The Battle of Armageddon
Armageddon is an ancient battlefield near the ancient city of Megiddo, west of the river Jordan at the foot of Mount Carmel; and contrary to what some rambling television-preachers say, the Battle of Armageddon has nothing to do with any of the future battles believed to be mentioned in the Bible's Book of Revelation. And it is absurd to entertain the notion that this little battlefield would accommodate the troops, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea" [Rev. 20:8], in the final battle between good and evil.
The editor of The Popular and Critical Encyclopaedia and Scriptural Dictionary, Dr. Samuel Fallows, says that "Many ingenious speculations have been employed on the passage in which it [Armageddon] occurs, but with little satisfaction to the more sober readers of Divine revelation
The Battle of Armageddon, in fact, occurred a long time ago when Pharaoh Thothmes III defeated the eastern Hittite and Syrian kings. on a 12-mile-wide plain near Megiddo.
According to a noted historical account, in 1479 B.C.—at the earliest possible moment after the death of his Egyptian spouse, Hatshepsut—Thothmes III set out on his first Asiatic campaign. He had to make haste if the work of his predecessors was to be preserved. Since Thothmes I had planted his boundary stone on the bank of the Euphrates, the only expedition into Syria had been a raid led by Thothmes II during his brief reign. But, the Syrians, once the masters of Egypt, had no mind to remain the subjects of the Pharaoh, and a great confederation of oriental kings took up arms.
The headquarters of the confederates lay at Kadesh on the Orontes, whose king was undoubtedly the moving spirit of the league. All of Syria would seem to have joined it, except the chiefs of southern Palestine, on whom the first onslaught would obviously fall. Thothmes kept a systematic account of the operations; those written records have not survived, but from them were extracted the monumental records, like those illustrated here, which enter into great details. For the first time in the world’s history we have revealed to us a captain of the highest rank not only as a fighting man but also as a strategist and a military organizer.
In April 1479, Thothmes had assembled his army on the frontier of Egypt proper. Nine days later, he was at Gaza, on the twenty-second anniversary of his formal accession. He did not pause to celebrate it, but was on the march again the next morning. The confederates, just rebels from his point of view, had gathered in force with their base at Megiddo on the other side of the ridge of Mount Carmel, to bar the rout by which an invading force from the south must enter Syria. No resistance was to be looked for in the south; in ten days, he was at the eastern foothills of Carmel.
Megiddo lay at the far mouth of a very narrow pass. Apart from this, he might follow the main route, skirting the south of Carmel, or turn the enemy’s position by way of a broader pass to the north. Through the Megiddo pass his army would have to move often in a single file; as his council of war pointed out. It might very well be trapped and cut to pieces. But the king’s calculated audacity overruled the counsels of caution. Others were free to take what route they chose; he was going through the pass leading those who dared to follow.
Audacity succeeded. The whole army of course followed the intrepid king. No preparation had been made on the other side for a move so unexpected. No resistance of consequence was met with, and the troops were able to form up on the comparatively open ground at the mouth of the pass, while the surprised enemy, who were probably at Taanach guarding the southern route, hastily threw themselves between Thothmes and the town. The chariots have found the pass rough going; but the whole force had been carried through and reformed in less than twelve hours—a fair proof of the smallness of the expeditionary army.
It was too late in the day to battle. The troops were flung out to the right and left to cut off the enemy’s retreat and—in case of defeat—to cover a line of retirement. When battle was joined the next morning, the king, leading the charge of his troops, broke the enemy’s center, and the Syrians were soon flying in headlong rout to the wall of Megiddo, which closed its gates, but let down sheets whereby the fugitive princes, including the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo, were hauled over the ramparts. But to the great wrath of Thothmes, his victorious troops, instead of them completing their work, fell on the camp wherein was vast booty; consequently the king of Kadesh was able to escape before the exits could be blocked.
The great Battle of Armageddon had been fought and won. The town was tightly fenced in by the Egyptians and the city was eventually starved into surrender while the besiegers lived on the country. Meanwhile, from far and near the chiefs who had not been with the defeated army came in to make their submission to Thothmes. After several weeks, the despairing princes within the beleaguered city threw themselves on the mercy of the conqueror, who entered its gates in triumph. Immense spoils were carried off, and the harvest of the plain of Esdraelon was commandeered; but no vindictiveness was displayed toward the vanquished. Thothmes contented himself with the very substantial indemnities provided mainly by the treasures in Megiddo. "As many as 924 chariots and above 5,900 prisoners were captured." wrote George Rawlinson in his History of Ancient Egypt, "and much booty in the precious metals, as well as in flocks and herds were carried off."
The campaign was completed by a rapid march to the foot of the Lebanons, where further submissions were received and a fortress was planted and garrisoned. All the people dwelling between the river of Egypt and the land of Nahrain (Mesopotamia) had been subdued. Six months after leaving the Egyptian frontier at Thebes, the conqueror was back at Thebes, endowing his supreme god Amen with fruits of his victory—which is attested to in one of his inscriptions.
So much for all the worry now about the future Battle of Armageddon. Those wise Web surfers who have found and read this Web page now know this is just history!