Hi Steven,

In your articles several times you mention that 5/6 of the Gog et al alliance will be wiped out – this is based on the KJV version.  However, all of the other English versions I have (2 quoted below) simply state that Gog et al will be directed against the mountains of Israel.  NIV 2 I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel.  NASB 2and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel.
KJV 2And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: 
I was just wondering if you have any other reason to use the 5/6 number.
Thanks for your site and blogs – very helpful and insightful.

Neil McPherson
Dear Neil,
Thank you for your very insightful question! I checked various Bible translations and found that most of the ones I have on hand agree with the more generic rendering of this verse which mentions Gog’s alliance will attack “the mountains of Israel.” I was about to think the KJV had made a mistake, but then I checked both Young’s and Strong’s Concordances and found they both support the KJV translation. I’ll respond to your question in two parts: the first part will assume the NIV and NASB translation is correct, and the second part will examine the Concordance information.
If the NIV and NASB translations are correct, it lends support to a view that ALL of the soldiers in Gog’s armies will be killed either by Divine execution (Ezekiel 38:19-39:6), the weaponry of the Israelite nations which God calls on the Israelites to use (Ezekiel 38:21) or by the internecine combat which will occur when Gog’s alliance shatters and its component nations fight each other (Ezekiel 38:21). After the battle, there will be so many dead invaders that God calls on the birds and animals to eat the carcasses (Ezekiel 39:4, 17-20) and many survivors will have to be employed full-time for seven months just to bury the bones of all the dead (Ezekiel 39:11-14). The Bible speaks nowhere of the need to build POW camps for survivors of Gog’s armies. All the surviving Israelites really need will be burial crews. As I point out in my article, What Ezekiel 38-39 Reveals about a Future World War III, this imagery of the birds and animals eating the remains of Divinely-slain armies in the latter days perfectly parallels Revelation 19:18-21 in which the same thing happens after the great battle at the end of our age. Ezekiel 39:8 and Revelation 16:17 also have perfect symmetry: they both record that a heavenly voice says “It is done” when these battles conclude. This symmetry between Ezekiel 38-39 and the book of Revelation confirm that the Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38 is the same climactic, age-ending war called Armageddon in the book of Revelation (its also called “Jacob’s Trouble” in Jeremiah 30). The NIV and NASB versions (by putting no “cap” on the death rate to be suffered by Gog’s armies) allow for a 100% mortality rate for Gog’s armies.
Now let’s look at the Concordance evidence. Young’s Analytical Concordance (Oct., 1978 Ed., p. 896) states that the Hebrew word “shasha” is used in Ezekiel 39:2 and the literal meaning is given as “to give or leave a sixth part.” It also cites a similar word (which apparently comes from the same Hebrew root word) in Ezekiel 45:13 which refers to “the sixth part of an ephah.” It makes sense that since both words were penned by Ezekiel, he had the similar usages in mind for these words. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible (p. 972) indicates that Hebrew reference word “8338” is cited in Ezekiel 39:2 which (on p. 122 of its “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary”) is given as “shawshaw” which is explained as “appar. to annihilate:–leave but the sixth part (by confusion with 8341).” Strong’s word 8341 is defined as “divide into sixths.” Strong’s explanations also indicate both words 8338 and 8341 are derived from a common root word (# 8337) which means “sixth” or an “overplus” as in “beyond five or the fingers of the hand.”
Whew! That is heavy scholarship and I am no arbiter of the nuances of Hebrew words. I’m just citing the technical work of the recognized authorities who wrote these scholarly works. However, it seems to me that the Concordances both argue that there is a word meaning “a sixth” in Ezekiel 39:2 which is included in the KJV translation but omitted from the NIV and NASB. The KJV actually is kinder to the fate of Gog’s armies by asserting that 1/6th of the invaders could survive. However, one could also apply this verse to mean that all individuals in the invading armies are annihilated, but that 1/6th of the civilians in the home nations of the Gog-Magog alliance will live into the millennium. This latter possibility is supported by the prophecy of Revelation 20:8-10 that the nations of Gog and Magog will again rebel against God and the saints at the end of the millennium. Obviously there have to be survivors from Gog, Magog, et. al. after the great battle of Ezekiel 38-39 for Gog and Magog to have human descendants living on the earth about 1,000 years later.
Some people mistakenly think the prophesies of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:8-10 are the same battle. They clearly are not, and God has given us specific time contexts for each prophecy so we can know for sure that they are not the same battle. Ezekiel 38:8 and 16 pointedly state that the Ezekiel 38-39 war occurs at the conclusion of “the latter days” (the end of our current age just prior to the Divine intervention which begins in Ezekiel 38:20). The phrase “latter days” in Ezekiel 38 gives this prophecy the same exact time context as other latter-day prophecies in Genesis 49, Number 24:14, Jeremiah 30, etc. The prophecy in Revelation 20:8-10 is clearly given a time context about 1,000 years later after the millennium itself is over.
Thanks again for your excellent and probing question, and for your positive feedback about my site. Please feel free to recommend it to others who are interested in biblical history and prophecy.