From Tel Megiddo one has a good view of the Jezreel Valley. Our panorama is composed of three photos made from the same spot at Megiddo. The Jezreel Valley lies before us to the north (and slightly east). Nazareth is located in the mountains of lower Galilee. The valley continues east between the Hill of Moreh and Mount Gilboa to Beth-Shean, the Jordan Valley, and the mountains of Gilead. The valley was known by the Greek name Esdraelon in New Testament times.
It was almost inevitable that those traveling from Babylon, Assyria, the territory of the Hittites, or Syria to Egypt, would travel through the Valley of Jezreel. The site of Jezreel is between the Hill of Moreh and Mt. Gilboa. (More about this at another time.)
For teaching purposes you may wish to use this annotated panoramic photograph. Click on the photos for the larger size suitable for Powerpoint.
The vicinity of the Valley of Megiddo (Jezreel/Esdraelon) was the scene of many significant historical battles. In The Battles of Armageddon Eric H. Cline lists 35 battles fought or still to come in the Jezreel Valley. Many of these battles have to do with the Romans versus the Jewish Resistance, the Muslims and the Crusaders, and a few 19th century battles. I am listing some of the more significant battles affecting Biblical history.
- Thutmose III of Egypt fought Syrian forces – 1468 B.C.
- Joshua defeated the King of Megiddo – Joshua 12:21.
- Deborah and Barak defeated the Kings of Canaan – Judges 5:19.
- Gideon defeated the Midianites – Judges 7.
- Saul was defeated by the Philistines – 1 Samuel 28-31.
- Ahaziah, king of Judah, died there – 2 Kings 9:27.
- King Josiah was slain in a battle against Pharaoh Neco of Egypt – 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-27.
Megiddo, the tell overlooking the valley, became typical of national grief and a symbol of decisive battles, similar to modern Waterloo, the Alamo, or Pearl Harbor. No wonder it provides the symbolism for the decisive battle in Revelation 16. John’s Greek Har-Magedon becomes the English Armageddon.
The NAU transliterates harmagedon as Har-Magedon. Other English versions use something similar to the ESV.
And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. (Revelation 16:16 NAU)
And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16 ESV)
This valley has been significant even in modern times. Here are just a few of those battles laying the foundation for the modern State of Israel.
- Napoleon advanced against the Turks in 1799.
- General Allenby and the British defeated the German-Turkish coalition in 1918.
- British officer Orde Wingate trained Jewish defense forces in this valley in the 1930s. Later leaders of the War of Independence (1948-1949), including Moshe Dayan and Yigal Alon, were trained by Wingate.
General Allenby read the historical survey about the importance of the valley in G. A. Smith’s Historical Geography prior to his battle against the German-Turkish coalition in 1918. In the later editions of his book Smith included that battle.
In a future post, perhaps later this week, I plan to discuss the water system at Megiddo.