Armageddon: ‘Tel’ing the Past and Predicting the Future?

History is a story written by the finger of God. CS Lewis



Tel Megiddo from above-Public Domain



As we approach the New Year, TWW is planning a variety of posts. We will be looking at spiritual abuse recovery, abuse in some churches of Ireland, and will be posting from a yet unpublished book on church history and linking it to current events in the post evangelical world. On Thursday, we will do our assessment of the top 10 newsworthy items that we posted on TWW. We will be curious to see if our readers concur. We will not post on Friday and will pick up our regular schedule next week.

This week a fascinating story, “Armageddon Fortress May Hold Keys to History” was published in the science section of AOL news. Here is the link. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and much information comes from this article.


Before I begin, I would ask (not demand) that this not become a debate on the age of the earth or the age of the mentioned finds. That is not the intent of this post.


The article, written by Matthew Kalman, gets right to the intrigue of the matter by stating “Scholars are using the rich archaeological remains that soar more than 50 feet above the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel to synchronize the clocks of the ancient world and create the first definitive calendar of human history".


A little background is in order. Water is at a premium in Israel. Ancient peoples would build their communities around a water source. They also located near major trade routes for ease of shipment and obtaining of goods. However, when said community was destroyed by war, pestilence, fire or earthquake, it was usually abandoned. Slowly, the buildings would fall to ruin. Over time, a new society would choose the same site, due to the water source and access to a major roadway and begin building directly on top of the ruin since it was difficult to remove the rubble. Such a city is called a "tel" (also spelled tell, til or tal). The word 'tell' is from the Arabic language, meaning mound or mount". You can read more about this here.


The area in question is known as Har Megiddo, which means mountain of Megiddo. Below it is the Jezreel Valley, which is identified, in the book of Revelation, as the location of the battle to end all battles, Armageddon. Megiddo is found in the Carmel mountain range and is located along the Via Maris (The Way of the Sea). This was a main trade route, which, along with the Kings Highway, also in Israel, formed a major trading corridor that connected Egypt to Mesopotamia. In other words, Israel was at the crossroads of these major civilizations. (In the United States, think of Interstate 95 which connects the eastern seaboard and Interstate 40 which intersects I-95 and traverses east/west across the country, ending in California.) Thus, Megiddo stood sentry and witness throughout time to traders and invading armies from all over the known world.

Yet Megiddo is not a mountain but a vast tel. It is made up of “29 separate cities built one on top of the other by a succession of civilizations from 3000 to 300 BC. “ Interestingly, Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which overlooks the Jezreel Valley. (Imagine, if there is to be the final battle of Armageddon here, then Jesus grew up looking at the place where He would have the final victory over Satan). The following picture is of the Jezreel Valley as seen from Tel Megiddo is courtesy of  Wikipedia.




As the reader might surmise, there are two precious natural springs surrounded by the excavated cities. As the archaeologists have dug through the various city layers they have discovered “houses, stables, temples, palaces surrounded by massive fortifications. There is even a mysterious temple which includes several large, perfectly round black stoned altars just a few inches high.”


Of course there are intrigues, debates and theories that surround the discoveries. One, in particular, pits legendary Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin, who claimed one of the layers as belonging to the city built by Solomon, against the current director of the excavation, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, who says that Yadin is wrong and the city is 100 years younger. An old friend, Dr Daniel Wallace, Professor New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and the founder of the Center of the Study of NT Manuscripts, once told me that there is often a push/pull between those archaeologists who believe the historical accounts of the Bible and those who do not.


"The scientists hope to utilize four scientific dating techniques, two of which are in their infancy, to date these layers which they call “destruction layers”: radio carbon, archaeo-magnetism, optical luminescence, and rehydroxilation."  We hope to offer a post in the near future describing many of the new techniques for dating.


There is great excitement about this effort because it is believed that this effort will not only reveal exact dating for the historical events in Israel but also for those in ancient Greece where “specific historical dates before 600BC are basically guesswork.” Finklestein said ”Megiddo is the only site which has 10 layers with radiocarbon results for the period 1300-800 BC.”

At this link to the website called BibArch, one can see an awesome chart outlining all the layers in the Megiddo tel. Also, this site gives the following summary of the Scripture which mentions Megiddo.


  • Joshua killed the king of Megiddo during the Conquest (Joshua 12:7, 12:21).
  • The city of Megiddo was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11; I Chronicles 7:29).
  • Deborah and Barak led the Israelites to victory over the Canaanite armies of Sisera by "the waters of Megiddo" (Judges 5:19-20).
  • Solomon made Megiddo one of his district capitals as well as one of his three main fortress cities (I Kings 4:12; 9:15).
  • King Josiah of Judah died in battle near Megiddo when he tried to thwart pharaoh Necho's attempt to succor the Assyrians at the Battle of Carchemish (II Kings 23:29-30; II Chronicles 35:20-24).
  • Western military forces gather in the Valley of Megiddo, at Armageddon, and proceed to Jerusalem to engage eastern forces advancing in that direction, and at the height of battle encounter the unforeseen intervention of the Messiah (Revelation 16:16).”



In an unrelated story, an Associated Press article written by Daniel Estrin, and posted today, 12/28/10, in the News and Observer, Raleigh, NC, reports that a Tel Aviv University team, (the same university involved at the Megiddo dig) while excavating a cave in central Israel, found a tooth dated 400,000 years old which resembles those of other Homo sapiens. This is about 200,000 older than any other Homo sapien tooth found in Israel. So what? Interestingly, the science generally believes that humans originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. This could mean that modern man may have originated in Israel. Now, this will need far more extensive testing but the possibilities are intriguing.

What are the take away points from this somewhat dry Biblical archaeology  post?


  1. Biblical archaeology is fascinating and uncovering more and more Biblical evidence every day.
  2. Israel, even today, continues to be an important link to our past and future. It never ceases to amaze me that this little country, in a seemingly insignificant part of the world, should be at the center of the world’s conflicts and attention.
  3. Christians should not fear the discoveries of archaeology. If we believe the Bible to be true, then the evidence should only serve to bolster the Biblical record.
  4. There are sometimes two side to an archaeological find. Ask questions. Find out the biases of the particular archaeologist.
  5. If Jesus should tarry what do you think that our descendents will discover about our civilization and the role faith played in our society? I wonder if the remains of megachurch coffee bars and fancy church offices will be a source of much curiosity.

Lydia's Corner: Exodus 39:1-40:38 Mark 1:1-28 Psalm 35:1-16 Proverbs 9:11-12



Armageddon: ‘Tel’ing the Past and Predicting the Future? — 19 Comments

  1. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    It will be fascinating to see how all of this develops.

  2. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    Thanks for your comment. I am a bit of a history buff and find this stuff fascinating. I wasn’t sure if anyone else out there was interested. That’s the fun thing about having your own blog. You get to talk about things that float your boat.

  3. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    While I usually shoot higher than “cut & paste” for my postings, in this case, I doubt I could improve on what was said, so without further ado…

    According to one of the world’s leading Biblical archaeologists, William G. Dever,

    “Archaeology certainly doesn’t prove literal readings of the Bible…It calls them into question, and that’s what bothers some people. Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so.”From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. William Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the “archeological revolution.” Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that’s very disturbing to some people.

    Dever also wrote:

    Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories. Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The Biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the ‘larger than life’ portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence…I am not reading the Bible as Scripture… I am in fact not even a theist. My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed ‘stories,’ often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information…

    Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog wrote in the Haaretz newspaper:

    This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.

    Regarding the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said:

    “Really, it’s a myth,”… “This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.”

  4. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    These are interesting statements that you have posted from Mr. Dever, “one of the world’s leading biblical archeologists.”

    I took one class in archaeology in college and was an ancient history major, but what I know could be put in a thimble, especially when compared to someone who has made it their life’s work.

    I agree with the post. We should not and cannot fear archaeology and what it might show.

    But as a person who deals with “evidence” on a daily basis, there are often debates about what evidence shows, even when that evidence is 2 days old.

    In Biblical archaeology, we are talking about evidence that is thousands of years old, the full meaning of which may be difficult to determine under the best of circumstances. Evidence, just like the concepts it purports to refute, may also have propagandistic traits.

    Just to cite one thing that Dever says – that the God of Israel had a female consort. It does not surprise me one bit that some in Israel or close to them would have made such claims. That was fairly common thinking for the pagans of that day. And since Israel was repeatedly falling into idolatry and adopting pagan customs (something for which they were rebuked), it would not be surprising for archaeologist to find things like this.

    The finding is not suspect. But the conclusion – that Israel was not monotheistic, is suspect.

    I suspect that it’s not quite as simple as Mr. Dever posits, and I would be surprised if even you swallowed his thinking whole. All academics have viewpoints. I seriously doubt that all archaeologists agree with Dever.

    I seem to recall that the Smithsonian has a statement about biblical archaeology that essentially affirms the broad historical approach of the biblical narrative. That may be too strong a statement, but it’s nothing like what Dever says.

    At any rate, thanks for the comment and post.

    Happy New Year to all.

  5. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    I agree completely with what you said. I think that the appearance of monotheism as opposed to some sort of polytheism is interesting, but probably speculative as you pointed out.

    I do think that archeology can have some impact when we look at certain OT prophecies that from an archeological perspective, we can be fairly confident did not occur as predicted.

    . Were the Israelites ever captives in Egypt?

    . Did the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years?

    . Isaiah 17:1, “Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins”, but in fact Damascus is considered to be among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world

    . Ezekiel predicts that the ancient city of Tyre will be utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and “made a bare rock” which will “never be rebuilt” (Ezekiel 26:1, 26:7-14, 26:32). However, Tyre withstood Nebuchadrezzar’s siege for 13 years, ending in a compromise in which the royal family was taken into exile but the city survived intact.

  6. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Hi Karl

    Just got back from taking my son and friend snowboarding in the mountains. I will try to get to your comments this weekend. Happy New Year

  7. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Great point. The one word that described the problem of Israel of the Old Testament was syncretism. They were always mixing up pagan faith with the one true and living faith and that got them in heaps of trouble. Its like Mormonism and Christianity. Mormons claim they are Christians but their actual belief system does not reflect orthodox Christian thinking. It would be like someone from the future saying that Christians believed that Lucifer was Jesus’ brother and that Christians will become as gods. Such a person would be wrong in assuming such a thing was Christianity. Happy New Year.

  8. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Hi Karl
    As you can imagine, there are others who would disagree. I will write more after tomorrow.

  9. Pingback: World Spinner

  10. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    If archeological digs on allegedly Biblical sites yield up data which tends to support or not support the historical record in Scripture, it is of no consequence to me. My hope of a better resurrection into a new universe is not based on provable facts or scientific certainties. My hope is based on what’s in it for me, plain old fashioned human self-interest that believes in the promise that Christ gives to all who will follow him.

    Karlton, since I tend toward open theism, I’m not surprised in the least that God would change his mind regarding the destruction or not destruction of ancient places. For too many centuries, churchmen and theologians have tried to confine God to an Aristotelian box. I’m glad to be learning how think outside the box.

    Dee – re: #5 of post, I cannot see how an archeological dig on the site of a late 20th or early 21st cent. mega church would say much about anything. I don’t think the impact would be much different than digging up a pile of Schlitz cans that had managed to survive corrosion on Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York.

  11. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    So what is your faith based on, since facts are of now consequence to you? Maybe God has changes his mind about the new universe and a better resurrection….how do you know?


  12. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    I meant to say no consequence…sorry for the typo!

  13. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    My faith (hope) is based on my own human self-interest. I want to go on, I don’t want this life to be all there is. The desire for immortality is as old as humankind itself. Will Yeshua deliver on his promise of a new universe and a resurrected physical existence for me? Mayhap he will and mayhap he won’t. I don’t know, I can only hope, and hope is as human as tears and laughter. But in my gut of guts, and for me anyway, I believe that when all is said and done, the forests will echo with laughter.


  14. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    I respect your honest answer….it just confuses me.

  15. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Muff and doubtful

    Dee here. Back in the saddle after multiple engagements over the holiday.

    I think I get what Muff is saying. Perhaps she is more honest than some of us. There are many Christians who struggle with doubt at times.

    Faith is not always easy. Our atheist friends insist on 100%evidence. Perhaps God’s face appearing overall the earth-ending forever any ability to deny although I think some one claim hallucinations on a grand scale.

    Faith is the evidence of things unseen. Blessed is he who does not see and believes. Why this and not God hovering and speaking out loud? If i were in charge, I would have God meeting daily in some room with throngs of people.

    But He doesn’t do it that way? Why? Not sure but I think it has to do with our want to understand and know.

    For me, it is the only logical choice which will drive a few atheists nuts but there it is. The more i want to see Him, the more I seem to see Him.

    And, I believe there will be much laughter in that new place.

  16. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    I understand your sentiment completely….I was there once. It’s just that saying that Faith is the evidence for Faith is circular logic, or illogical. I’m not trying to nitpick…I just can’t say my faith was valid or true just because I believed it….Isn’t that what I was taught about Catholics and Cults (I was raised Presbyterian), that just because they are sincere in their faith doesn’t mean they are correct, just sincerely deceived. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

    Happy New Year!

    Thanks again for the discussion….

    PS-I don’t insist on 100% evidence, just clear evidence. I’m not against believing in God, I just want to know that my faith or belief is based on reality, or “true truth”, as Francis Schaeffer would say…

  17. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    I am with you 100%. I went through my own crisis many, many years ago and decided to read everything i could find on how we got our canon, evidence, other faiths, etc. I came out fully committed to the faith and believe that it offers the most logical consistency based on what I see in the world around me.

    I agree with the sincerely deceived line. I believe in absolute truth that is consistent for all time throughout all people groups. Said truth needs to be logical to all cultures and societies. Not that all will believe it-That will never be.

    You may find tomorrow’s post relevant to this discussion. I am telling the story of some evangelical missionaries who converted to Catholicism and their reasons for doing so. It is most convicting. I am using his to lead up to our series on spiritual abuse.

    Thanks for your comments. i enjoy different perspectives.

  18. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Hi Dee,

    re:Dee says:
    Mon, Jan 03 2011 at 03:37 pm

    Muff is male by the way… I’m just curious as to why you thought I was female… ha ha… no foul, no prob, just curious is all.

    For what it’s worth though most of my heros (heroines?) are female, Clarice Starling (Thomas Harris’s down and gritty FBI agent), and Ellen Ripley (of the Alien films) top the list! Stephen King’s Rose Madder is no slouch either, that lady had titanium cojones!!!

  19. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Muff is he! Major social faux pas.

    Well, this will tell you a bit more about my upbringing. Have you ever heard of the Official Preppy Handbook of the 1980s? Well, although prep does not describe me ( I’m far to edgy and have little regard for social status even though I dress cutely :)), it does describe a whole bunch of family and friends. Muffy was a classic prep nickname for women. Just as Scooter was a prep nickname for men. Perhaps it is an east coast, old guard type of thing. Sorry.

    The first Alien is one of my favorite movies of all time. I still get the creeps thinking about it.