The Earthquake In The Days Of The Prophet Amos And King Uzziah -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 25:3 (Summer 2012)
Article: The Earthquake In The Days Of The Prophet Amos And King Uzziah
Author: Gordon Franz


The Earthquake In The Days Of The Prophet Amos And King Uzziah

Gordon Franz

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. –Am 1:1

My study of this earthquake began during the summer of 1987 when I was working on the excavation at Tel Lachish in the Shephelah of Judah. One day I got “Sennacherib’s revenge” (that is the Middle East version of “Montezuma’s revenge”) and was confined to bed, except for the occasional “turkey trot” to the outhouse in the eucalyptus grove some 160 ft (50 m) from our camp. Trying to keep from getting bored, I began reading the excavation report from Tel Sheva and came across a reference to the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah dealt considerable damage to the Middle East. Dr. Yohanan Aharoni identifies Tel Sheva as biblical Beer Sheva. Aharoni suggests that Stratum III (the third level of occupation) was partially destroyed by an earthquake during the days of King Uzziah, but quickly rebuilt by its inhabitants (1973: 107-108). The excavator at Tel Lachish concluded that the same earthquake destroyed Stratum IV. When I returned home at the end of the summer, I compiled a list of sites which where effected by this earthquake. The list raised the questions, “What does this mean? Can we tell anything about this earthquake? Where was the epicenter? How strong was it?” For answers, I turned to my friend Dr. Steve Austin, a geologist at the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego. I gave him the list of sites with copies of the excavation reports and asked the question, “What does this all mean?” His reply was intriguing and exciting.

The Archaeological Evidence

The most vivid archaeological evidence for this earthquake was unearthed at Hazor, in the northern part of Israel, during the 1956 season. The area supervisor, the late Prof. Y. Aharoni, described the destruction to the walls of the houses. Some were cracked and others tilted or fell in a southerly or easterly direction (Yadin 1960: 24). One house had an ivory cosmetic spoon with a woman’s head on the backside. Yigael Yadin, the excavator of the site, suggested it depicted a fertility goddess (1975: 154-55), something that Isaiah condemned (Is 2:8, Is 2:18, Isa 2:20).

This and other small finds gave indication of the material prosperity of the Northern Kingd...

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