Megiddo (Hebrew: מגידו; Arabic: المجیدو, Tell al-Mutesellim) is a tell in northern Israel near Kibbutz Megiddo, about 30 km south-east of Haifa, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance, especially under its Greek name Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Harmagedōn), a name derived from the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” meaning “Mount of Megiddo”.
Megiddo is also known as Megiddó/Mageddón in the Septuagint; Latin: Mageddo; Assyrian: Magiddu, Magaddu; Magidda and Makida in the Amarna tablets; Egyptian: Maketi, Makitu, and Makedo.
The word is translated to Greek from Hebrew har məgiddô (הר מגידו), har – Strong – meaning “a mountain or range of hills (sometimes used figuratively): – hill (country), mount (-ain), X promotion.” This is a a shortened form of Harar – Strong – “to loom up; a mountain; -hill, mount”. Megiddo – Strong מְגִדּוֹן /meg-id-do’/ “to crowd, assemble or gather, or Megiddon or Megiddo, a place in Palestine.) “.
“Mount” Tel Megiddo is not actually a mountain, but a tell (a hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot) on which ancient forts were built to guard the Via Maris, an ancient trade route linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia.
According to the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:16), where the word “Armageddon” appears only once in the Greek New Testament, the site will be the place of gathering of armies for a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario.
According to one premillennial Christian interpretation, the Messiah will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist (the “beast”) and Satan the Devil in the Battle of Armageddon. Then Satan will be put into the “bottomless pit” or abyss for 1,000 years, known as the Millennium.
After being released from the abyss, Satan will gather Gog and Magog from the four corners of the earth. They will encamp surrounding the “holy ones” and the “beloved city” (this refers to Jerusalem).
Fire will come down from God, out of heaven and devour Gog and Magog. The Devil, death, hell, and those not found written in the Book of Life are then thrown into Gehenna (the lake of fire burning with brimstone).
Megiddo was the location of various ancient battles, including one in the 15th century BC and one in 609 BC. Modern Megiddo is a town approximately 25 miles (40 km) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in the Kishon River area. The site is now protected as Megiddo National Park and is a World Heritage Site.
Megiddo is mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament, ten times in reference to the ancient city of Megiddo, and twice with reference to “the plain of Megiddo”, most probably simply meaning “the plain next to the city”.
None of these Old Testament passages describes the city of Megiddo as being associated with any particular prophetic beliefs. The one New Testament reference to the city of Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16 in fact also makes no specific mention of any armies being predicted to one day gather in this city, but instead seems to predict only that “they (will gather) the kings together to … Armageddon.”
The text does however seem to imply, based on the text from the earlier passage of Revelation 16:14, that the purpose of this gathering of kings in the “place called Armageddon” is “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty”.
Because of the seemingly highly symbolic and even cryptic language of this one New Testament passage, some Christian scholars conclude that Mount Armageddon must be an idealized location.
Rushdoony says, “There are no mountains of Megiddo, only the Plains of Megiddo. This is a deliberate destruction of the vision of any literal reference to the place.” Other scholars, including C. C. Torrey, Kline and Jordan argue that the word is derived from the Hebrew moed (מועד), meaning “assembly”. Thus, “Armageddon” would mean “Mountain of Assembly,” which Jordan says is “a reference to the assembly at Mount Sinai, and to its replacement, Mount Zion.”
In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. Megiddo is strategically located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley from the west.
Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles.
The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BC (the same time as the destruction of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and subsequent fall of Israelite rule and exile), though the first significant remains date to the Chalcolithic period (4500-3500 BC).
Megiddo’s Early Bronze Age I (3500-3100 BC) temple has been described by its excavators as “the most monumental single edifice so far uncovered in the EB I Levant and ranks among the largest structures of its time in the Near East.”
The first wall was constructed in the Early Bronze Age II or III period. However, the town experienced a decline in the Early Bronze-Age IV period (2300-2000 BC), but the city was somewhat revived around 2000 BC.
Following massive construction, the town reached its largest in the Middle Bronze-Age, at 10-12 hectares. Though the city was subjugated by Thutmose III, it still prospered, and a massive and incredibly elaborate palace was constructed in the Late Bronze Age.
The city was destroyed around 1150 BC, and the area was resettled by what some scholars have identified as early Israelites, before being replaced with an unwalled Philistine town.
When the Israelites captured it, though, it became an important city, before being destroyed, possibly by Aramaean raiders, and rebuilt, this time as an administrative center for Tiglath-Pileser III’s occupation of Samaria. However, its importance soon dwindled, and it was finally abandoned around 586 BC.
Since this time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BC without settlements ever disturbing them. Instead, the town of Lajjun (not to be confused with the el-Lajjun archaeological site in Jordan) was built up near to the site, but without inhabiting or disturbing its remains.