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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Joshua's Long Day

Joshua 10:11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. (ESV)
This is going to be an easy post, because what I want to say has been said, in an article available from Answers in Genesis. To summarize it:

1. The event did occur.

2. This passage does not support a biblical argument for geocentrism (the sun going around the earth). I should point out that the beliefs of Answers in Genesis are such that, if they have to err, they will err on the side of overly literal interpretation of scripture.

3. However it happened, it was a miracle. (The article discusses some possible mechanisms.)

4. In spite of rumor, there is no evidence from NASA that confirms that this event happened, and no such evidence could have been found, "because to make such a calculation one would need to know the planets' positions before any missing day, as well as after. This is impossible." (same source)

I did a quick Google search for these words "Joshua long day NASA," and was happy to discover no web pages that claim that NASA confirmed the story in Joshua, and quite a few that say it is a rumor.

Someone, or more than one someone, started this rumor, and it's very difficult to see how they could have done it without knowing it to be false. The Bible shouldn't get, and doesn't need, that sort of defense. It is unfortunate that some people defend it by making things up and claiming they are true. (Another such rumor is that Russian scientists have discovered hell beneath the earth, but let's not get into that one.) No one should do that to the Bible, even on April Fools' Day.

It's been a pleasure to find myself in complete agreement with Answers in Genesis (their home page) on a subject. That doesn't always happen.

Thanks for reading.

*  *  *  *  *

On January 3, 2013, David Heddle, of the He Lives blog, posted about this subject, in particular about arguments that stopping the earth would have been impossible because of the consequences.

On October 21, 2013, I posted, referring to an article by John Walton, an Old Testament scholar, who believes that Joshua wasn't praying for some sort of astronomical phenomenon at all. He is an expert on the cultures of Old Testament times.


Craig said...

Thanks for posting this! I found most interesting the mention that other cultures also record an especially long day or night around the same time.

Martin LaBar said...

Well, if it happened, I guess this isn't very surprising. However, I think the fact that the Bible says it happened is the best evidence that it did.