The hill of Megiddo, located west of the Jordan River in north central Palestine, some ten miles south of Nazareth and fifteen miles inland from the Mediterranean seacoast, was an extended plain on which many of Israel’s battles had been fought. There Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4 and 5). There Gideon triumphed over the Midianites (Judges 7). There Saul was slain in the battle of the Philistines (1S. 31:8). There Ahaziah was slain by Jehu (2K. 9:27). And there Josiah was slain in the invasion by the Egyptians (2K. 23:29-30; 2Chr. 35:22).3The mourning of Israel when they realize they have pierced their own Messiah, is likened to the mourning associated with a historical event from Megiddo’s past: “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zec. 12:11).
Hadad-Rimmon is not mentioned in Scripture in the brief account of Josiah’s defeat and death, but evidently tradition preserved the exact locality of the good king’s fatal wounding, here recorded by inspiration. It has been identified with the village of Rummaneh, located four miles southeast of Megiddo.4
The reference can be nothing else than to the national mourning over the pious young king Josiah, who was slain by Pharaoh Necho “in the valley of Megiddo,” as recorded in 2K. 23:29-30 and more fully in 2Chr. 35:20-27. His death was the greatest sorrow which had till then befallen Judah, inasmuch as he was “the last hope of the declining Jewish kingdom, and in his death the last gleam of the sunset of Judah faded into night.” In that great mourning for Josiah the prophet Jeremiah took part, and wrote dirges for it (2Chr. 35:25), and the national lamentations over him continued and became “an ordinance” in Israel, which survived the seventy years’ captivity and continued “to this day,” when the chronicles were closed.5Megiddo overlooks the western part of the Jezreel Valley and controls a strategic access point to the plain below.
The plain of Megiddo has five gates. One is the defile leading to the Bay of Acco, and another the threefold gate to the plain of Sharon, formed by narrow valleys across Carmel and guarded by the three fortresses of Jokneam, Megiddo, and Taanach. Of these Megiddo was by far the most important, because it controlled also the narrow volcanic causeway leading across the easily flooded plain.6
Megiddo was in the plain of Esdraelon, “which has been a chosen place for encampment in every contest carried on in Palestine from the days of Nabuchodonozor king of Assyria, unto the disastrous march of Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt into Syria. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Christian crusaders, and anti-Christian Frenchmen; Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs, warriors of every nation that is under heaven, have pitched their tents on the plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the banners of their nation wet with the dews of Tabor and Hermon” [“Clarke’s Travels,” cited by Lee.]7See Jezreel Valley. See commentary on Revelation 16:16.
1 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 74.
2 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Jdg. 5:19.
3 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 340-341.
4 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Zec. 12:11.
5 David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions And Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1918), 451.
6 D. Baly, “Jezreel, Valley Of,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915), 2:1060.
7 M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 16:16.