Earthquakes were, and are, common in the Bible world. Earthquakes are common in Iran (Persia), Turkey (Asia Minor), Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
The Great Rift runs all the way from northern Syria through Lebanon, Israel, the Arabah, and into eastern Africa. In Israel the area is called the Jordan Valley or the Dead Sea Rift, It is not surprising that earthquakes are mentioned frequently in the Bible. The prophet Amos dates his visions to “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). The earthquake he makes reference to must have been so memorable that everyone would know what he was talking about. Zechariah (14:5) also calls attention to this earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Jesus, in predicting the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, said, “and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7; see Luke 21:11).
About a year and a half ago I wrote about Philadelphia with special attention to the danger of earthquakes here. I suggest you read that post. The letter to the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) makes an allusion to the events that occur after an earthquake. In the promise to the overcomers the Lord says “I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore (v 12). In the case of earthquakes people stay outside for several days due to the fear of aftershocks. Those who overcome need not fear being toppled, as a pillar might be toppled in the earthquake.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (Revelation 3:12 NAU)
The archaeological excavations of many Biblical cities throughout Asia Minor, and along the Great Rift, reveal evidence of earthquakes. Some of the gates were built with pieces of timber to absorb the shock from the tremors. The reconstructed gate at Megiddo illustrates this practice.
Megiddo Gate with view of Jezreel Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The same practice is reflected in Scripture in the account of the rebuilding of the temple according to the order of the Persian King Cyrus.
In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. (Ezra 6:3-4 ESV)