallen heroes [gibbôrîm] of ancient times.” The Jewish translators of the Septuagint, who produced a Greek version of the Old Testament from Hebrew texts around 200 BC, understood the passage the same way and rendered the phrase “the giants that fell of old.”
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According to Dr. Daniel Block, who has written an excellent scholarly commentary on the book of Ezekiel, argues that this passage is the prophet telling us that these “chiefs of the Gibborim” hold special status in the underworld:
According to Ezekiel 32:21, these heroic personages speak from the midst of Sheol, which may suggest that they are located in the heart of the netherworld, perhaps a more honorable assignment than “the remotest recesses of the pit,” where the uncircumcised and those who have fallen by the sword lie. The description in v. 27 indicates that these individuals have indeed been afforded noble burials. There they lie with their weapons of war, their swords laid under their heads and their shields placed upon their bones. Ancient burial customs in which personal items and symbols of status were buried with the corpses of the deceased provide the source of this image.
Ezekiel’s use of the antediluvian heroic traditions at this point is shocking. How could the prophet possibly perceive these men as noble and hold them up as honorable residents of Sheol, when his own religious tradition presents them as the epitome of wickedness, corruption, and violence (Gen[esis] 6:5, 11–12)?
Dr. Block may be reading into the text a more favorable depiction of the gibborim than Ezekiel intended. I believe the prophet meant only that the gibborim—the spirits of the Rephaim/Nephilim, who are the Travelers of Ezekiel 39:11—were fundamentally different in substance from the run-of-the-mill dead. The gibborim of Ezekiel 32 have status in the underworld because they are the spirits of human-angel hybrids, not because they’re noble and honorable. And their prophesied end comes in the place that bears their name, the Valley of the Travelers, because Ezekiel knew very well what those entities are—the demonic spirits of the ancient Rephaim/Nephilim.
Now let’s connect the war of Gog and Magog to Armageddon. The same gruesome feast described in Ezekiel 39:17–20 was prophesied by John:
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:17–21)
The angel’s invitation to the “great supper of God” is the same one issued by God in Ezekiel 39. The parallels between the two are too close to be coincidental. The similarities have been noted for centuries by Bible scholars like Matthew Henry, E. W. Bullinger, A. R. Fausset, and others.
As a conscientious priest who lived according to the Law, Ezekiel must have been horrified by this repugnant feast! He protested mightily when God directed him to bake his bread over a fire built from human dung:
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never defiled myself. From my youth up till now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has tainted meat come into my mouth.” (Ezekiel 4:14)
But at Armageddon, Yahweh Himself serves the ultimate taboo, human flesh and blood, as a sacrificial feast to unclean animals, scavengers. As Daniel Block notes, there is something unique about this for God to be so extreme:
[The banquet] is designated a zebaḥ, which derives from a root meaning “to slaughter,” and seems to have had reference to any sacrifices that were burned on an altar (mizbēaḥ). More than one kind of zebaḥ was celebrated in Israel, but it was generally assumed that this meal was eaten in the presence of Yahweh (lipnê yhwh), that is, as his guest.… Ezekiel’s designation of this banquet as a zebaḥ classifies it as a ritual event. But by altering all the roles he grossly caricatures the normal image of a zebaḥ. In place of a human worshiper slaughtering animals in the presence of Yahweh, Yahweh slaughters humans for the sake of animals, who gather from all over the world (missābîb) for this gigantic celebration (zebaḥ gādôl) on the mountains of Israel. The battlefield has been transformed into a huge sacrificial table.
Second, the invitation describes the menu. The last statement of v. 17 is thematic, calling on the participants to partake of flesh and blood, a merismic expression for carcasses as wholes. V. 18 specifies these as the flesh of heroic figures (gibbôrîm) and the blood of the princes of the earth (nĕśîʾê hāʾāreṣ), which are to be devoured like fare normally served at a zebaḥ table: rams (ʾêlîm), lambs (kārîm), male goats (ʿattûdîm), bulls (pārîm), and the fatlings of Bashan (mĕrîʾê bāšān). These terms are obviously not used literally, but as animal designations for nobility. (Emphasis added)
Ezekiel highlighted the nobility of the gibborim who will be slaughtered to provide this grisly ritual feast for the same reason he noted the special status of the gibborim of the underworld—they’re fundamentally different from ordinary human soldiers.
In short, Gog’s army is made up of the demonic “warriors of Baal,” the Rephaim.
Ezekiel’s prophecy describes an army that’s possessed by the spirits of the Nephilim destroyed in the Flood, the semi-divine children of Shemihazah/Saturn and his co-conspirators. The forces of the Antichrist at Armageddon will literally be an army of the evil dead. The battle will be, in a real sense, the ultimate zombie apocalypse.
As Dr. Block notes, “The literary image sketched here must have been shocking for a person as sensitive to cultic matters as Ezekiel.” But the conflict leading up to this repulsive feast is not just one more battle in a long list of battles fought through the ages. In this war, a supernaturally empowered army led by a creature from the abyss lays siege to God’s holy mountain.
John’s account of the aftermath of Armageddon follows Ezekiel’s description of the Gog-Magog war because they describe the same event. As Bullinger wrote, “It is absurd to talk about ‘John borrowing from Ezekiel,’ as so many say. There is no ‘borrowing’ in the matter. Both prophecies are ‘given by inspiration of God.’” The war of Gog and Magog is Armageddon, and it will be fought at Jerusalem for control of Zion, God’s mount of assembly, and it results in the reversal of an ancient Amorite ritual. Instead of arriving at the har môʿēd for a ritual meal in their honor, the Rephaim become a sacrificial feast for all of creation.
And once again, Saturn/Shemihazah will see his children fall before the power of Yahweh.
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 Spronk (1986), op. cit., p. 171.
 KTU 1.22 ii 21–27, i 15–16. In Wyatt (2002), op. cit., pp. 320–322.
 Michael S. Heiser, “Sheol: The OT ‘Bad Place’?” Sept. 6, 2009, http://drmsh.com/sheol-the-ot-bad-place/, retrieved 5/20/21.
 The technical explanation of the underlying Hebrew boils down to this: It appears the Masoretic text, on which most English translations are based, substituted (or miscopied) mēʿărēlîm (“uncircumcised”) for the original mē’ôlãm (“ancient times”). See Daniel Block, “Beyond the Grave: Ezekiel’s Vision of Death and Afterlife.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 2 (1992), p. 125, especially note #73.
 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ezekiel/39.html, retrieved 5/11/21.
 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary on Revelation (1909). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bullinger/apocalypse.xix.html?highlight=xxxix#highlight, retrieved 5/11/21.
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, & David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871). https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Eze/Eze_039.cfm?a=841017, retrieved 5/11/21.
 Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), pp. 475–476.
 Ibid., p. 477.
 Bullinger, op. cit.
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