Over 400 Earthquakes in One Day: Bible Scholars weigh in

Over 400 Earthquakes in One Day: Bible Scholars weigh in

With the arrival of the pandemic, a US presidential election that resulted in pandemonium, Israel heading to the polls for the fourth time, and the bizarre threat of murder hornets, it is only fitting that as 2020 prepares to make its exit, the earth begins to shake. While the media focuses on the tragic and deadly earthquake that hit Croatia on Tuesday, at least 54 significant earthquakes were registered in other places around the world. 

Croatia: Strongest Earthquake in Country’s History Kills Seven

At about 6:20 AM local time Tuesday morning, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Croatia just south of the capital Zagreb, causing massive damage and leaving at least seven dead in its wake. The hardest hit was the city of Petrinja with a population of 24,000 with several buildings collapsing, trapping people under the rubble. Several of the killed were children according to reports. The main quake was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring 3.0 magnitude and higher


“My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children,” Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic said, according to the AP. “This is like Hiroshima — half of the city no longer exists.”

“This is the largest earthquake to occur in Croatia since the advent of modern seismic instrumentation,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Twitter that the EU was committed to helping Croatia.


Zagreb is still rebuilding from a 5.3-magnitude quake that struck in March, the most powerful to hit the capital in decades.

Global Seismic Activity: High

The National Earthquake Information Center now locates about 20,000 earthquakes around the globe each year or approximately 55 per day. The ComCat earthquake catalog has been recording an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years but attributes this to an increase in the number and quality of seismic instruments.

But even by these standards, Tuesday was exceptional. Volcano Discovery categorized the global seismic activity for Tuesday as “high,” listing a total of 429 earthquakes in one day. The Croatian quake was the most significant at over 6.0, 5 quakes measured in at 5.0-6.0, 41 quakes 4.0-5.0, 140 quakes 3.0-4.0, 242 quakes 2.0-3.0.

Several of the earthquakes were in the Pacific Northwest shaking Oregon and Northern California. Japan, no stranger to earthquakes and the ensuing tsunamis, was hit by a 5.0 earthquake. The Philippines were hit by a wave of tremors ranging from 4.3-5.3, Pakistan by a tremor of 4.9, Greece 4.6. 

Though no people could feel the shaking, a powerful 5.9 magnitude quake shook the Mid-Atlantic Ridge under the ocean between Africa and South America.

Chile was hit by a series of quakes ranging from 4.1-4.8, raising concerns as the country was hit on Sunday by a massive 6.8 earthquake.  In 1960, Valdivia, near the scene of Sunday’s earthquake, was the site of the strongest recorded earthquake in history when a staggering 9.4-9.6 magnitude. An estimated 1,655 people were killed in the quake and the total economic damage reached $550 million. In 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake starting 1.9 miles away from the coast of Pelluhue killing a total of 525 dead. 

On Sunday, Turkey, a country with a long history of catastrophic quakes, was also shaken with a 6.8 magnitude earthquake.

Earthquakes: A Hot Topic in Current Events

Earlier this week, a group of Israeli seismic researchers released a report  a report in Science Advances journal in which they warn that a potentially devastating earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale is expected to hit Israel in the near future. 

The recent Tel Aviv University study also showed that 7.5-magnitude tremors hit the Dead Sea every 1,300 to 1,400 years instead of every 10,000 years on average as previously believed.

The Tel Aviv University study concluded that another such earthquake in the region 1,300-1,400 years. It was previously believed that  7.5-magnitude tremors hit the Dead Sea every 10,000 years on average. The last quake of such magnitude to shake the region was in the year 1,033, almost a thousand years ago, meaning another such macroseism is expected to hit the region at any time in the next few centuries.

A 2016 report by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee was considerably more pessimistic, concluding that if Israel were to be struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, an estimated 7,000 people would be killed, another 8,600 injured and 377,000 left homeless. In addition, the country could face damage of up to NIS 20

In addition, an unprecedented 30,000-50,000 tremors shook the Antarctic, a characteristically seismically stable region, in the past three months, all concentrated in one spot. Researchers were unsure of the cause.

Biblical Earthquakes

The Bible frequently referred to earthquakes as a sign of God’s power or displeasure being expressed through nature. 

You have made the land quake; You have torn it open. Mend its fissures, for it is collapsing. Psalms 60:4


The earth is swaying like a drunkard; It is rocking to and fro like a hut. Its iniquity shall weigh it down, And it shall fall, to rise no more. Isaiah 24:20

For I have decreed in My indignation and in My blazing wrath: On that day, a terrible earthquake shall befall the land of Yisrael. Ezekiel 38:19

For thus said the lord of Hosts: In just a little while longer I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; Haggai 2:6

In a study 13 years ago, Prof. Shmuel Marco told the J-Post  that earthquakes are frequently used as significant timeline mile-markers in the Bible. For example, prophets are often said to have become active a certain number of years “after the earthquake.” 

Dr. Marco’s theory is certainly consistent with the Prophets Amos and Zechariah whose periods of prophecy were expressly oriented around a major earthquake. 

The words of Amos, a sheepbreeder from Tekoa, who prophesied concerning Yisrael in the reigns of Kings Uzziyahu of Yehuda and Yerovam son of Yoash of Yisrael, two years before the earthquake. Amos 1:1

Dr. Marco went so far as to attribute Joshua’s victory at Jericho to divinely directed seismic interference. 

“The destruction of the walls of the city and the damming of the river, as described in Joshua 6:1-16, is generally agreed by most archeologists to be the result of an earthquake, possibly on the Jericho Fault,” Dr.Marco wrote.

Israel in the News