"...The King James translation of the Bible refers to the sun and moon standing still, Humphreys said, but the original Hebrew uses a root word that, in Babylonian, a related tongue, can also describe eclipses. What Joshua may have prayed, in other words, was not that the moon and sun would freeze in the sky, but that they would stop their usual shining...."


Here's the passage:

NASB Joshua 10: 12Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, "O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon." 13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

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    ,i believe he was referring to time(daylight),so that they could fight whilst there was light,not an eclipse – collen ndhlovu Oct 31 '17 at 10:59
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    Gibeon is south east of the top of the Ayalon valley, (now route 443 from J'lem to Tel Aviv, above Modiin) where Joshua stood, and the Ayalon valley stretches to the west, past Shaalabim and then turns north towards what is today Tel Aviv. So with the sun and moon described as stopped in two distinct places you don't get a really good eclipse. I think that the LiveSciense reporter or his sources is adding some fanciful and speculative elements to his story. Makes for great reading but probably not good scholarship. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Oct 31 '17 at 16:04
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim Are you saying that eclipses are local events? – Ruminator Oct 31 '17 at 16:24
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    If Joshua saw the sun in the south east and the moon in the west as appears to be the case in the Joshua 10:12, then there was no eclipse path that crossed the eastern Mediterranean. There could have been an eclipse somewhere else, but why tie that to the story in Joshua? – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Oct 31 '17 at 16:31
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim The account in Joshua as commonly interpreted reflects an embarrassingly primitive cosmology (geocentric). If it is simply a misunderstanding of the text then that's one point for the scriptures not being total fiction. – Ruminator Oct 31 '17 at 16:37

I recall some years ago science referred to the Bible & this exact text to explain some hours in time which were unaccounted for. There is really no textual evidence to say there was an eclipse. The book of Jashar is cited in Joshua 10 -

"Then Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord handed over the Amorites to the sons of Israel, and Joshua said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon, And moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation [of Israel] took vengeance upon their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? So the sun stood still in the middle of the sky and was in no hurry to go down for about a whole day. 14 There has not been a day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to (heeded) the voice of a man; for the Lord was fighting for Israel." - AMP Bible.

Note, the references to 'day's this passage. As the heavenly bodies work together, both sun & moon stopped. It is also noteworthy that Jashar was considered an authority that would be recognized by the reader of this passage. Jashar had to be a known trusted source of information in Joshua's day or he would not have referenced it. This tweaks my interest as I have known this passage for many years and never seemed to notice the ref to Jashar (the book of the upright one - see https://www.gotquestions.org/book-of-Jasher.html which also points to 2 Samuel 1 as mentioning the book of Jashar). More research for me - cool!

  • FYI, the story about NASA trying to explain unaccounted for hours is a hoax. Welcome to the site. – Ruminator Nov 1 '17 at 2:46

The weakness of the proposal in the article seems to be that it is reported that the sun stood did not "hasten to go in" which is the language of motion and would be contrary to the notion of an eclipse:

Young's Literal Translation Joshua 10:13 and the sun standeth still, and the moon hath stood -- till the nation taketh vengeance on its enemies; is it not written on the Book of the Upright, 'and the sun standeth in the midst of the heavens, and hath not hasted to go in -- as a perfect day?'

If it were describing an eclipse it would not effect the setting of the sun.


Isn’t ironic that almanacs that are presumably based on scientific knowledge still refer to the geocentric terms of “sunset” and “sunrise” even though the events do not involve the motion of the sun at all, but rather the occultation and emersion of the sun by the earth’s rotation? This quaint archaism is tolerated by everyone, even those who denigrate the scriptures.

Well, one might argue that it’s the appearance that’s being described by the almanac, which in the case of Joshua’s sun and moon standing still could be accomplished withe the naturalistic explanation of an unusual atmospheric refraction event. However, finding a naturalistic explanation for a miracle makes the event be not a miracle except perhaps one of timing. So, what's a good definition of the word “miracle”?

Instead, let’s make the point with scripture rather than with either unbelief or rationalization. In Genesis 1:3, we read

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (NASB)

It’s safe to say that the appearance of light at a time when only darkness existed was indeed a miracle. Let’s look at the other end of the scriptures. Revelation 21:23 reads

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (NASB)

Again, the glory of God replacing the brilliance of the sun would also have been possible.

Whether God once again said "Let there be light," or whether God allowed his glory to illuminate the sky is unclear. However, according to the scriptures, one was demonstrated and the other is promised. And either one is possible.

  • So are you saying that the take on the Hebrew of the passage in Joshua is credible or that it is not? – Ruminator Nov 3 '17 at 1:09
  • The plain reading is clear unless one feels the need to explain miracles as non-miracles. The opinion of the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew into the Greek LXX were apparently of the same opinion, and verse 14 in the LXX that immediately follows, makes it clear that the day in question was unique: "And there was not a day such nor former nor latter, so as for God to heed voice of man, because Lord joined in war with Israel" (literal Greek word order preserved). – Dieter Nov 3 '17 at 2:25

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