Scenes from the Promised Land
Nations Gather at Megiddo
“RESEARCHERS blow hot and cold over world Armageddon,” reported a scientific article on whether a nuclear war would bring on a freezing “nuclear winter” or a searing “nuclear summer.”
Perhaps you have seen such comments that link “Armageddon” and our critical times. What is “Armageddon”? You may want to know, since your life is involved.
Look above at the aerial view of Megiddo. This was a strategic site in ancient Israel. The apostle John used its name when he wrote of “the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon [Mountain of Megiddo],” or Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16) Knowing the background of Megiddo illuminates those words.
You can see its location on the accompanying map. It virtually overlooked two principal roads. The Carmel Mountains blocked the N—S route between Egypt in the south and Damascus or other cities toward the Euphrates in the north. So armies and trading caravans were forced through a low pass beside Megiddo, the pass on the right side of the photograph. The N—S road through it intersected in the Jezreel Valley with the important route between Tyre and the Jordan Valley, or Samaria and Jerusalem. Sitting astride these routes, Megiddo could virtually dominate those passing by, and the valley in front of Megiddo became a place of decisive battles.
For example, it was here that Judge Barak defeated Canaanites under army chief Sisera, who had 900 iron-scythed war chariots. (Judges 4:1-3, 12-16; 5:19) Later, Pharaoh Necho led a powerful Egyptian force of soldiers and chariots up the coastal route (hence its name, Via Maris, or Way of the Sea) to reinforce the Assyrians near the Euphrates. For some reason, Judean king Josiah decided on an international confrontation with Necho. But where? Though it was some 55 miles [90 km] north of Jerusalem, Josiah chose the plain near Megiddo.—2 Chronicles 35:20-22; Jeremiah 46:2.
He knew that the Egyptians had to pass there, and he may have felt that he would have the advantage, since he would be close to an Israelite stronghold. As you can see, Tell (mound) Megiddo is quite large. The ancient city was formidable. Solomon fortified Megiddo, evidently building massive stone walls and a huge protective gate.* (1 Kings 9:15) On the left side of the tell, you can see a large, oblong pit, which was the entrance to an intricate water-supply system. A steep staircase led down to a long tunnel chipped through the underlying rock, giving the Israelites access to springwater while they were protected from attack. Archaeologists have also discovered remains of a stable for some 450 horses, perhaps from the time of Ahab’s reign.—Compare 1 Kings 9:19.
In the decisive battle near Megiddo, Josiah was mortally wounded, and he died on the way back to Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:28-30) This may have been the cause of ‘the wailing in the valley plain of Megiddo’ mentioned at Zechariah 12:11. Not long after Josiah’s defeat, Babylon extended its militaristic influence into weakened Judea.—2 Kings 24:1, 2, 12-14; 2 Chronicles 36:1-6.
With such background information, you can appreciate why in the Revelation given to the apostle John, Megiddo could be drawn upon in foretelling the gathering of ‘the kings of the entire inhabited earth’ ‘to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.’ No single spot on earth, certainly not the valley plain dominated by Tell Megiddo, could contain all the nations opposed to God. But Har–Magedon, or Armageddon, suitably represents the situation for that decisive war.—Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21.
So let politicians and newsmen mistakenly think of Armageddon as a nuclear war that would devastate our globe. With the history of Megiddo in mind, you can understand the matter more accurately. You can appreciate that Armageddon is the situation into which the nations will soon be brought for the great war when God will wipe out the present wicked system, opening the way for a righteous new world.—2 Peter 3:11-13.
You can read in The Watchtower of August 15, 1988, pages 24-6, a fascinating account of Megiddo’s gate.
[Map on page 17]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Sea of Galilee
Mi 0 10
Km 0 10 20
Based on a map copyrighted by Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est. and Survey of Israel
[Picture on page 16]
YOU will find a larger view of Megiddo in the 1989 Calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Its six pictures will be discussed this year in Watchtower articles, which you may want to retain with the calendar for future use.
Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.
[Picture on page 17]
This Egyptian carving can help you to visualize Pharaoh Necho’s advance past Megiddo, where he defeated King Josiah
Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.