(Har–Ma·gedʹon) [Gr., Har Mage·donʹ; Heb., Har Meghid·dohnʹ, “Mountain of Megiddo”; “mountain of rendezvous”; “mountain of assembly of troops”].
Found only once in the Bible, in the book of Revelation (Apocalypse), the term is rendered “Armageddon” in a number of versions. (Rev. 16:16, AT; AV; JB; RS; TEV) This name is directly associated with “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Rev. 16:14.
There does not appear to have been a literal place called “Mountain of Megiddo,” either inside or outside the Promised Land, before or during the days of the apostle John, who recorded the vision. Hence, the significance may lie to some extent in the definition of the name, “mountain of assembly of troops,” though Har–Magedon also draws significance from the events associated with the ancient city of Megiddo.
Megiddo was situated a few miles SE of Mount Carmel, overlooking and dominating the Plain of Esdraelon, and controlling major N-S and E-W trade and military routes. Joshua first conquered this Canaanite city. (Josh. 12:7, 8, 21) Near this site Jabin’s army under command of Sisera was later destroyed. Jehovah there employed natural forces to assist the Israelite army under Barak. The account reads: “Barak went descending from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men behind him. And Jehovah began to throw Sisera and all his war chariots and all the camp into confusion by the edge of the sword before Barak. Finally Sisera got down off the chariot and took to flight on foot. And Barak chased after the war chariots and the camp as far as Harosheth of the nations, so that all the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword. Not as much as one remained.”—Judg. 4:14-16.
After the victory, Barak and the prophetess Deborah broke out in song, which ran, in part:
“Kings came, they fought;
It was then that the kings of Canaan fought
In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo.
No gain of silver did they take.
From heaven did the stars fight,
From their orbits they fought against Sisera.
The torrent of Kishon washed them away,
The torrent of ancient days, the torrent of
You went treading down strength, O my soul.
It was then that the hoofs of horses pawed
Because of dashings upon dashings of his
It was at Megiddo that King Ahaziah of Judah died after being mortally wounded on orders of Jehu. (2 Ki. 9:27) There King Josiah of Judah was killed in an encounter with Pharaoh Nechoh. (2 Ki. 23:29, 30) Because of its commanding position, many other nations, according to secular history, warred around Megiddo. ‘Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, crusaders, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks and Arabs have all pitched their tents on the plain of Esdraelon.’—Word Studies in the New Testament, M. R. Vincent, 1957, Vol. II, p. 542.
The Revelation account depicts the combined forces of the kings of the earth as being gathered “to the place [Gr., form of toʹpos] that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” (Rev. 16:16) In the Bible toʹpos may refer to a literal location (Matt. 14:13, 15, 35), to one’s opportunity or “chance” (Acts 25:16), or to a figurative realm, condition or situation. (Rev. 12:6, 14) In view of the context, it is to a “place” in the last-mentioned sense that earth’s combined military powers are marching.
The “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon was not some past event but is depicted in Revelation as future from the time of John’s vision. The gathering of the kings to Har–Magedon is described as being a result of the pouring out of the sixth of the seven bowls containing the “last” plagues that will bring to a finish the anger of God. (Rev. 15:1; 16:1, 12) Also, that the war at Har–Magedon is closely associated with Christ’s second presence is the warning of his coming as a thief, which is sandwiched between verses 14 and 16 of Revelation chapter 16.
The global aspect of the war is emphasized in the context, wherein the opponents of Jehovah are identified as “the kings of the entire inhabited earth,” who are mobilized by “expressions inspired by demons.”—Rev. 16:14.
Farther on, John says: “And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.” (Rev. 19:19) This chapter identifies the leader of the heavenly armies, seated on a white horse, as one who is called “Faithful and True” and “The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:11-13) Therefore, it is Jesus Christ, The Word, who acts as the commander of God’s heavenly armies. (John 1:1; Rev. 3:14) Further showing that Christ leads the heavenly forces is the statement that the earthly forces “battle with the Lamb [who is Jesus Christ (John 1:29)], but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.”—Rev. 17:13, 14.
Since the vision in Revelation chapter 19 reveals only armies in heaven as participating in the warfare as supporters of Jesus Christ, The Word of God, it indicates that none of Jehovah’s Christian servants on earth will have anything to do with the fighting. This is in harmony with the apostle Paul’s statement at 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4 that the weapons he and his companions employed were not fleshly. (Compare 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17, 22, 23; Psalm 2:4-9.) The birds that fly in midheaven will dispose of the bodies of those slaughtered.—Rev. 19:11-21.
Har–Magedon is thus seen to be a fight, not merely among men, not a mere “world war,” but one in which God’s invisible armies take part. Its coming is certain and it will take place at the time set by Jehovah God, who “is doing according to his own will among the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth.”—Dan. 4:35; see also Matthew 24:36.