Sunday, August 3, 2008

Putin as 'Gog'?

The master presents his new apprentice with a gift, a "magic ring" from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left). Putin arose to power via dubious means, and is in the process of revitalizing the old Soviet-style methods of assassination and military aggression in an attempt to grab the "brass ring" of world domination. His stealing of the ring may be symbolic of his intent to conquer the world through theft and violence, and may indicate he is the "Gog" of the "Gog of the land of Magog" as described in Ezekiel 38-39

On June 25, 2005, during a meeting with American business executives, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin apparently stole a very special ring. It was a New England Patriots 2005 Super Bowl ring which the Patriots' owner, American paper magnate and venture capitalist Robert Kraft, had handed to Putin in order to show to him a prime example of American excellence. However Putin, apparently thinking it was a gift, pocketed the ring and walked off, much to the consternation of Kraft, who had no intention of giving away his precious ring. And though later Kraft claimed to have given it to Putin as a gift, those on the scene had gathered a different impression.

[ ... ]

Biblical scholars who study apocalyptic have been looking for a man who could fill the shoes of the infamous "Gog of the land of Magog" mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39. However, the exact identification of this powerful leader to this date has remained a mystery. Some scholars have speculated that the mysterious "Gog" may have been a reference to the Lydian king Gyges, infamous in his time for having usurped the throne of Lydia (a small but prosperous country in the west of what is now modern Turkey), though until now there has been no real linkage between this ancient king of Turkey and the future king of the land of Magog. The land of Magog however is easily identified, being known since ancient times to be the vast area including Russia, the Ukraine, Central Asia and particularly the region around the Caucasus Mountains. Georgia, which lies in the south of the Caucausus region (and whose name may also be related to Gog/Gyges), is considered to be the heartland of the Magogian peoples, and was also the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, one of the most powerful and fearsome leaders in Russian history.

There are several variations of the story of the rise to power of Gyges, but the most famous is the version put forth by Plato in his Dialogues called "The Ring of Gyges". In this version, Gyges was portrayed as a simple Lydian shepherd who, after an earthquake opened a chasm in the ground, found therein the hollow statue of a bronze horse. And within the bronze horse was an ancient corpse that wore nothing but a golden ring. Gyges took the ring and thought nothing more of it until later, while sitting with the other shepherds and twisting the ring around on his finger, he found that when the collet of the ring was turned to the inside of his hand, his friends could no longer see him. Realizing that the ring could make him invisible, he soon formulated a plan wherein he would use the ring to take over the rule of the kingdom — and his plan was successful. Misusing the power of the ring, he seduced the queen and killed the king, taking over the kingship of Lydia for himself.

Commentators on Plato believe that he included this story in his Dialogues to show that even a righteous man, confronted with the ability to transcend social restrictions, would inevitably use that power to do evil. Similarly, commentators on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien have noted that the ring featured prominently in his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings was almost certainly influenced by this tale of Gyges' magic ring which made the wearer invisible and (through that power) eventually corrupted them. And it is here where the circle of Gog's ring is completed.

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