Megiddo (Greek: Armageddo) was an important city of the Promised Land, located about 90 km (56 mi) N of Jerusalem and 31 km (19 mi) SE of the modern city of Haifa. It was built on a plot of somewhat over 4 ha (10 acres), atop a mound known today as Tell el-Mutesellim (Tel Megiddo), which rises nearly 21 m (70 ft) above the valley below.
Megiddo is an ancient city whose remains form a tell (archaeological mound). It is known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance. During the Bronze Age, Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state and during the Iron Age, a royal city in the Kingdom of Israel.
Situated in this strategic spot overlooking and dominating the fertile western section of the Jezreel Valley (Plain of Esdraelon, also known as “the valley plain of Megiddo”; 2Ch 35:22; Zec 12:11), it easily controlled the major trade and military routes that intersected there. Both Biblical history and secular records tell how the armies of many nations fought decisive battles around Megiddo because of 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. (Jg 4:7, 13-16; 5:19) It was at Megiddo that King Ahaziah of Judah died after being mortally wounded near Ibleam on orders of Jehu. (2Ki 9:27) At Megiddo King Josiah of Judah was mortally wounded when he intercepted the Egyptian army under Pharaoh Nechoh that was on its way to help the Assyrians at the river Euphrates.—2Ki 23:29, 30; 2Ch 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 4 and 5 m (13 and 16 ft) thick, which were later increased to more than 7.5 m (25 ft) thick, sections of which were still over 3.3 m (11 ft) high when found.
The first mention of Megiddo lists its king among the 31 that Joshua defeated in the initial conquest of the Promised Land. (Jos 12:7, 8, 21, 24) When the land was apportioned, 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. (Jos 17:11; 1Ch 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.—Jg 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 subjugated, 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.—1Ki 4:7, 8, 12. Solomon also fortified Megiddo, and it may have become one of his chariot cities where some of his 12,000 steeds were stabled. (1Ki 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 upwards of 450 horses. At first these structures were credited to Solomon’s time, but many later archaeologists redated them 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. (2Ki 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 Meghid·dohʹ, it is Meghid·dohnʹ, a prolonged form similar to that found at Revelation 16:16.