Joshua 10:12-13, The Sun Stands Still, Part I of II

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

//We all know that in antiquity, the common belief was that the earth was flat and fixed, while the sun and moon rode through the sky. But for some reason, it troubles some readers to imagine that the Bible espouses this belief. Why does this surprise people? How could anyone in antiquity, writing down the words that would become our Bible, describe something they didn’t believe to be true? That the earth was spherical and spun on an axis, providing the illusion of the sun rotating around it?

Rather, the most common understanding in the Mediterranean world was that the earth was flat, covered by a dome of sorts, and that the sun and moon rode tracks daily across the underside of the dome. You’ll find this description of the creation in Genesis, chapter 1.

A number of other verses also support this idea that the sun can simply be held back on its track, or even made to reverse course:

Habakkuk 3:11, The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;

Job 9:7, He commands the sun, and it does not rise;

2 Kings 20:11, So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.

Isaiah 38:8, “Behold, I will bring the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down with the sun on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.” So the sun returned ten degrees on the dial by which it had gone down.

More about this topic tomorrow.

3 Comments

  1. What is the Book of Jasher?

  2. :) A controversial topic. It’s referenced twice in the O.T., the other reference in Samuel somewhere. The book of Jasher was supposedly uncovered by Titus during the seige of Jerusalem?! It expands upon several O.T. themes, but there’s some question about its authenticity. Big topic that I don’t know a lot about.

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