Where is Megiddo (valley of Jezreel) located? What role did it play in ancient Israel's history? Will it be the battleground for mankind's last world war?
Megiddo is mentioned eleven times in the King James Bible. It is located within the valley of Jezreel in territory given to the Israelite tribe of Manasseh when they entered the Promised Land. The word for the city is translated from the Hebrew gadad (Strong's Concordance #H1413) which means to slaughter or cut off. Megiddo, before Joshua led Israel into the land, was a Canaanite royal city (Joshua 12:21).
Megiddo, during the reign of King Solomon, was an Israelite city that was restored and greatly fortified. The Bible states, "And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer" (1Kings 9:15).
Excavations of Megiddo and the surrounding area have unearthed twenty-six layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. The area was important because it guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. The city, and especially the Jezreel valley, is known as the great battlefield of Palestine. Many decisive battles have been fought in this area of Israel.
For example, a 15th century B.C. battle was fought in the valley between the army of Egypt's Pharaoh Thutmose III and a coalition of local rulers. Thutmose III was the likely Pharaoh who was confronted by Moses and Aaron demanding the children of Israel be set free from slavery.
In 609 B.C. a Biblically mentioned battle between Egypt's army and Judah's King Josiah was fought in and near Megiddo (2Kings 23:29 - 30, 2Chronicles 35:20 - 35). The battle is described, in detail, in the hieroglyphics found on the walls of Thutmose's temple in Upper Egypt. Josiah, one of the best kings to rule over God's people, lost his life in the battle. After his death his body was taken from Megiddo to Jerusalem for burial.
One of the most recent battles fought in the valley near Megiddo was in 1918 A.D. During World War I Allied troops, led by General Edmund Allenby, fought the defending Ottoman Empire army for control of the area. The Allied forces won a decisive victory at a cost of soldiers significantly less than many other offensives carried out during the war.
The word Armageddon, which occurs only once in the Bible, is a combination of two Hebrew words. The first word is har, which means mountain or a range of hills, and mgiddown, which is called 'Megiddo' in English.
Armageddon is frequently used as a term to label the entire time period starting from when the armies of the world begin to gather together (along with the beast and false prophet) to fight Jesus to his actual return and victorious war over the forces of evil. It is after this victory that Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom on the earth.
In the sixteenth chapter of Revelation the word Armageddon is used to designate the actual location of the last world war, which is within the valley of Jezreel near Megiddo.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial into the great river Euphrates; and its waters were dried up, so that the way of the kings from the rising of the sun might be prepared . . .
For they are spirits of demons working miracles, going forth to the kings of the earth . . . to gather them together to the battle of that great day of the Almighty God . . . And he gathered them together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon (mount of Megiddo, Revelation 16:12, 14, 16, HBFV).