Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is Obama A 'Dark-Horse' Candidate To Be Gog?

Let me preface this with the statement that Obama is not Gog, and Bush is not Gog.

But there is a dispute going on on various mystically inclined blogs, whether Obama is Gog, or George Bush is Gog. A night or two ago, on Tamar Yonah's show, there was an interview of Joel Gallis and Dr. Robert Wolf, where they argued that Obama is Gog, and is thus the Antichrist. In her latest post, Nava of DreamingOfMoshiach argues that Obama cannot be Gog, because he is black. And since he is black, he is descended from Cham, and we know that Gog is descended from Yefet. As it states:
בְּנֵי יֶפֶת--גֹּמֶר וּמָגוֹג, וּמָדַי וְיָוָן וְתֻבָל; וּמֶשֶׁךְ, וְתִירָס.

I am all for equal-opportunity, so let me be a devil's advocate on behalf of Barack Obama as Gog. (Even though he is not!)

Firstly, to follow this line of argument, we must assume a literal interpretation of those psukim in Torah. And furthermore, we must assume that only the descendants of Cham were black.

But aside from all of this, her objection is that since Obama is black and his father is black, he cannot be from Yefet, but rather from Cham.

But Gog is just the king of Magog. We are not told whether the king descends from Yefet or from Cham. We are told, rather, about the country Gog rules over.

As she cites the Malbim:

פירוש המלבים על יחזקאל לח'
וחז"ל קבלו שג' פעמים יבא גוג על ירושלים, ופה באר שני פעמים והפעם הג' התבאר בזכריה (סי' י"ד), וגוג וכן ארץ המגוג לא ידענו עתה מי הם רק כפי המבואר שהוא נשיא משך ותובל הם מבני יפת ואינם נמולים

"And Gog, and so too the land of Magog, we do not know now who they are. However, according to what is explained, he is the prince of Meshech and Tuval -- they {=Meshech and Tuval} are of the sons of Yefet and are not circumcised."

Nava wants George W. Bush to be Gog. That would mean that the US would be Meshech and Tuval, for Gog is Nasi over them. Now, there are blacks and Jews aplenty, descendants of Cham and Shem. But OK, let us call the US Meshech and Tuval. I doubt it, but will grant it for the sake of argument.

Does the king need to be of the same descent as the people? Need he be of the same nationality? We know from a midrash that while Balak was king of Moav, he was actually a descendant of Midian. So we have precedent for a king to be of different descent from the people over whom he rules. And if US is Meshech and Tuval, and Obama is king of it, then he is a candidate for Gog.

Call him a dark horse candidate, if you like. After all, DreamingOfMoshiach cites psukim from Yirmeyahu such as ועל סוסים ירכבו ערוך כאיש מלחמה עליך בת בבל (ירמיה נ מב, where ועל סוסים ירכבו is the same gematria of George Bush. Aside from the Rashi that interprets this as the destruction of Bavel at the hands of Paras and Maday (long since passed), if we want we can point out that one etymology of Barack Hussein Obama's first name is Baraq, Lightning, such that he would be named after Mohammad's horse.

Of course, I will stress: The US is not Edom, it is not Meshech and Tuval, and neither George Bush nor Barack Obama is Gog.

This is a problem of theology via gematria. You can get anywhere using gematria and Torah codes. And the result looks like a frum dvar Torah. But it could, at its core, nonsense. And since you can get anywhere, you can have all sorts of flights of fancy, and declare it (incorrectly) to be the Torah perspective on X.

See some of my recent posts on Baal HaTurim to show that even Baal HaTurim, famed for his gematria, really only used it to draw in readers to his primary perush (usually not cited or discussed), and to bolster ideas already derived legitimately via other midrashic or pashtanic means.

10 comments:

Devorah said...

very interesting, thanks.

D. said...

I'm not going to say who is who, but gematria is a sound system, it might be missed applied, but that is a problem of the person. First of all everything in the Tanach can be applied to now, because we know that the Anshei Knesset Gedolah compiled it for the future.

Second of all you have a habit of throwing everybody's arguments out without proof. I believe the burden of proof is on the attacker. To say America is not Edom needs proof. We know that the Malbim and the Mahaaral said clearly that the Chrisitan Nations are an extention of Edom/Esau. We also know according to the Malbim's commentary that Gog is actually from Esau, but also rules over Meshech and Tuval. According to some commentaries, Gog is not from Magog. Not only that but Magog seems to be the area of Iran and Afganistan. That is not just a bunch of bloggers saying that, but Rav Areah Kaplan says it in his Living Torah. Now I am not saying whos who, but unless you are going to throw out all the Rabbeim I just mentioned then Josh the burden of proof is on you.

joshwaxman said...

1) It most likely *is* being misapplied, as everyone is coming up with random gematrias based on free-association to random words and then supplying their connection. It is just like the fake Divrei Torah at Simchas, where the chassan's name minus plus the kallah's name is equal to three times kugel, which is appropriate because they both love potato kugel.

2) Whether or not gematria is a sound system for derivation is a matter of dispute. Baal HaTurim, as just discussed (see here), uses it "lehamshic et halev," and as support for things already proven via other means.

The brayta giving the 32 hermeneutical principles of Rabbi Eleazer bno shel Rabbi Yossi HaGelili does mention it. But even there, one needs be careful in how it applied, IMHO.

Bach, Raaviah, Ibn Ezra, and others, speak somewhat derogatorily about gematria. (I'll be posting Bach on this pretty soon, BeEzrat Hashem.) And Shadal believes that it, and other methods commonly used by kabbalists, are nonsense. But this should not get to the level of a kabbalist/antikabbalist.

In terms of the burden of proof, I am simply sharing my assessment of what has been "proven" so far. And the burden of proof need not be on me, IMHO. I *do* have reasons for thinking as I do, but I do not always elaborate on them, or even if I do, I do not do so in every post.

3) To say America is Edom needs proof! It was a particular country, Chazal applied it to a different country (Rome), and then Rome was destroyed. The Malbim and Maharal may say that Christian nations are an extension of Edom, but that is presumably explaining how Rome, and the Christian empire, was applied by Chazal. See also Ibn Ezra who writes similarly. But the Roman empire was destroyed, a few centuries after Ibn Ezra. To then take it to refer to a *specific* country, and not Italy, but rather across the ocean, and say that *this* country, America, is Edom, seems like quite a leap to me.

Meanwhile, Shadal writes that Edom has been destroyed, and the prophecies regarding Edom fulfilled -- first by David and then in the days of Hyrcanus. And that Chazal were only nicknaming the Romans Edom because of how they were oppressing them.

4) If Magog is the area you specified, then neither Bush nor Obama is the king of it. This is *one* explanation, but IIRC, there are a few other identifications. There is a tendency to identify one's contemporary events as the fight of Gog and Magog, and identify the countries as such. For example, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov was a big supporter of Napoleon, believing that his wars were the wars of Gog and Magog. Should we now look for a scenario involving the French?

Kol Tuv,
Josh

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>To say America is not Edom needs proof.

!

To say that America is Edom is what needs proof.

yaak said...

If Edom is no longer, how would you interpret "ועלו מושיעים בהר ציון לשפט את הר עשו"?
Surely, you don't suggest that this prophecy was fulfilled already, do you?

joshwaxman said...

perhaps. shadal did suggest the prophecies in Vayishlach were already fulfilled.

ורב יעבוד צעיר: הגוי והלאום הנולד מן הבכור יעבוד לנולד מן הצעיר, והכוונה על אדום שנכבשו תחת יד ישראל בימי דוד ובימי הורקנוס
" "And the elder shall serve the younger": The nations born from the firstborn will serve the one born from the younger. And the intent is to Edom which is conquered under the hand of Israel in the days of David and in the days of Hyrcanus."

perhaps these could also be interpreted as fulfilled for Sefer Ovadiah.

Also even *if* we grant that Edom still exists, it needs to be proven that Edom is present-day US.

joshwaxman said...

indeed, Shadal's claim that there is no more Edom is almost certainly rooted in that same context in Yeshaya, two pesukim earlier, pasuk 18:
וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה שָׂרִיד לְבֵית עֵשָׂו
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken.

which would then quite strongly suggest that he held that pasuk 21 was also already fulfilled.

KT,
Josh

yaak said...

אם כן, אימא סיפא:

והיתה לה' המלוכה

This pasuk is most certainly referring to the End of Days, when Hashem's reign will be known throughout.

joshwaxman said...

yachol lihyot.

but two quick replies.

1) Shadal elsewhere explains "acharit hayamim" to mean not the "End of Days" but rather in later days.

2) If, as Shadal is suggesting, John Hyrcanus was the one who fulfilled this prophecy, then we could say that this *religious* Hashmonean ruling of Eretz Yisrael as being והיתה לה' המלוכה.

Superb Jon said...

Why blame Aliya Jews collapsing USA by moving money to India? Carolignian Brzezinski spawned Zia al Haq, Khomeini, and bin Laden - breaks up superpowers via Aztlan and Kosovo as per Joel Garreau's Nine Nations. Brzezinski, Buckley and Buchanan winked anti-Semitic votes for Obama, delivered USA to Pope's feudal basket of Bamana Republics. Michael Pfleger and Joe Biden prove Obama is the Pope's boy. Talal got Pontifical medal as Fatima mandates Catholic-Muslim union against Jews (Francis Johnson, Great Sign, 1979, p. 126), Catholic Roger Taney wrote Dred Scott decision. John Wilkes Booth, Tammany Hall and Joe McCarthy were Catholics. Now Catholic majority Supreme Court. NYC top drop outs: Hispanic 32%, Black 25%, Italian 20%. NYC top illegals: Ecuadorean, Italian, Polish. Ate glis-glis but blamed plague on others, now lettuce coli. Their bigotry most encouraged terror yet they reap most security funds. Rabbi circumcizes lower, Pope upper brain. Tort explosion by glib casuistry. Bazelya 1992 case proves PLO-IRA-KLA links.

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