Rosh: An Ancient Land Known to Ezekiel -- By: James D. Price

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 06:1 (Spring 1985)
Article: Rosh: An Ancient Land Known to Ezekiel
Author: James D. Price

Rosh: An Ancient Land Known to Ezekiel

James D. Price

Extensive evidence from ancient Near Eastern texts and from normal Hebrew syntax supports the view that ראש is a toponym in Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1. The syntactical support involves a detailed examination of instances where some scholars posit a break in a construct chain. These hypothetical breaks are not convincing for several reasons. Therefore, ראש in Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1 should be translated as a proper noun (the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal [NKJV]), not an adjective (the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal [KJV]).

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Among Bible expositors, controversy continues over the translation of the phrase נְשִׂיא רֹאשׁ מֶשֶׁךְ וְחֻבָל in Ezek 38:2, 3 and 39:1 —should the translation be “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (AV), or “the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (NASB)? The controversy centers around the Hebrew word רֹאשׁ; is the word a place name (Rosh) or an adjective (chief)?

There are two principle arguments denying that רֹאשׁ is a place name: a philological argument and a grammatical argument. The philological argument states that the primary meaning of רֹאשׁ is “head” as a noun, and “chief” as an adjective,1 and that the word is unknown as a place name in the Bible, Josephus, and other ancient literature. J. Simons, a noted authority on ancient geography, wrote:

That in one or more of these texts a people of that name whose home was in Asia Minor, is indeed mentioned, is not entirely disproved but it is at any rate rendered improbable by the fact that the same name can be discerned only very doubtfully in other (Assyrian) documents.2

The grammatical argument states that the absence of a conjunction between רֹאשׁ and מֶשֶׁךְ precludes רֹאשׁ

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