Megiddo is at one of only two wide valley passes (the larger) between the coastal plain and the rift valley. All traffic which came up the Via Maris (Coastal Highway) from Egypt had to pass through Megiddo before continuing up to Tyre, across to Damascus, or around to Babylon. As such, it was a very much sought-after pieces of land in Old Testament times. It was often fought over (Joshua 12:7 and 21, Judges 1:27, 5:19-20, 1 Kings 4:12, 9:15, 10:25, 2 Kings 9:27, 23:29-30, 2 Chronicles 35:20-24).
Megiddo is a tel, or artificial hill formed by centuries of civilisations overtaking, destroying, and building on top of previous civilisations. It’s a world heritage site, with twenty-five distinct layers dating back 5000 years.
Megiddo is sometimes called Har Megiddo, or Megiddo Hill. This was bought into the Greek as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
When we arrived at Megiddo, the first thing we did was eat lunch. I tell you what, when the kings gather here in the last days, they will eat well. Lunch cost US$18 for lentil soup, salad, rice & chicken, and bread, with juice and a mandarin free. Israeli “fried” chicken is the best! I could eat it for every meal.
I had to include this picture of someone else’s drink. You’ll recognise what it says.
We had an hour for lunch, so I looked around the shop. Most of the souvenir shops here are pretty generic, carrying “Israel” stuff or – even worse – “Jerusalem” stuff. I was considering buying something from Mount Carmel, where things were a little less kitsch, and asked at the last moment, “Is it made here?”
“Is made in Holy Land,” I was told.
That’s ambiguous. “In Carmel?”
“No; in Bethlehem.”
Great. I’ll wait to buy it until I get to Bethlehem, then. At least I’ll be able to say it came from where I got it, then.
We started in a room with some maps and pictures of artefacts.
And there was another room with a model of the top of the tel.
We climbed up the side and went in the gate you can see on the left of the model.
(the sign reads “sha’ar ha-‘iyr” or “gate of the city”)
Then we climbed up to the large building on the right of the model, but it started bucketing with rain when we were at the top, so I didn’t get many pictures. Mostly because I was getting soaked and couldn’t see. On an ideal day, we’d have been able to see the Jezreel Valley and the hills.
Then we came around and down into the courtyard below.
Megiddo was called a “city of chariots” because it had large stables and many, many chariots. Chariots were basically the army tanks of the day. A lot of chariots meant a strong army.
Across the courtyard is the hole in the front of the model, perhaps better referred to as a tunnel down to the spring.
It was somewhere around 300 steps down to the bottom, and then it flattened out into a long tunnel.
That went all the way to the spring, where it was another 80 steps up to the surface.