The Day the Sun Stood Still: Interpreting the Miracle of Joshua 10

Is That in the Bible?

Joshua 10 has one of the most remarkable miracle stories in the whole of the Old Testament  outside the opening chapters of Genesis. Fresh off of victories at Jericho and Ai, Joshua’s Israelite army faces down a coalition of five Amorite kings; victory is swift, and with the enemy on the run, Joshua commands the sun and moon to stop moving, apparently in order to give the Israelites more time to pursue and slaughter the Amorites. So great is this feat that the narrator exuberantly declares, “there has been no day like it before or since!” and the chapter eventually ends with Israel in firm control of the Judahite heartland.

This passage, sometimes referred to as Joshua’s Long Day, is a puzzler. Exactly what kind of miracle is supposed to have occurred here? What traditions is the author working with? Answering these questions has proven quite difficult, since voluminous books…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to The Day the Sun Stood Still: Interpreting the Miracle of Joshua 10

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I just want to post Paul D.’s response to a question I asked, for future reference. I asked him about the claim some have made that there are ancient traditions about a long night in the Western Hemisphere, during the alleged time of Joshua. Paul D. responded:

    I had trouble finding anything about that. I saw the claim made several times, but never with any proper citation I could follow up on. I’m suspicious that any such evidence, if genuine, will be the result of cherry-picking “long night” stories from one half of the world and “long day” stories from the other half. It’s not hard to find stories of extended nighttime from the ancient Mediterranean world; Hercules was supposedly conceived during a supernaturally long night, for example. Atlantis believers use similar methods of picking flood myths (which are fairly common) from around the Atlantic to prove Atlantis once existed.

    Edit: Don Stewart at “Blue Letter Bible” gives a few citations acknowledging that the alleged “Chinese, Egyptian, and Mexican stories” do not coincide with the date of the event in Joshua 10. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_625.cfm)

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