Megiddo -- Armageddon
Megiddo is the home to the ancient city of Megiddo, called Armageddon in Greek from Har Megiddo “mount of Megiddo” in Hebrew. Megiddo is located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge on an ancient trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. This strategic location made the city an important site for millennia.
Megiddo – A Long History of Battles
Megiddo was a settlement long before it became a Canaanite city state, where the famous Battle of Megiddo between Thutmose III of Egypt and the Kings of Megiddo and Kadesh (King Durusha) took place in ca. 1479 BC. Recorded on the walls of Thutmose III’s temple at Karnak, it was an Egyptian victory, but the city remained in the hands of the Canaanites. During the Canaanite era, high place altars such as the round altar at Megiddo were used to sacrifice to the Canaanite gods, which became a constant problem of religious syncretism for the Israelites during the Judges era.
Megiddo was a major city during the Israelite kingdom, conquered by Tiglath-Pileser III in the Assyrian conquest, retaken by the Israelites, and then following the Babylonian Conquest, Megiddo was left vacant. The Romans built a camp nearby in the 2nd or 3rd century AD and about the same time a church was built near the site, which was recently uncovered inside the Megiddo prison, and contains fish symbols, mosaics, and a Greek inscription that the church is consecrated to “God Jesus Christ.”
During the Israelite Conquest under Joshua, the Israelites defeated the king of Megiddo, but they did not take the city until the time of the Monarchy (Joshua 12:21, Judges 1:27). About this time, in the 14th century B.C., Megiddo is mentioned in six of the Amarna Letters from King Biridiya of Megiddo to the Egyptian administration. Following this, Megiddo continued to be Canaanite and then ruled for a short time by Philistines before the Israelites finally conquered and inhabited the city.
Megiddo – Solomon’s Kingdom
Many archaeologists believe Megiddo has solid evidence of walls and building from the 10th century BC days of Solomon's kingdom.
Megiddo – Notable Discoveries
Notable artifact discoveries at Megiddo include a cuneiform tablet containing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Seal of Jeroboam II, and a fragmentary stele of Shoshenq I. The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the most famous stories of the ancient world, and multiple copies have been discovered, although generally in Mesopotamia. Jeroboam II, son of Jehoash, ruled the Northern Kingdom ca. 790-750 BC (2 Kings 14:23-29). A seal was recovered in excavations at Megiddo and dated to the mid 8th century B.C. The inscription reads: “Belonging to Shema the servant of Jeroboam” attesting to the existence of this king of Israel. The actual seal was lost on its way to the Istanbul museum, but a bronze cast had been made prior to its disappearance. Evidence of Shoshenq I’s campaign against Israel and Judah is also supported by a destruction layer and fragmentary stele at Megiddo, a city which appears on the conquest list at the Temple of Amun in Karnak. This campaign was probably against Jeroboam of Israel and Rehoboam of Judah, as indicated by 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Although neither name is found in the Egyptian inscriptions, this is expected as the list does not contain personal names.
At this point in the history of the Divided Kingdom, the Hebrew writers are not very concerned with the Northern Kingdom, and there is no information about Shoshenq I’s attacks in the north. Jeroboam may have simply been commanded to pay tribute, but instead defied the Pharaoh and suffered attacks for his defiance. Shoshenq may have been the name of 6 Pharaoh’s during the 22nd Dynasty, but there is no evidence any of the others conducted campaigns in the Levant. Further, Sheshonq I’s unique throne name-personal name combination, Hedj-Kheper-re Setepenre and Shoshenq beloved of Amun are found in the Megiddo stele fragment. the dates of Shoshenq I and Rehoboam, though calculated independently from different sources, match up to the same time period—reign dates of ca. 945-924 for Shoshenq and ca. 931-914 for Rehoboam, and the battles in Judah and Israel dating to ca. 926 BC for both. Thus, although the stele at Megiddo is fragmentary and does not state its exact purpose, and the list at Karnak does not name a king of Judah or Israel (these topographical lists only name cities or towns encountered, not rulers), the conquest events in the Levant, the time period, and the Pharaoh name coincide with the accounts in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.
Megiddo – Solomon’s Kingdom
Another famous battle at Megiddo occurred when Necho II (610-595 BC), during his campaign to aid the Assyrians against the Babylonians in the spring of 609 BC, encountered Josiah, king of Judah. According to the records in 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 35, Josiah fought in the battle and fled to Megiddo and died. Soon after, Necho II took Jehoahaz captive and appointed Jehoiakim as king of Judah. Necho II went on to fight in the famous battle of Carchemish, in which the coalition against the Babylonians was annihilated.