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Genesis 1:14-19 DAY 4
The Sun Stood Still
In Joshua chapter ten is the famous story of Joshua commanding the sun to stand still. Does this mean that the earth stopped revolving? Scientists say that this would tear the earth apart.
The more important question is how the people at Joshua’s time understood this. In Acts 2:20 the moon is turned "into blood." Does this mean the moon turned into real blood? No! It is used figuratively of a lunar eclipse when the moon turns a dull red color, sometimes when the moon is close to the horizon the atmosphere causes the mood to look orange-red in color, or clouds or smoke can darken the moon.
A look at ancient records show that heavenly bodies standing still was common terminology used back then. Let’s look at a few examples in the book The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon in the British Museum by R. Campbell Thompson.
Report one says, "When the day is long according to its calculation, there will be a long reign. The day is calculated to last as long as the Sun remains above the horizon." When a month has 30 days, its days are said to have their full or proper length.
Report 33 says, "Mars which has stood in Scorpio to go forth turns". This is probably a reference to the retrograde motion of Mars.
Reports 37 says, "When the Moon stands in a fixed position, there will be want of rain."
Report 90 says, "When the Sun stands within the halo of the Moon, in all lands they will speak truth."
Report 153 says, "When the Moon stops in its course, the market will be low."
Report 176 says, "When the Sun stands in the place of the Moon, the king of the land will be secure on his throne."
Report 183 says, "Jupiter has stood for a month over its reckoned time."
Report 261 says, "When it thunders in Sebat, heaven will rain with stones."
In the State Archives of Assyria volume X, report 145 says, "The 30th day became 'long.' In Volume VIII report 310 says, "IF in Adar (XII) the sun stands still in the middle of noontime: the land will experience siege (and) misery." These reports show us that terms like "the sun or moon stood still" were commonly used to describe certain conditions of heavenly bodies that they observed. It does not mean the earth stopped rotating.
Another important point is that one of the most important calculations in ancient times was the full moon in the middle of the month. The first day of a full moon was when the moon set minutes after sunrise, so that the sun and moon were both visible on opposite horizons. If this was on the 14th, it was a good omen; if on the 15th, it was a bad omen? Report 48 says, "on the fourteenth day the Moon was seen with the Sun. There will be an overthrowing of fortresses and downfall of garrisons."
There is a similar passage to Joshua 10 in the Iliad which says, "Zeus, most glorious, most great, the one of the dark clouds, that dwellest in the heaven, grant that the sun set not, neither darkness come upon us, until I have cast down in headlong ruin the hall of Priam, blacked with smoke, and have burned with consuming fire the portals thereof" (Younger, 215; Book II:412-15).
Lawson Younger in his book Ancient Conquest Accounts has some very interesting comparisons of Joshua 10 with other ancient Assyrian, Hittite, and Egyptian conquest accounts. Being able to conquer the enemy in a single day is a great victory in ancient times. One implored his god to maintain daylight long enough for their enemies to be defeated. The supernatural aid of the god in battle with hailstones is also told. Compare the Hittite account in Mursili’s Comprehensive Annals, Sargon’s Letter to the God(207-11), and the Gebal Barkal Stela of Thutmose III (217) with Joshua (see below).
Dr. John Walton who teaches at Moody Bible Institute gives two important observation. First, the description in Joshua 10 "places the sun in the east and the moon in the west, thus indicating that the prayer was made in the morning" (1994, 182). Secondly, this day is unique not because of astronomical phenomenon, but because God listened to the voice of man.
In Joshua 10:13 the moon is said to "stand" or "wait." In ancient times the moon is said "to not wait" for the sun when it sets below the horizon before the sun rises. When the moon and sun are seen together then the moon is said "to wait" or "stand" for the sun. When the moon is said "to stand" it means the moon is not on the horizon but further up in the sky (Ibid, 185). Joshua 10 seems to indicate that it was the 15th day of the month which was a bad omen of destruction for Joshua’s enemies.
Another important point needs to be cleared up. The story that NASA computers have found Joshuas missing day is totally false. A story similar to this is told by Harry Rimmer about C.A. Totten. Totten wrote Joshuas Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz in 1890. He assumed the date of creation was September 22, 4000 BC. Which can not be proven. Dr. Newman has an excellent article about this entitled Joshuas Long Day and NASA Computers. What does NASA say about this story? See Can Science Confirm the Missing Day Referred to in the Bible?