Where Will the Battle of Armageddon Be Fought?

Where Will the Battle of Armageddon Be Fought?

The battle of Armageddon is pictured in the Book of Revelation as the final battle where God defeats evil.
The battle of Armageddon is pictured in the Book of Revelation as the final battle where God defeats evil.

Although the word Armageddon comes to us via the Bible, it has entered the modern vernacular as a term that refers to doomsday, or a cataclysmic event. Biblically speaking, it is the final battle to end all wars when evil is dealt a decisive blow. In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John describes it this way: “And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth, and of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty….And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Rev. 16:12-14, 16).

Tel Megiddo and the surrounding valley is frequently identified as the site of the battle of Armageddon.
Tel Megiddo and the surrounding valley is frequently identified as the site of the battle of Armageddon.

Most bible scholars and commentators preoccupy themselves with when Armageddon will occur, based on their understanding of Revelation and end-time events. When asked where the final battle of Armageddon will take place, the usual answer is the valley of Megiddo in Israel. This identification is based on breaking the word “Armageddon” into its two parts. “Ar” is the English equivalent to the Greek and Hebrew rendering which is “Har.” “Har” in Hebrew means “mountain.” The second part of the word “magedon” (one “d” in the Greek, not two) is usually thought to refer to the city of Megiddo. Because the ancient city of Megiddo was built and rebuilt many times over the centuries, a tell or small mound has developed. This is the result of the ancient practice of building one city on top of another. Thus Megiddo has the appearance of being a small hill or mountain as can be seen in the photo to the left. Armageddon, or Harmageddon is thus interpreted to mean “the mountain of Megiddo.”

Could the Equation of Armageddon with Mountain of Megiddo Be Wrong?

In his recent book The Unseen Realm, Bible scholar Michael Heiser argues that Armageddon should be equated with Jerusalem, not Megiddo. (If Heiser is correct, this means I need to revise one of my statements in  my post entitled: Tel-Megiddo!) Heiser makes the following points to advance his argument:

  1. Megiddo is a tell, it is not a mountain.

2.  Zechariah 12:9-11 pictures Jerusalem as the place where the final battle against the nations will take place. Interestingly, Megiddo is also mentioned in this passage. Heiser states, “It is crystal clear that the final conflict occurs at Jerusalem, not Megiddo. Megiddo is referenced only to compare the awful mourning that will result.” He continues by also noting, “verse 11 tells us explicitly that Megiddo is a plain, not a mountain!” (p. 370, all italics are the author’s).

417i-jxItJL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_3.  Heiser’s third point  is more complicated and involves knowing a little Hebrew as he attempts to show that the word “magedon” does not come from Armageddon, but from a different Hebrew expression. He points out that there are 2 letters in the Hebrew alphabet that are transliterated with a “g” in Greek and English. Transliteration means writing the letters of another alphabet in the equivalent forms of our alphabet. One of those letters is the Hebrew letter ‘ayin (ע). An ‘ayin is pronounced in the back of the throat like a hard “g” but it is represented in English transliteration as a backwards apostrophe (‘). Heiser notes that the transliteration of the city Gomorrah is ‘amorah. I would add, the same is true for the city Gaza which also begins with an ‘ayin and is transliterated as ‘aza. If the letter “g” in “magedon” is an ‘ayin, then, Heiser argues, that the Hebrew expression would be har mo’ed which means “mountain of assembly.” If you’re unfamiliar with Hebrew, I know that going from “Armageddon” to “har mo’ed” seems like a stretch. But trust me, it works. Heiser notes that this expression is found in Isaiah 14:13. This is a passage usually attributed to Satan’s defiance of God and Heiser treats it fully elsewhere in his book. To fully appreciate his point, it is necessary to read the book. For the full argument on this particular point see pages 370-373.

4. “Jerusalem is a mountain–Mount Zion” (p. 373). Heiser’s point is that when John uses the word Armageddon, he is meaning the mountain of assembly which every one who knew Hebrew would equate with Mount Zion, or Jerusalem.

Megiddo or Jerusalem?

Since David conquered Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, it has been the center and hearbeat of Israelite life. Something rings true to me about the final battle taking place in Jerusalem. After all, even today, Jerusalem remains the focal point of controversy and contention when it comes to the Middle East. Even if it can’t be proven that Armageddon means “mountain of the assembly,” Heiser’s other arguments make sense of an important biblical event that all Christians long to see take place. For more of Heiser’s arguments regarding Armageddon or his book, The Unseen Realm, check out his website at moreunseenrealm.com.

5 thoughts on “Where Will the Battle of Armageddon Be Fought?”

  1. I think it is a short hop from eschatology to the other of story, or time in Genesis. The story of creation and the eschatological of Revelation simply can’t be taken literally. I believe the universe is about fourteen-billion-years-old but somehow the spiritual side of the story is told in Genesis but did everything happen in seven twenty-four days? Not a chance.

    If the beginning of the Bible contains language that is definitely not meant to be taken literally, then why is everyone getting their feathers ruffled about trying to figure out where and when? You want to know when the end of time will be? I have a solid answer for that, No One Knows, Not Even The Son.

    The O.T, scholars completely blew how the Messiah was coming and what he was going to do. Why should we think we are any better off than them when it comes to End Times? All this when and where business reminds me of the story of gathering a tenth of the herbs growing wild in the walkways (or wherever it was), but ignoring the weightier matters of the Law.

    If you can work the scriptures of end times as an exercise in mental gymnastics, fine; go ahead, have fun. But I wouldn’t take it too seriously. Just my opinion.

    1. Hi Richard,
      I am not totally unsympathetic with some of the views you expressed. There are certainly a lot of different interpretations available on end-time events. I agree we cannot know the day or hour.
      I also agree that the 1st coming of Jesus was misunderstood and we will probably all be surprised about the way God brings on the End. Still, just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean these matters shouldn’t be discussed. They are in the Bible for a reason and eschatology is a legitimate topic. There are different camps who take Revelation more literally or more symbolic. Certainly we have to be careful with our interpretation of apocalyptic imagery. But whether the language is merely symbolic or not, it speaks of the end of the world. There will be an end, God will see to that. The Bible refers to this as Armageddon. I am offering up Heiser’s interpretation because I found it interesting and because he is a very knowledgeable scholar. It doesn’t make him right, it’s just something to consider. Thanks for sharing your opinion Richard and God bless.

  2. Interesting article. I have no doubt popular teaching over simplifies many details we should take into account as you’ve point out. My own take is that the “man of lawlessness,” the so-called antichrist will be reigning in Jerusalem. At one of the last “bowl” judgments an call goes out to the nations to send their armies in preparation for repelling Christ’s imminent return. Those armies won’t be gathering in Jerusalem, it just isn’t physically possible, though their command center will be there. So they will be bivouacked in the areas near Jerusalem, probably some distance away perhaps a great number in the place Ezekiel refers to in Ez 39:11. Ultimately there is no “battle” as Christ will destroy them “in place” before they even get to use their weapons.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jim. I think you’re right that “Ultimately there is no ‘battle’ as Christ will destroy them.”

  3. I think d “kings of the east” are a reference to Parthian kings (who are bitter enemies of Rome). Rome, its emperor & priesthood of the emperor cult are the “beast” & “false prophet”. These ” kings of the east” are on the scene to fight *_against_* the beast not to *_cooperate_* with the beast.

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