A convulsion of the earth common in volcanic regions, and well known in all parts of the world; probably occasioned by the action of internal heat or fire. Scripture speaks of several earthquakes, Nu 16; 1Ki 19:11-12. One occurred in the twenty-seventh year of Uzziah king of Judah, and is mentioned in Am 1:1; Zec 14:5. A very memorable earthquake was that at our Savior's death, Mt 27:51, which some suppose extended throughout the world. Palestine has been often visited by earthquakes. So late as 1837 one occurred in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, by which about a third part of Tiberias was destroyed, and thousands of people perished there and in the towns near by. Earthquakes were among the calamities foretold as connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, Mt 24:7; and history proves the truth of the prediction.
The first earthquake in Palestine of which we have any record happened in the reign of Ahab (1Ki 19:11-12). Another took place in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah (Zec 14:5). The most memorable earthquake taking place in New Testament times happened at the crucifixion of our Lord (Mt 27:54). An earthquake at Philippi shook the prison in which Paul and Silas were imprisoned (Ac 16:26).
Traces of volcanic agency abound in Palestine. Yet the only recorded earthquake is that in Uzziah's reign (Am 1:1). It must have been a terrible one, since two and a half centuries later it was still being made an epoch in Zec 14:5; his sin in the spiritual world was connected with the convulsion in the natural world. Such physical signs and premonitory upheavals shall accompany the closing conflict between the powers of light and darkness (Isa 24:20; Zec 14:4; Mt 24:7). Also that in 1Ki 19:11. The awe it inspires made it an accompaniment attributed to Jehovah's presence (Jg 5:4; 2Sa 22:8; Ps 77:18; 104:32; Am 8:8; Hab 3:10). The valley of Siddim, S. of the Dead Sea, probably subsided owing to an earthquake. Bela is so-called ("swallowed up") from having been engulfed by an earthquake, as Dathan and Abiram were (Nu 16:30-32; Ge 14:2).
The miraculous darkness and earthquake at our Lord's death (Mt 27:51-54) agree with the natural fact of darkness often accompanying earthquakes. The Jordan Valley, with a lower and a lower valley, the sulphurous and bituminous neighborhood of the Dead Sea, the lava, pumice stones, and hot springs, the crater like depression of the Dead Sea, 1,300 ft. below the Mediterranean level, and 3,500 ft. below Jerusalem, only 20 miles away (the deepest depression on the earth), its basaltic columns, disturbed strata, and numerous crevices, all betoken action of volcanoes and earthquakes. The line of earthquakes extends from Hebron and Jerusalem to Baalbek and Aleppo, from S.W. to N.E., following the central chain of Syria, parallel to the Jordan Valley, and terminating in the volcanic slope of Taurus on the N. and in the mountains of Arabia Petrea on the S.
The whole formation of the country running in a straight line from the Taurus range to the gulf of Akabah, which therefore includes Central Jud
The first earthquake mentioned is when Elijah was told to stand before the Lord. There passed by a strong wind that rent the rocks, then an earthquake, and fire; but the Lord was not in the earthquake, nor in the fire; but in a still small voice: a lesson for Elijah when he was thinking much of himself. 1Ki 19:11-12. In the days of Uzziah there was a great earthquake, from which the people fled. Am 1:1; Zec 14:5. Josephus (Ant. ix. 10, 4) states that this happened when the king went into the temple and was struck with leprosy. 2Ch 26:16-21.
There was an earthquake at the death of the Lord, and the rocks were rent, which drew from the centurion the saying, "Truly this was the Son of God." Mt 27:51,54. There was also a great earthquake at the resurrection of the Lord. Mt 28:2. When Paul and Barnabas were in the prison at Philippi there was a great earthquake that shook the prison, which led to the conversion of the jailer. Ac 16:26. Josephus (Ant. xv. 5, 2) relates the particulars of a dreadful earthquake in Palestine about B.C. 31, when as many as 10,000 of the inhabitants lost their lives.
In the future judgements on the earth, earthquakes are often mentioned. Isa 29:6; Mt 24:7; Mr 13:8; Lu 21:11; Re 6:12; 8:5; 11:13,19; 16:18. Symbolically they point to the upheaval of the lower masses of society, overthrowing the social system either partially or entirely.
Earthquakes, more or less violent, are of frequent occurrence in Palestine. The most remarkable occurred in the reign of Uzziah.
we are led to infer that a great convulsion took place at this time in the Mount of Olives, the mountain being split so as to leave a valley between its summit. An earthquake occurred at the time of our Saviour's crucifixion.
Earthquakes are not unfrequently accompanied by fissures of the earth's surface; instances of this are recorded in connection with the destruction of Korah and his company,
and at the time of our Lord's death,
the former may be paralleled by a similar occurrence at Oppido in Calabria A.D. 1783, where the earth opened to the extent of five hundred and a depth of more than two hundred feet.
EARTHQUAKE. The Scripture speaks of several earthquakes. One happened in the twenty-seventh year of Uzziah, king of Judah, in the year of the world 3221. This is mentioned in Am 1:1, and in Zec 14:5. Josephus says that its violence divided a mountain, which lay west of Jerusalem, and drove one part of it four furlongs. A very memorable earthquake is that which happened at our Saviour's death, Mt 27:51. Many have thought that this was perceived throughout the world. Others are of opinion that it was felt only in Judea, or even in the temple at Jerusalem. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, that the rocks upon mount Calvary were shown in his time, which had been rent asunder by this earthquake. Maundrell and Sandys testify the same, and say that they examined the breaches in the rock, and were convinced that they were the effects of an earthquake. It must have been terrible, since the centurion and those with him were so affected by it, as to acknowledge the innocence of our Saviour, Lu 23:47. Phlegon, Adrian's freedman, relates that, together with the eclipse, which happened at noon day, in the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, or A.D. 33, a very great earthquake was also felt, principally in Bithynia. The effects of God's power, wrath, and vengeance are compared to earthquakes, Ps 18:7; 46:2; 114:4. An earthquake signifies also, in prophetic language, the dissolution of governments and the overthrow of states.