|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Mentioned among the extraordinary phenomena of Palestine (Psalm 18:7; Comp. Habakkuk 3:6; Nahum 1:5; Isaiah 5:25).
The first earthquake in Palestine of which we have any record happened in the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 19:11, 12). Another took place in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah (Zechariah 14:5). The most memorable earthquake taking place in New Testament times happened at the crucifixion of our Lord (Matthew 27:54). An earthquake at Philippi shook the prison in which Paul and Silas were imprisoned (Acts 16:26).
It is used figuratively as a token of the presence of the Lord (Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 22:8; Psalm 77:18; 97:4; 104:32).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A shaking, trembling, or concussion of the earth, due to subterranean causes, often accompanied by a rumbling noise. The wave of shock sometimes traverses half a hemisphere, destroying cities and many thousand lives; -- called also earthdin, earthquave, and earthshock.
2. (a.) Like, or characteristic of, an earthquake; loud; starling.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
urth'-kwak (ra`ash; seismos):
1. Earthquakes in Palestine: The last earthquake which worked any damage in Palestine and Syria occurred in 1837, and destroyed the village of Safed, near Mt. Hermon, and was felt even all the way to Hebron. Since that time a few feeble shocks have been felt but no damage was done. The region is just on the edge of the great earthquake circle whose center is in Armenia, and is liable to earthquakes. The large number of references in the Bible to earthquakes, and the evident fear in the minds of the people of those times, would seem to indicate that they were more frequent in Bible times than recently.
2. Causes of Earthquakes: There are three main causes of earthquakes:
(1) Earthslips. In the slow process of cooling, the crust of the earth tends to wrinkle and fold as it contracts. This causes a stress to be set up in the strata composing the crust. If the strata are too rigid to bend there must come after a time a break or fault. The shock caused by the break, which is usually several miles below the surface of the earth, is an earthquake, and it spreads in the form of earth waves from the break as center. Seismographs in all parts of the world are now adjusted to receive the waves even though the origin is on the opposite side of the earth.
(2) Explosion of Steam or Gases under the Surface. Some earthquakes, especially those underneath the sea, are thought to be caused by water seeping through the soil and rocks and finding its way to the heated masses below. Steam is formed and if there is no escape for it, an explosion takes place whose force is felt on the surface.
(3) Volcanic. As earthquakes are of common occurrence in volcanic regions it seems likely that there is some connection between the two, but the relation has not been fully traced. It may be that the second cause is the origin of both the volcano and earthquake.
See further, DELUGE OF NOAH.
3. Earthquakes in Jerusalem: Many destructive earthquakes have been recorded in the history of Syria, but they have been mostly in the north, in the region of Aleppo. Jerusalem itself has seldom been affected by earthquakes. The Hauran beyond the Jordan is covered with volcanic remains and signs of violent shocks, and the cities on the coast have suffered much, but Jerusalem on the higher ground between has usually escaped with little destruction.
4. Earthquakes in Scripture: A number of earthquakes are mentioned in the Scriptures: (1) At Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18); (2) Korah and companions destroyed in fissure and sinking ground (Numbers 16:31 Ant, IV, iii, 3); (3) in the Philistine camp in the days of Saul (1 Samuel 14:15); (4) after Elijah's flight (1 Kings 19:11); (5) in the reign of Uzziah, between 790 and 740 B.C. (Amos 1:1); Zechariah 14:5 probably refers to the same (Ant., IX, x, 4); (6) at Christ's death (Matthew 27:51-54); (7) at Christ's resurrection (Matthew 28:2); (8) at Philippi when Paul and Silas were freed from prison (Acts 16:26). Most of these shocks seem to have been slight and caused little loss of life. Josephus mentions one in the reign of Herod, "such as had not happened at any other time, which was very destructive to men and cattle" (Ant., XV, v, 2). Professor G. A. Smith in his recent work on Jerusalem is of the opinion that earthquakes were sufficiently frequent and strong to account for the appearance and disappearance of Nehemiah's Fountain (Jerus, I, 74). The Hebrew ra`ash is commonly used to mean a great noise. Large earthquakes are sometimes accompanied by a rumbling noise, but as a rule they come silently and without warning.
5. Symbolic Use: In the Scriptures earthquakes are mentioned as tokens of God's power (Job 9:6) and of His presence and anger (Psalm 68:8; Psalm 18:7 Isaiah 13:13): "She shall be visited of Yahweh of hosts. with earthquake, and great noise" (Isaiah 29:6); also as a sign of Christ's "coming, and of the end of the world" (Matthew 24:3-7). See also Revelation 11:13, 19; Revelation 16:18.
LITERATURE. Milne, Earthquakes (Inter. Scient. series); Plumptre, Biblical Studies, 136; Dutton, Earthquakes.
Alfred H. Joy
Earthquake (17 Occurrences)
Matthew 27:54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God." (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 28:2 Behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from the sky, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were loosened. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 6:12 I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 8:5 The angel took the censer, and he filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it on the earth. There followed thunders, sounds, lightnings, and an earthquake. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 11:13 In that day there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 11:19 God's temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord's covenant was seen in his temple. Lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail followed. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 16:18 There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 19:11 He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before Yahweh." Behold, Yahweh passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before Yahweh; but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 19:12 After the earthquake a fire passed; but Yahweh was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 29:6 She will be visited by Yahweh of Armies with thunder, with earthquake, with great noise, with whirlwind and storm, and with the flame of a devouring fire. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 3:12 And lift me up doth a spirit, and I hear behind me a noise, a great rushing -- 'Blessed 'is' the honour of Jehovah from His place!' -- (See RSV)
Ezekiel 3:13 I heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, even the noise of a great rushing. (See RSV)
Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, an earthquake; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. (WEB ASV)
Ezekiel 38:19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; (See NAS NIV)
Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen 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. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 14:5 You shall flee by the valley of my mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azel; yes, you shall flee, just like you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Yahweh my God will come, and all the holy ones with you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)