🔼The name Armageddon: Summary
- Mountain Of Invasion, Accumulated Harrowing Fortune
- From the noun הר (har), mountain, and (2) the verb גדד (gadad), to cut or invade.
- From the verb רום (rum), to be high, and (2) the verb גדד (gadad), to cut or invade.
🔼The name Armageddon in the Bible
The name Armageddon is mentioned only once in the Bible, as part of a vision that features seven angels (Revelation 16:16). These seven angels carry the seven plagues that must strike mankind before time ends. The angels are also given one bowl each, and these bowls contains the wrath of God. The angles pour out their bowls one by one.
The first libation results in everybody getting sores (not unlike the sixth plague that struck Egypt just prior to the Exodus — Exodus 9:9). The second one turns the sea into blood so that all sea creatures die (comparable to the first Egyptian plague — Exodus 7:17). Bowl three turns the rivers and springs to blood. Bowl four causes the sun to burn everybody. Bowl five darkens the kingdom of the beast that was introduced in Revelation 13. Bowl six dries up the Euphrates, which then becomes a highway for eastern armies to gather. Bowl seven results in an earthquake, a supernatural hail storm and a rearrangement of the earth's surface.
Armageddon is mentioned under the effects of the sixth bowl (Revelation 16:12-16). The Euphrates dries up, and three frog-like demons appear from the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet (the Hebrew word for frog seems to literally mean Bird-Knower). These three frog spirits perform great signs and gather up the kings of the earth for the war of the Great Day of God. This great gathering is centered on what John the Revelator calls Armageddon, and in all honesty, we have no clue to what that means.
🔼Etymology of the name Armageddon
John says that our name is a Hebrew word or phrase, and no matter where one looks, every scholar will attest that Armageddon is a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew compound that consists of two parts; the first one being the noun הר (har), meaning mountain:
The noun הר (har) is the Bible's common word for mountain or hill. Intuition dictates that the root of the word for mountain probably has to do with being elevated, but that's not correct. In Hebrew thought, a mountain is not something that's high but rather a lot of something gathered. And so, a mountain became synonymous for a large but centralized group of people (Jeremiah 51:25), or even gods (Isaiah 14:13).
The obviously related verb הרה (hera) means to be or become pregnant. An association with the previous noun is obvious, although not because the stomach of a pregnant woman resembles a mountain. The Bible depicts nations as individual women even more than as mountains; the words אמה ('umma), meaning people and אם ('em), meaning mother are closely related. A pregnant woman is to her husband what a conceiving nation is to its deity.
The second part of our name is thought to be the name מגדי; Megiddo, which means Lacerating or Invading and comes from the verb גדד (gadad):
The verb גדד (gadad) describes making an invasive cut, mostly in order to expose something valuable. Noun גדוד (gedud) may describe an invasive band of raiders, or more general: a cutting, a furrow. Noun גדודה (geduda) means a furrow or cutting. Noun גד (gad) appears to describe the exposed treasure and may be used to describe a physical fortune, plain luck or a state of felicity.
Verb גדה (gada) also means to cut. Noun גדה (gadda) refers to a river bank. Noun גדי (gedi) describes a young animal, but mostly one that was either just slaughtered or soon will be.
The whole name Armageddon would thus mean Mountain Of Lacerating, or Invading Mountain. But as good as it looks, there are a few big problems with this interpretation:
🔼Problems with the traditional interpretation of Armageddon
The Biblical town of Megiddo may have been situated on a bit of a natural elevation, but in the Bible it's predominantly known for sitting smack in the middle of a huge plain, fittingly called the Plain of Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:22).
In another major eschatological prophecy, the prophet Zechariah also speaks of a pouring out, but of grace this time. God promises to pour out a Spirit of grace over the house of David and on Jerusalem, "so that they will look on me whom they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10). The apostle John takes that prophecy to be about the crucified Christ (John 19:37). Zechariah continues, "In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Plain of Megiddo".
The word for plain is בקעה (biqa), which comes from the verb בקע (baqa), meaning to cleave or divide. The valley or plain of Megiddo is a valley because of the two mountain rims that envelop it, not because of a mount Megiddo in the middle of it.
The Hebrew word הר (har) means mountain but the elevation upon which Megiddo was situated is nothing but a low hill. The Hebrew word for hill is גבעה (giba), according to HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament referring to "a natural eminence smaller than a mountain".
The word הר returns in the name Haran, and the name Haran shows up in the Greek New Testament as χαρραν, spelled with a chi and not with an alpha, as is the name Armageddon (Acts 7:2-4).
If John the Revelator had meant to say that the final conflict would transpire in an area around the town Megiddo, he would have written either simply Megiddo, or Biqamegiddon or Gibamegiddon, or even Charmageddon, but not Armageddon. The valley of Megiddo has been the scene of many a battle, but a global war won't be fought on such a relative tiny location. The hill of Megiddo itself is hardly big enough to accommodate a college brawl, let alone a clash of modern superpowers. Which brings us to the gathering of those powers, and the river Euphrates that needs to be dry for that.
The Euphrates is the signature river of Babylon, and it flows from the Turkish heartland towards the Persian Gulf. John says that the dry river bed will be a highway for the kings of the east, but following the river Euphrates would lead them nowhere near Megiddo. Even if the river's dryness would make it easier for them to cross from east to west, they would also have to cross the Tigris, which flows just north of the Euphrates. But John's prophetic vision may be assumed keen enough to also see that in our modern times a river of any size won't stop armies from moving.
🔼Alternative interpretations of Armageddon
It's much more likely that Armageddon is an element of the larger symbolic superstructure of the book of Revelation, in which Babylon has become a representation of a world-wide market: "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality" (Revelation 18:3). In that sense the river Euphrates might be construed as the global monetary system, which in our day and age is shedding its coins-and-bills exterior and is becoming a river of numbers. Quite dry, in that sense.
The place where the kings of the earth gather to wage the final war, the War of the Great Day of God, is probably not a physical location, and this Great War is probably not one of soldiers and missiles. Here at Abarim Publications we're pretty sure that this war will be "waged" between two general reality models, where one model sees the world as a centralized human monarchy and the other as a decentralized divine republic.
The Monarchists (fans of the centralized human monarchy) believe that mankind arose purely by good luck and into an existential void that can be filled at man's will. Monarchists believe that we're orphans and that we attained consciousness of the universe like travelers who washed ashore somewhere, that we found this alien place empty and virginal, and entirely open to our interpretation. It's ours because no indigenous people told us otherwise.
We started talking without being taught to, and then developed script out of thin air. That means that our words have always been formless blobs without intrinsic meaning, and whose only meaning is what we agree on. We call a spade a spade for no other reason than that we agree on doing so. We could have called a spade an "XZ123" or a "zirqumbitser" or a "plaerk" and it would have made no difference. Like our words, our human law too started out as a blank slate and is wholly artificial and meaningful by fiat (agreement). Our laws have been gradually expanding at our own discretion and according to our own waxing wisdom.
One day, it is forecast, we will have enough words to say anything, and enough laws to govern everything. Then we will cast our Law in concrete and set it up as the rightful Pillar of our utopic One World. There will be perfect enforcement and hence no more crime or violence or even disease or poverty. Since everything will be perfect, there will be no further need for additions or change, and King Concrete and his executive human council will have absolute and eternal authority. And because there is no more freedom required, there will also not be such archaic things as private property. There will only be perfect equality in a perfect community in perfect compliance to a perfect authority. Mankind will be a godlike being that emerged from cosmic chaos by the sheer power of fiat.
The Republicans (fans of the decentralized divine republic) believe that the universe is governed by one singular natural law that existed before all created things because it brought about all created things. The singularity of this law is the reason why creation started as a singularity too. And since this singular law still governs the world today, it's also the reason why the world is still one, even though its oneness is brought about by the interactions of its many constituents. Humanity, or so the Republicans propose, arose within the lattice provided by the singularity of all natural forces and phenomena, like dew forming anew on grass that already stood. Humanity seeks oneness because it's native to the universe that is one.
Monarchists and Republicans agree that words and languages formed when they condensed on the tapestries of networks of continued interaction that far exceeded the range of a single tribe, or the rule of a single king. But where Monarchists insist that all results are arbitrary and abstract and ultimately brought about by the decisive decree of the biggest bully, Republicans surmise that languages are the result of large groups of people searching their individual minds for the contours of the same universal natural law that governs both the world in which they moved and the minds in which they thought.
Republicans figure that all separate human contributions are like the different numbers on a roulette wheel, and that this roulette wheel of human "evolution" started out as a colossal wheel with millions of individual human positions and one tiny green zero that represented the singularity of natural law. Of course, the house always wins, and the many million different human positions began to reduce as agreement increased. Local pockets of agreements resulted in local languages, local customs and local belief systems, but the influence of the solitary green zero continued to grow as the human pockets became more and more alike each other and alike the green zero.
Ultimately, or so the Republicans foresee, humanity will be governed entirely according to the single green zero of unified natural law, rather than a King Concrete and his human executive council. The freedom of the individual (which precedes and guarantees property rights) will certainly not succumb to insolvency but rather become a fountain of living liquidity of individual and collective artistic expressions.
The battle between the Monarchists and the Republicans will be pretty stiff, but as long as humanity keeps talking we should be fine. Right now the Republicans are still a minority, but Monarchists cross over in increasing numbers. By the time the Monarchists figure out that their multitudes are waking up, they might indeed rev up their physical war machine and cast fences around their turf, but their defeat is inevitable. There is not enough concrete in the world to prevent it from crumbling and grass from coming up through the cracks. In the end, life wins.
- "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" — Genesis 22:18.
- "And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us concerning his ways, and that we may walk in his paths"." — Isaiah 2:3.
- "Once more in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come". — Haggai 2:7.
- "In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you"." — Zechariah 8:23.
- "And the nations shall walk by its light and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it". — Revelation 21:24.
Which brings us to the puzzling etymology of the name Armageddon. We're guessing that we're looking at something similar to the third creation day, when God gathered the waters into one place, so that dry land appeared (Genesis 1:9, also see Revelation 17:15). Dry land in the Bible always symbolizes security or certainty, whereas the seas symbolize danger and uncertainty. We're guessing that Armageddon denotes a degree of global certainty; a conviction that a large majority of people will one day share, namely the Republican reality model.
🔼Alternative etymology of Armageddon
The name Armageddon seems to consist of two parts: Arma and geddon. The first part reminds of the name ארם (Aram), which is generally considered to have come from the common Hebrew verb רום (rum) meaning to be high, rise up:
The verb רום (rum) means to be high or high up in either a physical, social or even attitudinal sense, and may also refer to the apex in a natural process: the being ripe and ready-for-harvest of fruits. Subsequently, our verb may imply a state beyond ripe (higher than ripe, overripe), which thus refers to rotting and being maggot riddled. This means that to the ancients, higher did not simply mean better, and an arrogant political status that was higher than it should be equaled rot and worms (Acts 12:23).
Derived nouns, such as רום (rum) and related forms such as רמה (rama), describe height or pride. Noun רמות (ramut) describes some high thing. The noun ארמון ('armon) refers to a society's apex: a citadel or palace. The noun ראם (re'em) describes the wild ox, which was named possibly for the same reason why we moderns call a rising market a "bull" market. The similar verb ראם (ra'am) means to rise.
The important noun רמון (rimmon) means pomegranate and the pomegranate became the symbol for harvest-ready fruit (see our full dictionary article for more on this). Overripe items might suffer the noun רמה (rimma), worm or maggot, or the verb רמם (ramam), to be wormy.
The name Abram also contains this verb, and speaking of Abram: After he and his family left Ur of the Chaldeans, they split up. Abram went on south to Canaan and his family settled in Paddan-aram, which is an area in Mesopotamia, enveloped by the Euphrates.
BDB Theological Dictionary lists a root which they propose may have been formed from the verb rum, but this root is unused and can't be interpreted. But it has a derivative that has survived: ארמון ('armon), citadel, palace. The use of this word is largely limited to the often returning message that God will burn up the various "palaces" of certain nations (Amos 1:3-14). Palaces were typically built on elevations, but symbolically they denoted the capital of nations, their apices.
The second part of Armageddon reminds of the name גד (Gad) and even the name גדעון (Gideon). The name Gad means Harrowing Fortune (see our article on that name) and the -on part of Armageddon can be easily explained by the common grammatical form waw-nun that creates a personification of a verb: He Will Be Harrowingly Fortunate. That way the name Armageddon would mean Elevated Harrowing Fortune.
The name Gideon means Down Cutter. Taking that to Armageddon would render Elevated Down Cutter, possibly pointing at the great Roulette Wheel whose individual pockets decrease as agreement increases.
It should be noted that directly after the kings of the earth gather towards Armageddon, the seventh angel pours out his bowl and a loud voice comes out of the temple from the throne, saying "It is done!" (Revelation 16:17). That immediately brings us back to the death of Christ on the cross, where his last words were exactly that: "It is done!" (John 19:30).
The name Gideon comes from a verb that means to cut down, which is mostly employed in scenes where rivaling religions destroy each other's shrines. But it's also used to simply describe a chopping down of trees. Perhaps John the Revelator remembered Peter's sermon in which he proclaimed King Jesus' resurrection after his death on a "tree" (Acts 5:30, 10:39). Paul says the same thing in Acts 13:29, and again in Galatians 3:13.