Daraa, a small city in southern Syria noted for being the powderkeg that set off Syria’s civil war seven years ago is about to become the scene of what may be the final battle between Syrian government forces and the rebels. The city’s identity as a battlefield has its roots in the Bible, and according to Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, it may be the surrogate that replaces Israel as the scene of the devastating War of Gog and Magog.
Civil unrest in Daraa is credited with sparking off the Syrian civil war in 2011. Daraa may soon play a role in the end of the conflict since the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) shock troops from the 9th Brigade and Republican Guard fighting for President Bashar al-Assad are currently setting up around the city to fight the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their rebel allies who are firmly entrenched in different urban areas.
An Orthodox Geula (redemption) blogger who goes by the title Yeranen Yaakov noted the Biblical roots of the city that establish it as a location with a particularly bellicose nature. In a recent post, he wrote that in the Bible, Daraa was known as Edrei, the city where the Children of Israel fought the King Og.
They marched on and went up the road to Bashan, and King Og of Bashan, with all his people, came out to Edrei to engage them in battle. Numbers 21:33
This militaristic past of the city does seem to be reappearing as this small city plays a central role in Syria’s tragic civil war. In the Biblical account, all of Og’s subjects were wiped out. In the current civil war, almost 300,000 Syrians have been killed and many more have been made homeless.
Rabbi Berger feels the Biblical battle at Edrei is integrally connected to Daraa’s current situation.
“Every place that God brings down a miracle it is forever changed,” Rabbi Berger said. “The place remains an opening for that particular aspect of God. Daraa still has its source in Biblical Edrei, a place of war in which all the people were wiped out.”
Yeranen Yaakov also noted that Daraa is inside the borders of Biblical Israel. The Bible states explicitly that Edrei was part of the region assigned to half of the tribe of Menashe in the time of Joshua, the successor to Moses.
And part of Gilad, and Ashtaroth and Edrei, the royal cities of Og in Bashan, were assigned to the descendants of Machir son of Menashe—to a part of the descendants of Machir—for their various clans. Joshua 13:31
Yeranen Yaakov emphasized that this was significant since the pre-Messianic War of Gog and Magog was prophesied to eventually take place inside the borders of Israel.
“The practical implications for current events is obvious,” Yeranen Yaakov told Breaking Israel News. “If the impending battle in Edrei takes place, it could very well involve the US and Russia, who both have significant military forces in the region. Since it is inside Biblical Israel, Edrei may become the place where the War of Gog and Magog is to take place.”
Rabbi Berger agreed that the Syrian conflict, concentrated in Daraa, could be the pre-Messianic War of Gog and Magog coming about in an unexpected fashion, outside of modern Israel, for a particular reason.
“The War of Gog and Magog will be devastating, as the war in Syria has been,” Rabbi Berger said. “It could be that Israel has merited God’s mercy and the War of Gog and Magog will not be inside Israel in order to save us from suffering.”
As a source for the War of Gog and Magog being fought outside of Israel, Rabbi Berger cited his father, Rabbi Shalom Berger, a spiritual leader in Israel with thousands of followers known as the Mishkoltz Rebbe.
“My heart tells me, that God is having mercy on the Nation of Israel concerning what the prophets have prophesied – that the War of Gog and Magog War needs to be within Jerusalem,” the Mishkoltz Rebbe said at a gathering of his followers held after the holiday of Simchat Torah in 2015. “Nevertheless God sweetened this and He is currently making [the War of Gog and Magog] in Syria.”
The rabbi quoted from Sifrei Devarim, a collection of midrash (homiletic teachings) believed to have been compiled in the first century. The midrash states that the gates of Jerusalem are destined to reach until Damascus.
“If that is the case, instead of the war being in Jerusalem with the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael suffering from it, God widened Jerusalem until Damascus in order that the great war will be there,” the Mishkoltz Rebbe said. He emphasized that the multi-national forces facing off in Syria conforms to the prophetic descriptions of the Gog and Magog War.