Monday, January 30, 2012

The Splitting of the Med

This Shabbat, the 11th of Shvat, we'll be reading about the splitting of the Red Sea. Four centuries ago the Jews who lived here witnessed firsthand how "The sea saw it, and fled; the Jordan turned backward. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like young sheep." (Psalms 114).

A major earthquake hit on a Thursday, the 11th of Shvat 5306 (Jan. 14th, 1546), with a magnitude of 6-6.5. The epicenter was apparently the northern Jordan Valley.

The Mediterranean Sea drew back a along the southern coast. In Yaffo (Jaffa) a crowd rushed onto the suddenly dry seabed, unaware of the impending danger. Many died when the waters came rushing back. A tidal wave was reported in the Dead Sea. For several days the Jordan river dried up, as did rivers in the Gush Dan region. When water started flowing again, they were said to be fiery-red.

A Jew writing about the earthquake describes how in Jerusalem the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock were damaged, and yet the synagogue was left whole. The upper rows of the new city walls built by the Ottomans, finished just 4 years earlier, crumbled.

All across Israel buildings fell. Shechem (Nablus) was hit the worst, with about 500 people killed (including 3-4 Jews). In Jerusalem and Hevron there were about a dozen fatalities each, but no Jews were killed. These reports were written shortly after the earthquake, before the full effect of the calamity could be fathomed.

To end on a more hopeful note, may we never suffer such calamities again.

See here for more articles about our history in Israel.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen, to that.
Instead, while we're not fighting actual battles against our enemies, we'll be busy defending against cyber attacks from organizations and States hostile to Israel, as reported in a major new security report:
"Israel tops cyber-readiness poll but China lags behind"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16787509

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Where can I find accounts of this earthquake?

Ora said...

@Reb Chaim HaQoton

My main source was a Hebrew book named "Eretz Israel - Autobiography" by Shlomo Shva.

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