(Me·gidʹdo) [rendezvous, or, assembly of troops].
One of the more important cities of the Promised Land, located approximately fifty-seven miles (c. 92 kilometers) N-NW of Jerusalem and nineteen miles (c. 31 kilometers) SE of the modern city of Haifa. It was built on a plot of somewhat over ten acres (4 hectares), atop a mound known today as Tell el-Mutesellim, which rises nearly seventy feet (c. 21 meters) above the valley below.
Situated in this strategic spot overlooking and dominating the fertile Plain of Esdraelon (also known as “the valley plain of Megiddo” [2 Chron. 35:22; Zech. 12:11]), it easily controlled the major N-S and E-W trade and military routes. Both Biblical history and secular records tell how the armies of many nations fought decisive battles around Megiddo due to its commanding position. Near this site “by the waters of Megiddo,” Judge Barak defeated Jabin’s mighty forces under Sisera, which included 900 chariots outfitted with iron scythes. (Judg. 4:7, 13-16; 5:19) It was at Megiddo that King Ahaziah of Judah died after being mortally wounded on orders of Jehu. (2 Ki. 9:27) There also good King Josiah of Judah was killed when he intercepted the Egyptian army under Pharaoh Nechoh that was on its way to engage the “King of Assyria” (that is, the Babylonian conqueror of Assyria) at the river Euphrates.—2 Ki. 23:29, 30; 2 Chron. 35:22.
At various times during its long history, as archaeological diggings show, Megiddo was heavily fortified. Ruins have been uncovered showing that it once had walls between thirteen and sixteen feet (c. 4 and 5 meters) thick, which were later increased to more than twenty-five feet (7.6 meters) thick, sections of which were still over eleven feet (3.3 meters) high when found.
The first mention of Megiddo lists its king among the thirty-one that Joshua defeated in the initial conquest of the Promised Land. (Josh. 12:7, 8, 21, 24) When the land was apportioned out, Megiddo, together with its dependent towns, became an enclave city belonging to the tribe of Manasseh, though it was situated in the territory of Issachar. (Josh. 17:11; 1 Chron. 7:29) However, during the period of the Judges, Manasseh was not able to drive the Canaanites out of this stronghold. At best, when Israel became strong the inhabitants of this city were regimented for forced labor.—Judg. 1:27, 28.
Under David’s reign, when the boundaries of the kingdom were extended to their full limits, all Canaanite elements within the Promised Land were brought under subjugation, including Megiddo. This allowed Solomon to include Megiddo in the fifth-named district set up to supply the royal household with food one month out of the year.—1 Ki. 4:7, 8, 12.
Solomon also fortified Megiddo, and it may have become one of his chariot cities where a portion of his 12,000 steeds were stabled. (1 Ki. 9:15-19; 10:26) At Megiddo archaeologists have found very extensive remains of what some scholars (but not all) think were stables capable of accommodating upward of 450 horses. At first these structures were credited to Solomon’s time, but many later archaeologists think they should be re-dated as belonging to a later period, perhaps the time of Ahab.
Zechariah’s prophecy (12:11) speaks of a ‘great wailing’ that occurred “in the valley plain of Megiddo,” which may be a reference to the lamentation over King Josiah, who was killed there in battle. (2 Ki. 23:29, 30) There is a slight difference in the Hebrew spelling of Megiddo here in the book of Zechariah. Instead of the conventional Hebrew spelling Me·ghiddoʹ, it is Meghid·dohnʹ, a prolonged form similar to that found at Revelation 16:16.—See HAR–MAGEDON.