Bible Review 16:3, June 2000

Why Megiddo?

By Eric H. Cline

Armageddon—the name is synonymous with apocalypse, Judgment Day and end-time. As the site of the cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, Armageddon has gripped the imagination of Christians ever since John wrote the New Testament’s Book of Revelation at the close of the first century A.D.1

The very word “Armageddon” is evocative, powerful, even frightening. Yet it is simply a place-name. Armageddon comes from Greek ‘Armagedwvn and is most likely derived from the Hebrew “Har Megiddon,” meaning “the Mount of Megiddo.” The name refers to an imposing 70-foot mound overlooking Israel’s fertile Jezreel Valley, about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem and 25 miles from the Mediterranean coast. Archaeologists at Megiddo have revealed a rich ancient city occupied almost continuously from about 6000 B.C. to 500 A.D.

But why did John choose this relatively remote city as his battlefield? Why not Jerusalem, or Rome, or even Athens? The answer, as we will see, hinges on Megiddo’s strategic location on the edge of empires, as well as its role in the downfall of the Davidic monarchy, as described in the Hebrew Bible.

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