Old Testament authority Gleason Archer writes: It has been objected that if in fact the earth was stopped for a period of twenty-four hours, inconceivable catastrophe would have befallen the entire planet and everything on its surface.
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While those who believe in the omnipotence of God would hardly concede that Yahweh could not have prevented such catastrophe and held in abeyance the physical laws that might be brought to pass, it does not seem to be absolutely necessary on the basis of the Hebrew text itself to hold that the planet was suddenly halted in its rotation. Verse 13 states that the sun "did not hasten to go down for about a whole day" NASB. The words "did not hasten" seem to point to a retardation of the movement so that the rotation required forty-eight hours rather than the usual twenty-four Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties , Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, , p.
Donald K. Campbell concurs: The best explanation seems to be the view that in answer to Joshuas prayer God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down so that it made one full rotation in 48 hours rather than in It seems apparent that this view is supported by both the poem in verses 12ba and the prose in verse 13b Donald K. God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down. The earth, therefore, made one full rotation around the sun in a longer period of time.
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This fits with verse 13 which says, "The sun. Miracle Of Refraction There are some who see this as a miracle of refraction. This theory contends the earth continued to rotate at its normal speed while God supernaturally gave a mirage that made it appear that the sun and the moon were out of their regular place. Thus, God supernaturally provided more daylight so that Joshua could win the battle.
This provides Joshua with the necessary light to fight the battle, yet to do so does not force us to accept any change in the rotation of the earth. Stop Moving Or Stop Shining?
Another view is that the prayer of Joshua was not for the prolongation of the day, but rather that the sun would cease pouring down its heat on him and his troops. The prayer was actually for the cessation of light, not its prolongation. God answered by sending a hailstorm that allowed Joshuas weary troops to win the battle. Thus stand still means to keep from shining. Maunder explains: From what was it then that Joshua wished the sun to cease: from its moving or from its shining?
It is not possible that, engaged as he was in a desperate battle, he was even so much as thinking of the suns motion at all. But its shining, its scorching heat, must have been most seriously felt by him. At noon, in high summer, southern Palestine is one of the hottest countries in the world.
It is impossible to suppose Joshua wished for the sun to be fixed overhead, where it must have been distressing his men who had already been seventeen hours on foot. A very arduous pursuit lay before them and the enemy must have been fresher than the Israelites.
The suns heat therefore must have been a serious hindrance, and Joshua must have desired it to be tempered. And the Lord hearkened to his voice and gave him this and much more. A great hailstorm swept up from the west, bringing with it a sudden lowering of temperature, and no doubt hiding the sun E. Lotz, M.
Kyle, C. Armerding, eds. Eerdmans Publishing Company, , Vol. Thus, the miracle was not a prolonging of the light but rather a cessation of it. Joshuas prayer was not at the end of the day asking for prolonged sunlight, rather it was at high noon asking for relief from the sun. The sun stopped shining in that it became dark. It was the sun that stopped shining, not that the whole solar system was stopped.
Night Prolonged There are those who say that it was not the day that was prolonged but actually the darkness from the previous night. Hugh J. Blair says: It has usually been assumed that Joshua prayed for the day to be prolonged. But is it not possible that what Joshua needed even more, since, as is expressly stated in v. That it was early morning when he made his request is evident from the position of the moon in the valley of Aijalon to the west and the position of the sun over Gibeon to the east v.
The answer came in a hailstorm which had the effect of prolonging the darkness.
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Blair, New Bible Commentary, p. This view would be make it Joshuas long night rather than a long day. Conclusion We have seen that there are a variety of explanations to Joshuas long day without having to admit to scientific error. Although several of these views are possible, the theory that the sun actually slowed down its movement seems to be the best way of looking at the evidence.
Leon Wood writes: The traditional view must be maintained, however, for these alternate explanations do not do justice to the language of the text. Though it is true the verb dum translated stand still in Joshuas call means basically "be silent" and so could refer to being silent in other ways than retardation of movement, still the verb amadh is also used twice in v. Further, verse 13 closes with the expression "and hasted not to go down," where the word "hasted" uz again speaks of motion, and the phrase "to go down" labho is normally in reference to the sun setting.
Still further, verse 14 states that this day was unique in history which suggests a major miracle occurred such as to the prolongation of a natural day. The extent of the prolongation can also be estimated. Since the hour was noon when Joshua voiced the call, and it was stated that the sun did not go down for "about a whole day" keyom tamin , it is likely that the afternoon hours until sunset were prolonged twice their normal length.
Wood explains how this would have effected the universe: As to how this was effected, the closing words of vs. This means that the earth simply slowed, in its speed of rotation on its axis, approximately to half that of normal. This did not affect the speed of movement around the sun of the rest of the solar system, which complicating factors have been mentioned in criticism by those advocating other explanations Leon Wood, A Survey of Israels History , p.
Though this may be the best view, several of the others are certainly possible. Madvig writes: Reverence for Gods Word should encourage us to suspend judgment until more evidence is available. In the meantime no single explanation can be made a test of orthodoxy Donald H. There have been stories circulating about reports of a "missing day" in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu sources. There is also the story of a Yale astronomer who found that the earth was twenty-four hours out of schedule: Another professor at Yale, Dr.
Totten, suggested the astronomer read the Bible starting at the beginning and going as far as necessary, to see if the Bible could account for the missing time. When he came to the account of the long day of Joshua, the astronomer rechecked the figures and found that at the time of Joshua there were only twenty-three hours and twenty minutes lost. His skepticism justified, he decided that the Bible was not the Word of God because there was a mistake by forty minutes. Professor Totten showed him that the Bible account does not say twenty-four hours, but rather about the space of a whole day.
On reading farther the astronomer found that God, through the prophet Isaiah and in answer to Hezekiahs prayer, promised to add fifteen years to his life II Kings ; Isaiah To confirm this promise, the shadow of the sundial was turned back ten degrees.
Ten degrees on a sundial is forty minutes on the face of a clock. When he found his day of missing time accounted for in the Bible, the astronomer bowed his head in worship of its Author, saying, "Lord, I believe!
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It is unfortunate that these often-told stories lack any documentation. Bernard Ramm explains: There are two other matters that have been urged as evidence for a lengthened day and this material the author has not been able to track down nor confirm to his own satisfaction as to their accuracy or validity.
First, there are Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu reports of a long day. Second, there is the claim. Pickering of the Harvard Observatory traced it back to the time of Joshua. Maunder of Greenwich and Totten of Yale are then supposed to have taken it right back to the time of Joshua, practically to the year and day.
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