The book Joshua became the focus of much interest after the publication of a doctoral dissertation on chapters 9 to 14. Among other things, the thesis addressed the question of whether the sun really “stood still” during the battle of Ajjalon.
The subject received much attention; was it an astronomical miracle or not? It was posited that the problem surrounding this miracle is that it presupposes a perception of the celestial bodies that we no longer share. According to Israel’s worldview, the sun and the moon are members of the LORD’s heavenly court. Joshua would have prayed to God for their aid in his battle against the Amorites and the sun would have been a person. Biblical science can provide a lot of support for this view. Even so, it was said that this does not solve the difficulty of the passage. There is still room for a better answer!
A believer who insists on the actual occurrence of the happenings described in this text has to once again wrestle with the question. The Bible must be able to clarify itself! Having thought about this, I decided to write something down about it. I do not pretend to be an expert. It’s simply an attempt to compare Scripture with itself in order to reach a conclusion of faith.
Oh sun, go West,
And moon, appear,
For it might bring me Harm,
Who will lock me in his arms!
This young lady is pleased to let the heavenly bodies do what they will. She longs for the darkness of the evening, hoping that her dreams will be fulfilled then.
But Joshua longed for daylight in order to complete the assignment he had been given by God. He prayed for it, knowing that the light comes from the sun. His prayer made it into the Book of the Upright as a poem. It is known that many occurrences in the history of Israel were recorded in this book, often in poetic form. Joshua’s prayer was recorded like this: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Ajjalon.”
It does seem hard to imagine that Joshua, wishing the day would continue, took to praying so theatrically in the heat of battle.
God answered Joshua’s prayer for light, but He answered it in His own way. Do the Scriptures not clarify themselves when we, for light, turn to the first day of creation? For three whole days light served to separate light and darkness. It wasn’t until the fourth day that the sun was assigned that role. Where verse 13 says “And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies”, the Book of the Upright must have recorded the answer to Joshua’s prayer, which was that God allowed there to be light on the area of the battle for as long as necessary.
Meanwhile, the sun continued on its way. Besides, it was not even visible because hailstones were being thrown down from the black heavens.
P. S. It is not uncommon for the sun to serve as poetic imagery in the Bible. Isaiah 30:26a, for example, says the following when it describes how the LORD will deliver His people from pain and suffering: “Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.”