In the year 1486 King Thutmose III set out on a crusade of conquest to Canaan against a confederation of kings. One of the most important cities in the middle east for thousands of years was Megiddo, known to the world and the Book of Revelations in the New Testament as Armageddon.
Megiddo sat astride the Via Maris - the ancient way of the Sea - the main artery stretching across the Fertile Crescent from the Euphrates in Mesopotamia, to the Nile Delta. It crossed Canaan running more or less north to south from Gaza to Aruna (today's Aroeh), where it turned inland to cross the hills to Megiddo, the fertile Jezreel valley to reach north-eastwards to the Sea of Galilee and across the Jordan to the Golan Heights, Damascus and beyond. Megiddo was a key point commanding as it did the access in both directions to and from the coast. Two other passes were avilable:- one further north at Yokneam and one further south at Taanakh.

We are told that Thutmose sent out scouts to decide which of the three passes should be used and when they advised the northern one as being easier for men and horses, he rejected their advice saying, in effect ".... if you think it so, the enemy will too, and gather their main forces at Yokneam to meet us with their major strength. We will take them by surprise and go the hard way."

An inscription at the Amen Temple at Karnak puts it thus (in part):-
His majesty ordered a consultation with his valiant troops, saying as follows: "That wretched enemy, the chief of Kadesh, has come and entered into Megiddo; he is there at this moment. He has gathered to himself the chiefs of all the countries which are on the water of Egypt, and as far as Naharin, consisting of the countries of the Kharu, the Kode, their horses, their troops. Thus he speaks, 'I have arisen to fight against his majesty in Megiddo.'"
They spoke in the presence of his majesty, "How is it, that we should go upon this road, which threatens to be narrow? While they come and say that the enemy is there waiting, holding the way against a multitude. Will not horse come behind horse and man behind man likewise? Shall our advance-guard be fighting while our rear-guard is yet standing yonder in Aruna not having fought? There are yet two other roads: one road, behold, it will carry us, for it comes forth at Taanach, the other, behold, it will bring us upon the way noth of Zefti, so that we shall come out to the north of Megiddo. Let our victorious lord proceed upon the road he desires; but cause us not to go by a difficult road."
Then went messengers concerning this design which they had uttered, in view of what had been said by the majesty of the Court: "I swear, as Re loves me, as my father Amon, favors me, as my nostrils are rejuvenated with satisfying life, my majesty will proceed upon this road of Aruna. Let him who will among you, go upon those roads ye have mentioned, and let him who will among you, come in the following of my majesty. Shall they think among those enemies whom Re detests: 'Does his majesty proceed upon another road? He begins to be fearful of us,' so will they think." They spoke before his majesty: "May thy father Amon, lord of Thebes, presider over Karnak, grant thee life. Behold, we are the following of thy majesty in every place, whither thy majesty proceedeth; as the servant is behind his master." Then his majesty commanded the entire army to march upon that road which threatened to be narrow. His majesty swore, saying: "None shall go forth in the way before my majesty." He went forth at the head of his army himself, showing the way by his own footsteps; horse behind horse, his majesty being at the head of his army.

An additional excerpt bears an even more daunting description of the pass detailing scorpions, snakes, ambushes and precipitous cliffs.
In the event the battle to subdue Megiddo was still not easy and took seven months. In that time Thutmose's army was able to sustain itself by harvesting the crops of Megiddo from the surrounding fertile valley.

Today a super-highway runs through the valley and it is difficult to imagine the perils that confronted the Egyptian armies of 3,500 years ago but Israelis today may remember the previous road of only 15-20 years ago before it's improvements and recall that even then travel could be hazardous because of the heavy transport it carried and the inadequate roads.
My thanks to André Dollinger, who can be reached here, for allowing me to use the fruits of his own labours and investigations.
His excellent website is here.

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