Keith Hunt - Joshua's Long Day - was it really? #2 - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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Joshua's Long Day - was it really? #2

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                 Presented by Ralph Woodrow




NO DAY LIKE THAT

     Once a person has been taught the other view - that the day
was extended for many additional hours - a verse like Joshua
10:14 tends to support that idea: "There was no day like that
before it or after it." But expressions like this were
proverbial; simply a way of stating that what happened was out of
the ordinary, unusual. Similar expressions may be found in verses
such as Exodus 9:18; 10:14; 1 Kings 3:12; 2 Kings 18:5; 23:22,
25; 2 Chron.1:12; Ezekiel 5:8,9; Joel 2:2; etc. What made this
day unusual is explained as we continue reading: "There was no
day like that before it or after it, THAT the Lord HARKENED unto
the voice of a MAN"! 
     We should not read into this verse the idea that the day was
unusual because the sun stopped moving and the hours of that day
extended. Even if this had been the case, this was clearly not
the point here. The point being made, as Maunder says, is that: 

     "Joshua had spoken, not in prayer or supplication, but in
     command, as if all NATURE was at his DISPOSAL; and the Lord
     had HARKENED and had, as it were, OBEYED a HUMAN voice: an
     anticipation of the time when a greater Joshua would command
     even the winds and the sea, and they would obey him"
     (ISBE,P.448).

     After reading that there was no day like this before, and
that the Lord harkened to the voice of a man, we read: 

     "FOR the Lord fought for Israel." 

     What did the Lord do? Comparing scripture with scripture,
what the Lord did in fighting for Israel was this: 

     "The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them...
     more died with hailstones than they whom the children of
     Israel slew with the sword" (Joshua 10:11).

     This explains why that day was unusual and unique. But had
the whole solar system stopped moving - this being so much more
dynamic - surely the verse would have read: "And there was no day
like that before it or after it, for the Lord stopped the whole
solar system!" But instead, the POINT of the passage is that the
Lord obeyed the voice of a MAN and fought for Israel. And the way
he fought for Israel, specifically, is that he sent a storm which
dropped huge hailstones upon the enemy.

     A. Lincoln Shute has described the defeat of the Amorites in
these words:

     For nearly two miles they ran and stumbled from Upper to
     Lower Beth-horon. Just before passing Lower Beth-horon, they
     turned to the south and swept through the wider valley just
     below Lower Beth-horon to the east, now filled with many
     olive trees. Just after passing Lower Beth-horon, this
     valley turns westward along the south side of the hill on
     which the city stands, and a little farther on it turns
     southward again towards the valley of Ajalon. Here, out of
     the mountain passes, they poured into this broad valley, and
     continued their disorderly retreat southward under the
     pelting hail till they reached the vicinity of Azekah...
     Here, apparently, the hail-storm ceased (Joshua 10:11), the
     clouds broke, and, later in the afternoon, past the heat of
     that July day, the sun appeared once more. 
     (A.Lincoln Shute, "The Battle of Beth-Horon," in
     "Bibliotheca Sacra," 1927, p. 422).

MIRACLES WORLD-WIDE?

     The earth completes one rotation on its axis in 23 hours, 56
minutes, and 4 seconds. This means that the surface of the earth
at the equator is travelling over 1,000 miles an hour. If the
earth suddenly stopped - causing the sun to appear to stand
still, as some explain it - the chain reaction of events
world-wide would have been tremendous. In 1960 an earthquake in
Chile triggered seismic sea waves that caused damage from Alaska
to New Zealand and wrecked coastal villages in Japan - a third of
the way around the world. If an earthquake could have such
far-reaching effects, imagine what would happen if the whole
earth suddenly stopped! All human beings, animals, and loose
objects would be thrown forward. Oceans would be flung onto land,
coastal towns would be devastated, ships at sea would be
swallowed by vast waves, and buildings would crumble. There would
be literally millions of disasters world-wide! Why would
thousands of people living in Italy need to be killed with waves,
or the population of Japan terrified with a night twice as long,
just so Joshua could defeat a comparatively few Amorites at
Gibeon?

     Make no mistake about it, God is all-mighty and could
provide invisible "seat belts" for all people, hold back the
ocean from the coastlines, protect the ships at sea, keep
buildings from toppling over and millions of other miracles as he
stopped this planet from turning! But why such complex and
overwhelming measures in order to accomplish one simple purpose?
     To complicate the whole thing to this extent reminds us of a
Rube Goldberg drawing about a machine for washing dishes. When
spoiled tomcat (A) discovers he is alone, he lets out a yell
which scares mouse (B) into jumping into basket (C), causing
lever end (D) to rise and pull string (E) which snaps automatic
cigar-lighter (F). Flame (G) starts fire sprinkler (H). Water
runs on dishes (I) and drips into sink (J). Turtle (K), thinking
he hears babbling brook babbling, and having no sense of
direction, starts wrong way and pulls string (L), which turns on
switch (M) that starts electric glow heater (N). Heat ray (O)
dries the dishes!

     If God suddenly stopped the earth from turning - and
performed multiplied millions of protection miracles worldwide -
because of Joshua's words, the events that took place at Gibeon
would fade into insignificance in comparison! The Bible account
of what really happened would be pitifully incomplete. We do not
believe this is the case.

     The New Testament mentions many phenomenal events in Old
Testament history -a leper dipping in Jordan for healing, Gideon
defeating an army, Lot escaping Sodom, manna falling from heaven,
Aaron's staff budding, the Exodus from Egypt, crossing the Red
Sea on dry ground, the fall of Jericho, etc. But the New
Testament never says anything about what would have been a
miracle of much greater magnitude: the sun (or earth) standing
still. It does not mention the world-wide disasters this would
have caused or the miracles that would have been required to
prevent such disasters. Does this not seem like a strange
omission if indeed Joshua's words set off a chain of complicated
and complex events world-wide? How much more feasible logically
and scripturally - to simply recognize that the sun stopped
shining and not that it stopped moving!

ORDER OF EVENTS

     Taking the information given in Joshua 10, we are able to
reconstruct the order of events for this day. Again, the map on
page 84 will clarify the locations (I do not reproduce the map -
Keith Hunt).

1. Joshua and his men march all night from their camp at Gilgal
(verse 9).

2. Arriving at Gibeon, their attack on the Amorites meets with
great success (verse 10).

3. The Amorites flee for Azeka and Makkedah (verse 10).

4. Along the road huge hailstones fall on them, killing more than
are killed by the sword of Israel (verse 11).

5. "That day" Makkedah is taken, smitten with the sword, and camp
is set up there (verses 28,21).

6. The five kings who escaped and hid in a cave at Makkedah are
captured, killed, and hung on trees (verses 16, 26).

7. "And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun,
that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and
cast them into the cave" (verse 27).

     There is not the slightest hint from verse 27 that the sun
went down almost 12 (or 24) hours later than usual. There is
every reason to believe from this wording that "the time of the
going down of the sun" was the normal time.

     If indeed the sun went down 12 hours later than usual (not
to mention 24 hours later, as some suppose!), this would mean
that Joshua and his men would have been up the day before their
march to Gibeon, marched all night, fought all day until evening,
and then continued fighting for another 12 hours during an
extended day; that is, a day of 12 hours, a night of 12 hours,
fighting all day for 12 hours, and then 12 hours more ! This
would be a total of 48 hours without sleep. The Amorites, on the
other hand, being the ones who planned the attack, had time to
rest before and would have been many hours fresher than the
Israelites. An extended day would have given them an advantage -
not the Israelites!

     When the sun went down at Makkedah - "at the time of the
going down of the sun," the normal time - this was a long enough
day without extending it longer!

UNINTERRUPTED TIME

     Another point that weighs heavily is the fact that the Bible
implies the cycle of day and night has never been interrupted.
     Clear back in Genesis we read: "While the earth remaineth..
day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). Significantly, the
word translated "cease" is "sabbath," the word from which Sabbath
is derived, expressing the idea of intermission, to rest, to
cease (Strong's Concordance, 7673, 7676). In other words, as long
as the earth remained, day and night were not to cease, were not
to take a sabbath. But if - at the time of Joshua - night did not
come at its normal time, then the cycle of day and night did
indeed take a rest!
     Day and night have never ceased to function right on time.

     "Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the
     day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not
     be day and night IN THEIR SEASON" - right on time! - "then
     may also my covenant be broken..." (Jeremiah 33:20). 

     The very integrity of God is linked to an uninterrupted
cycle of day and night.
     Jeremiah, who spoke these words, lived after the time of
Joshua. If he had believed the cycle of day and night was
interrupted at the time of Joshua, his analogy would not be
valid. There is the strong implication that he did not believe
the sequence of day and night "in their season" had ever been
interrupted.
     Those who believe the sun stopped and the day was lengthened
12 or 24 hours, face serious problems of interpretation. Suppose
Joshua's command was given on a Tuesday (the third day of the
week) - and this day was extended to include what normally would
have been Wednesday then Thursday (the next day, figuring by the
sun marking off day and night) would be the fourth day of the
week, Friday the fifth, Saturday the sixth, and Sunday the
seventh day of the week. The whole sequence of days would be off
a day from what it had been before! No such thing occurred, in
our opinion. The Bible uses the term "DAY" in describing this
period - not days.

     If the time marked by the sun and moon was delayed for 24
hours, then holy days such as the Passover would from then on
fall on a different day than at the time of Moses. This is
unthinkable, for the Israelites were to keep the passover "in the
fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in its
appointed season" (Numbers 9:2, 3). If the moon had been delayed
for about a complete day, those who kept the Passover on the
fourteenth day after the new moon, would not be keeping the same
24 hour segment of time as that commanded by Moses! All Sabbaths,
feast days, and new moon festivals would have fallen within a
different 24 hour period than before - each being one day off!
     This hardly seems to have been the case and so, again, a
reason to believe the sun stopped shining - not stopped moving! -
at the command of Joshua.

(Those who expound and believe this day of Joshua was extended by
12 to 24 hours just tell you that it did not effect the days of
the week per se. only that one of those days was an extra long
day. But as Woodrow has pointed out God said, long before Joshua
that day and night would not be interrupted. Miracles have taken
place on certain days, but none of the writers of the Bible give
any evidence that the earth stopped rotating for 12 to 24 hours,
and so interrupting the normal day and night function of the
earth - such an event as Woodrow points out, would have been so
huge a miracle, it could have hardly escaped being mentioned by
more than one writer of the books of the Bible - Keith Hunt).

AN EXTENDED DAY?

     We have stated that Joshua wanted relief from the heat of
the sun - not more hours of sunlight. There is the direct
scriptural statement about a storm that moved in which would have
caused the sun to stop shining on Gibeon. And there is, of
course, the basic fact that stopping the sun would not make an
extended day. For these reasons, we have taken the position
presented here.

     But, coming to verse 13, we read that the sun "hasted
not to go down about a whole day" which, in our English version,
does indeed seem to teach that the day was extended. Our
translators lived at a time when it was assumed that if the sun
stopped it would make the day longer. It is evident they
translated the Hebrew words here to fit within that concept. But
these words "cannot be proved to have this meaning," says the
highly esteemed "Pulpit Commentary." "In fact, it is difficult to
fix any precise meaning on them" (Pulpit Commentary, Vol.7,
p.166).
     Many years ago, A. Lincoln Shute actually visited the area
of Gibeon at the specific season when the sun and moon were in
the same positions as recorded in Joshua 10, the sun overhead at
noon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon to the west. He wrote
an article for "Bibliotheca Sacra" in which he stated his belief
that the storm caused the sun to stop shining (not moving) and
that all the reasonable evidence for this viewpoint "goes far to
indicate that [verse 13] probably has some sense that harmonizes
with all the rest, if we only knew all the facts and all of the
various shades of meaning in that far away time" (Shute, op.cit.,
p. 430). We agree with this statement and will give several
possibilities concerning verse 13.

     The Wycliffe Bible Commentary gives the following
translation: 

     "For the sun ceased [shining] in the midst of the sky, and
     [i.e., although] it did not hasten to set about a whole day"
     (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 218).

     Another possibility is this: We are told that the sun
"hasted not to go down." If we are correct that the way the sun
stopped was that it stopped shining, then the word "go" would be
a reversal of that action; that is, the sun stopped shining and
did not hasten to "go" (shine) again until the day was about
completed (whole). The word translated "whole" is also translated
"full" or "complete" in the Bible. In other words, then, what was
said poetically would mean, literally, that Joshua commanded the
sun to stop shining at noon, the clouds intervened, and when the
day was almost completed, the sun shined again. In the meantime,
it "hasted not" - it was not in any hurry, was not pressed - to
shine down upon them.

     M'Clintock and Strong suggest that verse 13 - the sun
"halted not to go down a whole day" - is equivalent to withheld
its full light (M'Clintock and Strong, op. cit., Vol.4. pp. 1026,
1027).
     Again, bear in mind that the word translated "whole" can be
correctly translated "full." The word "day" can be Biblically
linked with light, as when "God called the light Day" (Genesis
1:5). By omitting "about" (which is not translated from any
Hebrew word anyway), the wording "withheld its full light" does
present a meaning in harmony with the evidence we have seen.

     Another thought: Often when the Bible uses the word "sun,"
it means more precisely the light of the sun, as when we read
that the fruits of the earth are "brought forth by the sun"
(Deut.33:14). If it is the light of the sun that is primarily
meant in verse 13 - and not the sun itself - it could be said
that the light of the sun did not go down - did not shine - until
the day was almost completed.
     This raises the question, however, as to why the expression,
"the sun did not GO down" (which sounds more like the setting of
the sun itself) would be used. Why would it not be said, if
speaking of the light or rays of the sun, "the sun did not COME
down"? Realizing that the Hebrew word translated "go" has a wide
variety of applications, I wondered if it could just as correctly
be translated "come" down. My hunch was easily and quickly
confirmed as I checked Strong's Concordance (Number 935).
     Interestingly enough, this word can be translated either way
- "go" or "come"! And, in fact, it is translated more times
"come" (670 times) than "go" (150 times)!

     With this possibility, verse 13 would be saying that the
light of the sun (and its excessive heat being implied) did not
come down on them until the day was almost complete.
     Another shade of meaning may be possible in the word
translated "day." The word is common enough, but its specific
definition is: "to be hot; a day (as the warm hours)" (Strong's
Concordance, 3117). By applying this precise meaning to verse 13,
and realizing that Joshua wanted relief from the heat of the sun,
it is possible that "day" could be understood as the heat of the
day. If so, then "about a whole day" would mean that the sun
stopped shining for "about" the whole period when the sun's heat
would be oppressive - the hot hours of the day.

     Taking this information, then, and including it in brackets,
the following gives an over-all view of our text: 

     "Sun, stop [shining] upon Gibeon... and the sun stopped
     [shining] ... until the people had avenged themselves upon
     their enemies... So the sun in the midst of the sky stopped
     [shining], and [the light of the sun] hasted not to go [come
     or shine] down for about a whole [an entire] day
     [specifically the hot hours of the day]."

POETIC PASSAGE

     Finally, it should be pointed out that the wording about the
sun stopping is in a portion of Joshua 10 that is unmistakably
poetic in nature. As the "Pulpit Commentary" says: 

     "The poetic form of this passage is clear to everyone who
     has the smallest acquaintance with the laws of Hebrew
     poetry" and that these words "belong rather to the domain of
     poetry than history, and their language is that of hyperbole
     rather than of exact narration of facts."" Poetic passages
     such as this do not require a literal meaning for each word
     or expression used.

                           ....................

TO BE CONTINUED


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