Thanks for your response to my question about Joshua 10:12-14. Your
response is interesting in that, like many of us, you appear to have a
problem with a literal interpretation of this passage. You say, "it is not
clear what really happened." Why not? The statement by Joshua (vs. 12b)
appears to be quite clear (I'm looking at the NIV version). Not only that,
but a paraphrase of what Joshua said follows: "so the sun stood still ...
till the nation avenged itself ..." (vs. 13a), as if to emphasize what was
said before. Without resorting to the most original text that I have at my
disposal, one has two options: accept the passage as a supernatural event or
argue these texts tell us that the battle was such an "earth shaking" event
that the sun and moon paused in honour of God's great powers. Thus, either
a literal interpretation or not. IOW, focussing on the sun standing still
misses the point in that, on that day, "... the Lord listened to a man."
(vs. 14) which may have been a bigger miracle. However, if we assume that
the passage really tells us, in a somewhat round about way, that the Lord
was listening to man, then the earth continued to move and all the
repercussions of a stopped earth (oceans rushing towards the poles) did not
Where does this put the floating axe head? Where does it put Balaam's
talking donkey? (Num. 22: 28-30). Did the donkey really talk or is it the
point that a "dumb" donkey was smarter than the owner? If the latter,
again, the donkey did not really talk.
How did we get to this discussion? It originated in the YEC-OEC link
(answeingenesis). My point is that, if OEC's criticize YECs because the
latter come up with (to me), for example, some strange explanations to
reconcile tectonic plate movement within the time frame necessitated by a
recent flood and a young earth, OECs have to reconcile
an-earth-standing-still event with the physical repercussions. If they
cannot, they have to either interpret the story as "fiction," (and I use
this term with some trepidation) or postulate that God suspended all
physical laws during the miracle (which He can, of course, do). However, if
God suspended the physical laws when He listened to Joshua, why could He not
have suspended to same laws of physics when He arranged the tectonic plates
in record time? If that's the case, we're back in the box where we cannot
extrapolate back in time.
See my problem?
Waste Technology Business Unit
Pinawa, MB R0E 1L0
> 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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