When the obscure kingdom of Lydia (in Asia Minor) arose to geopolitical notoriety in the seventh century before Christ, the man responsible for its rise was a ruthless, warring king named Gugu (c. 680 – c. 648).
“Gugu” was, at least, the name by which the Assyrians called him. Indeed, the earliest extant texts mentioning this Lydian king are found in the clay archives of the Assyrian emperor Ashurbanipal (668–633), who was for a while Gugu’s suzerain lord. Now, it is surely significant of Gugu’s political and military importance that a fragment of earthen tablet in distant Mesopotamia contains our first inscription of his name.
In Mesopotamian memory, in fact, the name and fame of Gugu lingered on. Ezekiel, writing his prophecies in that region during the next century (ch. 38–39), remembered the Lydian king as “Gug” or “Gog.”
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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