The Background of Armageddon

Revelation 16:12-16

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.  

And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.") And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

("Ar-", from the Hebrew har, meaning hill, "-mageddon" from megiddo.) 

In order to control the ancient world, one had to control Megiddo. Or in the words of Pharaoh Thutmose III (15th century BC), "The capture of Megiddo is the capture of a thousand cities" (Campaign of Pharaoh Thutmosis III.) Why was this particular city so important? 

Answer: Megiddo sat near the end of a level pass, rich in springs, which slices through the hills from the coast to the Jezreel Plain.

Ancient travelers between Egypt and Damascus preferred the Jezreel plain: it gave them a flat stretch across most of the country, whether they were aiming for Damascus, Acco, Beth Shean and the King's Highway, or Samaria. A slight basalt ridge, terminating at Megiddo, enabled them to avoid the muddier parts of the plain in winter.

The archaeological site, a tell, includes an upper city of twelve acres and a lower city of eighteen. 

Archaeologists count up to 22 major strata, from the Chalcolithic period to the Persian (4th century BC). These include Solomon's Megiddo (1 Kings 9:15), as well as Ahab's. Later the Assyrians executed Judah's king Josiah here. This traumatic event resulted in ceremonies of weeping for Josiah. (2 Chronicles 35:25.) They were probably the rites that the prophet Zechariah referred to as the "mourning of Hadadrimon in the plain of Megiddo" (Zechariah 12:11). As prophetic tradition, this reference lies behind the vision in Revelation concerning Armageddon. (More on the background of Armaggedon )

There are three major attractions at Megiddo: 

  • the view over the Jezreel Plain , which hosted many battles

  • the cultic area

  • the water shaft

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(r), (c) Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. (

© 2003 Near East Tourist Agency (NET)
Text © 2003 Stephen Langfur