THE EARTHQUAKE IN THE DAYS OF UZZIAH By E. H.

PLUMPTRE It is well known, lies almost in the centre of one great volcanic region I of the earth's surface, that, namely, which includes the basin of the Mediterranean and the provinces of Western or Central Asia. Traces of that volcanic action are found in every direction. The black basaltic rock of the HaurSn, the hot springB of Tiberias and Emmaus and Gadara, the naphtha fountains near the Dead Sea, the dykes of porphyry and other volcanic rocks that force their way through the limestone, the many caves in the limestone rock themselves, — all these show that we are treading on ground where the forces of the hidden fires of earth have been in times past in active operation. We are, that is, in a zone of earthquakes.* Of some of these earthquakes, tremendous in their pheenomena and the extent of the desolation caused hy tliem, we have iuU details, in earlier and even in * Compare Bitter's '" Get^nmh^ of . 242—244 (English traiulafioil) ; Dr. Piisej' and Tiirtram'i" Land of Israel," pp. i67, sai.

EARTHQUAKE IN UZZIAIPS DAYS. 137 contemporary history. The Jewish writer, Josephus, speaks of one which occurred B.C. 31 a^ having destroyed many villages, and countless flocks and herds, and human lives, which he estimates (with somewhat, perhaps, of Oriental vagueness as to statistics) now at ten, and now at thirty thousand.* Herod and his army, who were then carrying on war against the Arabs, were only saved by their being encamped in tents, and so fi*ee from the perils of falling houses. As it was, he had to combat the panic and depression which it spread through his troops, and, with something of a sceptical epicureanism, to assure them that these natural phaenomena were not signs of greater evils yet to come, but were calamities by themselves, having no con-

nection with any others that followed or preceded them. Within the last thirty years again the shocks of an earthquake were felt over the whole of Sjrria, ill Beirout, Damascus, Cyprus; Safed was almost utterly destroyed; Tiberias was left little better than a heap of ruins, and one-third of the population perished, to the number of a thousand. Rivers forsook their beds and left them dry for hours. The hot springs that flow into the Sea of Tiberias were largely swollen in volume, and the level of the lake rai8ed.t One such convulsion has left its impress on the history of the kingdom of Judah. The first verse of the prophecy of Amos (perhaps from his own pen, perhaps prefixed by some early compiler) tells us of the " words which he saw concerning Israel, in the days of Uzziah-, king of Judah, and \h the days of • Ant., zy. 5, { 2 ; Bell. Jud., i 19, } 3. t Bitter, u. p. 348.

138 BIBLICAL STUDIES, Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel, two yearn before the earthquakes^* The calamity had become a chronological era by which men reckoned, and the proof which this gives of the impression it had made speaks volumes for its destructive character. Neither in the Books of Kings, nor in those of Chronicles, it is true, do we find any records of it. They dwell on the personal calamity which smote the king with leprosy, and pass over in silence what must have been, at the time far more terrible. In the lost chronicles of the kings of Judah, from which our extant histories were compiled, we should have doubtless found it registered in the annals of XJzziah's reign. JosephuSjt who seems to have followed some local traditions independent of the Biblical narrative, connects the two events together. The earthquake, lie says, happened as the king entered the sanctuary to bum incense, and the holy place was thrown open byit, and a bright light like the sun flashed upon him, and so he became a leper. This is probably erroneous as to its chronology, but another fact which, the historian names shows in a vivid manner the extent of the convulsion. A large mass of rock, he

says, rolled down from the mountain on the west of the city (perhaps from the western side of the Mount of Olives) and was carried for four stadia (half a mile) till it reached the eastern slope, and there stopped up the pathway which led to the king's gardens. Two centuries later it still dwelt in men's minds as the type of all such calamities. Zechariah. in painting the terrors of " the day of the Lord,*' which he sees in the uncertain distance of the fiiture, describes them by imagery clearly borrowed from * AmoB i 1. t Ant, iz. 10, § 4.

EARTHQUAKE IN UZZIAITS DAYS. 139 this catastrophe. The Mount of Olives is to cleave ** towards the east and towards the west;" " There shall be a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove towards '' the north, and half of it towards the south."* All that had been witnessed in the old convulsion was to be repeated on a greater and more tremendous scale. And then follow words which show what terror had been produced by that convulsion, — "Ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains Yea, ye shall flee like as ye fled before the earthquake in the days of IJzziah, king of Judah." The population of Jerusalem, «.e., had been driven in their terror from the walls and houses that were falling on them, from the masses of rock which were thus hurled upon the city, and had sought refuge in the open country.f And it was, so far as we know, the first great earthquake in the history of Israel. There is no trace of anything of the kind in the period of the Judges, or the earlier history of the Kings. The earthquake which rent the rocks when Elijah stood on Horeb, that which had been felt at Sinai or in Edom, when the " earth trembled and the heavens dropped " ( Judg. v. 4), (if indeed we are dealing here with natural phaenomena at all), affected only that locality, and were not felt in Judah. It is obvious that this must have added greatly to its terribleness, ? Zech. xiv. 4, 5.

t As Ewald interprets the passage, the prophet represents the people as fleeing, in their panio, from the vaUey of Jehoshaphat and the slopes of the Mount of Olives, and finding refuge in the courts of the Temple and the presence of Jehovah there. On either view we have the picture of a great convulsion. It is singular that theire is no reference to this fact, and its probable connection with the present form of the mountain, in Mr. Grove's admirable, and otherwise exhaustive, article on the ** Mount of Olives," in Dr. Smith's " Dictionary of the Bible."

140 BIBLICAL STUDIES and to the awe which men felt in thinking of it. To a people like the Israelites it would seem to be the immediate action of the will of Jehovah, punishing them for their evil, the forerunner of other judgments like it in kind and, it might be, greater in degree. Physical explanations of the phaenomena, such as the Greek intellect, with its thirst for kno^vledge, hunted after, would not be in their thouglits at all. They had not as yet learnt to look on sucli disasters with Herod's epicureanism. They had no myths like those of Yulcan and the Titans and the Cyclops, to take off the edge of their dismay. It burst upon them as the eruption of Yesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii burst upon the Italians in A.D. 79 ; as the earthquake of Lisbon burst upon the startled ears of Europe in a.d. 1755 ; and it found them in the state in which men are most susceptible to the " terrors of the Lord," as seen in the more sudden, convulsive changes of the world around them. Doubtless we may admit as part of the connection of interdependence, which makes the natural and moral government of the world a great and harmonious whole, that the impressions thus made are meant to inspire men with the awe which may ripen into reverence, with the sense that they live in the midst of unknown, incalculable forces which may burst out upon them at uncertain intervals, with the feeling that these too are neither exempt from the control of law nor exceptions to the sovereignty of a righteous and loving Will. So received, they form part of the education which man receives from, nature. We misread the lesson when we think that those on whom the tower of Siloam fell were sinners above all the Galileans, when we infer that the earth ->

EARTHQUAKE IN UZZIAFTS DAYS. 141 quake and the lightning come as proofs and punishments of special guilt. We misread it not less fatally when we assmne that the physical laws which they obey can subserve no moral purpose, that earthquakes, and pestilence, and &mine have no part as warnings, chastisements, tests, in the discipline of nations. I return to my main purpose in this paper, that of noting the traces which this earthquake in the reign of Uzziah made upon the minds of contemporary writers. And beyond all question the greatest of those writers was the prophet whose vision of the unseen began in the year that King Uzziah died. In the words of Isaiah the son of Amoz, if anywhere, we might expect to find recollections of what had been so terrible at the time, and had received a new significance so shortly afterwards. 1. I start with the prophet's solemn proclamation in ch. ii. 10 — ^22, of the day of the Lord that he saw in all its apocalyptic terrors. The words are, it is true, in part general enough. The day of the Lord is to be upon " aU the cedars of Lebanon and afl the oaks of Bashan, upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pictures of desire." But if we read the words that follow in the light of the history, we shall see, if I mistake not, thoughts which grew out of the ineffaceable impressions of that day of terror which the prophet had himself witnessed : — ft ^ And they shall go into the holes of the rocks And into tiie caves of the earth, For fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, Whm m ariteth to shake terribfy the earth:* And the picture is repeated, as if to deepen the awe and terror which it suggested :—

142 hiBLICAL STUDIES.

** In that day a man shall cast his idola of ailyery And his idols of gold. Which they made each man for himself to worship, To the moles and to the bats ; To go into the clefts of the rocks, And into the tops of the ragged rocks, For fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, Whm H$ ariseth to shake terribly the earth*** We see, as it were, on a larger scale and in a more awfiil form what the prophet had himself witnessed, what Zechariah has, by a seeming accident, preserved the record of, — the people of Jerusalem fleeing from the city, with its tottering walls and falling houses, and seeking refuge in the neigh- I bouring hiUs, in rocks and caverns which seemed so strongly fixed on their foimdations that not even the earthquake could bring them down. 2. Another reminiscence of it, not less distinct, meets us, I believe, in ch. xxiv. 18—20 : — " The windows from on high are open, And the foundations of the earth do shake. The ear& is utterly broken down, The earth is clean dissolved, The earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel too and fro like a drunkard, And shall be removed like a cottage, And the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, And it shall fail, and shall not rise again.'* The prophet appeals here also to no vague unknown terrors, but to the memory of what had actually been experienced. 3. The earthquake is noticed, as we have seen in the opening words, the title-page, in fact, of the prophecy of Amos. It is clearly mentioned there as pointing to the facts that the prediction with which the chapter opens had been fulfilled by it, that it was uttered before, not after the event : — ** The Lord will roar from Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem^

EARTHQUAKE IN UZZIAH'S DAYS. 143 And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn. And the top of Carmel shall wither/' In a later chapter, we may find, if I mistake not, traces of the devastation which it caused, as extending beyond the limits of Jerusalem, and, like other more recent convulsions, spreading over the whole of Palestine. Becounting the chastisements which had already come, and, as it would seem, come fruitlessly upon the people, the prophet goes through various forms of sujflfering : — " I have withholden the rain from you When there were yet three months to the harvest I have smitten you with blasting and mildew -I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt." And then he passes on to the last and greatest terror : — "/Aav« werthrwm some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha, Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord/' The words clearly point, not to the capture of a city by an invading army, nor to any casual conflagration, but to some catastrophe like in kind to that which had overthrown the Cities of the Plain — ^to some shaking of the earth, accompanied, as such convulsions often are, by an outburst of the subterranean fires. We know that such a convulsion did take place in the prophet's time, at Jerusalem. A shock, which made the people of the city flee to the hills, and dislodged a large mass of rock from the Moimt of Olives, may well have laid some of the towns and villages of Samaria in the dust. 4. But if the words, " The Lord will roar from Zion,'' as we find them in Amos, are connected, as they manifestly are, with the earthquake of King

144 BIBLICAL STUDIES. Uzziah, we cannot refose to recognise a like connection, whether it be that of prediction or ftdfilmenty in the corresponding words of Joel iii. 14 : — *< Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of judgment, The day of the Lord is near in the yalley of judgment. The sun and the moon shall be darkened^ And the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord alto shall roar out of Zion, And utUr Am voice from Jerusalem, , And the heavens and the earth shall shake** The date of JoePs prophetic work is among the unsettled questions of biblical criticism. But there is at least a strong preponderance of authority for the opinion which makes him a contemporary of Hosea and of Amos, and places the date of his written prophecy in the reign of Uzziah. And if so, then here, too, we may find a picture drawn bom. the terrors of that memorable day. What the prophet had actually seen, — ^the terror-stricken multitudes rushing, in ghastly panic, into the yalley of Jehoshaphat (the yalley that lay between the city and the Mount of Olives, and tiirough which the Kidron flowed) ; the strange, bewildering darkness by which earthquakes are commonly accompanied ;* the mutterings and crashes in the depths of the earth ; tlie shaking of the mountains, — ^this became the type and parable of a yet more dreadfiil day, of another valley of judgment, t 5. The language of later prophejks is, of course, open to the criticism that it takes up the imagery which earlier writers had introduced, without tte same distinct reference to historical facts that we find. in them. If, however, the remembrance of IJzziah's * Comp. Lyell's " Principles of Geology," c. xxix. t Jehoshaphat means, I need scarcely say, '* Jehovah shall judge."

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earthquake lingered on in men's minds as late as the time of Zechariali, we need not hesitate to recognise it also in the language of Ezekiel. He, too, has a vision of judgment upon the heathen, like that of Joel. He sees the Scythian invaders (Gog, Magog, Meshech, Tubal) gathered against the city, threatening to lay it waste as Sennacherib had done, and proclaims in the name of Jehovah (chap, xxxviii. 19, 20):— ** 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, So that the fishes of the seas and the fowls of the heavens, And the beasts of the field, and all creeping Idlings that creep upon the earth, And all the men that are upon the isuce of the earth. Shall shake at my presence, And the mountains shall be throum doton. And the steep places shall fall, And every wall shall fall to the ground.** 6. Lastly, as the closing vision of the Apocalypse gathers up and reproduces other images of terror and of glory from the writings of the older prophets, so also does it reproduce this. But here too the references may have been not only the use of a familiar imagery, but sharpened and deepened by the events of recent history. One great earthquake, as we have seen, had been felt in Palestine and Syria in B.C. 31. Another overthrew twelve cities in Asia Minor in A-D. 17. The whole period was indeed one of no ordinary volcanic activity throughout the Boman Empire. There were "earthquakes" as well a* ** famines and pestilences'* in " divers places."* And so in the pictures which the Revelation of St. John brings before us we may see, I believe, at once the last vibration, as it were, of the earthquake of King • Matt. xxiv. 7 L

146 BIBLICAL STUDIES.

Uzziahy and the impression produced by these more rocent conyulsions of the same nature. When he Fpeaks of the '' great earthquake,* in which the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand;" when he pictures the afirighted " remnant " who " gave glory to the God of heaven ; " confessed, t.e., as in his sight, their deeds of evil ;t he is painting what he may himself have witnessed or heard of in the cities of Syria or Asia. In the picture which he draws J of the " great earthquake" at the opening of the sixth seal, when " every mountain and island were removed out of their places," and the " kings and great men, and the rich men, and the chief captkins, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and the rocks. Fall onus," we have the same scene, on a scale of greater magnitude and more appalling terror, as that which had been drawn in the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz. * Rev. xi. 13. t This is clearly the nieazung of the phrase here, aa it is in Josh, vii. 19 ; John ix. 24. X Chap. vi. 12. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970

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