According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, the Armageddon (from Hebrew: Har Megiddo) is the prophesied location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times; variously interpreted as either a literal or a symbolic location. The “mount” of Megiddo in northern Israel is not a mountain; but a tell (a mound or hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot) on which ancient forts were built to guard the Via Maris, an ancient trade route linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria; Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Megiddo was the location of various ancient battles; including one in the 15th century BC and one in 609 BC.
The one New Testament reference to the city of Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16 also makes no specific mention of any armies being predicted to one day gather in this city; but instead seems to predict only that “they (will gather) the kings together to …. Armageddon”. The text does however seem to imply; based on the text from the earlier passage of Revelation 16:14, that the purpose of this gathering of kings in the “place called Armageddon” is “for the war of the great day of God. Some Christian scholars conclude that Mount Armageddon must be an idealized location.
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:16)
The Idea of “The Armageddon” In Judaism
In Judaism, there is a reference for such a battle. For example, the Book of Ezekiel records a series of visions received by the prophet Ezekiel; a priest of Solomon’s Temple; who was among the captive during the Babylonian exile. The exile, he tells his fellow captives, is God’s punishment on Israel for turning away, but God will restore his people to Jerusalem when they return to him. After this message of reassurance; in chapters 38–39, the Gog oracle; tell how Gog of Magog and his hordes will threaten to restore Israel but will be destroyed; after which God will establish a new Temple and dwell with his people for a period of lasting peace (chapters 40–48).
“Son of man, direct your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him. Say: Thus said the Lord: Behold, I am against you, Gog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal … Persia, Cush and Put will be with you … also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you.”
Over the next few centuries, Jewish tradition changed Ezekiel’s Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog. The process, and the shifting geography of Gog and Magog, can be traced through the literature of the period. Chapters 19:11–21:8 of the Book of Revelation, dating from the end of the 1st century CE, tells how Satan is to be imprisoned for a thousand years; and how, on his release, he will rally “the nations in the four corners of the Earth, Gog and Magog”; to a final battle with Christ and his saints:
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.
War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness
Another version of Armageddon is found in the War Scroll in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The manuscript was among the scrolls found in Qumran Cave 1; acquired by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and first published posthumously by Eleazar Sukenik in 1955. So the document is made up of various scrolls and fragments. So these scrolls contain an apocalyptic prophecy of a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. The war is described in two distinct parts.
First (the War against the Kittim) is described as a battle between the Sons of Light; consisting of the sons of Levi; the sons of Judah; the sons of Benjamin, and the exiled of the desert. Against Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the Amalekites, and Philistia and their allies, the Kittim of Asshur (referred to collectively as the army of Belial); and [those who assist them from among the wicked] who “violate the covenant”.
Second is the part of the war (the War of Divisions) described as the Sons of Light; now the united twelve tribes of Israel, conquering the “nations of vanity.” In the end, all of Darkness will be destroyed and Light will live in peace for all eternity. So the text details inscriptions for trumpets and banners for the war and liturgies for the priests during the conflict.