Question: "Who are Meshech and Tubal in the Bible?"

Answer: Meshech (also spelled Meshek) and Tubal were sons of Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah who survived the flood with him (Genesis 10:1–2). Meshech (whose name means “long, tall, or drawn out by force”) is the sixth son of Japheth. The land of Meshech is closely associated with that of Tubal, especially in a prophecy of Ezekiel. The region of Meshech is often identified as being north of the Black Sea (southern Russia and Ukraine and possibly the Republic of Georgia), and Tubal as an area in central Turkey.

The land of Meshech is used in Psalm 120:5 as a generic reference to barbarous regions where “those who hate peace” live (verse 6). The lands where Meshech’s and Tubal’s descendants settled figure significantly in some prophecies of Ezekiel, and it is in that book where they are mentioned most. In the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, Meshech and Tubal are ruled by Gog, a prince over those territories: “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”’” (Ezekiel 38:1–3). Ezekiel repeats God’s words of judgment against the descendants of the two sons of Japheth when he prophesies that God will defeat them in a war against Israel (Ezekiel 39:1–5).

Many biblical scholars equate the land of Gog in Ezekiel’s prophecies with Russia, who will attack Israel “from the far north” (Ezekiel 38:15). Meshech and Tubal could be two of the “many nations” joining Russia in their invasion of Israel (verse 6).

The advance of the alliance involving Meshech and Tubal will be like “a cloud covering the land” (Ezekiel 38:9). Some commentators believe this war, often called the Battle of Gog and Magog, will be one of the events leading up to the end-times’ tribulation. Others believe it will occur close to the midpoint of the tribulation, since Israel will feel secure at the time, “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” (verse 11).

God will defeat this powerful alliance (Ezekiel 38:22) to reveal His greatness to all the world (verse 23) and restore the people of Israel to a right relationship with Himself (Ezekiel 39:21–29). Meshech and Tubal, despite the strength of their numbers and help of their allies, will fall.