Psalm 83 Israeli War Casualties – Part 1
By Bill Salus
This article was transposed from the commentary of Revelation Road, Hope Beyond the Horizon.
War casualties of Israel's enemies will abound in the coming biblical Mideast wars of Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38, and the Armageddon campaign, but what about Israeli losses? How many soldiers and civilians will be numbered among the dead and wounded when these genocidal attempts come against the Jewish state?
Ezekiel 39:11-16 predicts that there will literally be hordes of dead, and possibly contaminated enemy corpses in need of a designated burial site in the aftermath of the Gog of Magog invasion. Obadiah 1:18 foretells that the Palestinians, or at least the Edomite descendants within their ranks, will have no remaining survivors after what appears to be the Psalm 83 war. Jeremiah 49:26 predicts heavy civilian and military casualties befall Damascus when it is destroyed.
There are three trains of thought concerning the potential for Psalm 83 Israeli war casualties. In part one the first is explored, and in part two the second and third will be exposited upon. These possibilities are;
- Divine intervention in Psalm 83 limits Israeli casualties.
- The Israel of Ezekiel 36 mitigates Israeli casualties in Psalm 83.
- Isaiah 17:1-6 potentially predicts severe Psalm 83 Israeli casualties.
Scripture is not lacking in detail when it comes to these powerful wars and the losses suffered within them. According to the prophet Zechariah 13:8, two-thirds of the Israeli population will be killed at various stages within the eight stages of Armageddon, which Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum identifies as;
- The Assembling of the Allies of the Antichrist,
- The Destruction of Babylon,
- The Fall of Jerusalem,
- The Armies of the Antichrist at Bozrah (modern day southern Jordan),
- The National Regeneration of Israel,
- The Second Coming of the Messiah,
- The Battle from Bozrah, and
- The Victory Ascent (of Christ) Up the Mount of Olives. The final.(i)
Although Psalm 83 will pale in comparison to the Armageddon campaign, it is none-the-less no meager skirmish. It will be another war of epic biblical proportion and numerous Arab casualties are predicted, and these are discussed in detail in my book called Revelation Road, Hope Beyond the Horizon. But, what human losses does the Bible predict that Israel will sustain within this Psalm war?
Obviously there are casualties on both sides of every major war, and this one will probably be no different. Even though Israel will essentially manhandle their opponents, according to several Scriptures identified throughout Revelation Road, they will probably not go entirely unscathed in the process. Even though the Lord has been re-gathering the Jews into Israel since 1882 with wider Jewish immigration, established them as a nation in 1948, and has end-times plans for the Jewish people, historically, they have suffered human loss during the wars fought against the Arabs in 1948, 1967, and 1973.
Although these wars weren't the final fulfillment of Psalm 83, they appear to have partially fulfilled the Psalm, in that they evidenced the Psalm 83 Arab enmity toward Israel, and set the stage for the final showdown. The attitude of hatred, which motivates the Arab confederates to want to wipe Israel off the map, is spelled out in Psalm 83:2-5. Read Psalm 83, a Prophecy in Process to understand how the Psalm has been processing for fulfillment over the past six decades.
In 1948, Israel won the war, but 6,373(ii) Israelis were killed in the process. This represented about one percent of its Jewish population of approximately 650,000 at the time. In the Six-Day war of June, 1967, there were 777 Israeli soldiers killed, and 2,585 that were wounded.(iii) In the Yom Kippur war of 1973, 2,812 Israelis were estimated to be killed.(iiii) Because of the slender geography of Israel, wars in that region do not tend to last long. There are no long, protracted wars between modern-day Israel and her enemies.
From a historical war perspective, Israeli casualties from Psalm 83 are likely, especially since the Psalm 83 war will probably make all past Arab-Israeli wars pale in comparison. Due to the magnitude of the event, they could easily exceed all casualties combined from the 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars. But, will they?
Divine intervention in Psalm 83 limits Israeli casualties
This train of thought takes into consideration the possibility that God will put a protective hedge around Israel. In the process, a lesson is to be learned by mankind. Because of this invisible defensive hedge, Israeli casualties will be minimal or non-existent. Additionally, according to Ezekiel 25:14, the IDF is divinely empowered, enabling them to defeat their Arab foes.
The lesson humanity can glean in the aftermath of Psalm 83 is that God's foreign policy expressed in Genesis 12:3 is still intact. This passage says that all who curse Abraham (or his Israelite descendants) will be cursed. The Psalm 83 confederacy, bent on destroying Abraham's descendants and eradicating Israel forever, is a clear attempt to curse Israel.
Psalm 83:6 lists the "tents of Edom" first in the Arab confederacy. The Edomites are descended from Jacob's twin brother, Esau, according to Genesis 36:1, 9. Jacob was later called Israel in Genesis 32:28 and 35:10. Thus, the Israelites are Jacob's posterity and the Edomites are Esau's. Esau's Edomites, who have some ethnical representation in today's Palestinians, will be decimated, according to Obadiah v. 18 and Jeremiah 49:10-11, for attempting to destroy Israel in Psalm 83.
After the Edomite-led confederacy is defeated, the reasonable rhetorical question left for humanity to answer is: "If the Lord did not spare the descendants of Jacob's own twin brother Esau, from the promise of cursing contained in Genesis 12:3, how can anyone attempting to oppress Israel not likewise be cursed?"
The Arab defeat in Psalm 83 will be a "curse-for-curse-in-kind" lesson straight out of the Genesis 12:3 playbook. The Arabs will have sought to wipe out Israel militarily; but instead, the IDF will wipe out the Arabs militarily. Thus, the Arab attempt to annihilate Israel in Psalm 83 provides sufficient grounds for their total destruction, regardless of Israel suffering any casualties of war or not. This argument finds further support from the historical episodes identified in Psalm 83:9-11. Asaph, the seer,(v) petitions the Lord in these verses to deal with the Arabs of Psalm 83 like Gideon did to the Midianites, and Barak did to the Canaanites.
These historical accounts are written in Judges 4-8 and provide important information on how the Lord intends to deal with the Arab confederacy of Psalm 83. The Midianites had oppressed the Israelites for seven years. Outmanned and outgunned, Gideon took 300 warriors and destroyed 120,000 Midianites. It appears as though no Israeli casualties resulted from Gideon's war against the Midianites. Furthermore, it doesn't seem that the Midianites ever oppressed the Israelites again.
Similarities occur in the Israelite-Canaanite war described in Judges 4-5. The Canaanites oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Subsequently, the Canaanites suffered a bitter defeat by Barak and the "Israel Defense Forces" of that time. No mention of Israeli casualties of war are reported as a result of that conflict either, nor are there any indications the Canaanites ever oppressed the Israelites again. In both examples, the Israelites were operating under divine empowerment and protection. Additionally, both enemies of Israel were defeated from top to bottom. Even their kings, nobles, and princes were killed alongside their soldiers. Importantly, these particular enemies ceased to ever oppress the Israelites or their Promised Land again.
Presently, the Arabs oppress the Jews and want to dispossess them of their Promised Land. Ultimately, they will confederate in a final attempt to wipe Israel off the map. They lose decisively, and like the Midianites and Canaanites, become incapable of ever oppressing Israel again.
Some scholars believe that Psalm 83 was fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 20, or in the 1948 or 1967 wars, or both. Those arguments are refuted in the attached appendix called Has Psalm 83 Found Final Fulfillment? The fact that the Arabs involved in Psalm 83 currently oppress Israel evidences that the prophecy remains unfulfilled.
If the IDF suffers nominal casualties against the formidable forces of Psalm 83 similar to these historical examples, it will clearly evidence the Lord's hand of protection over the Israelis and their land. I believe this protection exists now and will continue to be in place throughout Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39.
However subsequently, due to the false covenant the Antichrist confirms with Israel, as described in Daniel 9:27 and Isaiah 28:15, 18, the Lord's hand of protection over Israel is temporarily removed. We know from Zechariah 13:8 that potentially millions of Israeli deaths occur at the hands of the Antichrist and his armies. These casualties will confirm the temporary removal of the divine protection.
Although many casualties of war will occur during the Armageddon campaign, this may not be the case in Psalm 83, provided the Lord's protection covers the nation of Israel as it did during Gideon's and Barak's time.
Part two of this study will cover the last two trains of thought, "The Israel of Ezekiel 36 mitigates Israeli casualties in Psalm 83," and "Isaiah 17:1-6 potentially predicts severe Psalm 83 Israeli casualties."