By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Biblical Teachings

  • It states in Revelation 16:16 that all the kings will be gathered for the final battle in a place called Armageddon in Hebrew. This is the only place where Armageddon is named.
  • At this point, the “kings” represent the demonic spirits, all those forces that are hostile to God. This will be the last battle between material and spiritual forces.
  • The meaning of the first part of the Hebrew word, har, is “mountain” or “hills.” The last part of the Hebrew word magedon could refer to the biblical place of Megiddo. So the whole word would mean Mountain of Megeddon. Unfortunately, there is no mountain on the site of Megiddo.
  • Ancient Megiddo was located on a plain (not a mountain) in the southwest part of the Valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon. It is in northern Israel.
  • Megiddo was the site of many famous ancient battles.
  • Pharaoh fought here, as did Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5). Gideon fought against the Midianites (Judges 7) and Saul was defeated by the Philistines (I Sam 31). This was also the place where King Josiah died in 2 Kings 23:29-30).
  • During Assyrian times, the governor resided there, having just made it into a new province.
  • During Roman times, it was the site of a permanent Roman camp. It was called “Legion in the great plain.”
  • The Kishon River runs through the Valley of Jezreel. An adequate water supply and its flat terrain made it a natural route for invading armies. It had been dubbed “The Way of the Sea.”
  • Some scholars think that John’s readers would have known that Megiddo was mountain-less, so they would have made the association with Mount Carmel, which is nearby. Mount Carmel is a good choice, biblically speaking, since this is where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, but one wonders why the author didn’t just say that if that is what he meant.
  • Another option recognizes that Meggido was actually built on a seventy-foot high tell. Though that fits with the “mountain” aspect of the word, it’s hard to imagine two huge armies fighting in such a confined space.
  • Some scholars think it refers to the city of Meggido itself, ignoring the “mountain” aspect of the word.
  • Etymologically speaking, the word could be derived from another Hebrew word that means “mountain of the assembly.” Then it would refer to God’s throne, possibly Mount Zion.
  • In Hebrew, magadon has affinities to another word that means “marauding mountain” and could refer more to the concept of “gathering” for the battle.
  • Some scholars maintain that the word is hopelessly corrupted and it simply stands for “a fruitful mountain”, meaning Jerusalem.
  • Most scholars agree that ancient myths often have a battle of the gods on a mythological mountain.
  • Two OT passages might have some relevance to this word.
  • The first is in Ezek 38-39 where he describes the final battle between God and his enemies out of the Gog and Magog tradition.
  • The other is in Zech. 12:11 where Israel is mourning for the one they have pierced. Armageddon is used in the LXX for the word that means “to cut,” a possible reference to the place where God’s hostile enemies will try to “cut through” and conquer.
  • However, none of these options actually solve the problem. Some literalists of the Bible will always be convinced that this refers to a real place where a real battle will occur.
  • Other scholars, however, recognize that John was speaking to people of his time. He was not making a long-term prediction for the future.
  • Even though he uses military imagery, he believed the battle had already been decided at the moment of the cross and resurrection.
  • Based on this, attempts to locate Armageddon precisely as to place and time are futile.
  • This final battle is an eschatological picture of one of the final events experienced (or soon to be experienced) by John and his church.
  • Where it is located is not as important as what it all means.
  • In terms of Revelation, Armageddon is that moment when all human forces will align themselves against God. It is a battle that they cannot win. In fact, in Revelation, they all gather, but there is no account of any fighting. The words of 16:17 simply state, “…a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is over.’”


Aune, David, E. "Revelation." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1997.

Barclay, William. "Revelation." Daily Study Bible. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press. 1975.

Boring, M. Eugene. "Revelation." Interpretation. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press. 1989.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Revelation." Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 1985.

Keck, Leander. "Revelation." New Interpreter's Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 1995.

Osborne, Grant. "Revelation." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2002.

Bible Characters