Megiddo

Place name perhaps meaning, “place of troops.” One of the most strategic cities of Canaan since it guarded the main pass through the Carmel mountain range. This range was an obstacle along the international coastal highway which connected Egypt with Mesopotamia and even further destinations.

Identified with current tell el-Mutesellim, Megiddo had approximately twenty-five different eras of occupation during its life from the fourth millennium to the time of the Persian Empire. The city was very active while under Egyptian authority from the time of the patriarchs through to the judges (2000-1100 B.C.), but this golden age came to an end about 1125 B.C. when it was destroyed.

The city was allotted to Manasseh (Josh. 17:11; 1 Chron. 7:29) after the partial conquest of Joshua (Josh. 12:21), but neither it nor its surrounding villages were secured by the tribe. Due to its obvious strength, it was among many cities whose overthrow was delayed until later (Judg. 1:27). Deborah and Barak fought the Canaanites and their leaders King Jabin and Sisera near the “waters of Megiddo,” possibly the wadi Qina running through the surrounding hills (Judg. 5:19).

When Megiddo was finally annexed to the nation Israel is not known. Probably by the time of David the city was serving Israel’s defensive and security purposes. Certainly by the time of Solomon the city was firmly Israelite, since he fortified the city (1 Kings 9:15), including his mighty six chambered gate which followed the pattern of his other two key fortress cities of Hazor and Gezer.

Megiddo was under the jurisdiction of Solomon’s deputy, Baana (1 Kings 4:12). Buildings of current controversy have been excavated and explained variously as Solomon’s or Ahab’s stables, or storehouses where animals were loaded and unloaded.

During the divided monarchy, Megiddo’s authority changed from Egyptian to Israelite to Assyrian. Five years into Jeroboam I’s reign, (about 920 B.C.), Pharoah Shishak burst into both Israel and Judah, taking control of the coastal highway including Megiddo. However, the Egyptian grip was not long lasting. Later, the city was the place of death for the Judean king, Ahaziah, who was killed at the command of Jehu while fleeing from the scene of Jehoram’s assassination (843 B.C., 2 Kings 9:27).

Over a century later, the conquering Tiglath-pileser III chose Megiddo to be the seat of the Magidu administrative district in the Assyrian Empire (733 B.C.).

After about 650 B.C. the city was no longer strongly fortified; however, it was still strategically important. Josiah attempted to head off Pharoah Neco II as he advanced along the coastal plain on his way to Carchemish (609 B.C.), but Josiah’s attack ended when Neco II’s archers fatally wounded him (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:22-24).

After returning from Exile, Zechariah prophesied that the mourning for the false deities of Hadad and Rimmon (Hadad-rimmon) that took place in the plain below Megiddon (Megiddo) would be matched by Israel’s mourning for its smitten Lord (Zech. 12:11).
Finally, in the New Testament, the Mount of Megiddo (har-Megiddon thus “Armageddon”) will be where the kings of the world are gathered for that final battle in the last day of the Lord. Where Israel was initially frustrated during their conquest of Canaan is exactly where they will be victorious with Christ in the end (Rev 16:16).

Daniel C. Fredericks

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
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