Joshua’s Day

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Astronomy/Cosmology Related, Bible Related, Did you know?
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Also known as Joshua’s Missing Day. The book of Joshua records the historical account of the Israelite occupation of Canaan around 1400 B.C. One of the more notable portions being Joshua 10:11-13 which describes Jacob’s conquest of the Amorites[1], during which “the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and He said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.” Sounds pretty incredible, yet hard to imagine. From this passage many theories and hoaxes[2] have emerged to prove or explain this great miracle.

We must first address the fact that this is indeed a miracle. There is no other way to naturally explain the lengthening of a day without supernatural intervention. And for an all-powerful God that created everything in existence, this shouldn’t be out of His capabilities or out of our imaginations to envision God doing so.

Another thing to address is the usage of Joshua commanding the sun to stop moving in the sky. The earth rotates on an axis giving the appearance of the sun moving when it is not. Skeptics use this passage to show the Bible’s inaccurate knowledge of our planet’s position in the solar system. The belief that the sun rotates around the earth is known as geocentrism, a popular belief in the ancient world before Copernicus theorized that earth was not the center of the universe. However, one can hardly accuse Joshua of being geocentric for praying for the sun to stop moving in the sky. Have you ever discussed a “sunset” or “sunrise” with someone? Well then you must be geocentric. Describing the sun as rising and setting is describing the sun as moving in the sky. Scientists (mostly meteorologists) make declarations like this daily, yet no one accuses them of believing in geocentrism. So why would we hold the Bible at a different standard for using the same language we use every day?

How can we know for sure? Well, Joshua 10:11-13 says that sun and moon were stopped. Joshua just needed more daylight towards the end of the day. If the Joshua account was a fictitious story written by an ancient man that believed in geocentrism, they would only stop the sun since the moon would not provide any additional light if stopped during the afternoon. But the fact that both the sun and moon appeared to have slowed in the sky is evidence that it was earth’s rotation that was slowed.

Now since a lot of things are affected by the earth’s rotation, wouldn’t slowing it cause massive problems on earth? Yes it would in fact! There’d be massive tidal flooding and massive heat friction from the liquid hot core of earth still rotating.[3] The only way these disastrous factors could be avoided would be if restrained by God himself, which is not out of the question. Though skeptics bring up other issues that are not so realistic: Such as the everyone flying off earth’s surface without the rotation to keep them grounded, or the sudden change in momentum causing massive destruction on earth. First, earth’s gravity is incredibly strong, and the centrifugal force of earth’s rotation is only 1/300th that of earth’s gravity.[4] The earth’s rotation slowing would only cause us to be further grounded to earth’s surface. Centrifugal forces only keep you grounded if you’re on the inside curve of a spinning object, since we reside on the outside of the curve of earth’s surface, centrifugal forces lessen the force of gravity we experience. As for the potential dangers of earth going from 1,000 mph[5] to a sudden stop, the Bible doesn’t suggest the stop was instant. Just as a car traveling at 60 mph can come to a gradual stop in under a minute without the sensation of breaking, earth could come to gradually slow down in a matter of minutes without any sensation of breaking.

There are also other theories as to how the day slowed other than earth’s rotation slowing. There is the Wobble Theory which states that earth continued its rotation but the axis wobbled in an “S” shape allowing for the sun to appear motionless in the sky for a short period of time. This would of course require supernatural explanation or natural explanations of massive meteorite impact, or planetary orbit interference from Mars. Both of which have no evidence what so ever to support them. And the other main theory is the Refraction Theory: That God didn’t need to alter the earth’s rotation or orbit at all, but instead refract or bend the sun and moonlight, because all Joshua really needed was light.

Whether you believe is earth’s rotation being slowed, the wobble theory, or the Refraction Theory, all three require supernatural intervention from God. And no matter how God did it, it is miraculous to say the least, and another sure testimony of God’s power over all of creation!

[1] The Amorites worshipped the sun and the moon. How ironic that God would stop the sun to facilitate their demise. An obvious demonstration of God’s power over the sun which the Amorites worshiped. The Amorites were surely demoralized at this sight.

[2] The most popular hoax being the claim that NASA has found a missing day while studying planetary positions. NASA however has made no such discovery, yet it remains a popular urban myth.

[3] Russell Grigg M.Sc., “Joshua’s Long Day: Did it really happen-and how?”

[4] Russell Grigg M.Sc., “Joshua’s Long Day: Did it really happen-and how?”

[5] Per, the earth rotates at 1,000 mph (1,600 km/hr).


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