JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Evidence of a biblical earthquake which occurred in the 8th century BCE has surfaced dramatically in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem. Similar evidence has been found in other sites in Israel but this is the first time that evidence of the earthquake, referred to in Amos and Zecharia, has been found in Jerusalem itself
The Bible refers a number of times to an earthquake which occurred some 2,800 years ago. The prophet Amos commenced his prophecies in the reign of king Uzziah of Judah “two years before the earthquake.” According to Josephus, the earthquake occurred as Uzziah was about to illegally offer a sacrifice in the Temple as described in the Bible: (Divrei Hayamim 2:26: 16-20)
“His heart became haughty until he became corrupt, and he trespassed against the Lord his God, and he came into the Temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest came after him, and with him were priests of the Lord, eighty mighty men. And they stood beside Uzziah the king and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn [incense]. Leave the Sanctuary, for you have trespassed, and it will not be glory for you from the Lord God.” And Uzziah became furious, and in his hand was a censer to burn, and in his fury with the priests, the leprosy shone upon his forehead before the priests in the House of the Lord, over the altar of incense. And Azariah, the chief priest, and all the priests, turned to him, and behold he was stricken with leprosy on his forehead; so they rushed him out of there, and he too hastened to leave, for the Lord had smitten him.”
The earthquake is also referred to 200 years later by the prophet Zacharia, but while evidence of the event was found in places like Chatzor and Gat, there was no indication that it had affected Jerusalem until broken vessels and other signs of destruction typical of earthquakes were discovered in the City of David. The vessels date back to a period where there were no known conquests and therefore seem to testify to an earthquake shattering them.
Dr. Uziel explains how archaeologists realized they were looking at evidence from an earthquake
“When we excavated the structure and uncovered an 8th century BCE layer of destruction, we were very surprised, because we know that Jerusalem continued to exist in succession until the Babylonian destruction, which occurred about 200 years later,” IAA excavation directors Dr. Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf said.
“We asked ourselves what could have caused that dramatic layer of destruction we uncovered. Examining the excavation findings, we tried to check if there is a reference to it in the biblical text. Interestingly, the earthquake that appears in the Bible in the books of Amos and Zechariah, occurred at the time when the building we excavated in the City of David collapsed.”
Archaeologists found fragments of many types of vessels under houses, suggesting that residents of the area built their homes on top of ruins left by the earthquake. The structures were later destroyed during the Babylonian destruction of the first temple in 586 BCE.
The findings will be presented to the public at the “City of David Research” conference of the Megalim Institute which will take place new month.