Eldad and Medad

On Prophecy

Ezekiel 38 states other prophets had prophesied about the Gog-Magog war in the past, but we do not find any of these prophecies in Scripture. The odd placing of "years" after many days could be translated "two" instead of "years." In this case the passage might be saying "my two prophets of Israel."

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them? Ezekiel 38:17

In either case there is a legend that the prophets Eldad and Medad prophesied of the Gog-Magog War.

But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! Numbers 11:26-29

ELDAD AND MEDAD (Modad according to the Septuagint): By: Emil G. Hirsch, Kaufmann Kohler

Two men who prophesied in the camp during the wanderings in the wilderness (Num. xi. 26-29). According to an old rabbinical tradition, they predicted the war with Gog and Magog. "The king from the land of Magog will unite all the hosts of the heathen in a warfare on the soil of Palestine against the Jews returning from the Exile at the Messianic time, but the Lord [Κύρις] will be ready in the time of distress and slay them with the fire issuing forth from His throne, and their bodies will fall upon the mountains of the land of Israel and be eaten up by the wild beasts and the birds of heaven. Then will all the dead of the people of Israel be revived and partake of the bliss prepared for them from the beginning" (Targ. Yer. to Num. xi. 26; comp. Sanh. 17a; Tan., Beha'aloteka, ed. Buber, 22). According to the fragment of Targum Yer. (ib.), the heathen will fall into the hand of the Messiah (comp. Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 88, ii. 119; "Monatsschrift," 1857, pp. 346 et seq.).

This Messianic prophecy of Eldad and Medad seems to have been made the subject of a special work, consisting of 400 lines, which circulated in the first Christian century; it is quoted in the "Shepherd of Hermas," vision ii. 3, as containing the sentence found also in the Targum: "The Lord [Κύριος] is nigh to those in distress." See Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 266.

ELDAD AND MODAD, BOOK OF - el'-dad, mo'-dad: In the Septuagint they are called Eldad and Modad. In the King James Version the names are given as Eldad and Medad; meaning "God has loved" ("God loves") and "object of love" (?). They were two of the seventy elders chosen by Moses (Nu 11:26), and while the others obeyed the summons and went to the tabernacle, these two remained in the camp and prophesied (Nu 11:26). The nature of their prophecy is not recorded, and this naturally became a good subject for the play of the imagination. It furnished the basis for a lost work which was quoted by Hermas (Vis 2 3): "The Lord is near to them who return unto him, as it is written in Eldad and Modad, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness." The Palestine Targums also filled in the subject of the prophecy of Eldad and Modad, and, as they have it, it related to the coming of Gog and Magog against Israel at the end of the days. One of the Targums has the expression, "The Lord is near to them that are in the hour of tribulation." The authors of the Targums were either dependent upon that work or upon a similar tradition; and the former of these views is the more probable. Lightfoot and Holtzman think the lengthy quotation in 1 Clement 23 and 2 Clement 11 is from the Book of Eldad and Modad. The work is found in the Stichometry of Nicephorus and consists of 400 stichoi, which would make it about twice the length of the Cant.

A. W. Fortune

Other Notes
In addition to the quotes from the epistles of Clement mentioned above, it has been thought that the unknown scripture quoted in James 4:5 is also from the lost work of Eldad and Medad.

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? James 4:5




Copyright December 2011 by Dr. Kenneth Johnson.

Date: 12-2011