King Gog from the land of Magog is a future king, the last of Israel's enemies. He will be definitively destroyed by God Himself at the outbreak of the messianic times, according to the haftarah this Shabbat. His defeat will be the ultimate public and universal demonstration of God's holiness.
But why do we read about this apocalyptic theme of Gog and Magog during Succot? Succot, once in biblical and talmudic times the principal Jewish festival, attracted in the course of time various meanings and symbols: the obligation to be joyful and symbols of the human need for water and life. For many today, the lulav and succah are the main features of Succot. Nowadays the succah often stands for the fragility of life but this meaning is quite modern. Originally, it wanted to remind us of "King David's hut" - the Temple - and the "clouds of glory" - God's presence - in the desert. All symbols and customs of Succot can be summarised in its primary meaning, as expressed in the various haftarot during the festival: God's presence among us, which will become experienced reality in future messianic times.
All the haftarot during Succot tell us, from various angles, the story of God's presence. This Shabbat we read how God will establish His holiness. This first pilgrimage festival of the new year wants us to start with one thing: hope. Sometimes, it is good to focus on what we want to become and on where we strive to go in order to renew our Jewish life today, in all its frailty and neediness, with the energising hope that God's presence, life, beauty and goodness will finally prevail.