SUMMARY: Biblical Quake Confirmed – A major earthquake mentioned by the biblical prophets Amos and Zechariah has been confirmed to have taken place around 760 BC. Geologists have measured disruptions in the layers of sediment in the Dead Sea that lay along a major fault line that indicate when major quakes occurred in the region. They found the largest earthquake of the last several thousand years coincided with the Amos account, confirming its the validity.
The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. – Amos 1:1 (ESV)
Biblical Quake Confirmed by Scienctists
Biblical quake confirmed by scientists based on archaeological evidence. The biblical quake that is written about in the Book of Amos. Amos opens with an introduction of the shepherd prophet, along with the date of his proclamation – two years before a massive earthquake. As reported in Haaretz, geologists studying layers of sediment on the floor of the Dead Sea have found evidence for this seismic event, which they estimate occurred around 760 BC.
This biblical quake was also mentioned by the prophet Zechariah and Jewish historian Josephus. A closer look at the geological study shows that such an episode was more unique than thought, which provides a significant marker for the history found in the Bible, as well as support for the veracity of the biblical account.
The Prophecy of Amos
Amos was the first prophet of the divided kingdom to have a book of the Bible named after him. He was an older contemporary of Isaiah and lived during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos moved from Tekoa in Judah to Israel and prophesied the destruction of that kingdom and the exile of many of its people. This was when Israel was prosperous, yet just a few decades away from its final defeat by the hands of the Assyrians.
According to biblical chronology, sometime in the first half the 8th century (700s) BC, Amos strode past the golden calf that and had been put up as a replacement for worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, and into the sanctuary at Bethel to proclaim the coming judgments of the LORD if Israel did not turn from her evil ways. These included many references to an earthquake and its effects.
I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said: “Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people …” – Amos 9:1 (ESV)
Altars would be broken and cast down (3:14), houses would be smashed (3:15, 6:11), the land would be shaken and tossed about (8:8), and the temple at Bethel would be brought down on their heads (9:1).
The biblical quake would serve as the first in a series of warnings that would eventually lead to Israel’s expulsion from the land. Other biblical prophets would take up the imagery surrounding earthquakes to describe the coming judgments of the Lord, including the final judgment.
More than two centuries later, in the days of Ezra, the prophet Zechariah also referenced this quake. This is further support for its severity and the impact it had for generations afterward.
…And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah… – Zechariah 14:5 (ESV)
In the first century, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote that this biblical quake also served as part of the rebuke to King Uzziah of Judah. His reign of 52 years was the longest of all the Israelite kings. In 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 the Bible relates how Uzziah’s success made him proud and he attempted to burn incense to the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a task that only the priests were to perform. When he became angry with the priests who withstood him, God struck Uzziah with leprosy for his presumption.
For decades, archaeologists have been identifying signs of the biblical quake in the days of Amos and Uzziah. According to the Haaretz article, a destruction layer at Hazor was dated by Israel Finkelstein and Yigal Yadin to about 760 BC. At Megiddo, the article says archaeologists describe “tilted walls and pillars, bent and warped walls, fractured building stones, dipping floors, liquefied sand, mudbrick collapse and burnt remains” (Shmuel Marco and Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, with Amotz Agnon of Hebrew University and David Ussishkin).
According to an article by Steven A. Austin at ICR, earthquake evidence is seen at Hazor, where excavations began in 1955 under Yigael Yadin. Its Iron Age layers include tilted walls, inclined pillars, and collapsed houses.
Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” – Amos 8:8 (ESV)
Evidence for a great biblical era earthquake in the days of King Uzziah has also been found on the bottom of the Dead Sea.
This is the location of Israel’s largest fault called the Dead Sea Transform. In a report published in Tectonophysics, Amotz Argon along with Shmuel Marco of the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel Aviv University, present the findings of their study on the layers of sediment laying on top of the fault line near Ein Gedi. The results are startling – clear signs of a major seismic event somewhere around 750 BC.
For behold, the LORD commands, and the great house shall be struck down into fragments, and the little house into bits. – Amos 6:11 (ESV)
An interesting reality is shared in a report by UCLA scholar Ryan Nathaniel Roberts in his Ph.D. thesis titled, Terra Terror: An Interdisciplinary Study of Earthquakes in Ancient Near Eastern Texts and the Hebrew Bible. Roberts writes, “The disturbed layers in the core appear to bear out the mean recurrence interval argued by Migowski et al. as they believe quakes occurred around 1050 BCE, 700 BCE and 525 BCE. This insight provides the most current information on Levantine earthquakes during the biblical period and has yet to be integrated into Near Eastern scholarship.”
The traditional view is that earthquakes in Israel were very frequent, but recent studies suggest otherwise. Following an earthquake around 1050 BC, there is no evidence for another significant quake until the days of Amos and Uzziah, about 300 years later.
According to Haaretz, analyses of archaeological evidence by Kate Raphael, constrained by Agnon’s work on Dead Sea sediments, found only 11 quakes of note in the whole of the Bronze and Iron ages in Israel – a period conventionally thought to span about 2,800 years.
According to the Bible, this earthquake was part of the warning to the Kingdom of Israel that its evil deeds were leading to destruction. Both the Bible and history show that this warning was ignored and that the biblical quake confirmed by scientists is another pattern of evidence. Keep Thinking!
TOP IMAGE: Megiddo is one of many sites in northern Israel containing evidence of a great earthquake in the 8th century BC. (Wikimedia Commons)