The meaning of Rosh (2) in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
(ro'sh; Rhos, variant (Q margin) kephales; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) capiris):
1. Rosh and Its Renderings:
This name occurs in the prophecies against Gog in Ezekiel 38:2-3 and Ezekiel 39:1, where the King James Version has "Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal." This translation is due to ro'sh being the common Hebrew word for "head" or "chief" (compare the Greek variant and the Vulgate), and is regarded as incorrect, that of the Revised Version (British and American), "Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal," being preferred.
2. Identification with Russia:
The identification of Rosh is not without its difficulties. Gesenius regarded it as indicating the Russians, who are mentioned in Byzantine writers of the 10th century under the name of Rhos. He adds that they are also noticed by Ibn Fosslan (same period), under the name of Rus, as a people dwelling on the river Rha (Volga). Apart from the improbability that the dominion of Gog extended to this district, it would be needful to know at what date the Rus of the Volga arrived there.
3. Probably the Assyrian Rasu:
Notwithstanding objections on account of its eastern position, in all probability Fried. Delitzsch's identification of Rosh with the mat Rasi, "land of Rash" of the Assyrian inscriptions, is the best. Sargon of Assyria (circa 710 BC) conquered the countries "from the land of Rasu on the border of Elam as far as the river of Egypt," and this country is further described in his Khorsabad Inscription, 18, as "the land of Rasu, of the boundary of Elam, which is beside the Tigris." Assyria having disappeared from among the nations when Ezekiel wrote his prophecies, Babylonia was probably the only power with which "Gog of the land of Magog" would have had to reckon, but it may well be doubted whether the Babylonian king would have allowed him to exercise power in the district of Rasu, except as a very faithful vassal. It may here be noted that the Hebrew spelling of Rosh presupposes an earlier pronunciation as Rash, a form agreeing closely with that used by the Assyrians. See Fried. Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? 325.
T. G. Pinches
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