Even though this will be my final post in this series describing my pilgrimage to The Holy Land, the land of Israel and it’s people have forever been etched into my heart and will, I am sure, come up from time to time in future writings!
Our next stop is Megiddon (greek for Armageddon). Megiddon is located approximately 30 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee in the northern quarter of Israel. Some info from the Jewish Antiquities informs us that Archaeologists working in Megiddo have unearthed an incredible 25 layers of settlement built on top of each other that cover a period of 35 centuries.
The city of Megiddo dates back roughly 8,000 years. The city ceased to exist after the Persian invasion of Palestine some 2,300 years ago and, today, nothing is left but the ruins of what once was a regional administrative and military center during the reign of King Solomon.
Megiddo’s long history is related to its strategic position overlooking the Via Maris, one of the main routes used for travel between Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. The city is referred to in the New Testament as Armageddon, a name St. John derived from the Hebrew for Mount Megiddo, Har Megiddo. According to the book of Revelation, this is the place where the last great battle will be fought when the forces of good will triumph over evil.
The first people to inhabit Megiddo arrived during the Neolithic period. A watershed period occurred in the 20th century BC when it became a fortified city-state. Egypt later dominated the area then known as Canaan and massive walls were built around the city, which indicate Megiddo had become wealthy and required protection.
The first written reference to Megiddo, in fact the first recorded battle in history, is a detailed account of the 1479 BC invasion of the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. The city subsequently became a center of culture and politics.
Megiddo is first mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 12:21. At that time, the city was inhabited by Canaanites. The city later came under the control of King Solomon, though there is some controversy as to how much of a connection he had to the remains that have been discovered. The Israelite connection to the city ended around 732 BC when the Assyrians conquered Palestine. Though the city was destroyed and rebuilt several more times, it gradually declined in significance. Most recently, Megiddo was the place where British General Edmund Allenby launched his attack against the Turks in 1917. It also served as a base for Israeli forces in the 1948 War.
One of the interesting parts of the excavation is the chariot stables, called Solomon’s Stables even though we now know they were built by King Ahab during the 9th century BC. The only parts that remain are the posts where the horses were apparently tied and troughs. A grain silo dates from the reign of King Jeroboam in the 8th century BC.
Today, water is considered vital to the security and survival of Israel. This has been true since ancient times, and is evident in many archaeological sites throughout the country, including Megiddo. Here, an ingenious system was devised so the townspeople would not have to leave the safety of the city walls to collect water. A vertical shaft was dug within the city to the depth of the nearby spring and then a tunnel was built connecting to the water source. We walked down 183 steps into the shaft, which is 120 feet deep, and then along the tunnel, which stretches another 215 feet before exiting at a lower point on the hill.
Excavations have Uncovered Multiple Civilizations at Megiddo
Megiddo strategically sits on a large mound overlooking the Jezreel Valley (the Valley of Armageddon). Megiddo has historic and future significance as it is mentioned several times in the bible (one reference below) and will be the location of the final battle at the end of days!
2 Kings 23:29 – In his days Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
The top picture is a panoramic view of the entire Valley of Armageddon, 75 miles in length by 25 miles in width (not the best picture though). At the far northern end (if my directions were correct) stands an Israeli military base that has been there preparing for the final battle for a long time!
The pictures above show some small mounds across the valley that have historic significance as well. Many of the famous battles in Israel took place on these mounds, one of which is the battle of Deborah. Deborah and Barak headed one of the greatest last battles of the Israelites over the northern Canaanite armies. The battle is known as the “battle of Deborah”, and was fought during the late 12th Century BC. It brought an end to the mighty Canaanite city of Hazor, and completed the conquest of Canaan, several dozen years after Joshua first entered Canaan and conquered most of the land.
Judges 5:1-2 – Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:“ That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!”
It is amazing to know that this location will be the final battle that will usher us all into eternity with Jesus!
Revelation 16:16 – And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Our next stop was the port city of Ceasarea Martima, approximately 15 miles west from Megiddo, north of Tel Aviv by about 30 miles. The ancient port city was constructed by Herod the Great about 25-13 BC and is the current site of one of the most amazing excavations of our time. Israel has made this site a National Park due to the incredible discoveries! Caesarea Maritima was named in honor of Augustus Ceasar. The city was described in detail by the 1st-century Roman Jewish historian Josephus. The city became the seat of the Roman prefect soon after its foundation. Caesarea was the “administrative capital” beginning in 6 AD. This city is the location of the 1961 discovery of the Pilate Stone (see below), the only archaeological item that mentions the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, by whose order Jesus was crucified.
As you can see from the pictures below, this site was Roman in every archeological sense! It was likely built as a port to bring in wealth so that Herod could build his palaces stretching all the way to Jerusalem and beyond to the Dead Sea (Masada).
Standing on the Edge of the Roman Coliseum
Typical Roman Archway
More Romanesque Columns
The Amphitheater was amazing and is still used to this day! A concert was being set up while we toured:
Our final stop before our flight back to the USA was Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is a hopping city where the average age is in the early 30’s and is a technical hotspot for young people making their mark in the technological world! Before visiting Israel, we saw an interview and tour of the Holy Land in which the guide said that Tel Aviv looks pretty boring and lacks a lot of the social scene until about 9pm…then everyone comes out to play! We witnessed that full force as we spent some down time on the Mediterranean beach and walking along the shops on the boardwalk. It truly is a beautiful city!
Israeli Flag on the Breaker
View from our Hotel Room
One Final Shot of My Beautiful Bride and Me on the Boardwalk in Tel Aviv
Thank you for taking a tour of my journey to the Holy Land! I pray that you have been blessed in some way by my ramblings and my curious nature. Often times when people return from Israel they say that once you’ve been there your bible reading goes from black and white into full color…I can say that is 100% true! Every time I read my bible now, I am looking for locations as in most passages of scripture site references are made. I am now able to look at a map and see how the scriptures and journeys in the bible come to life and can even visualize the places where our amazing Savior lived and ministered to the people. I am truly amazed that in this little strip of land called Israel, the history and future of the world revolves around what started here and will ultimately end here! Even so, come Lord Jesus!!! Shalom!