†he Burros of Berea

Gog and Magog, Part 7: God’s Myrtle Tree

Gog and Magog, Part 7: God’s Myrtle Tree


Copyright © Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr.  (March 15, 2024)

All Rights Reserved

Credits: Thanks to Jeffery T. McCormack for his help with the featured image for this article.


“And you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, who live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates’” (Ezekiel 38:11).


In the previous installment, we saw that the word Ezekiel uses for Gog’s “evil plan” (Ezek. 38:10) is used three times for Haman’s “evil plan” in the book of Esther (Esth. 8:3, 5; 9:25). Next, in Ezekiel 38:11, the prophet is told that this “evil plan” would be set in motion at a time when Israel was called “the land of unwalled villages.” Needless to say, the fulfillment of this verse can’t be found in today’s headlines. Modern-day Israel is protected by a 500-mile-long wall called the “West Bank Barrier.”[1]  Where the fulfillment can be found, on the other hand, is once again in the book of Esther.

The Hebrew word for “unwalled villages” (perazah) is only used three times in the entire Old Testament. Obviously, one of these three usages is here in Ezekiel 38:11. Significantly, a second occurrence of this word is in Esther 9:19, which speaks of “the Jews of the rural towns, who live in the unwalled villages (perazah).”  These are the very Jews whom Haman and his armies tried to exterminate.

So, the attack of Gog and his allies, in Ezekiel 38, comes at a time that accurately describes the unique living conditions of the Jews (“unwalled villages”), in the book of Esther, when Haman and his forces set out to annihilate them.


Jerusalem Inhabited Without Walls   

The third occurrence of this specific word (perazah) is Zechariah 2:4. Zechariah is writing after the return from Babylon, and prior to the rebuilding of the temple.[2] In other words, Zechariah’s time coincides with Esther’s time. Regarding what was about to unfold during this time, the prophet is told:


“And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him, and said to him, ‘Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls (perazah) because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. ‘For I,’ declares the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst’” (Zechariah 2:4-5).


Interpreting Scripture is about connecting dots, and the Bible gives us three dots here to connect with the term “unwalled villages.” These dots all link Ezekiel 38, the book of Esther, and the book of Zechariah together. Gog’s attack would come when Israel was a “land of unwalled villages.” The Jews of Esther’s time were living in “unwalled villages.” And Zechariah is told that Jerusalem is to be kept “unwalled,” for the time being.


A Wall of Fire

Carefully note the reason the angel gives, in Zechariah 2, as to why the walls weren’t needed. The walls weren’t needed because the Lord Himself would be a “wall of fire” around His People, and the glory in their midst. God works through His People and, during this unique time of “unwalled villages,” He was that wall of fire through His servants, Esther and Mordecai.

With that said, it’s no small coincidence that Gog is poetically destroyed with “fire” in Ezekiel 38:22. Ronald Reagan famously said, “Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God’s people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons.”[3] Contrary to such conjecture, this isn’t about nuclear weapons. It’s about God protecting His People when they are faithful to Him.  God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), and He Himself is the protection round about His people (Ps. 125:2).


Touching the Apple of His Eye

According to Zechariah, the fire of God’s protection would be set ablaze at a time when the nations would seek to “plunder” His people (Zech. 2:8a). This immediately reminds us of Ezekiel 38:12, and Gog attacking Israel to “seize spoil” and “carry off plunder.” It also reminds us of Esther 3:13, and Haman’s goal to annihilate the Jews and “seize their possessions as plunder.”

When the plunderers mount this assault, Zechariah is told that God will raise up a protector of His People who, with a wave of the hand, will plunder their enemies instead and declare, “…his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8b).

The “apple of his eye” is an ancient Hebrew idiom speaking of an infant’s reflection in the pupil of his/her parent’s eye – as the parent gazes intently at the baby being held.[4] Israel was that infant in God’s arms, and He was about to send them a deliver in their time of trouble.


A Message in the Myrtle Trees

This entire prophetic episode in Zechariah opens with a heavenly messenger coming to him at night, “who is standing among the myrtle trees” (Zech. 1:8).  Commentators recognize that the myrtle is relatively rare in the Old Testament up to this point. After this, “it appears as if indigenous.”[5]  The significance is impossible to miss. Esther’s original Hebrew name (her real name) was Hadassah, and Hadassah means “myrtle tree.” By his stance among the myrtle trees, Zechariah’s heavenly messenger was signaling that the deliverance would come through Hadassah, God’s myrtle tree. And it did.

Once she had uncovered and revealed Haman’s entire plot to annihilate the Jews, Esther points to him and declares: “A foe and an enemy, is this wicked Haman!’” And Haman became terrified before the king and the queen” (Esth. 7:6). And then, on the gallows at his own house which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai, the king declares: “Hang him on it” (Esth. 7:9).

After this, the king grants the Jews the right to assemble, to defend themselves, and to annihilate the entire army of those who set out to annihilate them (Esth. 9:11). This includes five hundred men, along with the ten sons of Haman, in the capital city of Susa alone (Esth. 9:12) and an additional 75,000 more throughout the entire Empire (Esth. 9:16).

Both the battle itself and the resulting victory for God’s People were huge. This more than meets the criteria for fulfilling something of the scope and size of Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog Prophecy.


Missing the Fulfillment

Amazingly, Jeff Kinley says, “When you look through the rest of Scripture, there are just zero examples of a victory that great.”[6] Like the rest of the pop-prophecy pundits of our day, Kinley needs to look harder. He needs to look to the book of Esther.  Esther in fact does record a victory “that great,” and at the precise time when Ezekiel said the attack would come – a time when God’s people were living in “unwalled villages.”

Unfortunately, however, the book of Esther is often viewed as an irrelevant side story, tucked away in the corner of Biblical history. It’s not. As James Jordan writes, “Esther is not a specimen of ‘wisdom literature’ that is to the side of covenant history. Rather, the events of Esther are absolutely essential to the development of the kingdom of God from Adam to Christ. Esther is as important as Exodus.”[7]  Indeed, Esther brings the Amalekite story arc to a long-awaited end and ensures that the story arc of the long-awaited Messiah would not come to a premature end.

As noted in the first article in this series, Haman was an Agagite (a Gogite) – part of the royal bloodline of the Amalekites.  The conflict between Saul and Agag (Gog) is rebooted in the book of Esther. As one writer puts it, “Esther specifically requested that the ten sons of Haman be hanged on their father’s gallows, preventing the passage of his bloodline. It took a woman to finish the job Saul wouldn’t…you can’t find the Amalekites anywhere in scripture or history past that point.”[8]


Without Esther, the Amalekites would have completely wiped out the Jewish people instead of the other way around, the line of David would have been cut off, and the Messiah would have never come. Esther’s actions changed the course of history. Or, to put it a better way, her actions kept history on the right course. When the dust settled in the Persian Empire, the Jewish people weren’t wiped out, the line of David was not cut off and, 500 years later, the Messiah was born.

In the context of the everlasting covenant that the Lord would make because of His love for David, Isaiah says, “…the myrtle will come up; And it will be a memorial to the Lord, an everlasting sign which will not be eliminated” (Isaiah 55:12-13).  The book of Esther, which records her actions for all time, is that “memorial to the Lord” – that “everlasting sign” which has not been “eliminated,” even to this day. Esther was the myrtle that God raised up to bring Gog of Magog down.

The pop-prophecy pundits of our day can’t see this because they eliminate Esther as a possibility for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. In our next installment, we will continue to look to God’s everlasting sign which has not been eliminated as the words of Ezekiel continue to echo off the pages of Esther.


[1] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/background-and-overview-of-israel-s-security-fence

[2] https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/zechariahs-call-judahs-return

[3] From an address that Ronald Reagan gave at a dinner with California legislators in 1971. A shorter version of this address is found in Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern Culture (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1992), 162.

[4] See: Francesca Stavakopoulou, God: An Anatomy (Picador, 2021), ePub p. 388; see also: Ludwig

Koehler, Walter Baumgartner and Johann J. Stamm (trans. Mervyn E. J. Richardson), The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Study Edition, vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), p. 107.

[5] Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Isaiah 41:19. According to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “The myrtle is only mentioned in exilic and post-exilic writings; ch. Isaiah 55:13; Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 1:10 f.; Nehemiah 8:15.” Much thanks to my friend, Daniel E. Harden, for the references here.


[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI4bq-kZ7nA

[7]  https://biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-chronology/8_04/

[8] https://www.cominguntrue.com/2023/03/implications-of-divine-council-worldview.html