6

Joshua 10:12–14 describes that

the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down the space of one day.

Victor Warkulwiz, Universe without Space and Time, ch. 2 claims

Joshua’s long day was observed around the world, as indicated in the folklore of various nations.

With Hezekiah’s sign (Isaiah 38:7–8, 4 Kgs 20:8-11, 2 Par 32:24), the sun momentarily went backwards.

What non-biblical historical evidence is there of "Joshua's long day" and "Hezekiah's sign"?

4
  • I’ve definitely wanted to see more layers to this scriptural text outside of scripture as well. Good question.
    – Cork88
    Jul 4 at 5:22
  • I remember one of the church historians (Eusebius?) referring to the darkness at the death of Christ matter-of-factly as a known event. I read too much stuff to remember, and then hate myself for not making a note. Happens too often. Jul 8 at 16:59
  • @SolaGratia - You might like to take a look at Appendix 4, "The day the sun stopped shining", here.. it may help you find the ancient texts... oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk/index.php/books/… Jul 25 at 8:23
  • 1
    @SolaGratia - Eusebius did speak of the 3 hours of darkness.. he was referring back to the "Olympiades" by Phlegon of Tralles. "Writers that refer to this statement of Phlegon include Julius Africanus, Joannes Philoponus, Malelas, Origen, Eusebius and Maximus." ("Daniel's 70 weeks" by Pastor Derek Walker) Jul 25 at 8:45

3 Answers 3

4

In the Bible, Joshua 10:12-14 states that both the sun and the moon appeared to ‘stand still’, giving Joshua enough time to complete the battle and so to defeat the Amorites. Verse 13 says this was recorded in The Book of Jashar, an ancient source for the writer of Joshua. It was well known in ancient Israel but has not survived as a separate document.

However, some suggest that it spoke of the summer solstice, so the account meant June 21. The word 'solstice' comes from the Latin 'sol' (sun) and 'sistere' (to stand still). Every summer solstice the sun appears to rise over the same spot for about a week. Then there's "the land of the midnight sun" where in mid-summer the sun almost never sets. Did God do something with the Earth's axis for a brief time? The Bible indicates that something supernatural happened.

Some people link it with another supernatural account in 2 Kings 20:9-11 when the sun’s shadow went back ten steps (either on a sundial or on steps) to prove to King Hezekiah that God would heal him. Well, a Mr Harold Hill used to preach about this in his lay-sermons. He said that when he was working for Nasa in the 1960s, calculations of planets were being made in connection with spacecraft trajectories. They hit a wall – there seemed to be a day missing from the calculations! This was pondered, when someone recalled Joshua 10. But it wasn’t a full 24 hours that was ‘lost’ by the computers – it was 23 hours and 20 minutes. Then someone remembered 2 Kings 20 and suggested that if the sun appeared to move backwards 10 degrees, that would be an arc of 40 minutes. (But the KJV has steps, and not degrees.)

Nasa disputes the explanation, however. They agree that Mr Hill did maintenance work on one of its diesel engines but said he could not have been party to the calculations. The Nasa Public Affairs office in Washington says, “There is no truth to the recurring story that Nasa uncovered a lost day.”

As for the day "the sun stood still", some astronomers have now pinpointed the date of that event to October 30, 1207 B.C. However, it was many years ago when I collated the information that I use for this answer, and I did not note the source for that latter date.

But here's an intriguing point. The sun and moon were two of Canaan's most powerful gods, and they proved powerless against Jehovah God. Joshua and his troops travelled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise, so the moon 'helped' them - not the Amorites who worshiped the moon! Likewise the day of chasing them resulted in the sun 'helping' them - not the Amorites. I lean towards this way of interpreting the wording, combining with a miraculous "land of the midnight sun" event where it never normally occurs.

2
  • 2
  • @Ray Butterworth - an interesting link: appreciated. It's only a pity the writer assumes that all such astonishing Bible accounts are legends merely meant to be taken symbolically. Why cannot they initially be based in God's supernatural activity which also teaches believers spiritual principles? Also, it's not a case of pitting science against the Bible; it's just that some things disbelievers mock might turn out to have a basis. A day is coming when "everything hidden will be revealed", Jesus said (Mat.10:26) and every mouth stopped. That's when such accounts will be understood.
    – Anne
    Jul 4 at 10:16
3

The dates of the two events would be 1406 BC for the standing still of the sun and moon in Joshua 10:12-14 (with a slim possibility of 1405 BC); and 701 or 700 BC for the going back of the shadow by ten degrees in the days of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:9-11), since he was granted to live a further 15 years from the time of his illness and his reign ended 686 BC ("Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings" by Edwin Thiele, 1983, Zondervan, page 10).

The Nasa spokesman was being very polite when he/she said "there is no truth to the recurring story that Nasa uncovered a lost day". In reality the story is, astronomically speaking, complete gobbledeegook. In two points in the story is absurd:

  1. That Nasa, or anyone else should realize there is a lost day simply by performing modern astronomical calculations.
  2. That Nasa, or anyone else, should find the lost day and be able to put an exact date to it without recourse to ancient records of lunar observations. Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) there are far too insufficient numbers of ancient lunar observations still extant to even begin to make the story possible.

Each month all the temples in Egypt would record the date of the new crescent moon, which would become the first day of the month. This would presumably be done by priests for every temple in Egypt and also in Mesopotamia. The work rota of the priests would be determined by the lunar cycles so it was not only spiritually important but practically important also.

Nasa is very capable of finding all the lunar day 1, the new crescent moon dates, for all middle eastern history, assuming the two miraculous Bible events did not happen. So if there were still extant the new moon dates recorded in ancient times both before and after 1406 BC and 701 BC then it should in theory be possible to see if a discrepancy between Nasa dates and ancient recorded dates arises at 1406 BC or 701 BC. For instance if the ancient recorded dates are in perfect agreement with Nasa dates back to 701 BC but then suddenly there is consistently a difference of a day or so before 701 BC then we have some good evidence of what is recorded in 2 Kings 20:9-11.

Without having extant records of ancient lunar observations the whole story is hocus pocus. And unfortunately large numbers of ancient observations no longer exist today.

However, there still exist a relatively few numbers of ancient lunar observations extant today. If these were examined for before and after 1406 (or 701) and a regular "before and after" inconsistency emerged then this would be some evidence for the Biblical event. However, a further problem is that ancient lunar observations were dependant on atmospheric conditions. Cloud cover or dust storms, etc, at the time of the new moon could alter the first day of the month by one day (in roughly half the months). [A lunar month is either 29 or 30 days long. If you have cloud cover, etc, in a month which is astronomically 30 days long, it makes absolutely no difference to the month length and the month length remains in agreement with the astronomically expected month length. Only cloud cover at the end of an astronomically expected 29 day month will lead the priests to increase the month length to 30 days leading to a discrepancy with the astronomically expected month length.]

So it might be possible to see if there was any alteration in 1406 or 701.. you would need to be a very proficient astronomer to find the discrepancy, you would need to be extremely careful handling the data, and you would need a huge amount of good fortune to have sufficient ancient observations both before and after.

Happened physically and globally, or happened optically

There are two ways these two events could have happened. They could have happened physically: God could have moved the earth and what was observed was actually what happened. Or God could have created an optical illusion so that what was seen did not happen in the real world at all, but only happened locally for the people of Israel in the days of Joshua, and in the days of Hezekiah.

If the events happened globally and physically then a huge spanner is thrown into all astronomical observations before 701 and 1406.

For instance, the year of the beginning of the reign of Rameses II is believed to be either 1304, 1290 or 1279 BC. These dates are the only ones possible because the 27th day of the second month of the season "prt" in the 52nd year of Rameses II is known to be a Lunar Day 1, the day of a new crescent moon. If God physically altered the earth in either of the two biblical events then the above calculations are rendered entirely invalid and we have no astronomical way of fixing any dates prior to 1406 or even prior to 701 BC.

In my view the only way to proceed is simply to assume that God created a visual way of producing the effects described without altering the physical properties of the earth, sun or moon, else we are completely stuck for astronomical confirming of ancient dates prior to 701 BC, and even more so prior to 1406 BC when the miraculous event was several hours long. For instance the actual beginning of the reign of Rameses II could be several decades different from the date range 1304 to 1279 BC.

Mention of Hezekiah's experience

I hesitate to mention it, but the event is mentioned in the writings of "Dionysius the Areopagite". These writings appeared in about AD 500 and are believed to be nothing to do with the Dionysius in the book of Acts, but are spurious fabrications. But for what its worth see Letter 7 to Polycarp, section 2 here: https://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_08_letters.htm.

And see the warning of what is thought of Dionysius and his letters here: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/dionysius/works.html

5
  • Oh to have Persian sacredotal legends! Jul 4 at 12:57
  • What Polycarp exactly is Dionysius addressing there?
    – Geremia
    Jul 4 at 13:59
  • @Geremia - I'm presuming the intent is we should understand he was writing to the Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, though it looks a bad fit chronologically if the writer "Dionysius the Areopagite" is claiming to be an adult in the book of Acts. Just another piece of evidence to not take the writings seriously(?) Jul 4 at 18:38
  • @AndrewShanks That wouldn't fit with his being 6th cen., either.
    – Geremia
    Jul 4 at 20:31
  • @Geremia - As I said, I think its fraudulent, but I just put it in cos it refers to Hezekiah's shadow. Whether its a fraud I leave to the reader. The translator into English for some odd reason thought it was genuine. Jul 4 at 22:02
2

One website https://creation.com/joshuas-long-day states:

Many cultures have legends that seem to be based on this event. For example, there is a Greek myth of Apollo’s son, Phaethon, who disrupted the sun’s course for a day. And since Joshua 10 is historical, cultures on the opposite side of the world should have legends of a long night. In fact, the New Zealand Maori people have a myth about how their hero Maui slowed the sun before it rose, while the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan (the history of the empire of Culhuacan and Mexico) records a night that continued for an extended time.

Another website http://mbowden.info/joshld.htm argues that various myths and legends of long days and long nights line are found and line up with where it would have been day or night at the time of Joshua's long day.

Neither gives good documentation of the source of the claims. But they point to three books:

  1. Worlds in Collision
  2. Geocentricity
  3. The Deluge Story in Stone

Notably, two of these weeks defend positions which are even more controversial than the literal historical truth of the Joshua account.

If true, these claims provide impressive evidence for the historicity of the Biblical account. However, neither's website's presentation of the evidence for those claims inspires much confidence. Indeed, nor does the nature of the books cited for the evidence. It would be good if someone could go back and carefully study these claims and sources to see whether they stand up to scrutiny, but I'm not aware of that having been done.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .