The archaeologists were stumped. What had happened to cause what they had just unearthed? In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, researchers had dug up a layer of destruction containing collapsed buildings and broken pieces of pottery. “This was most notable on the earliest floor of the southernmost room,” writes a team from the Antiquities Authority (IAA). “In this room, a row of smashed vessels was uncovered along its northern wall, above which fallen stones had been found. It appears that these stones were the upper part of the walls of the room, which had collapsed, destroying the vessels which had been set along the wall.”i
It was evident that something violent had taken place, but the cause was unclear. The remains didn’t fit the proper time-period for invasion, and the fragments didn’t contain any ash from the fires that normally accompany a foreign attack. What was it that could have brought these structures down?
That is when the archaeologists turned to the most reliable of all sources. “We asked ourselves what could have caused that dramatic layer of destruction we uncovered,” IAA excavation directors Dr. Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf said. “Examining the excavation findings, we tried to check if there is a reference to it in the biblical text.”ii They struck gold – twice.
The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders 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. (Amos 1:1)
Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. (Zechariah 14:5)
Destruction from this massive earthquake that shook Israel during the reign of Judah’s King Uzziah 2800 years ago has been found in many parts of the country, including in the sediment under the seabed of the Dead Sea.iii However, this is the first time that evidence has been uncovered that the temblor rocked Jerusalem hard enough to cause major damage in the city.
The ramifications of this find will likely have far-reaching effect when it comes to archaeology within Israel’s capital. Uziel and Chalaf write, “This provides an archaeological anchor for Jerusalem, which can now begin to be developed for the relative dating of assemblages before and after this anchor. In this sense, the Amos earthquake may serve Jerusalem’s archaeology in the same manner as the destruction of Lachish in 701 BCE.”iv In other words, in a Jerusalem dig, if a find is uncovered above the earthquake layer, then it is less than 2800 years old. If it is below, then it is earlier than the time of King Uzziah.
While it is easy to look at this find as archaeology backing up the truth of Scripture, that is backwards thinking. The Bible does not need to be proven accurate. It is truth from cover to cover. In the case of Amos’s earthquake, Scripture was used as it should be – as the foundation of truth from which one can build up an understanding of the world. Therefore, when the Bible says there was a massive shaking of the earth 2800 years ago and then evidence is found backing up the account, our response should not be, “Wow! That is amazing!” Instead, we should say, “Of course. What took you guys so long?”
i Borschel-Dan, Amanda. “Archaeologists Unearth 1st Jerusalem Evidence of Quake FROM Bible’s Book of Amos.” The Times of Israel, 4 Aug. 2021, www.timesofisrael.com/archaeologists-unearth-1st-jerusalem-evidence-of-quake-from-bibles-book-of-amos/.
ii Tercatin, Rossella. “Evidence of 2,800-YEAR-OLD Biblical EARTHQUAKE Found in Jerusalem.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, 4 Aug. 2021, www.jpost.com/archaeology/evidence-of-2800-year-old-biblical-earthquake-found-in-jerusalem-675809.
iii Hasson, Nir. “Evidence of Biblical Earthquake Uncovered by Israeli Archaeologists in Jerusalem.” Haaretz.com, Haaretz, 4 Aug. 2021, www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-evidence-of-biblical-earthquake-uncovered-by-israeli-archaeologists-in-jerusalem-1.10084286.
iv Amanda Borschel-Dan.