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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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EARTHQUAKE . The whole formation of the country running in a straight line from the Taurus range to the gulf of Akabah, which therefore includes Central Judæa, reveals a volcanic character of a striking kind. That this large tract was, in days gone by, the scene of frequent and terrible earthquakes, admits of no doubt. Apart from the actual occurrences of earthquakes recorded in the Bible and elsewhere ( e.g. at the time of the battle of Actium, in the seventh year of the reign of Herod the Great, Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XV. v. 2), the often-used imagery of the earthquake bears eloquent testimony to a fearful experience.

It is necessary to distinguish between actual earthquakes and those which belong to the descriptive accounts of theophanies or Divine manifestations of wrath, etc. Of the former only one is mentioned in the OT, that which occurred in the reign of Uzziah (Amos 1:1 , Zechariah 14:5 ); among the latter must be included such references as Exodus 19:18 , 1 Kings 19:11 , Numbers 16:31 , Psalms 18:7; Psalms 68:8; Psalms 77:18; Psalms 104:4 , Isaiah 29:6 etc. In the NT it is recorded that an earthquake occurred at the Crucifixion ( Matthew 27:51; Matthew 27:54 ), at the Resurrection ( Matthew 28:2 ), and on the night of St. Paul’s imprisonment in Philippi ( Acts 16:26 ); further, it is foretold that there shall be earthquakes at Christ’s second coming ( Matthew 24:7 , Mark 13:8 , Luke 21:11 ); their mention in Rev. Is characteristic of apocalyptic literature.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Earthquake'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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