Earthquakes shake Israel three times in 24-hours – The Talmud may know why

Mountains shall be overthrown, cliffs shall topple, and every wall shall crumble to the ground.




(the israel bible)

February 9, 2023

3 min read

The Geological Survey of Israel’s Seismology and Earthquakes division confirmed that at 4:58 PM on Wednesday afternoon, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake shook Israel. The epicenter was located some 20 kilometers southeast of the city of Ariel in Samaria. 

Less than five hours later, a 4.1 magnitude earthquake hit near the border between Syria and Turkey some 130 kilometers north of the border with Israel. The effects of that tremor were also felt in Israel.

A 3.5-magnitude tremor occurred at 11:14 PM local time on Tuesday night and was centered around 24 miles north of Jerusalem.

Also on Tuesday night, an earthquake of magnitude 4.8, followed by another of magnitude 3.2, occurred in central Turkey and were felt in Israel.

The Home Front Command said the earthquake warning system dubbed Teruah was not activated because the tremors did not pose a danger to residents. No injuries were reported.

On Monday,  a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Turkey-Syria border region on Monday killing more than 12,000 people with some 31,000 people injured. Israel has sent rescue teams to Turkey and offered humanitarian aid to Syria.

Israel’s Jordan Valley and Dead Sea are part of the Syrian-African Rift Valley, which stretches from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to Mozambique in Southeastern Africa. Large earthquakes usually hit Israel approximately once every 90 years and there is concern that another one is due – considering that the most recent one occurred in 1927. That event saw more than 400 people killed and extensive damage to buildings in Jerusalem and Hebron.

According to data presented by Kan News, about 60% of the homes in Israel are still not protected from missile attacks, earthquakes, or collapse due to obsolescence. More than half of Israeli citizens live in a building not properly protected against such events.

For this reason, a major earthquake is predicted to cause up to 7,000 deaths and 145,000 injuries, with 170,000 people left homeless and 320,000 buildings damaged.


The Talmud in Tractate Berachot (59A) teaches that when a person witnesses an earthquake, he should make the blessing “Blessed be He whose strength and power fill the world.” 

This is followed by a story about Rav Ketina walking past the house of a necromancer when an earthquake occurred. The necromancer told Rav Ketina that earthquakes were the result of God’s tears hitting the ocean when he was sad over the exile of the Jews. Rav Ketina disagreed with this explanation, reasoning that if that were the case, there would be a long series of earthquakes in quick succession. Rav Ketina claimed that earthquakes were God clapping his hands, as described based in a verse in Ezekiel:

I, too, will strike hand against hand and will satisfy My fury upon you; I Hashem have spoken. Ezekiel 21:22

The Talmud admits that the necromancer was, in fact, correct and that when an earthquake strikes, it is a series of quakes. But Rav Ketina did not want people to believe that necromancy was an acceptable form of divination.

Commentaries on this section of the Talmud emphasize that natural phenomena and catastrophes are associated with the actions of Man and most especially with the fate of the Jews in Israel.


The Talmud Yerushalmi discussed the causes of earthquakes as benign due to not giving tithes. It then suggests that the cause is “theaters and circuses existing in safety and quiet” while the holy Temple in Jerusalem stands in ruin. The commentaries explain that the theaters and circuses were Roman and featured violence and lewd displays. The Temple, of course, was precisely the opposite. Another possible cause of earthquakes discussed in this section of the Talmud Yerushalmi is quarreling among Jews and lewd behavior. The Talmud then suggests that earthquakes presage a change in government, noting that the Prophet Jeremiah (51:29) wrote that an earthquake struck before the fall of the Babylonian king.

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