Revelation 16:16
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And he gathered . . .—Better, He gathered them together to the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon. Armageddon is the mountain of Megiddo. It is the high table-land surrounded by hills which was the great battle-field of the Holy Land. There the fortunes of dynasties and kingdoms have been decided; there the cause of liberty has triumphed; there kings fought and fell; there Gideon and Barak were victorious; there Ahaziah and Josiah were slain. The old battle-ground becomes the symbol of the decisive struggle. It is raised in meaning: it is a type, not a locality. The war of principles, the war of morals, the war of fashion culminates in an Armageddon. The progress of the spiritual struggle in individual men must lead in the same way to a mountain of decision, where the long-wavering heart must take sides, and the set of the character be determined. “There is no waving of banners and no prancing of horses’ hoofs; the warfare is spiritual, so that there is in sight neither camp nor foe.” It is that conflict which emerges out of various opinions and diverse principles: “the religious tendencies of the times” are (as we have been reminded) powers marshalling themselves for the battle of Armageddon. We must not look for great and startling signs: the kingdom and the conflict of the kingdom is within and around us (Luke 17:20-21).

16:12-16 This probably shows the destruction of the Turkish power, and of idolatry, and that a way will be made for the return of the Jews. Or, take it for Rome, as mystical Babylon, the name of Babylon being put for Rome, which was meant, but was not then to be directly named. When Rome is destroyed, her river and merchandise must suffer with her. And perhaps a way will be opened for the eastern nations to come into the church of Christ. The great dragon will collect all his forces, to make one desperate struggle before all be lost. God warns of this great trial, to engage his people to prepare for it. These will be times of great temptation; therefore Christ, by his apostle, calls on his professed servants to expect his sudden coming, and to watch that they might not be put to shame, as apostates or hypocrites. However Christians differ, as to their views of the times and seasons of events yet to be brought to pass, on this one point all are agreed, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will suddenly come again to judge the world. To those living near to Christ, it is an object of joyful hope and expectation, and delay is not desired by them.And he gathered them together - Who gathered them? Prof. Stuart renders it "they gathered them together," supposing that it refers to the "spirits" - πνέυματα pneumata - in Revelation 16:13, and that this is the construction of the neuter plural with a singular verb. So DeWette understands it. Hengstenberg supposes that it means that God gathered them together; others suppose that it was the sixth angel; others that it was Satan; others that it was the beast; and others that it was Christ. See Poole's Synopsis, in loco. The authority of DeWette and Prof. Stuart is sufficient to show that the construction which they adopt is authorized by the Greek, as indeed no one can doubt, and perhaps this accords better with the context than any other construction proposed. Thus, in Revelation 16:14, the spirits are represented as going forth into the whole world for the purpose of gathering the nations together to the great battle, and it is natural to suppose that the reference is to them here as having accomplished what they went forth to do. But who are to be gathered together? Evidently those who, in Revelation 16:14, are described by the word "them" - the "kings of the earth, and the whole world"; that is, there will be a state of things which would be well described by a universal gathering of forces in a central battlefield. It is by no means necessary to suppose that what is here represented will literally occur. There will be a mustering of spiritual forces; there will be a combination and a unity of opposition against the truth; there will be a rallying of the declining powers of paganism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism, as if the forces of the earth, marshalled by kings and rulers, were assembled in some great battlefield, where the destiny of the world was to be decided.

Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon - The word "Armageddon" - Ἀρμαγεδδών Armageddōn - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is not found in the Septuagint. It seems to be formed from the Hebrew הר מגדּו har Megidow Har Megiddo - Mountain of Megiddo. Compare 2 Chronicles 35:22, where it is said that Josiah "came to fight in the valley of Megiddo." Megiddo was a town belonging to Manasseh, although within the limits of Issachar, Joshua 17:11. It had been originally one of the royal cities of the Canaanites Joshua 12:21, and was one of those of which the Israelites were unable for a long time to take possession. It was rebuilt and fortified by Solomon 1 Kings 9:15, and thither Ahaziah king of Judah fled when wounded by Jehu, and died there, 2 Kings 9:27. It was here that Deborah and Barak destroyed Sisera and his host Judges 5:19; and it was in a battle near this that Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-Necho, 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-25.

From the great mourning held for his loss, it became proverbial to speak of any grievous mourning as being "like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon," Zechariah 12:11. It has not been found easy to identify the place, but recent searches have made it probable that the vale or plain of Megiddo comprehended, if it was not wholly composed of, the prolongation of the plain of Esdraelon, toward Mount Carmel; that the city of Megiddo was situated there; and that the waters of Megiddo, mentioned in Judges 5:19, are identical with the stream Kishon in that part of its course. See Biblical Repository, vol. 1, pp. 602, 603. It is supposed that the modern town called Lejjun occupies the site of the ancient Megiddo (Robinson's Biblical Researches, vol. 3, pp. 177-180). Megiddo was distinguished for being the place of the decisive conflict between Deborah and Sisera, and of the battle in which Josiah was slain by the Egyptian invaders; and hence it became emblematic of any decisive battlefield - just as Marathon, Leuctra, Arbela, or Waterloo is.

The word "mountain," in the term Armageddon - "Mountain of Megiddo" - seems to have been used because Megiddo was in a mountainous region, though the battles were fought in a valley adjacent. The meaning here is, that there would be, as it were, a decisive battle which would determine the question of the prevalence of true religion on the earth. What we are to expect as the fulfillment of this would seem to be, that there will be some mustering of strength - some rallying of forces" - some opposition made to the kingdom of God in the gospel, by the powers here referred to, which would be decisive in its character, and which would be well represented by the battles between the people of God and their foes in the conflicts in the valley of Megiddo.

As this constitutes, according to the course of the exposition by which we have been conducted, an important division in the Book of Revelation, it may be proper to pause here and make a few remarks. The previous parts of the book, according to the interpretation proposed, relate to the past, and thus far we have found such a correspondence between the predictions and facts which have occurred as to lead us to suppose that these predictions have been fulfilled. At this point, I suppose, we enter on that part which remains yet to be fulfilled, and the investigation must carry us into the dark and unknown future. The remaining portion comprises a very general sketch of things down to the end of time, as the previous portion has touched on the great events pertaining to the church and its progress for a period of more than one thousand eight hundred years. A few general remarks, therefore, seem not inappropriate at this point:

(a) In the previous interpretations, we have had the facts of history by which to test the accuracy of the interpretation. The plan pursued has been, first, to investigate the meaning of the words and symbols, entirely independent of any supposed application, and then to inquire whether there have been any facts that may be regarded as corresponding with the meaning of the words and symbols as explained. Of this method of testing the accuracy of the exposition, we must now take our leave. Our sole reliance must be in the exposition itself, and our work must be limited to that.

(b) It is always difficult to interpret a prophecy. The language of prophecy is often apparently enigmatical; the symbols are sometimes obscure; and prophecies relating to the same subject are often in detached fragments, uttered by different perseus at different times; and it is necessary to collect and arrange them, in order to have a full view of the one subject. Thus the prophecies respecting the Messiah were many of them obscure, and indeed apparently contradictory, before he came; they were uttered at distant intervals, and by different prophets; at one time one trait of his character was dwelt upon, and at another another; and it was difficult to combine these so as to have an accurate view of what he would be, until he came. The result has shown what the meaning of the prophecies was; and at the same time has demonstrated that there was entire consistency in the various predictions, and that to one who could have comprehended all, it would have been possible to combine them so as to have had a correct view of the Messiah, and of his work, even before he came. The same remark is still more applicable to the predictions in the Book of Revelation, or to the similar predictions in the book of Daniel, and to many portions of Isaiah. It is easy to see how difficult it would have been, or rather how impossible by any human powers, to have applied these prophecies in detail before the events occurred; and yet, now that they have occurred, it may be seen that the symbols were the happiest that could have been chosen, and the only ones that could with propriety have been selected to describe the remarkable events which were to take place in future times.

(c) The same thing we may presume to be the case in regard to events which are to occur. We may expect to find:

(1) language and symbols that are, in themselves, capable of clear interpretation as to their proper meaning;

(2) the events of the future so sketched out by that language, and by those symbols, that we may obtain a general view that will be accurate; and yet.

(3) an entire impossibility of filling up beforehand the minute details.

In regard, then, to the application of the particular portion now before us, Revelation 16:12-16, the following remarks may be made:

(1) The Turkish power, especially since its conquest of Constantinople under Muhammed II. in 1453, and its establishment in Europe, has been a grand hindrance to the spread of the gospel. It has occupied a central position; it has possessed some of the richest parts of the world; it has, in general, excluded all efforts to spread the pure gospel within its limits; and its whole influence has been opposed to the spread of pure Christianity. Compare the notes on Revelation 9:14-21. "By its laws it was death to a Mussulman to apostatize from his faith, and become a Christian; and examples, not a few, have occurred in recent times to illustrate it." It was not until quite recently, and that under the influence of missionaries in Constantinople, that evangelical Christianity has been tolerated in the Turkish dominions.

(2) the prophecy before us implies that there would be a decline of that formidable power - represented by the "drying up of the great river Euphrates." See the notes on Revelation 16:12. And no one can be insensible to the fact that events are occurring which would be properly represented by such a symbol; or that there is, in fact, now such a decline of that Turkish power, and that the beginning of that decline closely followed, in regard to time, if not in regard to the cause, the events which it is supposed were designated by the previous vials - those connected with the successive blows on the papacy and the seat of the beast. In reference, then, to the decline of that power, we may refer to the following things:

continued...

16. he—rather, "they (the three unclean spirits) gathered them together." If English Version be retained, "He" will refer to God who gives them over to the delusion of the three unclean spirits; or else the sixth angel (Re 16:12).

Armageddon—Hebrew, "Har," a mountain, and "Megiddo" in Manasseh in Galilee, the scene of the overthrow of the Canaanite kings by God's miraculous interposition under Deborah and Barak; the same as the great plain of Esdraelon. Josiah, too, as the ally of Babylon, was defeated and slain at Megiddo; and the mourning of the Jews at the time just before God shall interpose for them against all the nations confederate against Jerusalem, is compared to the mourning for Josiah at Megiddo. Megiddo comes from a root, gadad, "cut off," and means slaughter. Compare Joe 3:2, 12, 14, where "the valley of Jehoshaphat" (meaning in Hebrew, "judgment of God") is mentioned as the scene of God's final vengeance on the God-opposing foe. Probably some great plain, antitypical to the valleys of Megiddo and Jehoshaphat, will be the scene.

Either the devil brought them together, or God by his providence ordered that they should be gathered together, into the place where God designed to destroy them and their armies, for so the word

Armageddon signifieth, say some; but others make it to signify the mountain of the gospel, or the mountain of apples, or fruits; but the first etymology in this place seems best. The word doth not signify any particular place; but here is an allusion, as some think, to that Megiddo, mentioned Judges 5:19, where Barak overcame Sisera with his great army, and where Josiah was slain, 2 Kings 23:30. Of the issue of this last battle with the enemies of the church of Christ we shall read more, Revelation 19:1-21. And he gathered them together,.... Or rather "they gathered them together", as the Syriac version renders it; for though the verb is singular, a noun plural goes before it, as in Revelation 16:14 and the same spirits that are there said to go forth, to gather the kings gether, these will gather them together; will persuade the Papal, Pagan, and Mahometan powers, the remains of them in the several parts of the world, to join together, and make one effort for the reviving of their declining, and almost ruined interests: for which purpose they will be brought together,

into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon; which may be the same with Har-megiddo, the mountain of Megiddo; for the Hebrew word is read "Ar" by the Greeks; so the city Argarize is interpreted the mountain of the most High (d): and this refers either to the slaying of Josiah in the valley of Megiddo, which occasioned such mourning, that it became proverbial for any great sorrow; see 2 Chronicles 35:22 where it is called the valley of Megiddon; or rather to the slaughter of Sisera's army at the waters of Megiddo, by Barak, Judges 5:19 suggesting that the same would be the fate of these united powers. Some derive the word from and which signify "the destruction of their troops", or "armies"; and so designs not any place, that has been or is, but which will be so called from the issue of this battle; and since it is an Hebrew name that will be given it, it may lead us to conclude it will be somewhere in Judea, and very likely no other than the valley of Jehoshaphat, where all nations will be gathered; and which is called the valley of decision, where will be the day of the Lord, and multitudes will be slain, Joel 3:2 though the name will suit any place where there will be a defeat of these enemies; but this vial only brings them together; the utter destruction of them is reserved for the next.

(d) Euseb, Prepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 17. p. 419.

{19} And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue {20} Armageddon.

(19) Namely the angel, who according to the commandment of God, was to do sacrifice: nonetheless that those impure spirits do the same wickedly, as servants not to God, but to the beast that has seven heads.

(20) That is, (to say nothing of other expositions) the mountain itself, or mountain places of Megiddon. Now it is certain by the Holy Scripture, that Megiddon is a city and territory in the tribe of Manasseh, bordering on Issachar and Asher, and was made famous by the lamentable overthrow of king Josias; 2Ch 35:22, Zec 12:11. In this mountain country God says by figure or type that the kings of the people who serve the beast shall meet together; because the Gentiles did always cast that lamentable overthrow in the teeth of the Church of the Jews, to their great reproach and therefore were persuaded that that place should be most fortunate to them (as they speak) and unfortunate to the godly. But God here pronounces, that that reproach of the Church and confidence of the ungodly, shall by himself be taken away, in the same place where the nations persuaded themselves, they should mightily exult and triumph against God and his Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 16:16. A double thread of tradition is woven into this strand of prophecy, (a) that of a last conflict of the world-powers with God and the messianic people (cf. Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:19) and (b) that of Rome’s ruin by the Parthians under Nero redivivus. The two were originally distinct, but the apocalyptist naturally twists them together, although he never clears up their relationship. Here 13–16 is an enigmatic summary of what is variously depicted further on. But, though an erratic block in its present setting, it may have been placed here by the final editor, in his characteristically proleptic manner. Strictly speaking, the sixth plague is confined to Revelation 16:12.—Ἁρμαγεδών, where the messianic Josiah will triumph, is (a) either to be located in mythology rather than in geography, as a mount where the final conflict of the gods is to be fought out (so fallen angels in En. vi. 5, 6 at mount Hermon)—in which case the phrase is a survival of some apocalyptic myth no longer intelligible to John (Gunkel, Bousset)—or (b) to be taken as an allusion to the hills near the plain (in the light of Jdg 5:18-19; Jdg 4:6; Jdg 4:12; Jdg 4:14; Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:21; Ezekiel 39:2; Ezekiel 39:17). By gematria the name is equivalent to רומה הגדולה (Ewald, Hausrath), but neither this nor the proposal to take הר as a corruption of עיר (city, so Hitzig, Hilgenfeld, Forbes), much less of עֲרַא (Aram. = ארץ, Völter), is natural. Cf. for further etymological and mythological suggestions, Nestle (Hastings, D. B. ii. 304, 305), Cheyne (E. Bi. i. 310, 311), and Legge and Cheyne in Proc. Society of Bibl. Arch. 1900, ii. 2. Bruston’s interpretation (Ερμα = ἀνάθεμα, Γεδᾶν, cf. Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:3; Jdg 20:45) is far-fetched, but there may be some link between this obscure fragment of tradition and the cycle of Gog and Magog (cf. Cheyne in E. Bi. ii. 1747, 1748).

17–21: the seventh bowl and plague as the climax of all.The Muster for the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:1616. And he gathered them] More probably, and they [the unclean spirits] gathered them. The sentence goes on from the end of Revelation 16:14, Revelation 16:15 being strictly parenthetical.

Armageddon] The spelling which has the best authority is “Harmagedon.” The meaning, according as we read Ar or Har, is “the City” or “the Mountain of Megiddo.” But the insertion of “in the Hebrew tongue” perhaps indicates, that the meaning of the name Megiddo (which is apparently “cleaving”) is more important than the geographical note. There is some truth (though some exaggeration) in the description of the plain of Esdraelon as “the battle-field of Palestine:” but the only occasions when Megiddo is mentioned in connexion with a battle are Jdg 5:19, 2 Kings 23:29 (cf. Zechariah 12:11). Of course Megiddo or its neighbourhood (“the Mountain of Megiddo” might be Tabor or that conventionally called Little Hermon) may be the destined scene of the gathering and overthrow of the Antichristian powers: but it is hardly to be assumed as certain. In Zechariah 14:4-5 the Mount of Olives, in Joel 3:12 the Valley of Jehoshaphat (wherever that is: it must be a proper name, though a significant one, but it is a convention, and an improbable one, that identifies it with the gorge of the Kidron) seem to be represented as the scene of the Judgement.Revelation 16:16. Καὶ συνηγαγεν, and he gathered them together) We cannot here suppose that a singular verb is used for a plural (as the Syrian Version expresses it), because the neuter noun πνεύματα. precedes by so long an interval, Revelation 16:13-14; and in Revelation 16:14 itself, the plural verb εἰσὶ is used. Who was it therefore that gathered together the kings? The sixth angel. Throughout the whole of this chapter, the noun angel is often understood. Without inconvenience this verse is connected by a leap with Revelation 16:12. See Franc. Junius and E. Schmid.—Ἀρμαγεδὼν) Thus many MSS.;[184] but some few, Μαγεδὼν, which is also the reading of the Alex. MS. in 2 Chronicles 35:22, ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ Μαγεδών. Magedon or Megiddo was a city, of which there is frequent mention in the books of the Old Testament. The copyists, as it appears, had reference to these passages, who took away the first syllable from the word Ἀρμαγεδὼν in the Apocalypse: but on account of this very syllable, in particular, the word Ἑβραϊστὶ appears to be used. Armagedon signifies either ער, the city Megiddo, as Hiller teaches in Syntagmatis, p. 229, or הר, the mountain Megiddo. for where there is בקעה, a valley, as the valley of Megiddo, 2 Chronicles 35:22, there is also a mountain. We do not equally inquire, whence Megiddo itself is derived; for it is used as the proper name of a place in Palestine, very well known, on account of the great occurrences which had there taken place in ancient times. Nor, in a word, is it mentioned with this allusion on account of the mournful slaughter of Josiah, but on account of the slaughter of the Canaanite kings: Jdg 5:19.

[184] Rec. Text, with B, Syr. h read Ἁρμαγεδδων. A Vulg. Memph. read Αρμαγεδών. Fuld. (inferior to Amiat.) MS. of Vulg. has Magedon.—E.Verse 16. - And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon; or, as in the Revised Version, they gathered; that is, the "spirits" of ver. 14, of which this is a continuation, the same verb συνάγω being repeated. By the employment of the Hebrew term, attention is called to the symbolical nature of the name. Similar cases occur in Revelation 9:11 and elsewhere in St. John's writings (see on Revelation 9:11). The correct reading, Αρμαγεδών, Har-Magedon, signifies "Mountain of Megiddo;" the Authorized Version, 'Αρμαγεδών, Armageddon, "City of Megiddo." Mount Megiddo possibly refers to Carmel, at the foot of which lay the Plain of Megiddo, which was well known to every Jew as a gathering place for hostile hosts and as the scene of many battles. It is referred to in Zechariah 12:11 as a type of woe, on account of the overthrow and death of Josiah having taken place there (2 Kings 23:29). Ahaziah also died there (2 Kings 9:27); and there also the Canaanitish kings were overthrown (Judges 5:19). The name is, therefore, indicative of battle and slaughter, and intimates the complete overthrow in store for the dragon and the kings of the earth, which is described later on (Revelation 19.). Armageddon

The proper Greek form Ἃρ Μαγεδών. The word is compounded of the Hebrew Har mountain, and Megiddon or Megiddo: the mountain of Megiddo. On Megiddo standing alone see Judges 1:27; 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27. See also Judges 5:19; Zechariah 12:11; 2 Chronicles 35:22; 2 Kings 23:30. "Bounded as it is by the hills of Palestine on both north and south, it would naturally become the arena of war between the lowlanders who trusted in their chariots, and the Israelite highlanders of the neighboring heights. To this cause mainly it owes its celebrity, as the battle-field of the world, which has, through its adoption into the language of Revelation, passed into an universal proverb. If that mysterious book proceeded from the hand of a Galilean fisherman, it is the more easy to understand why, with the scene of those many battles constantly before him, he should have drawn the figurative name of the final conflict between the hosts of good and evil, from the 'place which is called in the Hebrew tongue Harmagedon'" (Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine").

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 Buonaparte 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," cit. by Lee). See Thomson's "Land and Book" (Central Palestine and Phoenicia), p. 208 sqq.; and Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine," ch. ix.

Two great slaughters at Megiddo are mentioned in the Old Testament; the first celebrated in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:19), and the second, that in which king Josiah fell (2 Kings 23:29). Both these may have been present to the seer's mind; but the allusion is not to any particular place or event. "The word, like Euphrates, is the expression of an idea; the idea that swift and overwhelming destruction shall overtake all who gather themselves together against the Lord" (Milligan).

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