Roman Legions, a Miracle, and Armageddon: Our Last Day in Israel

We are back home now but our last day in Israel was excellent. We visited two of the best sites in the country and made a surprise visit to an excavation that has since been in the news.

So what did we do on our way to the airport?

We drove from the Sea of Galilee to ancient Megiddo. On the way, we passed the village of Nain. Luke 7 records Jesus raising a young man from the dead when He met the funeral procession coming out from the town.

The village of Nain. Jesus raised a woman's son from the dead as the funeral procession came out from the town.

The village of Nain. Jesus met a funeral procession leaving the town and raised a widow’s son from the dead.

We crossed the historic Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This city sat at a strategic crossroads for traffic between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its name appears in the Bible and in numerous ancient records. Visitors to the site enter by the city gate that dates to the 15th century BC. It is only wide enough to accommodate typical chariots of the period.

The gate of Megiddo from the 15th century BC. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The gate of Megiddo from the 15th century BC. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Megiddo sits like a sentinel over the Jezreel Valley. This valley is key to controlling the land of ancient Canaan. Nearly every invader in history has fought a battle in the open space before Megiddo. (For a popular military history of this valley, I recommend “The Battles of Armageddon” by Dr. Eric Cline.)

Panorama of the Jezreel Valley from Tel Megiddo. We know of at least 34 different military engagements here throughout history, including those of Deborah, Gideon, Saul, Jehu, and Josiah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Panorama of the Jezreel Valley from Tel Megiddo. We know of at least 34 different military engagements here throughout history, including those of Deborah, Gideon, Saul, Jehu, and Josiah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Archaeologists are uncovering a 1st-2nd century AD military camp of the Roman VI Legion immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This is the first complete Roman military base discovered in the eastern Roman Empire and the excavation has just been in the news. We enjoyed a personal tour from two of the co-directors.

Excavations immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This dig, sponsored by the Albright Institute, is uncovering a Roman Legionary base from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Excavations immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This dig, sponsored by the Albright Institute, is uncovering a Roman Legionary base from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

After a good lunch we finished off the afternoon with a visit to Caesarea, the magnificent marble port city built by Herod the Great. Below is a photo of the palace. The area with the columns was for official use, including court cases such as that of the apostle Paul in Acts 24 and 25. The lower section of rocks to the left was actually the living quarters for the governor and his family and included a freshwater swimming pool that is still visible today.

Herod's palace at Caesarea, also used by later Roman governors including Pontius Pilate. Paul likely faced Felix and Agrippa here. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Herod’s palace at Caesarea, also used by later Roman governors including Pontius Pilate. Paul likely faced Felix and Agrippa here. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

These were the perfect experiences to end a wonderful trip. Each of these stops is worthy of a longer post, and perhaps those will come soon enough. In the meantime, consider coming on next year’s trip if you have not already been. If you have traveled here before, there are many new sites and discoveries that merit another visit. One trip is not a complete experience. There is simply too much to see and do.

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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