In a prophecy that most of the commentators say refers to the End of Days, Ezekiel refers to the punishment that will befall those who strike terror in the "Land of the Living". The Targum of Yonatan Ben Uziel translates this phrase as the Land of Israel [Ara-a deYisrael] and this leads the classical commentator the Malbim, Rabbi Meir Loeb ben Yechiel Micheal (1809-1879), to make some startling observations.

"For thus says the Lord G‑d: The sword of the King of Babylon shall come upon you…" (Ez. 32:11)

"…And it came to pass in the twelfth year, on the 15th day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying:" (Ibid. 32:17) Purim is the exact anniversary of the cessation of the first Gulf War…

The twelfth Hebrew month is Adar, and the 15th of Adar, Purim, is the exact anniversary of the cessation of the first Gulf War. It was also the date of the commencement of hostilities in the recent conflict. The fact that the prophet states this time reference could therefore be taken to mean that the word of G‑d was directed to exactly our time. It also comes in the context of the first Gulf war when Iraq/Babylon did indeed attack Israel.

The Malbim notes that the date of the first prophecy is given in verse 1 as "the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month." Now it appears that the prophet is receiving the same prophecy again. Malbim says:

This second prophecy is very hard to understand. It is not clear what it wants to tell us although the Maharal of Prague has already explained that it is a prophecy referring to the future, at the End of Days, in the days of Gog and MaGog - that in those days all of the nations will gather around Jerusalem, and this is the true interpretation.

Some say that this could refer to the Oslo process that was supposed to result in Israel giving up sovereignty over ancient Jerusalem. Here Gog could be George who started the Oslo process after the first Gulf war and MaGog - meaning "from Gog" - George Bush Junior who has to deal with the continuation of the war.

However I don't agree with his interpretation relating to Gog and MaGog, and my way of interpreting it is different to his so I will interpret these verses according to my own way. Here, at the End of Days, after Israel has already settled on the land of Israel [!], in the future, the peoples of the world will gather together to conquer Jerusalem. Then will gather together to conquer the land of Israel from the Jews Gog, the President of [the country] Meshek [meaning "Market"] and Tuval from the lands of the North and West who are uncircumcised and called Edom. Meshek and Tuval are of the descendants of Yafet [one of the three sons of Noah] that live [now] in Europe, as Josephus has written; there it is also written "Persia and Kush and Put are with them" (Ez. 38:5). And also [with them will be] the house of Torgama that are all circumcised and adhere to the religion of the Ishmaelite [Islam]. Edom and Ishmael will fight against each other…

But when they come there will be trouble between them, and they will fight each other - that is, Edom and Ishmael will fight against each other because their religions are different. There G‑d will judge them with sword and blood. This is as is written there and in Zechariah, chapter 14. In relation to this, it is told here how each will fall into the abyss. First Egypt and Assyria and Elam that hold by Islam - they are all circumcised nowadays - and after He will account for Meshek and Tuval and Edom and their kings and princes in the North who are all uncircumcised. The first and most important to fall will be Egypt because they are close to the land of Israel. They will come first and be defeated. Then the Assyrians and the Persians will come to take their vengeance and the two sides will both fall.

Thus far the comments of the Malbim. Among the first to fight the modern state of Israel was indeed Egypt. The Assyrians could perhaps be the modern countries of Syria and Iraq. The RaDaK in his explanation of Joel 4:19 states that Egypt is a general term for all Ishmaelites, since the mother of Ishmael, Hagar, was an Egyptian, and he married an Egyptian woman. All of them slain…because they struck terror in the Land of the Living…

We also note another interesting fact in these passages from Ezekiel: in the verses from 23 to 32 the prophet mentions 7 times the same word "terror" in seven different verses. For example:

Their graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, because they struck terror in the Land of the Living. (Ibid. 32:23)

There is Elam and all her multitude around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised into the netherworld because they struck terror in the Land of the Living; and they have carried their shame with those who go down to the pit. (Ibid. 32:24)

It seems clear that the Prophet is drawing a clear connection between this war between the West and the Ishmaelite and terror in Israel!

[Translation and commentary by Simcha Treister]