Armageddon is a Tel

A tell, or tel is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides. The term is mainly used of sites in the Middle East, where it often forms part of the local place name.

A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player’s assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player’s tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable. Sometimes a player may fake a tell, hoping to induce their opponents to make poor judgments in response to the false tell. More often, people try to avoid giving out a tell, by maintaining a poker face regardless of how strong or weak their hand is.

Tel (mound) Megiddo, known as Tel-el-Mutesellim (Hill of the Ruler) has been identified as one of the most important cities of biblical times. Located on a hill overlooking the fertile Jezreel Valley, Megiddo was of great strategic importance, as it commanded the eastern approaches of Nahal Iron (nahal, a dry river bed), part of the international highway which led from Egypt, along the coastal plain to the Jezreel Valley, and thence to Damascus and Mesopotamia (the highway became known later as Via Maris, Way of the Sea). Numerous battles fought for control of the city are recorded in ancient sources; in the New Testament (Revelations 16:16), Armageddon (believed by some to be a corruption of Har Megiddo – the hill of Megiddo) is named as the site of the “Battle of the End of Days”.

One of the largest city mounds in Israel (covering an area of about 15 acres) and rich in archeological finds, Tel Megiddo is an important site for the study of the material culture of biblical times. A total of 20 cities were built at Megiddo, one above the other, over the course of 5,000 years of continuous occupation; from the time of the first settlement at the end of the 6th millennium BCE to its abandonment in the 5th century BCE.

Several expeditions have excavated at Megiddo since the beginning of the 20th century. The most important excavations were conducted by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago between the years 1925 and 1939. All four of the uppermost cities of the tel, dating to the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, were excavated by this expedition. Several sections excavated to bedrock exposed the remains of the earliest city.

The finds corroborate written evidence concerning the importance of Megiddo, first as a royal Canaanite city, then as an Egyptian stronghold and administrative center, later as a “chariot city” of the kings of Israel, and finally as the controlling city of Assyrian and Persian provinces.

Excavations at Megiddo were renewed in 1994, with the aim of clarifying the tel’s stratigraphy and chronology and of obtaining further information about architectural and cultural remains at the site.

A village had been established on the hill of Megiddo at the end of the 6th millennium BCE, but the first fortified urban settlement, remains of which were uncovered on bedrock in the eastern part of the tel, dates from the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Within its walls was an elongated rectangular temple, with an altar opposite its entrance; it had a low ceiling, supported by wooden columns placed on stone bases. The renewed excavations have exposed several long, parallel stone walls, each 4 m. thick, the lanes between them filled with the bones of sacrificed animals.

Over the next 2000 years, a series of Canaanite temples were built, one on top of the other, on the site of this ancient temple.

At the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a circular bama (altar) of fieldstones, 8.5 m. in diameter and 1.5 m high, was built. Seven steps led to its top, upon which sacrifices were offered. This is an excellent example of the cultic bamot (altars) frequently mentioned in the Bible. (e.g., I Samuel 9:12-15) Then, at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, a complex of three identical temples was added at the back of the bama, forming an impressive Canaanite cultic precinct. Each of these megaron-type temples consisted of a rectangular room with a bama at its back and an open courtyard at its façade, where a pair of round stone bases indicate pillars. Towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, a new Canaanite temple was built on the ruins of its predecessors; it had especially thick walls and included a small cultic chamber with two towers protecting its façade.

From the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, Megiddo was an important military center. The city was surrounded by mighty stone fortifications, strengthened by earthen ramparts with glacis (a sloped hard and smooth coating). The area within the walls was carefully planned and divided into several clearly defined quarters: the royal quarters containing the palaces; the administrative quarter; and the residential quarters. This plan did not significantly change until the 12th century BCE.

Toward the middle of the 2nd millennium, a new gate of unusually large dimensions, built of large ashlars on trimmed basalt foundations, was built in the city’s northern wall. It included two pairs of chambers with a broad passage between them, providing convenient access to chariots. Next to the gate in the eastern wall stood the palace of the Canaanite kings of Megiddo. This was a very large and splendid palace, its rooms built around a courtyard. Gold jewelry and ivories found in the palace treasury provide evidence of the wealth of the kings of Megiddo and their political and commercial links with neighboring lands and cultures.

Megiddo is mentioned many times in Egyptian royal inscriptions from the 15th to the 13th centuries BCE. They attest to the city’s importance as the center of Egyptian administration in Canaan and as a logistical base on the road north. Inscriptions in the temple of the god Amon at Karnak (in Upper Egypt) describe the first military campaign of Thutmose III in Canaan, at the beginning of the 15th century BCE. According to this description, the Egyptian army crossed the hills of Manasseh and then advanced via Nahal Iron to the Jezreel Valley.

Six letters found in the archives of the Egyptian kings at el-Amarna, dating to the 14th century BCE, were sent by the king of Megiddo to his overlords, the kings of Egypt. In these letters, Biridiya, king of Megiddo, describes the growing threat to his city at the hands of Labayu (king of Shechem) and pleads for help:

To the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, say: Thus Biridiya, the faithful servant of the king. At the two feet of the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, seven and seven times I fall. Let the king know that ever since the archers returned [to Egypt], Labayu has carried on hostilities against me, and we are not able to pluck the wool, and we are not able to go outside the gate in the presence of Labayu, since he learned that thou hast not given archers; and now his face is set to take Megiddo, but let the king protect the city, lest Labayu seize it. Verily, there is no other purpose in Labayu. He seeks to destroy Megiddo.

With the decline of Egyptian control in the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, struggles for power took place among the Canaanites, Philistines and Israelites which left their mark upon the remains at Megiddo. The city was finally conquered by King David, who established it as an important regional center of his kingdom.

Megiddo reached its peak under King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. He rebuilt it as a royal city, administering the northern part of the kingdom. The building of Jerusalem, the capital, and of Hatzor, Megiddo and Gezer, as part of centralized urban planning, is recounted in the Bible:

And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hatzor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. (I Kings 9:15)

Architectural features characteristic of the royal centers of the monarchic period have been found in all three cities. In the Megiddo excavations, such elements were encountered in the palaces, buildings, fortifications, administrative buildings, storehouses, stables and the water system.

During the reign of Solomon, Megiddo was surrounded by a sturdy casemate wall (two parallel walls with partitions between them, creating rooms). The casemates served as barracks for soldiers and for storage of equipment. A new city gate was constructed on the remains of the Canaanite gate in the northern part of wall. It included three sets of chambers with a passage between them; for additional security, towers and an outer gate were added outside this gate.

Within the city, large palaces were built, and next to them identically planned administrative buildings: a series of rooms around an open central courtyard. These were very well built, with extensive use of large ashlars, the thick walls supporting a second story. Atop the doorposts were Proto-Aeolic stone capitals, with stylized volutes.

Megiddo was destroyed in the military campaign of Pharaoh Shishak in 926 BCE, and restored during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel (ca. 874 – 852 BCE) who made it a royal “chariot city.” The new city’s walls were 3.5 m. thick, constructed with offsets and insets and incorporating the Solomonic city gate. Noteworthy among the structures from the period of Ahab are several large, identical buildings, covering large areas of the city. Some archeologists believe they were storehouses, barracks or market-places, but most researchers regard them as stables.

Based on the biblical account, the stables were first dated to the reign of Solomon, but new evidence has established their date as early 9th century BCE, in the reign of King Ahab. The southern stable complex is divided into several compartments, each subdivided into three long, parallel halls: the outer halls for stalls, the corridors between them for use by the stable hands. The ceiling of the stables was supported by large, square stone pillars. Massive stone troughs stood in the stables, as well as perforated stones for tying the horses. In the middle of a large courtyard, surrounded by a stone wall, was a watering pool. It is estimated that Megiddo’s stables could have accommodated 450 horses; the adjacent structures undoubtedly housed dozens of battle chariots – an impressive quantity in terms of the period.

To safeguard the city’s water supply in times of siege, a subterranean water system was hewn in the rock in the western part of the city, which made it possible to reach the spring at the foot of the hill outside the walls without being seen by the enemy. This project required considerable engineering ingenuity and an enormous amount of hard labor. The water system consists of a square, 25 m.-deep vertical shaft and an 80 m.-long horizontal tunnel. In order to hide the source of water from the enemy and to protect the users of the water system, a particularly thick wall, camouflaged by a covering of earth, was constructed at the entrance to the cave from which the spring emanates, blocking access from the outside.

Megiddo continued to serve as the seat of the royal governor during the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. This is attested to by a seal, found in excavations at the beginning of the 20th century, bearing the inscription “to Shema, servant of Jeroboam.” During the rebellion of Jehu, Ahaziah, king of Judah, fled to Megiddo and died there of his wounds. (II Kings 9: 27)

Megiddo was apparently conquered and destroyed in 732 BCE, during the campaign of Tiglath Pilesser III, king of Assyria, against the Kingdom of Israel. (II Kings 15: 29)

The Assyrians made Megiddo the royal city of their province in the north of the conquered kingdom of Israel and rebuilt it in their finest architectural tradition. An orthogonal grid of streets divided the city into quarters. In the south of the city, a round, subterranean stone-lined silo, 11 m. in diameter, with two narrow flights of stairs along its sides, was found. At the end of the 7th century, apparently during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah, a rectangular fortress was constructed on top of the eastern side of the tel, but it remained in use only until Josiah’s fall in 609 BCE, when it was destroyed.

In his days Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. (II Kings 23: 29)

From then on, Megiddo fell into decline; it was finally abandoned during the Persian rule, in the 5th century BCE.

The Battle of Marj Dābiq was a decisive military clash in Middle Eastern history, fought on 24 August 1516, near the town of Dabiq, 44 km north of Aleppo, Syria. The battle was part of the Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate, which ended ultimately in an Ottoman victory, the conquest of most of the Middle East by the Ottoman Empire, and the end of the Mamluk Sultanate. The Ottoman Empire’s victory in this battle gave it control of the entire region of Syria.

Sahih Muslim also gives this account by Abu Hurayrah: “Allah’s Apostle (pboh) said: The Last Hour will not come until the Romans land at al-Amiq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best soldiers of the people on Earth at that time will come from Medina to oppose them. When they arrange themselves in ranks, the Romans will say: Do not stand between us and those Muslims who took prisoners from among us. Let us fight them. The Muslims will say: Nay, by Allah, we shall never turn aside from you and from our brethren so that you may fight them. They will then fight and a third of the army, whom Allah will never forgive, will run away. A third, which will be constituted of excellent martyrs in Allah’s eyes, would be killed. The third who will never be put on trial will win and they will be the conquerors of Constantinople. As they are busy in distributing the spoils of war after hanging their swords by the olive trees, Satan will cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your families. They will then come out, but it will be of no avail. When they reach Syria, he will come out while they are still preparing themselves for battle, drawing up the ranks. Certainly, the time of prayer will come and then Isa ibn Maryam (pboh) will descend and lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah sees him, it will disappear just as salt dissolves in water, and if Isa were not to confront them at all, even then it would dissolve completely. Allah would kill them by his hand and he would show them their blood on Isa’s lance.” (Hadith 6924)

The Romans are no more, except those that live in Rome. Constantinople is no more, conquered by Istanbul. Syria lays in ruins and the Imam Mahdi (“The Guided One”) will dwell in the Dome. It is prophesied that Isa ibn Maryam (pboh) will come to Islam in the Qur’an. It is prophesied that Isa ibn Maryam (pboh) will come to Christianity in the New Testament. It is prophesied that the Messiah, which is Isa ibn Maryam (pboh) the Messiah of Guidance, will come to Jews in the Torah. Salt dissolves in water

This prophecy is found in Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib’s Nahj’ul Balagha [The Path of Eloquence], Khutba 141, 187: “The Imam who will create a world state will make the ruling nations pay for their crimes against society. He will bring succor to humanity. He will take out the hidden wealth from the breast of the earth and will distribute it equitably amongst the needy deserving. He will teach you simple living and high thinking. He will make you understand that virtue is a state of character which is always a mean between the two extremes, and which is based on equity and justice. He will revive the teaching of the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet after the world has ignored them as dead letters. He will protect and defend himself with resources of science and supreme knowledge. His control over these resources will be complete. He will know how supreme they are and how carefully they will have to be used. His mind will be free from desires of bringing harm and injury to humanity. Such a knowledge to him will belike the property which was wrongly possessed by others and for which he was waiting for the permission to repossess and use. He, in the beginning, will be a poor stranger unknown and uncared for, and Islam then will be in the helpless and hopeless plight of an exhausted camel who has laid down its head and is wagging its tail. With such a start he will establish an empire of God in this world. He will be the final demonstration and proof of God’s merciful wish to acquaint man with the right ways of life.

“This is the representative of Allah, the Mahdi; listen to him and obey him”

Isa will appear during the lifetime of Imam Mahdi. He will descend from heaven on a cloud (or supported by two angels). He will land among a righteous group of 800 men and 400 women. He will be of medium build, red-faced, with hair that appears wet. Isa will carry two flexible swords and a shield, with which he will destroy Dajjal at the Gate of Hudd in the valley of Ifiq; otherwise, at Baad Lud (Lydda). Then the final war with the Jews will begin; the Believers will be the victors. Isa will “break the cross” and “kill the swine”. Thereafter, all wars will end, including Jihad, and people will return to their own countries. Peace will be on the Earth, and there will be an abundance of crops. People will worship one God. Isa will marry, have children, and live thus for another 19 years (40 years total). There will be no illness or death for a period of 40 years. All venom will be removed from poisonous insects and animals, nor will animals harm anyone. The earth shall be so fertile that even if a seed is planted in a rock, it will sprout there. Fruit will grow to huge size. There will be so much milk that a single camel, cow or goat will feed a tribe.

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