MEGIDDO, MEGIDDON (mĕ-gĭd'ō, Heb. meghiddô, meghiddôn). A city situated on the Great Road, which linked Gaza and Damascus. It controlled the principal pass through the Carmel Range, connecting the coastal plain and the Plain of Esdraelon. The road was the channel for the flow of peaceful commerce and also the route by which the armies of antiquity marched. One of the best recorded and most interesting military operations of ancient times took place at Megiddo when Thutmose III defeated an Asiatic coalition headed by the king of Kadesh. The importance of the city is reflected in the statement of the Egyptian king that the capture of Megiddo was the capture of a thousand towns. The continuing practicality of the Megiddo pass for the movement of troops is seen from its effective use in a.d. 1918 by Allenby, whose cavalry thus took the Turks by surprise. The first mention of Megiddo in the Bible is in the list of kings defeated by Joshua west of the Jordan (Josh.12.21). In the tribal allotments, Megiddo was in the territory of Manasseh, but this tribe was unable to conquer Megiddo and the other fortress cities that rimmed the plains of Esdraelon and Jezreel (Josh.17.11; Judg.1.27).

The OT has only one reference to Megiddo in the prophetical writings: Zechariah mentions a heathen mourning that took place in the Plain of Esdraelon: “On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zech.12.11). The single NT reference to Megiddo is in Rev.16.16, where the word “Armageddon” is compounded from the Hebrew har megiddôn, “hill of Megiddo,” where “the battle on the great day of God Almighty” will be fought (Rev.16.14). The excavation of the mound of Megiddo has provided much information about the history and culture of the city and considerable illumination of the biblical text. The modern name for the site is Tell el-Mutesellim, where the first archaeological work was done by G. Schumacher in a.d. 1903-5.

In a.d. 1925 the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began a large-scale stratigraphic clearance of the entire mound and continued until 1939. When the work was halted, soundings had revealed twenty strata and the clearance had reached Stratum V. The more important discoveries include the city gate and wall, the governor’s residence, and the stables of Stratum IV; the water system, the temples and palaces of earlier levels; and a remarkable find of ivories (early twelfth century b.c., Stratum VII). Though there are questions concerning the date of Stratum IV, it is usually assigned to Solomonic times. The stables for at least 450 horses illustrate the statements of 1Kgs.9.15-1Kgs.9.19 and 2Chr.1.14. Evidence of similar structures had been found at Tell el-Hesi, Taanach, Gezer, and Tell el-Far’ah. (Megiddo and Gezer are included among the cities in which Solomon engaged in building activities, 1Kgs.9.15, 1Kgs.9.17.) An interesting feature of Stratum IV is the use of the three courses of hewn stone and a course of cedar beams, as described in the building process of Solomon at Jerusalem (1Kgs.7.12). The temples and shrines of the earlier levels and numerous cult objects from various periods shed light on the religious life of the city. Inscriptional material includes some Egyptian cartouches and titles; e.g., a fragment of a stele of Shishak (Sheshonk) appeared early in the work of the Oriental Institute. Schumacher found two seals with Hebrew inscriptions, one reading “[Belonging] to Shema, servant of Jeroboam.” Innumerable small objects also contribute to the knowledge of the art, daily life, and commercial relations of Megiddo.

Soundings by Y. Yadin in 1960 and later years have confirmed, in his view, the Solomonic date of the six-chambered gate (D. Ussishkin has argued that it is later; he notes two similar “later” gates found more recently at Ashdod by Dothan and at Lachish by himself). However, Yadin points out that the date of the Ashdod gate is “nearly identical” to that of the Megiddo according to Dothan, and the Lachish gate is reported by Ussishkin himself as “seeming to be later in date than the period of Solomon.” Further, Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo have gates further fortified by two outer towers built in direct continuation of the lines of the chambers. This is not true of the two other sites and speaks to the uniqueness of the former three.

Bibliography: J. N. Schofield, “Megiddo,” Archaeology and OT Study (ed. D. W. Thomas), 1967, pp. 309-28; Y. Yadin, Hazor, 1972, pp. 147-64.——CEDV


The 14th-cent. Jewish scholar Eshtori Haparhi was apparently the first European to propose the location of Biblical Megiddo at the Arab village of Lejjûn. This latter site had preserved the name of the former village of Rom. times which came to be called Legio after the Bar Cochba revolt when the sixth Rom. legion was stationed there. It formerly had been known as Cephar cOtnai (כְּפַר עַוְתָנַי, Mishnah, Gittin, 2:5, 7:7, or Καπαρκοτνει, Ptolemaeus V, 15, 3). The same conclusion was reached by Edward Robinson. C. R. Conder’s objections have been refuted successfully by G. A. Smith, et al. The excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim, an ancient mound that stands beside Lejjûn, have demonstrated that the Megiddo of OT times was located on the tell while the later village of Cephar ’Otnai-Legio occupied an area below it (cf. the relationship between Tell el-Ḥusn and Beisan, the ancient mound and Arab village of Bethshean, q.v.).

Archeological investigation.

Excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim were made by the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft from 1903 until 1905 under the direction of Gottlieb Schumacher. He dug exploratory trenches in various areas of the mound and on the slopes along the length of its walls. His main excavation was a deep exploratory cut about twenty to twenty-five meters wide which cut across the diameter of the site from N to S. He even uncovered completely a large building near the eastern end of the tell. At one small area in the middle of the large cut, the excavators went clear through the lowest stratum to bedrock. They counted six levels of construction from the Middle Bronze to the Iron age. Two large buildings were uncovered (Schumacher’s Nordburg and Mittelburg). Sufficient material for establishing their date with certainty has not been published, but it is generally assumed that they were built during the Middle Bronze Age and continued in use during the Late Bronze Age having undergone various repairs and modifications. Of special interest were two tomb chambers roofed over by corbeled vaults which were discovered under those buildings; these may have been the tombs of the kings of Megiddo during the Late Bronze Age. In the southern section of this excavation, part of an impressive building from the Iron Age also was uncovered (Schumacher’s Palast). The eastern building was likewise from the Iron Age. Because of the stone pillars discovered in it, Schumacher thought it was a temple containing stelae (Tempelburg), but his assumption is unnecessary as such columns were standard in public buildings of that period. The principal segments of the fortification wall which Schumacher uncovered also were from the Iron Age, though portions of older walls also were found. Among the important finds from this excavation, which were mainly published by C. Watzing er, were seals bearing the inscrs. “belonging to Shema, servant of Jeroboam,” and “belonging to Asaph,” which came from the palace ruins, a decorated incense stand discovered in the highest level (VIth) near the southern end of Schumacher’s trench, and a carved Proto-aeolic stone capital which was found in reuse as a building stone in the Tempelburg (the first of such capitals to be unearthed in Pal.).

The year 1925 saw the renewal of excavations at Megiddo by an expedition from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The work continued until 1939 under the consecutive directorship of C. S. Fisher, P. L. O. Guy, and G. Loud. These excavations, which were initiated by J. H. Breasted, comprised the most extensive archeological endeavor ever conducted on a Palestinian site. The original objective was to uncover every stratum of the tell level by level. The four highest strata of the city from the 9th century b.c. to the Persian Period were completely excavated. During the last four years of the excavation work was limited to two principal areas in which earlier levels were reached: in the N at the gate area (A-A) where they went down to level XIII; on the E in the Temple area (B-B) where virgin soil was reached (level XX). In two other areas they stopped at what was principally level VI; on the S in the vicinity of Schumacher’s Palast (C-C); and on the NE in the region connecting areas A-A and B-B (area D-D). On the eastern slope of the tell which was uncovered mainly to clear a place for the expedition’s dump, many burial caves were discovered from all of the various periods of occupation; these contained an abundance of finds which were published in a separate volume and greatly augment the knowledge obtained from the stratified deposits. On this slope seven levels from the early Bronze Age also were uncovered (according to the older terminology of the excavators their beginning was placed in the Chalcolithic period); these were designated as stages I-VII.

The excavators counted a total of twenty strata in the city’s history but some of these were discerned only after the original numbering, and therefore are designated by secondary symbols, e.g., VI A, VI B; IV A, IV B; etc., and there are also levels in which several different building styles can be detected; therefore, the total number of strata actually is closer to twenty-five or more.

The oldest settlement, XX, was founded in the Chalcolithic period during the fourth millennium b.c. This stratum, which includes several phases, is represented only by pits and a few segments of houses, most of them apsidal in form. Levels XIX-XIV belong to the Early Bronze Age. Level XIX, from the first stage of EB, provided the first public building: a small temple surrounded by a thick brick wall. It was discovered in area B-B which continued to be the city’s sacred site throughout the entire Bronze Age, since temples were built there from the end of the fourth millennium until the mid-twelfth cent. b.c. (Level VII). In the stone floor near this earliest temple there were inscribed the forms of men and various animals, apparently in hunting scenes. Stratum XVIII dates to the first phase of EB II (c. 29th cent. b.c.). The principal innovation in this level is the stone wall nearly four-five meters thick, and which was widened later to c. eight meters; it was preserved to a height of c. four meters. This is the widest wall in the history of the city and resembles in its thickness the brick wall discovered at Khirbet Kerak (Beth-Yerah) which is more or less contemporary. Near the wall a large building was partially uncovered, but not enough of it was revealed to show whether it may have been a temple.

The great wall continued to exist during EB II and III (c. 28th-25th centuries, b.c.). In stratum XVII (EB II) a large circular “high place” (No. 4017) made of small unhewn stones was built. Level XVI saw the construction of an adjacent temple (No. 4040) which was enclosed within a temenos wall. This latter wall was destroyed in level XV by the construction of two additional temples (Nos. 5192 and 5269). All three of these sacred shrines have the same general plan (Megaron Type). The central chamber was a broad room containing a rectangular altar built against the southern wall; in front of it were two pillars supporting the roof. The entrance from the courtyard was through the northern wall opposite the altar and before it on the outside there were two additional pillars which apparently supported a roof forming a sort of stoa or porch. Beside the central room there was also another, smaller one. The temples continued to exist in Level XIVb, that is, until the end of EB (the present interpretation of the sacred area is based on recent soundings by I. Dunayevsky).

On top of the “high place” and in various other loci, material was discovered which dates to the Middle Bronze I (Intermediate EB-MB). These meager deposits represent that period of decline which followed the destruction of the EB city. The subsequent levels appear to be contemporary with the twelfth Egyp. dynasty (c. 1991-1786 b.c.) when the culture of Pal. was the urbanized society of the MB IIA. Levels XIII A and B evidently correspond to this phase of Megiddo’s history. The statuette base of an Egyp. official named Thut-hotep, which was discovered with two other Egyp. stelae in a wall of stratum VII date to the same period. The wall and gate of level XIII was uncovered in area A-A. They were built of mud bricks on stone foundations; the thickness of the wall was c. two meters and it was reinforced by salients and recesses. The entryway was a narrow passage that made a ninety degree turn into the city; it was suitable only for pedestrian traffic and for draught animals. Two towers projecting from the line of the wall—inside and outside—protected the openings of the gateway between them. Within the inner tower the chamber for a stairway to the upper story was preserved. On the outside there were steps leading up to the gate; these were built against the wall which was c. three meters wide and was reinforced by a rampart.

Levels XII-X belong to the age of Hyksos domination (18th-17th centuries b.c.). By this time Megiddo consisted of the upper city or citadel, and a lower city at the foot of the mound (the existence of such a “suburb” was suspected by the Chicago investigators and confirmed by Yadin’s recent work). The plan of the buildings was entirely changed and the thickness of the wall base was doubled. In level XII the wall was reinforced by a rampart typical of the early Hyksos age with a narrow stone wall above it. In level X the great gate which served the city until the end of the Bronze Age (stratum VII A) apparently was built. The entrance to this gate was straight, without a turn, in order to facilitate the passage of vehicles. It had the form of a triple entryway guarded by a double row of buttresses protruding from each side. This plan is typical of the Hyksos age and parallel examples have been found at other sites. Not only in the gate but also in most of the other structures there is a noticeable continuity in layout from level XI (and to some degree even in level XII) up to level VII A, which indicates that there were no appreciable upheavals in the history of the city. In level X a large building called a palace by the excavators because of its size (and the treasure of ornaments and carved ivories that were found in it) was constructed. This building also lasted into level VII A with various modifications and repairs. It was over fifty meters long and the thickness of its outer walls was two meters and more.

Level IX was apparently the city conquered by Thutmose III; it had its beginning at the start of the Late Bronze Age. In spite of this conquest there was no perceptible decline in the city, and the period of level VIII (end of the 15th and the 14th centuries b.c.) was one of the most flourishing times for Canaanite Megiddo. In the sacred area a new temple of the special “fortified tower” type resembling that at Shechem was built. It had only one long room with a niche at the southern end and an entrance at the N end protected on both sides by two projecting towers; its walls were up to three meters thick, which certainly indicates that it was a tall building. There was a court in front of the temple. This shrine evidently was built during the El-Amarna period and it remained in existence until level VII A although it, too, underwent certain alterations and modifications. The “palace” was repaired and enlarged in level VIII. In one of its rooms was found an extensive treasure that had been hidden under the floor; it bears witness to the wealth of the kings of Megiddo during that age. The collection included gold implements, ivory ornaments, and necklaces of gold and lapis lazuli, etc. The fragment of a clay tablet inscribed in Akkad. cuneiform found by a shepherd at the foot of the excavation dump near the gate prob. belongs to this period. The tablet included a few hitherto unknown lines from the seventh tablet of the famed Gilgamesh Epic and, being the first of its kind discovered in Pal., it furnishes a glimpse into the varied cultural influences at Megiddo during the El-Amarna Age.

Levels VII B and VII A belong to the 13th and 12th centuries b.c. and no appreciable changes occurred in the layout of the main buildings that continued to exist during these levels from the previous stratum. The most important find from these levels is a collection of more than 200 decorated ivory plaques which are without parallel in Palestinian archeology. This treasure was found in the western part of the palace in three adjacent rooms, the floors of which were lower than the rest of the structure. Clarification of the stratification of these rooms is of special importance because among the ivories there was a box bearing a hieroglyphic inscr. that included the name of Ramses III. Stratum VII A also produced a bronze stand for a statue of Ramses VI (mid-12th cent. b.c.). On the basis of this latter item it is possible to establish that level VII A was destroyed in the last third of the 12th cent. b.c.; there was, therefore, a strong Egyp. influence on the city in this period just as there was at nearby Beth-shean.

With the destruction of level VII A the golden age of Canaanite Megiddo came to an end. The principal structures of the city, the gate, the palace and the temple, were completely destroyed and were never rebuilt. The two phases of level VI date to the 11th cent. b.c. In stratum VI B there were only small, insignificant structures; but a certain degree of resurgence is noticeable in VII A. Near the former palace another large building was erected and the city gate may have been restored partially. According to the pottery found here the city apparently was still Canaanite which also seems to be indicated by the thick level of destruction which covered it. One does not know what caused the great decline in the city between levels VII and VI. The town may have come under Philistine domination since “Philistine” ware also was present in those strata.

The dates of the buildings in levels V and IV still are not settled. At first the opinion of the excavators, who assigned the “stables” to the reign of Solomon, the large buildings that preceded them to that of David, and level V B to the period before David was accepted. However, J. W. Crowfoot and K. Kenyon criticized this interpretation and suggested that most of these structures should be dated to the reign of Ahab because of the similarity in style of construction to Samaria. Exploratory excavations carried out by Y. Yadin in the vicinity of the northern stables in 1960 and later have led him to support this latter suggestion. W. F. Albright and G. E. Wright had discerned that the structures of levels V A and IV B uncovered in various parts of the tell actually belong to one level although the excavators assigned them to two different strata.

Since in most parts of the tell the Chicago excavators stopped at level IV A, not much is known about the city beneath it. The palace excavated on the southern side of the tell (building No. 1723 and courtyard No. 1693) was partially uncovered by Schumacher. The building itself occupied an area of twenty-eight by twenty-two meters and its walls, on an average thickness of two meters, indicate that the building had a second story. The structure was built entirely of ashlar blocks and only the inner fill of the walls contained unhewn stones. In front of this building there was a large courtyard surrounded by a wall constructed according to a special method whereby ashlar alternated with unhewn stones. The entryway to the courtyard was in the northern wall, flanked by two projecting towers. Not far from the site of this gate two Proto-aeolic capitals were discovered (embedded in walls of level III); in their original position they may have served as ornamentation for the entrance to the courtyard. The ground plan of this building and of another one situated on the northern side of the tell (as revealed in Yadin’s latest excavations there) corresponds to that of the typical bīt ḫilāni, a royal type structure entered by a portico, of which similar examples are known from Sinjirli.

The main buildings of level IV A, usually referred to as stratum IV, are the large complexes in the SW and the NE portions of the tell. These were built according to a single plan: a long rectangular structure with two parallel lines of columns down the center to support the roof; between the columns stood stones with “troughs” hollowed out of the top. The center “aisle” had a dirt floor while the side “aisles” were of cobble stones. The southern complex included five units; the building fronted on a large courtyard that had a deep, unplastered pit in the center. One alteration in the form of the building was quite noticeable, viz. the addition of another unit on the northern side. In the opinion of the excavators that modification was carried out during the course of the original construction before the building was completed, but this is difficult to accept; it seems more likely that it was made at a time when the complex was being reconstructed after having been destroyed.

The northern complex consisted of three buildings containing twelve units in all to which an additional unit was later added; this latter stood by itself. The original interpretation of these level IV A structures as stables is not supported by Scripture; neither were any objects found in them suggestive of horses or chariotry. J. B. Pritchard has demolished the “stables” theory in a penetrating analysis of all the evidence. Subsequently, identical buildings have been found at Tell Beer Sheva (Tell es-Sebac) full of storage and other vessels. The masses of pottery vessels were stacked in the side “aisles” on the cobble stones. Z. Herzog argues convincingly that the “feeding troughs” were for the pack animals who were tethered in the center “aisle” while being loaded and/or unloaded. The Megiddo excavators had admitted many serious objections to the “stable” interpretation. A more careful reading of 1 Kings 9 would have prevented this archeological “myth.”

A palace was built also during the period of the store city. It stood at the eastern end of the tell near the northern storage complex; part of this structure already had been uncovered by Schumacher, who thought that it was a temple (his Tempelburg). The measurements of this structure (No. 338) resemble those of the palace from level IV B and a walled, but somewhat smaller enclosure also was associated with it. At the northwestern corner of its courtyard a small structure was found (No. 355) reminiscent in plan of the gateway from the palace in level IV B and the drainage canal passing through the center proves it to be an entryway. The excavators pointed out that this building abutted onto one of the adjacent storage complexes, but since the walls are not structurally joined with it, it is possible that the storehouses were built prior to the gateway. This one resembles in dimensions the earliest phase of the southern storehouses in contrast to all the others. However, one finds it extremely difficult to accept the excavators’ interpretation to the effect that a change was made in the building plan during the course of construction; it seems more likely that these additions and alterations were made sometime afterward. The new fort, which was designed to fulfill the function of the previous palace, also was constructed of ashlar stones with unhewn stones between them and nearby, within walls from levels III and II five Proto-aeolic capitals were found as well (including the first one discovered by Schumacher); these certainly must have served as ornamentation for the entryways of the building.

The city of storehouses was surrounded by a mighty fortification wall of the salient-and-recess type (first discovered by Schumacher). The city gate associated with this wall is of a layout similar to those of the Bronze Age except there are now four buttresses on each side instead of two or three; a defensive guard tower projects outward on each side of the entryway. Gates of almost exactly the same dimensions have been discovered at both Hazor and Gezer (cf. below); the same general plan is reflected in the entrance to the temple court as depicted by Ezekiel 40:5-16. The fact that the gates at Hazor and Gezer were associated with casemate walls has led Yadin to search for traces of such a casemate structure below the salient-and-recesses wall at Megiddo. Thus far no casemate wall resembling those at Gezer and Hazor (which are remarkably alike in construction) has appeared, either in his own exploratory dig on the N or in the extensive excavations made elsewhere on the mound by the Chicago expedition. It is certain that the complex of “triple gate” (with four buttresses), salient-and recesses wall, and fortified approach ramp all existed together at Megiddo.

The gate was constructed of beautifully formed ashlar stones fitted together according to the system of alternating headers and stretchers. In front of the gate was a spacious plaza surrounded by a wall and leading to an outer gate consisting of two buttresses. A ramp passed through this first entryway and made a ninety degree turn to the left into the main gate.

The question of whether the “store city” with its warehouses was Solomonic or later (perhaps dating to the Omride dynasty) is hotly disputed. Yadin now claims that the two palaces of the bīt ḫilāni type and a row of beautifully constructed rooms (which he takes to be a casemate wall) attached to the northernmost of them are Solomonic while the stores and the salient-and-recesses wall are from the reign of Ahab. It is hard to see how the triple gate, and the imposing fortified approach way (which matches the one at Gezer where only a casemate wall exists) could be other than contemporary with the triple gates at Hazor and Gezer. One thing is now certain: Yadin’s assumption that a uniform system of construction, viz. casemate wall and triple gate, existed in the contemporary Solomonic cities of Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo, is subject to serious reservations. The similar gates at all three and the identical casemate walls at Gezer and Hazor do not in any way preclude the possibility that the Solomonic engineers may have elected to encircle Megiddo with a salient-and-recess wall.

The city of level IV was destroyed completely and all of its public buildings covered with debris. Therefore between this stratum and the construction of the city in level III there may have been a period of abandonment. Over the ruins of the former royal buildings there arose a series of dwellings, but it must be noted that most of the structures were spread out according to a definite plan that included carefully laid out streets, both straight and intersecting. As mentioned above, the gate of this stratum was only a double entryway and the salients and recesses wall continued to exist. The stores and the palace were not rebuilt. On the contrary, two large, public buildings were set up near the city gate, in the same positions as the palaces of the former Canaanite kings. These two new buildings resemble one another in their ground plans; each possessed a large court surrounded by rooms with a double row of rooms on one side. R. Amiran and I. Dunayevsky have demonstrated that these buildings represent a new style of architecture originating in Assyria and bearing close resemblance to the forts at Hazor, Tel Jemmeh, and Lachish.

In stratum II a new fort was built according to a similar plan. The fort stood at the eastern end of the mound, and had been partially excavated by Schumacher. This fort was built on top of fort No. 338 from level IV A. One of the most notable structures of stratum III is the granary that was at least seven meters deep and eleven meters in diameter, having a circular stairway leading down each side.

The excavators indicate that in levels III and II there is a decided resemblance with regard to structures; there is no destruction layer separating them and most of the modifications are simply repairs carried out during the course of time. Thus, it would seem that the wall was torn down inasmuch as part of the buildings from level II were set over it. Megiddo was now an unfortified town with a small fortified citadel comanding the sourrounding dwellings.

The last level at Megiddo (stratum I) represents an unfortified town with no sizeable buildings. It belongs to the Pers. period (6th-4th centuries b.c.) and with this the long history of the city comes to an end.

One of the most interesting discoveries of the Megiddo excavations is the long water channel dug from within the city to the small spring located outside of its walls. The tunnel was constructed in order to facilitate the drawing of water from this spring by the citizens during time of siege. Near the western end of the tell a deep shaft was sunk, c. twenty-five meters deep, and steps were hewn out of the side by which one could descend into it. From the bottom of this shaft a tunnel c. seventy meters long and three meters high led to the spring, and a wall covered the spring blocking the approach to it from the outside. From signs of the quarrying it is clear that the channel was cut simultaneously from both ends in a manner similar to that used for making the Siloam tunnel at Jerusalem; and at the meeting point one notes correction for an error of c. one meter. The excavators are of the opinion that this channel was hewn at a very late stage in the bronze age, but continued its existence into the Israelite period. From Yadin’s recent investigations it seems more likely that both the water tunnel and the beautifully built outside gallery which preceded it were built during the Iron Age.

Recorded history.

Although the archeological evidence testifies to Megiddo’s existence as early as the fourth millennium, the town’s written history does not begin until the second millennium b.c.

The Early Bronze Age (third millennium) city was certainly one of the major urban centers of Pal. and this situation was only temporarily interrupted by the intrusion of the MB I (Kenyon’s intermediate EB-MB) settlement. With the beginning of the twelfth Egyp. dynasty in the 20th cent. b.c. Megiddo had returned to the status of a strong city state whose culture is in reality a resumption of the Early Bronze civilization. The earliest inscr. pertaining to Megiddo is that on the stele of Thut-hotep which originally must have been set up during level XIII. Its presence at Megiddo bears witness to strong ties with Egypt and may explain the absence of any reference to this city in the famous execration texts (expressing curses on Pharaoh’s enemies).

Like the rest of Pal., Megiddo enjoyed flourishing occupation during the Hyksos Age, but there are, of course, no inscrs. to shed light on this period. When Megiddo again emerges into the light of history, she is at the head of a vast confederacy (mainly inspired by Kedesh on the Orontes) to resist Egyp. occupation of Canaan. Pharaoh Thutmose III smashed that effort during his first military campaign; the decisive action took place in the vicinity of Megiddo. The Canaanite allies had hoped to block the Egyp. advance at the passes leading from the Sharon to the Jezreel plains. Pharaoh apparently surprised them by choosing to march through the Wâdī ’Ârah while they were deployed facing the southern entrance near Taanach and the northern beside Jokneam. Thus the Egyptians were able to set up their camp in the plain before Megiddo near the Qina Brook (see Waters of Megiddo). The next day the Canaanites were defeated soundly and fled for refuge to Megiddo. Their escape was assured when the Egyp. troops turned aside from the pursuit to plunder the Canaanite encampments at the foot of the city’s lofty mound. Siege was laid to the town and after seven months the besieged princes surrendered. Meanwhile, the Egyp. army had parceled out the agricultural lands of Megiddo and were utilizing them, under the supervision of palace officials for the support of the troops in the field. The wheat was esp. notable, over 207,300 sacks besides that used by the army for its daily provision (ANET, pp. 234-238).

The Canaanite rulers were sent home ignominiously riding on asses; their sons were taken as hostages to Egypt where they received training at Pharaoh’s court that prepared them for future service as royal vassals in their respective homelands. The Leningrad Papyrus No. 1116a bears testimony to the presence of emissaries from Megiddo at Pharaoh’s court during the rule of the eighteenth Egyp. dynasty. Megiddo apparently became the base for an Egyp. garrison that upheld Pharaoh’s authority in the Jezreel Valley. This can be inferred from one of the Taanach letters (No. 5) in which a certain Amanhatpa commands the prince at Taanach to send his troops and logistic support to Megiddo. Despite certain difficulties (e.g., the lack of royal titles in the Taanach epistle), this Egyp. possibly is to be identified with Pharaoh Amenhotep II whose second campaign brought him to the Jezreel Valley in order to quell a revolt at Anaharath (q.v.). Upon his return journey he evidently encamped “in the vicinity of Megiddo” (h [3] w m’-k-t) long enough to deal with another rebel from Gebathomen (ANET, pp. 246, 247).

During the El Amarna period Megiddo was ruled by a certain Biridiya whose name apparently reflects an Indo-aryan lineage. His epistles date to the end of Amenhotep III’s and the beginning of Akhenaton’s reigns. They pertain mostly to the tumultuous events associated with the rise and fall of Lab’ayu, prince of Shechem, who was actively opposing Egyp. hegemony with the aid of the ’Apiru. It was a time of confusion; Biridiya complained that the Egyp. administrators were acting in a hostile manner toward him though he himself was carrying out his orders (including the furnishing of thirty head of cattle to Pharaoh’s officials; EA 243). Perhaps as a result of their mistrust, the Egyptians had removed their garrison from Megiddo leaving the responsibility for its defense on Biridiya’s shoulders; he was on guard day and night and during the hours of daylight his fields were being harvested under the protection of his foot and chariot forces lest the ’Apiru attack the workmen in the field (EA 243). Lab’ayu seized control of the towns in the Dothan Valley (q.v.), destroyed the city of Shunem (q.v.) at the foot of the Hill of Moreh (q.v.), and apparently aroused the people of Taanach to expel their own ruler, Yashdata (EA 250, and 245). The latter sought refuge with Biridiya (EA 245) whose own town was soon put under siege by Lab’ayu. Biridiya pleaded with Pharaoh to reinstate the Egyp. garrison; 100 archers were needed desperately to save the situation (EA 244). Finally, Pharaoh had ordered Lab’ayu’s arrest and transport to Egypt; Biridiya claims that he joined other Canaanite kings in carrying out this order. But the culprit was taken from Megiddo on the way to Acco via Hannathon; there he succeeded in bribing his captor, Suarta of Acco, and of escaping. Biridiya and Yashdata rode out together to apprehend the fugitive but he already had been caught by his enemies (from the land of Gina, i.e. the Jenin valley) and put to death (EA 250); Biridiya protested his and Yashdata’s innocence of that murder (EA 245). The responsibility for harvesting the crops of the ruined Shunem had been laid upon the city-state rulers of the Jezreel Valley but Biridiya claimed that he alone had been obedient in this regard; he had brought corveé workers from the other side of the valley (Yapū=Japhia, Josh 19:13) to accomplish the task (EA 365). The sons of Lab’ayu and the ’Apiru soon resumed their nefarious activities (EA 246), prob. until the Egyptians intervened forcibly. The distrust and tension that existed between Acco and Megiddo during the “Lab’ayu affair” prob. continued to prevail (cf. the letter from Satatna of Acco, EA 234).

Little can be learned about Megiddo from the subsequent history of the Late Bronze Age. There is one possible reference to the town in a topographical list of Seti I, but the reading is not certain. Papyrus Anastasi I mentions the road to Megiddo from Bethshean and describes in lurid detail the frightful passage of a lone charioteer through the Wâdī ’Ârah to the Sharon Plain. The road followed one side of the narrow defile which was much more difficult in those days because of the heavy underbrush and scrub forest. Marauders often were lurking on all sides to catch the unwary Egyp. messenger (ANET pp. 477, 478).

Iron Age. Megiddo is mentioned among the conquered kings of Joshua 12:21. It was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh but the Manassites were unable to occupy it or any of the other fortified towns which rimmed the plain of Jezreel (Josh 17:11; Judg 1:27; cf. 1 Chron 7:29). The allusion to the waters of Megiddo (q.v.) as witnessing Deborah’s victory over Sisera (Judg 5:19) prob. refers to the Brook Qina.

Recent excavations have shown that both Megiddo and Taanach continued to exist side by side during the transition from Canaanite to Israelite occupation; there is no longer any need to suppose (with Albright) that they saw periods of alternate settlement. It would appear that Megiddo became an Israelite city during the wars of David when he wrenched the hitherto unconquered enclaves from the Canaanite and Philistine occupants.

During the reign of Solomon Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer were all fortified as part of that king’s military network (1 Kings 9:15) which held the commercial routes of the Levant in an iron grip. Later, Megiddo was included in Solomon’s fifth administrative district under the rule of Baana son of Ahilud (4:12).

The city fell to Shishak in the fifth year of King Rehoboam (c. 924 b.c.) as evidenced by its appearance on the Pharaoh’s display inscr. (No. 27) and the discovery of a fragment of his victory stele at Megiddo.

Ahaziah, king of Judah, who was wounded at the time of Jehu’s revolt, fled to Megiddo and died there (2 Kings 9:27; cf. 2 Chron 22:9). In the year 733/732 b.c. Megiddo was conquered by Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria, who made it the capital of an Assyrian administrative district called Magiddû that included the Jezreel Valley and Galilee (the “Galilee of the Nations,” cf. Isaiah 8:23 MT [9:1 RSV]). With the collapse of the Assyrian Empire Megiddo fell for a short time under the hegemony of the kingdom of Judah as evidenced by the confrontation between King Josiah and Pharaoh Neco which took place in the Valley of Megiddo and culminated in Josiah’s death (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron 35:22).

The reign of Josiah was the last period of prosperity at Megiddo. It was evidently during these later stages of Megiddo’s history that the ritual mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo became so popular (Zech 12:11) although it may have been a resurgence of pre-Israelite religion.

During the course of the Pers. age the city was abandoned entirely and its role as guardian of the entrance to Wâdī ’Ârah was taken over by Cefar ’Otnai-Legio.

Megiddo’s history as the scene of crucial battles is also reflected in John’s Apocalypse where the “battle of the great day of the Almighty” at the culmination of history is said to take place beside Armageddon (̔Αρμαγεδών, G762, harmagedōn, from Heb. har megiddôn; Rev 16:14-16).


E. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine (3rd. ed., 1867), II, 329, 330; H. H. Nelson, The Battle of Megiddo (1913); G. Schumacher, Tell el-Mutesellim 2 vol. (1908, 1929); C. S. Fisher, The Excavation of Armageddon (1929); P. L. O. Guy, New Light from Armageddon (1931); R. M. Engberg, Notes on the Chalithic and Early Bronze Age Pottery of Megiddo (1935); R. S. Lamon, The Megiddo Water System (1935); R. S. Lamon and G. M. Shipton, Megiddo I (1939); G. M. Shipton, Notes on the Megiddo Pottery of Strata VI-XX (1939); J. W. Crowfoot, “Megiddo—A Review,” PEF. Qst. (1940), 132-147; R. M. Engberg, “Megiddo—Guardian of the Carmel Pass,” BA III (1940), 41-50, IV (1941), 11-16; J. A. Wilson, The Egyptian Middle Kingdom at Megiddo,” AJSL LVIII (1941), 225-236; R. O. Raulkner, “The Battle of Megiddo,” JEA, XXVIII (1942), 2-15; W. F. Albright, “A Prince of Taanach in the Fifteenth Century B.C.”; BASOR, No. 94 (1944), 12-27; G. Loud, Megiddo II (1948); G. E. Wright, “The Discoveries at Megiddo, 1935-39,” BA, XIII (1950), 28-46; S. Yeivin, “Canaanite and Hittite Strategy in the Second Half of the Second Millennium B.C.,” JNES IX (1950), 101-107; B. Mazar, “The Campaign of Pharaoh Shishak to Palestine,” VT, Supplement IV (1957), 57-66; M. Dothan, “Some Problems of the Stratigraphy in Megiddo XX,” Eretz Israel, V (1958), 38-40 (Heb., Eng. Summary); Y. Yadin, “Solomon’s City Wall and Gate at Gezer,” IEJ, XVIII (1958), 80-86; Y. Aharoni, “The Date of Casemate Walls in Judah and Israel and their Purpose,” BASOR, No. 154 (1959), 35-39; A. Goetze and S. Levy, “Fragment of the Gilgamesh Epic from Megiddo,” Atiqot, II (1959), 121-128; Y. Yadin, “New Light on Solomon’s Megiddo,” BA, XX III (1960), 62-68; idem., “Hazor, Gezer and Megiddo in Solomon’s Times,” The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (ed. A. Malamat; 1961), 66-109; C. Epstein, “A New Appraisal of Some Lines from a Long-Known Papyrus,” JEA XLIX (1963), 49, 50; I. Dunayevski and A. Kempinski, “Megiddo,” Notes and News, IEJ, XVI (1966), 142; J. N. Schofield, “Megiddo,” Archaeology and OT Study, D. Winton Thomas, ed. (1967), 309-328; Y. Yadin, “Megiddo of the Kings of Israel,” BA, XXXIII (1970), 66-96; J. B. Pritchard, “The Megiddo Stables: A Reassessment,” Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century, ed. by J. A. Sanders (1970), 268-276; A. F. Rainey, El Amarna Tablets 359-379, AOAT VIII (1970), 24-27; idem., “Compulsory Labour Gangs in Ancient Israel,” IEJ, XX (1970), 191-202; Y. Aharoni, “The Stratification of Israelite Megiddo,” Eretz-Israel, X (1971), 53-57; Y. Yadin, Hazor (1972), 147-164; A. F. Rainey, “The World of Sinuhe,” Israel Oriental Studies, II (1972), 369-408; Y. Aharoui, “The Stratification of Israelite Megiddo,” JNES (1972), pp. 302-311.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


The constant association of Megiddo with Taanach (Tell Ta`anek) points to a position on the south edge of the plain of Esdraelon. In confirmation of this, we read (RP, 1st series, II, 35-47) that Thothmes III captured Megiddo, after having defeated the Palestinian allies who opposed him. He left his camp at Aruna (possibly `Ar`arah), and, following a defile (possibly Wady `Arah), he approached Megiddo from the South We should thus look for the city where the pass opens on the plain; and here, at Khan el-Lejjan, we find extensive ruins on both sides of a stream which turns several mills before falling into the Kishon. We may identify the site with Megiddo, and the stream with "the waters of Megiddo." Pharaoh-necoh would naturally take the same line of march, and his advance could be nowhere more hopefully opposed than at el-Lejjun. Tell el-Mutasellim, a graceful mound hard by, on the edge of the plain, may have formed the acropolis of Megiddo.

The name Mujadda` attaches to a site 3 miles South of Beisan in the Jordan valley. Here Conder would place Megiddo. But while there is a resemblance in the name, the site really suits none of the Biblical data. The phrase "Taanach by the waters of Megiddo" alone confines us to a very limited area. No position has yet been suggested which meets all the conditions as well as el-Lejjun.

The Khan here shows that the road through the pass from Esdraelon to the plain of Sharon and the coast was still much frequented in the Middle Ages.