4

The word Armageddon appears only once in New Testament in Revelation 16:16. Is this a Greek word or a Hebrew word? What does this word mean?

2
  • 1
    A "good" question on BHB lets readers know that the questioner has done his or her "homework"; IOW, the questioner has attempted to research the question and has encountered a difficulty or has gotten stuck. In your case, something as simple as including in your question a citation from a dictionary would indicate to readers you've done at least some cursory research. For instance, here's a citation from the Free Dictionary: "from Late Latin Armagedōn, from Greek, from Hebrew har megiddōn, mountain district of Megiddo, in N Palestine, site of various battles in the Old Testament." Jun 4, 2019 at 8:00
  • Good question. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 5, 2019 at 12:32

6 Answers 6

5

1. First the word. "Armageddon" in English is translated from a NT Greek text that shows some variation at this point in the text. Of the edited versions of the GNT:

  • Those that have "Har magedon" or "Harmagedon": W&H, UBS4/NA27, UBS5/NA28, NIV, Souter, Nestle 4, SBL, THGNT, Byzantine Text (=R&P), Apostolic Text = OC 1904, Jerome Vulgate
  • Those that have "Armagedon": F35, TR, Clementine Vulgate.
  • Those that have "Magedon": Majority Text (Possibly a mistake??)

Here I will assume that the "correct" text is "Harmagedon".

2. Meaning. The text of Rev 16:16 explicitly says that this word is Hebrew and thus must be read as "Har magedon" which is obviously, "Mountain of Megiddo". As any map or geography of Palestine shows, the town of Megiddo is on a plane but its closest mountain is mount Carmel.

3. Allusion. The key to understanding the book of Revelation and its symbols is to find the allusion each symbol makes to an OT story. Here, we are spoilt for choice as there were numerous battles fought at Meggido (Josh 12:21, 17:11, Judges 1:27, 1 Kings 4:12, 9:15, 2 Kings 9:27, 23:30, 1 Chron 7:29, 2 Chron 35:22, Zech 12:11). However, none of these involved the mountain of Megiddo, namely Carmel.

The most probable allusion is to the incident in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah and Ahab created the great contest of the Gods and the one who answered by fire was the true God. It was here that the people turned back to God and the prophets of Baal were defeated. This is a good parallel to the material under the sixth plague of Revelation.

4. Interpretation - That is the subject of another question.

I note that the Pulpit commentary reaches a similar conclusion:

By the employment of the Hebrew term, attention is called to the symbolical nature of the name. Similar cases occur in Revelation 9:11 and elsewhere in St. John's writings (see on Revelation 9:11). The correct reading, Αρμαγεδών, Har-Magedon, signifies "Mountain of Megiddo;" the Authorized Version, 'Αρμαγεδών, Armageddon, "City of Megiddo." Mount Megiddo possibly refers to Carmel, at the foot of which lay the Plain of Megiddo, which was well known to every Jew as a gathering place for hostile hosts and as the scene of many battles. It is referred to in Zechariah 12:11 as a type of woe, on account of the overthrow and death of Josiah having taken place there (2 Kings 23:29). Ahaziah also died there (2 Kings 9:27); and there also the Canaanitish kings were overthrown (Judges 5:19). The name is, therefore, indicative of battle and slaughter, and intimates the complete overthrow in store for the dragon and the kings of the earth, which is described later on (Revelation 19.).

2
  • 1
    I'd love to know which codices "Jerome's Vulgate" refer to in contradistinction to something like the Clementine edition. Do you know where one can access 'Jerome's' Vulgate? I understand you're maybe just citing the textual research data from a committee, but just in case you were familiar with one. Jun 4, 2019 at 13:00
  • I purchased a copy of Jerome's vulgate, "Biblia Sacra Vulgate" published by Deutsche Bibelgeselschaft. Available in many places such as amazon.com/Biblia-Sacra-Vulgata-Vulgate-Bible/dp/1598561782/… I am not citing textual apparatus but the actual volumes (in paper) that sit on my shelf.
    – user25930
    Jun 4, 2019 at 21:39
4

The name "Armageddon" comes from the Greek word "Harmagedōn" (Ἁρμαγεδών) which is a transliteration of the Hebrew words "Har-Magedon" (הַר מְגִדּוֹן) meaning the hill of Megiddo, which overlooks a valley with a vast plane.

That valley is traditionally understood as the location of the final battle between the world's nations and God, when Jesus returns as King of Kings, to replace the kingdoms of this world with his own Kingdom of God.

But the battle itself won't be in the valley itself; Armageddon will simply be the staging area for what is to follow.

It is surprising that no one has suggested taking magedon as deriving from the secondary sense of the Hebrew gadad that means "to gather in troops or bands". The simple way in Hebrew to make a noun from a verb is to prefix a ma to the verbal form. Thus we have maged, "a place of gathering in troops", and the suffix o, meaning "his", yielding "his place of gathering troops". This is almost equivalent to the expressions in vss. 14, 16 — "to gather them (the kings and their armies) for the battle on the great day of God Almighty" — and would allude to the prophetic expectation of the gathering of the nations for judgment — The Expositor’s Bible Commentary p. 552

1
  • 1
    The quotation from Expositor's Bible Commentary is interesting which suggests the word "gadad" as derived meaning. Probability of this cannot be denied as book of Revelation at many occasion has hidden meanings behind signs, symbols, numbers and words. Jun 5, 2019 at 9:26
3

The Greek word is G717 - harmagedōn from Hebrew origin הַר (H2022) and מְגִדּוֹן (H4023). הַר means mountain/hill and מְגִדּוֹן Megiddo is a location modern term Tel (city) Megiddo located on the southern rim of the plain of Esdraelon 6 miles (10 km) from Mount Carmel and 11 miles (18 km) from Nazareth

3

The operative word in Rev 16:16 (about which there is little MSS dispute but see NA28 for details) is Ἁρμαγεδών (Harmagedōn). According to the same verse, this is a Hebrew word and thus must be read as Har-Magedōn = "mountain of Megiddo".

Note that "Har" = mountain in Hebrew.

How this should be interpreted is another matter entirely. Ellicott sums up the historical place and a possible spiritual interpretation:

Armageddon is the mountain of Megiddo. It is the high table-land surrounded by hills which was the great battle-field of the Holy Land. There the fortunes of dynasties and kingdoms have been decided; there the cause of liberty has triumphed; there kings fought and fell; there Gideon and Barak were victorious; there Ahaziah and Josiah were slain. The old battle-ground becomes the symbol of the decisive struggle. It is raised in meaning: it is a type, not a locality. The war of principles, the war of morals, the war of fashion culminates in an Armageddon. The progress of the spiritual struggle in individual men must lead in the same way to a mountain of decision, where the long-wavering heart must take sides, and the set of the character be determined. “There is no waving of banners and no prancing of horses’ hoofs; the warfare is spiritual, so that there is in sight neither camp nor foe.” It is that conflict which emerges out of various opinions and diverse principles: “the religious tendencies of the times” are (as we have been reminded) powers marshalling themselves for the battle of Armageddon. We must not look for great and startling signs: the kingdom and the conflict of the kingdom is within and around us (Luke 17:20-21).

1
  • While your answer to the Q is correct, the location suggested by Ellicott has due to recent research meet with some challenge. Megiddo was a ‘convenient’ location so as to separate the battle of Armageddon from Gog/Magog. But, this is another discussion for another time.
    – Dave
    Jul 12, 2021 at 4:23
1

V16 “They assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon.”

The key to understanding this battle is to appreciate that Armageddon is the re-running of the battle of Megiddo (609 B.C.) Megiddo is the battle in which God’s champion, Josiah, stood up against the enemies of God and was defeated, a result which cannot be allowed to stand.

Josiah was very much the Lord's king. It was during his reign that the "book of the Law", commonly identified as Deuteronomy, was "discovered" by the priests of the Temple. Josiah took steps to proclaim the Law, and to renew the nation's covenant with the Lord. He made a point of removing anything that might be considered idolatrous from the territories under his control. He was the king who abolished the provincial altars of Yahweh, and centralised the worship and the celebration of the Passover at Jerusalem. "Before him, there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to the law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him." ( 2 Kings ch23 v25).

This achievement was thrown away in one moment of madness. The Pharaoh Necho was on his way to fight great wars further to the north. Josiah chose to intercept him, at Megiddo, and lost his life. The ultimate sequel, and perhaps the consequence, was the destruction of his kingdom at the hands of the king of Babylon. The loss of Josiah was deeply mourned. The "laments" which were written around the event were still sung centuries later- "to this day", as the Chronicler puts it. Much hope must have been invested in this king, by those who followed the Lord. The disappointment of the battle would surely compare with the sense of loss of the disciples on the road to Emmaus; "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel". In effect, the death of Josiah was the Good Friday of the Old Testament period.

I believe that the resemblance between these two battles should be sought not in the location, but in the parallel between the two sets of combatants. In the one corner, ladies and gentlemen, God's anointed king, the champion of God's people. In the other corner, the power of oppression, as represented by the Egyptians, and by the "kings of the earth". The first time this battle was fought, at Megiddo, the result was a catastrophe. Therefore the same battle must be fought all over again, at Armageddon, so that the result can be reversed. It would symbolise, at the same time, the reversal of all the other apparent setbacks, from the fall of man to the supremacy of the Beast in its "war on the saints". This is God having the Last Word.

1

'Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.'

(Revelation 16:16 NIV)

A prophecy which is variously described in the hebrew scriptures employing the figure of sheaves or gathered wheat (עָמַר aw-mar') in a valley (גַּיְא gah'-ee) for threshing or judgement (דִּין deen) - or in greek ΑΡΜΑΓΕΔΩΝ - Armageddon.

עָמַר - (aw-mar') - gathered wheat
גַּיְא - (gah'-ee) - in a valley
דִּין - (deen) - for judgement

Armageddon.

'... they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.'

Look, I come like a thief!"

It is done!

(Revelation 16:14-15, 17 NIV)

Prophetic of a great conflict, precipitating the return of the king, and the culmination of all things.

'Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.'

(Daniel 2:35 NIV)

This corresponding to the “It is done!” and the subsequent city :

'And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.'

'... the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.'

'The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.'

(Revelation 21:10, 22, 26 NIV)

Micah being eloquent to this mountain and temple and worship :

'In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.'

'Many nations will come and say ...'

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.'

(Micah 4:1-2 NIV)

But also eloquent as to the preceeding events :

'But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!”'

'But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.'

Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.”

(Micah 4:11-13 NIV)

Joel is also eloquent as to these events :

“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat."

(Joel 3:1-2 NIV)

Jehoshaphat being the Lord judges.

“Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side."

"Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe."

'Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.'

(Joel 3:12-14 NIV)

Etcetera.

Wheat gathered into a valley for threshing.

עָמַר - (aw-mar') - gathered wheat
גַּיְא - (gah'-ee) - in a valley
דִּין - (deen) - for judgement

ΑΡΜΑΓΕΔΩΝ - Armageddon - is to be understood in hebrew. It is patently nothing to do with Megiddo, a name that is equally understood in greek.

And of course, Megiddo is neither a valley nor a mountain and has absolutely nothing to do with the return of christ to Jerusalem.

'“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”'

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.'

(Acts 1:11-12 NIV)

An echo of the description of the return found elsewhere :

'On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley ...'

(Zechariah 14:4 NIV)

A sabbath day's walk from the city. The return of the king, to Jerusalem, and a thousand year sabbath until the city.

"How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"

(Luke 24:25 NIV)

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.