Holy Land Highlights




Holy Sites -- Gila's HighlightsLet's talk about Armageddon at Megiddo

The very same day I stood with 181 pilgrims at Megiddo, listening to Hal Lindsey teach Daniel chapter 11 about the end time, the discovery of a historic find was announced.  Less than a mile from where we stood, inmates from the Megiddo prison had uncovered an elaborate, well-preserved mosaic which had adorned the floor of what may be the Holy Land’s oldest church.

Hal Lindsey teaching at Armageddon

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Hal Lindsey teaching Daniel 11 at Armageddon

One of the most dramatic finds is an inscription mentioning a woman by the name of Ekeptos who donated a table for the sacred meal to commemorate the Last Supper. Another mosaic, a medallion decorated with fish, a very early Christian symbol predating the cross, suggests a third or early fourth century dating for the church. Until 313 AD, Christian rituals were prohibited in the Roman Empire and Christians had to pray secretly in catacombs or private homes.

The location of the church so close to Armageddon, the biblical battleground where the forces of good will finally triumph over the forces of evil, raises the question of whether the early church related to chapter 16 in The Book of Revelation as many Christians from around the world do today.  Or, whether this very early church was deliberately located on the strategic pass of Megiddo, which dominated the Way of the Sea (called the Via Maris in the Roman period) connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia for thousands of years.

Mosaic uncovered at the Megiddo prison

Photo:  S. Mordagan

Mosaic uncovered at the Megiddo prison


Inscription from an early church at Megiddo

Photo:  S. Mordagan

Inscription in the third or fourth century church at Megiddo

It was at the Megiddo pass that we have the first recorded battle in history.  The year was 1468 BC, when the great Egyptian imperialist Thutmose the Third tried to extend his sphere of influence up to the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia.  Vital in his battle plan was the capture of Megiddo which he likened in importance to “the capture of one thousand towns.”  After a seven month siege, Thutmose conquered the stronghold of Megiddo along with 924 chariots including two covered in gold. He proudly documented his conquest in hieroglyphics at his temple in Karnak, Egypt.

3,386 years later, General Edmund Allenby, commander of the Allied forces, defeated the Turks by the Megiddo pass, thus ending 400 years of Ottoman rule over the Holy Land. In between Thutmose and Allenby, the Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French, Russians, and even the Chinese (i.e. the Mongols) all fought here at Armageddon.

So was Megiddo chosen as the site of the final battle, based upon its bloody historical record?  Or was it because it sits on a fault line vulnerable to devastating earthquakes of the like John of Patmos, presumed author of Revelation, may have been familiar with.  Note that the dramatized account in Revelation 16, verses 18 through 20 could be uttered by a survivor of last year’s tsunami in the Far East:

“And there came flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent was that earthquake.  And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.…And every island fled away and no mountains were to be found.”

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Whether you have an activist apocalypse now viewpoint, or prefer to observe events from a distance, there are many possible avenues of discussion at Megiddo.

One of my favorite tour leaders, who believed the Apocalypse would start at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in line with the prophecy of Zechariah, chose to speak at Megiddo about the untimely death of King Josiah.  In fact, there are those who believe that Megiddo was chosen as the site of the last battle precisely to avenge the tragic fate of this righteous religious reformer who fell in battle right below us, in the Valley of Megiddo. (II Kings 23:29)

Below Hal Lindsey is the Valley of Armageddon

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Below Hal Lindsey, the Valley of Armageddon where King Josiah fell in battle

Megiddo is a very rich site.  Over 36 centuries, from 4,000 BC to 400 BC, it boasted 20 different layers of civilization.  In addition to speaking about Armageddon, when we climb up onto the tel (which is the biblical word for “mound”,) we’ll put our hands on King Solomon’s city gates, examine the enormous grain silo from the time of the prophet Amos, photograph the manger in the stables housing 450 horses, and then descend 183 steps to explore Ahab and Jezebel’s water shaft and tunnel.

Plan your next visit soon….Armageddon is approaching!

Copyright 2005, 2009 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.




Manger in the stables at Megiddo

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

A manger in the horse stables of Megiddo

Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a former Connecticut Yankee living now in King David's Court, has been guiding since 1978.  She thrives on learning about new archeological discoveries and shares her up-to-date info with groups.  Armageddon is a topic which she finds fascinating.
For more see Ask Gila about the Valley of Armageddon.

Just recently, I received an email from Shahar Cohen who has created a website on the ancient church discovered at the Megiddo Maximum Security Prison.  Last May, Cohen interviewed Colonel Sharon Shoan, commander of the Megiddo Prison, who was excited to become part of such an important historical event.  When asked to share
a lighter side of his experience, Colonel Shoan replied,

“I can't recall a weekend in which at least one family car didn't stop by the gates of Megiddo prison, and ask to enter the ancient church or peek at the 3rd century mosaic.  The fact that Megiddo is a maximum prison facility apparently doesn't really bother them.

Perhaps the funniest story is about the prisoners who worked on the excavation.  Two of the prisoners were arguing about who was the first to have found the mosaic.  Each one declared he was the first.  At last one of the prisoners had managed to become the "official" finder, but the media chose to interview the other prisoner.  And the poor "official" finder practiced giving interviews all night, by using a broom-stick as a microphone!“

But there are also moments of wonder.  We have a Christian jailer, whose brother is a priest.  The jailer goes every day to the ancient church to pray.  Can you imagine the awe he must feel, praying in the oldest church in the world?

Read about the accidental discovery of the Siloam inscription by a 16-year-old Jewish boy swimming through Hezekiah's Tunnel in 1880.
"Let's talk about Armageddon at Megiddo" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free quarterly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" please contact Gila. 
More biblical archeology:

Let's see where the Priestly Benediction was found

Let's find Herod's tomb at Herodion

Priestly Blessing

Herod's tomb found!

Solomon's digs in Jerusalem


Let's look for the clay tablet treasure at Hazor

Let's follow Abraham all the way to DAN

Let's saunter through Solomon's Stables at Megiddo

Joshua burning Hazor

Abraham at Dan?

Megiddo:  Solomon's stables




Copyright © 2005-2019 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin