(ehss dray' ee lahn) Greek translation of the word Jezreel, indicating the low-lying area separating the mountains of Galilee from the mountains of Samaria.
Old Testament Esdraelon, also called the Great Plain of Esdraelon or the Plain of Jezreel, is the area assigned to Zebulun and Issachar (Joshua 19:10-23). It extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River at Beth-Shean. Included are the Valley or Plain of Megiddo in the east and the Valley of Jezreel in the west.
Sources disagree on the actual naming of the area. Some scholars say that the Valley of Jezreel is the name for the entire region; Esdraelon being the western portion, comprised of the Plain of Accho and the Valley of Megiddo. Whatever the entire region is called, it is assumed that references to Jezreel indicate both the town of Jezreel and the valley in which it is located; and references to Megiddo indicate both the town and the plain on which it is located.
The historical and biblical significance of Esdraelon in the Old Testament is its association with war and bloodshed. As a battleground, it was a strategically-favored place. It was occupied by Canaanites who were less than willing to relocate when the tribes of Israel tried to settle there (Judges 1:27). The Song of Deborah in
Judges 5:1 celebrates the battle “at Tanaach by the waters of Megiddo” (Judges 5:19) where Barak finally routed the Canaanites.
Other important battles were fought in Esdraelon. Frequently the question of Israel's leadership was settled there. Josiah died in battle against Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20-24). Saul and Jonathan died at the hands of the Philistines in the Valley of Jezreel (1 Samuel 29:1,1 Samuel 29:11;
1 Samuel 31:1-7). Jehu killed his rivals Joram and Ahaziah at Jezreel (2 Kings 9:1). He later slaughtered all the men of Ahab and Azariah and all the prophets of Baal there (2 Kings 10:1).
Brutal slaughter for other than political reasons took place in Esdraelon. Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel. Jezebel and Ahab wanted to buy the vineyard, but Naboth refused because it had been handed down to him from his ancestors (1 Kings 21:3). Jezebel arranged Naboth's murder so Ahab could take possession of the vineyard (1 Kings 21:5-16).
The tragedies at Esdraelon did not go unnoticed by God. For her part, Jezebel was later murdered at Jezreel as prophesied by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23;
2 Kings 9:36). Hosea prophesied vengeance on the house of Jehu for his role in the slaughter at Jezreel (Hosea 1:4-5).
New Testament Esdraelon is mentioned in the New Testament as Armageddon or har-Megiddon, meaning hill or city of Megiddo.
Revelation 16:16 echoes the Old Testament portrayal of Esdraelon as a place of war and tragedy. The final battle of the Lord will be waged there (Revelation 16:14-16;
Donna R. Ridge