On Sat, 7 Apr 2001, Vandergraaf, Chuck wrote:
> Now I have a question for you, Gordon. Would you put the sun-standing-still
> during one of the battles of the Israelites and the shadow moving backwards
> (as a sign of the earth moving in the opposite direction), as a sign that
> God would heal Hezehiah, in the same category as the floating axe head and
> Jesus' walking on the water? The implication of the floating axe head are
> rather minimal and involve a (temporary and local) suspension of some
> physical laws while the earth moving in the opposite direction might have
> all sorts of repercussions.
It is hard for me to categorize the sun-standing-still incident since it
is not clear what really happened. It seems that the popular understanding
of this passage (Josh. 10:12-14) is incorrect. Gibeon was in the hills to
the east of the battlefield, and so this must have taken place in the
morning, when no one should have been worried about the sun setting. Also,
if Joshua had been concerned about not having enough light, why would he
have thought to instruct the moon as to what it should do? The previous
verses seem to suggest that the battle began while it was still night. The
verb translated `stand still' actually means to be silent and is usually
translated that way or simply to cease, and nowhere else has the
stand-still translation. The last verb in verse 13 is `go', rather than
`go down'. It is also interesting that the aspect of this event that is
deemed to be unusual is not what happened to the sun but the fact that the
Lord listened to the voice of a man (vs. 14).
I have seen several speculations about what happened. One of these is that
what Joshua wanted was not more light but rather more darkness such as
that that had resulted from the meteorological conditions that had been
occurring. Thus the sunset could still have occurred at the normal time.
Any interpretation that has been proposed probably still has problems.
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
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