Could the Long Day of Joshua have been an eclipse?

Just came across this rather interesting article. It says that the events recorded in Joshua 10, where Joshua commanded the sun to stand still in the Battle of Gibeon, could have been an eclipse:

Anyone got any thoughts on this one?


I don’t see anything particularly useful about insisting that it is or isn’t. I’ve always assumed that an eclipse is what inspired the bizarre interpretation that a day had been halted.

Allegorically or symbolically, it is the best “face” one can put on celestial objects known as well as the Sun and the Moon.

But even with this best face, the idea that the Sun (meaning the Earth) would stop suddenly in its rotation is another good example of the Bible scribes not having a sound Cosmology.

I think that what intrigues me most about this hypothesis is that if it’s true, it would pinpoint the exact date of that particular event.

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When I saw the title, I thought," is something going on with Joshua. Swamidass?"

It does seem like a reasonable explanation, though perhaps the question is, do we need to have an explanation? I admit I am sort of intrigued when reading of “natural” explanations of the parting of the Red Sea etc, and even if a natural occurrence would be miraculous in its timing. The only thing is, would an eclipse be interpreted as the lengthening of a day? Maybe they were just changing to daylight savings time.

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I’ve been pondering that. Without astronomical measurements at the ready … a war leader could “eye-ball” an eclipse, and interpret it as the Sun “stopping” - - it stops giving light, so it’s virtually the same thing as stopping its progress in the sky. And then as the Sun moves out of the shadow (Earth’s or Moon’s?), it is as if the Sun is moving forward again!

I probabaly lean a bit too far these days and suggest it did not occur at all, but rather was a story of inspiration written in to the tale of Joshua to bolster the faith of the Israelites 500-1000 years later than the actual event.


I’m pretty skeptical of this “historical record” as well. We know for a fact that the Earth cannot stop it’s rotation for even a second, let alone a day, without creating utter chaos and destruction for everyone hoping to remain on their feet. People on their feet along the equator would suddenly find themselves hurtling into buildings, hills, oceans and each other at greater than 1000 miles per hour!

Some might optimistically think that being closer to the Arctic/Antarctic regions would spare them, but only if you think that one’s inconvenient location on the southern edge of Alaska provides much benefit if one still finds oneself hurdling into a tree, the water or an ice sheet at the relatively “glacial speed” of 550 mph (essentially the speed of many passenger airlines)!

What’s your opinion, @pevaquark? Would you move even further north towards the pole, in hopes that igloo blocks don’t slam into you or your loved ones at the speed of a racing truck, instead of a jet airliner?

We also have to look at Joshua 10:13 which reads " So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day."
An eclipse doesn’t last a day.
I guess I believe God can do miracles with His creation .

Perhaps this is the one verse that reveals an Old Testament view of Geocentrism?!

If this verse is not accepted as a miracle that God would do in a heliocentric cosmos, then it can be explained that in a Geocentric world view, stopping the Sun in its course would have minimal affect on the Earth, since the sun is not a massive object around which the Earth orbits, but is a much smaller object, located somewhere in the sky of the Earth.

The verse in Joshua is about a small object stopping in its path through the air, much like a humming bird stops its flight through the air.

@JohnWalton wrote a BioLogos post on the topic of Joshua 10:


You can do all sorts of things with it and this 2 minute video describes some of the main things that would happen which is quite amusing. Such modern problems weren’t really a big deal for the Israelites who believe the world was flat and the sun traveled around.

It is much more acceptable to do what Dr. Walton did in the article that Casper just shared, but I still can’t get around just a simple ‘it just happened on an ominous day for the Canaanites.’ Instead, I might side with someone like Pete Enns and others who note the central theme of the Old Testament is related to land. Thus some of the questions that are important are how did the Israelites get the land and why is it theirs? I’ve personally enjoyed The Biblical Cosmos by Robin Parry which has been a fun read to get into the ANE world that’s not too academic.

I am beginning to think that the Israelites thought of God the way others in the ANE did. He was a fierce warrior who if they were in favor with them, they would win the battle and if not, they would lose them. I think this type of idea is one of the reasons why Mohammad for example was so successful- he convinced people around him that god was on their side and was blessing their slaughter of surrounding groups. I imagine this whole story- with a promise that they get the land and then they have to wait 400 years for that promise to be fulfilled. Certainly, it was the will of God for them to get the land and nothing could stop them. They deserved the land and God was so much on their side that the sun (or one of the hosts of heaven) even would give them an extra blessing on one such occasion. Be sure not to read the wikipedia article on the Battle of Jericho.

How did they get the land in the end? The Scriptures themselves seem to suggest it wasn’t this violent racial cleansing of the Canaanites (a theme which even goes back to Ham, Noah’s son) which may have been a story passed along and embellished to show just how much God wanted the Israelites to live in this land and that nobody should mess with them. Exodus 23:27-30 talks about God sending a terror and/or pestilence in front of them (i.e. before they even get to the land). Leviticus 18:24-28 also records that God was casting them out and the land vomited out its inhabitants (past tense). I could be wrong though and am just starting to work some of these things out!

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