Joshua 10:1-43 NIV
The Sun Stands Still
1Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyeda it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and had become their allies. 2He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters. 3So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. 4“Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.”
5Then the five kings of the Amorites—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.
6The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”
7So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8The Lord said to Joshua,
“Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
9After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
12On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself onb 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. 14There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
15Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.
Five Amorite Kings Killed
16Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. 17When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, 18he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. 19But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”
20So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. 21The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.
22Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. 24When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.
25Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.
27At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.
Southern Cities Conquered
28That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.
34Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.
36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.
38Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.
40So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.41Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon.
42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
43Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.
Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, hearing of the capture of Ai, and that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel, calls to his assistance four other kings to fight against Gibeon, Joshua 10:1-4. They join forces, and encamp against Gibeon, Joshua 10:5. The Gibeonites send to Joshua for help, Joshua 10:6, who immediately marches to their relief, receives encouragement from God, and falls suddenly on the confederate forces, Joshua 10:7-9, and defeats them; they fly, and multitudes of them are slain by a miraculous shower of hailstones, Joshua 10:10, Joshua 10:11.
Joshua, finding that the day began to fail, prayed that the sun and moon might stand still, that they might have time to pursue and utterly destroy these confederate forces, Joshua 10:12. The sun and moon stand still, and make that day as long as two, Joshua 10:13, Joshua 10:14. Joshua and the people return to their camp at Gilgal, Joshua 10:15. The five kings having taken shelter in a cave at Makkedah, Joshua commanded the people to roll great stones against the mouth of the cave, and set a watch to keep it, while Israel were pursuing their enemies, Joshua 10:16-19.
The Israelites return to Makkedah, bring forth the five kings, then slay and hang them on five trees, Joshua 10:20-27. The Israelites take and destroy Makkedah, Joshua 10:28, and Libnah, Joshua 10:29,Joshua 10:30, and Lachish, Joshua 10:31, Joshua 10:32, and defeat Horam king of Gezer, Joshua 10:33, and take Eglon, Joshua 10:34,Joshua 10:35, and Hebron, Joshua 10:36, Joshua 10:37, and Debir, Joshua 10:38, Joshua 10:39, and all the country of the hills, south, vale, and springs, and the whole country from Kadesh-Barnea to Gibeon, Joshua 10:40-42. They return to Gilgal, Joshua 10:43.
I am introducing an article that helps you better understand the Word of God in Joshua 10:12-14 telling us the Sun and the Moon stood still.
Did the Sun Stand Still?
Brad Bromling, D.Min.
How can I believe the Bible is reliable when it says that the Sun “stood still” at the request of Joshua?
This question relates to the history narrated in Joshua 10. After the defeat of Ai, five kings of Canaan joined forces to attack the city of Gibeon for making an alliance with Israel. Upon hearing of this move, Joshua and his men marched through the night from Gilgal to Gibeon where, with the Lord's help, Israel waged war. In the midst of battle, Joshua prayed to God that the Sun would stand still until Israel could vanquish her enemy. This request was granted, as the record states: “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of man, for the Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:13-14).
Critics insist that such an event is impossible, and thereby impugn the veracity of the Scriptures. Various solutions to this alleged problem have been proposed. This article will consider four of them. First, some suggest that the text should be understood in a figurative sense and that the event did not involve a miracle. Hence, it is suggested that the Lord helped Israel win the battle in such an incredibly short time that she felt as though the day had been lengthened, when in fact it was not (Keil, 1980, 2:110). Second, some scholars take the language figuratively and attach a purely naturalistic explanation to the event. Donald Patten and his colleagues believe that the planet Mars passed by Earth in an unusually close orbit that caused the Earth to tilt on its axis (1973, pp. 172-198). Viewed from the right geographical location, the Sun actually would hang in the sky longer than normal. Third, others suggest that a local miracle took place. Hence, the Sun’s rays may have been refracted miraculously so that they gave every appearance of daylight-illumination in Palestine, when in reality the Sun had slipped below the horizon (Davis, 1980, p. 69). Fourth, still others take the language literally and accept that the Sun was indeed halted miraculously. Henry Morris explains that even more may have been involved: “Since the account says that the moon also stood still (Joshua 10:13), it may be that the entire solar system stopped in its tracks for a day, with all relative positions and motions simply suspended” (1971, p. 73).
Each of these solutions has met with criticism. Against the first it has been contended that a cardinal rule of interpretation is that a passage is to be considered literal until proven figurative. Joshua 10 reads like simple, historical narration. The Lord could have made the day “seem” long, but the text says that “the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies” (Joshua 10:13). The second has been challenged for lack of evidence. The notion that the Earth shifted on its axis in response to a fly-by of Mars is purely hypothetical. The third option is rejected out-of-hand by anyone who refuses to accept the possibility of miraculous occurrences. Against the literal reading, it is argued that since the Earth orbits the Sun, it would have been the Earth that ceased to rotate, rather than the Sun stopping, that lengthened the day. Also, if the Earth stopped it would experience incalculable global catastrophes.
If each solution has difficulties, what is one to make of the event? Primarily this: it was a miracle. Joshua prayed for divine assistance, and he received it. An omnipotent God could have helped in any way He chose. Before anyone can dismiss the Bible because it reports miracles as though they really happened, he must do two things. First, he must prove that there is no God Who has the ability to accomplish such tasks. Now, if there is a God Who is capable of speaking the entire Universe into existence (Psalm 33:9), then it must be admitted that He has the power to do with it whatever He wishes. Who is measly man to say that the God of the Universe does not have the power to stop the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and still maintain every other semblance of order? By definition, God is beyond the scope of such criticism.
Second, the critic must be able to prove that the Bible is of purely human origin. However, the Bible itself is one the best-known examples of a miracle. When all of the facts are considered, it is evident that without God, the Bible cannot be explained. The burden of proof rests with the skeptic; until he can prove there is no God, and that the Bible is merely a human production, he has no basis upon which to deny the biblical record of a miracle. To dismiss the Bible because it contains accounts of “impossible” events is inane. With God nothing is impossible except, of course, those things which are at odds with His nature (e.g., He cannot lie—Titus 1:2). As with all miracles, no explanation is given as to how the feat in Joshua 10 was performed. How did the axe head float (2 Kings 6)? How did five loaves and two fish feed over five thousand (Matthew 14)? How did Jesus give sight to the blind (John 9)? That these things happened is sufficient for the man who accepts the omnipotence of God.
Accordingly, two of the above solutions seem to fit the data. First, God may have caused the solar rays to linger over Palestine for the specified time. If God thus made the Sun to appear—from Joshua's perspective—to hang in the sky above Gibeon, it would be correct to report the event in such terms. Or second, it may be that the Sun (and indeed the entire solar system) was suspended miraculously for a day. Whether the miracle was local or universal is not specifically stated in the text. Either way, “there has been no day like that, before it or after it” (Joshua 10:14)!
A final thought on this subject needs to be addressed. The story occasionally circulates that “NASA scientists were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets 100 years from now and 1,000 years from now in order to plot space craft trajectories. As they ran their computers up and down the centuries, their machines came to a grinding halt because they showed a day missing about the time Joshua lived.” This story is purely fictional. Computers do not have the ability to make such a discovery, and every effort to contact the scientists allegedly involved has resulted in either failure or denial. The July 1989 Bible-Science Newsletter carries an excellent article that debunks this farce (Bartz, 1989, p. 12).