Voices from Armageddon by Larry Rich contains extraordinary, inspirational true stories from the heart of the Middle East conflict.
When you hear the name Armageddon you probably conjure up images rooted in myth or the Bible. Armageddon is synonymous with The Apocalypse. Judgment Day. The End of Times. Students of the Bible know it as the place where the cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and evil will unfold and many believe that this battle will take place in the very near future. But it is also a real place inhabited today by tens of thousands of people. In addition, it has already seen more fighting and bloodshed than any other spot on earth.
“Armageddon” comes from the Hebrew Har Megiddo and means literally “the mount of Megiddo.” Tel (hill) Megiddo is a fascinating site where twenty cities have been built directly on top of one another and it lies at a strategic junction of roads running north-south and east-west. Whoever had control of Megiddo had control of one of the major trade routes of antiquity, the Via Maris or, the “Way of the Sea”. Virtually every invading army that came through this region during the past 4000 years fought battles to dominate it and at least 34 bloody conflicts have already been fought at the ancient site of Megiddo and adjacent areas within the Jezreel Valley. Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Midianites, Amalekites, Philistines, Hasmonaeans, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, Mamlukes, Mongols, French, Ottomans, British, Australians, Germans, Muslims and Israelis have all fought and died here. The names of the warring generals and leaders reverberate throughout history: Thutmose III, Deborah and Barak, Sisera, Gideon, Saul and Jonathan, Shishak, Jehu, Joram, Jezebel, Josiah, Antiochus, Ptolemy, Vespasian, Saladin, Napoleon, and Allenby, to name some of the most famous.
History seems to be teaching us the importance of maintaining a strategic presence on military and/or mercantile routes.
Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley have been Ground Zero for battles that determined the very course of civilization. It is no wonder that John, the author of Revelation, believed that the ultimate battle between good and evil would also take place in this region. He may yet prove to be right, as the conflict around the Valley is at the center of one of the world’s most explosive disputes. One that could erupt into a nuclear Armageddon.
It follows that people who live in this region have unwittingly placed themselves in harm’s way. The combination of historical facts, current realities and prophecy seems to have doomed the local inhabitants of Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley to a fate of unavoidable hate and bloodshed.
Who are these people and where do they live today? They are the Jews and Muslims of Israel; Afula, Nazareth, Beit She’an and tens of other villages, kibbutz’s, cooperative farming settlements and municipalities. Sharing the land and separated by a once invisible line that now boasts an electronic fence, impassable ditches and Israeli military patrols are the Muslims of the Palestinian Authority. They live along the southern fringe of the Jezreel Valley, known today as the Northern West Bank. This area’s best-known town, Jenin, is surrounded by tens of smaller Muslim villages.
The primary religions of those residing in the Jezreel Valley include Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze. (The Druze are Muslim descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. They practice a secret religion that does not conform to traditional Islam.) Other than a handful who can trace their ancestry back several centuries, these neighbors (Muslims and Jews) have all immigrated from Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Ethiopia, Russia, Europe, the United States, South America, South Africa, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Philippines, Mexico and the Far East – to name just a few of their countries of origin. Today they all fall into one of two modern population categories, either Israeli or Palestinian. And here they live side by side in the Jezreel Valley. Megiddo. Armageddon.
Are these people destined to carry on an unwritten tradition of hatred and bloodshed? Are they inextricably caught in a vortex of historical violence? Have the crossroads of Via Maris sealed their fate? Do they have any say in their own futures or that of their children and grandchildren? And what about the fate of your families … if the conflict is not resolved?