What exactly happened when the sun stood still for Joshua? We may never know, but we can still have fun speculating.
The Long Day of Joshua
Debunking Urban Legend – First we should dispel the rumor that Nasa or Princeton discovered a “missing day” in their orbital calculations. This story usually reflects that scientists were trying to compute orbital calculations for the first satellites (some use the Apollo missions) and they were hitting a dead end in their calculations because they were “missing days” in their formulas. But once they enlisted the help of Bible scholars, they showed them the Long Day of Joshua (and sometimes the shadow of Hezekiah gets lumped in too). This new information allowed them to update their formulas and successfully launch into space. After hearing this story many times you begin to believe it as truth. After all it is used in the pulpit often. But upon further examination, it appears that this is simply unfounded and is nothing more than an urban legend.
It doesn’t even make sense scientifically. Orbital mechanics are not contingent upon any calculations that concern a number of days in our history. So we should cease from using this little piece of legend from our pulpits. The Bible stands up really well against scientific scrutiny without us having to use such methods that could come back to bite us. Please research things like this before using them. (Be a Berean (Acts 17:11))
1) The Earth stopped rotating and God disrupted the laws of physics miraculously. — God can do anything including this, but it appears to me that He likes to use his creation to fulfill His needs. We should acknowledge that it is even more impressive if God set in motion the things that would impact this day centuries earlier.
2) The battle happened at night and Joshua was actually praying to prevent the sun from rising. Thus God answered with a heavy fog that obscured the rising sun or with an eclipse that hid the sun. — The text doesn’t support this theory, because it does not imply darkness, but says that the sun stopped.
3) The passage is written in prose quoted from this “Book of Jasher”. Therefore it is simply figurative. — Poetic structure doesn’t imply figurative speech. God says what He means and means what He says even in poetry. The sun stopped in the sky.
4) Astrophysicist Donald Patten’s hypothesis (this is what we’ll discuss in this study). His theory is based on scientific studies about how the Earth and Mars once interacted and how this eventually affected our calendar. Note that this doesn’t try to explain the miracles of God away as mere natural occurrences. To me, it shows us how well God planned everything from the foundation of time. It shows that since God created the laws of physics, He chose to use them to His advantages when He wanted to.
Our Calendar Changed, why?
Fourteen different ancient calendars used to be based on 360 day years. This includes Egyptian, Chaldean, Jewish, Mayan, Teutonic, and more. Some might speculate that this was because they didn’t know better. Well, that hardly makes sense because even though these men weren’t technically advanced, they were still smart enough to calculate the cycles of the sun and moon. In fact, they were much more reliant on it than we are. This affected their planting times, their harvest times, their navigational calculations, and much more. If there was anything that the ancients were good at, it was calendar tracking. But everyone’s calendar changed in 701 BC. The Roman calendar (our current system) added 5 ¼ days to the year (365 days a year + 1 every four years) and Hezekiah added a full month to the Jewish calendar seven times every nineteen years. Why the change? Obviously it had to because the change is still holding up today. So what happened in 701 BC that demanded a change?
Significance of Mars
Before we get to that, let’s examine the influence of the planet Mars on the ancient world. Ancient cultures feared and worshipped the planet Mars (thought to be a powerful god). He was menacing and a god of War. This god/planet wasn’t named Mars until the days of the Romans, before then he was called Aries by the Greeks and before that, Ba’al (2 Kings 23:5). The Tuetons called him Tues. Tuesday and March are named after this god. Why was there such a big deal made over a small planet in our night sky? Why did this planet scare people so much? Could you even pick it out of the night sky if you had to? But what if it wasn’t always so little in the sky?
Many scientists believe that Mars and Earth were on slightly different resonant orbits. The Earth was 360 day orbit and Mars was 720 day. The orbits would have been more elliptical than they are today and slightly offset so that the orbit of Mars passed through the orbit of Earth. This would cause them to pass by near each other on several occasions at about 108 years intervals. This model would account for many catastrophic events in history that seem to occur about 108 years apart. The theory is that the gravitational affect on each planet during each near pass-by shifted the orbits slightly enough to help it stabilize in 701 BC. Note below, the events that God placed at even intervals. Oddly these intervals are usually divisible by 108 years.
1) Flood of Noah (approximately 2484 BC)
2) Tower of Babel (approximately 1944 BC) 540 years later (108 * 5)
3) Long Day of Joshua (approximately 1404 BC) 540 years later (108 * 5)
4) Elijah at Mt Carmel (approximately 864 BC) 540 years later (108 * 5)
5) Hezekiah and the Shadow (Isaiah 38:7-8) / Calendars change (701 BC) 163 years later
During a near pass-by (108 years apart) Mars would come as close as 70,000 miles away (very close) and rise on the horizon 50 times bigger than the moon. This would cause huge earthquakes (land tidal shifts), lightning, meteor showers and generally scare everyone on Earth to death. Hence, a reason for pagans to worship Mars. This would also account for the needed calendar change in 701 BC. If the last near pass-by occurred in 701 BC and threw the planets into a more stable orbit, the number of days per year would’ve been affected. It is also interesting that Hezekiah was the one who changed the Jewish calendar. Remember the backward moving shadow miracle occurred with him in Isaiah 38. So what does Mars have to do with Joshua? We’re getting there.
Johnathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. In the 3rd voyage to Laputa it mentions two moons of Mars in strange detail that accurately describes the two moons proportionally as they actually exist. The details are strange because most moons do not behave like Mars’ moons do. Yet Swift described them quite accurately. However, the moons of Mars were not discovered until 1877 due to their size and darkness (151 years after Swift’s writing). In researching this, it appears that he apparently got his information from some ancient Chinese sketches that he probably viewed as mere folklore and myth to add some depth to his fantasy story. In reality these sketches were most likely eye witness accounts of a near pass-by of Mars. So taking the calendar into account along with Swift’s usage of ancient writings, it appears that the Mars theory is completely plausible. So if this was occurring during the Long Day of Joshua, how does it account for the long day?
Each time one of these near pass-byes would occur the Earth’s axis would shift over 5 degrees and thus increase the length of the day by approximately 8 hours. So from our relative point on the Earth, the sun would appear to “stand still” in the sky. There is magnetic polar evidence that indicates that this could have occurred hundreds of times in Earth’s history. But the Book of Joshua says that there had never been another day like that before or since. If we continue reading that verse however, it explains that what really made that day unique wasn’t the sun’s activities. It was the fact that God harkened to the command of a man. He did not do that before or since. It is also interesting to note that resulting meteor showers and great lightning storms would occur prior to the rising of Mars during these pass-byes. It just so happens that the Bible mentions great stones falling from heaven during the battle (Joshua 10:11). Those stones only struck the Amorites. It is awesome to know that God is an expert in ballistics. He set those meteors in motion thousands of years ago so that they would reach Earth around 1404 BC and strike in the Valley of Aijalon and only on the enemies of God’s chosen people.
God makes good on his promises.
To me this is awesome proof of God’s power. Some may look at this type of scientific explanation as a way of diminishing the power of God’s miracle. To try and explain away God’s involvement through natural means. But to me it doesn’t do that. The fact that those meteors only hit the Amorites alone removes “chance” from the event. No, this to me is God’s divine architecture. It means that He knew the moment He flung the stars and planets into the universe that they would need to work in concert to achieve His will upon the Earth. With this in mind, it is also comforting to know that God is using His creation to keep his promises… always.
1) I will bless them that bless thee (Gibeonites) and curse them that curse thee (Amorites). – Genesis 12:3
2) And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. – Joshua 10:8
I love the fact that God uses the past tense here when assuring Joshua of the outcome. For you see, God had already fired His missiles and Joshua had won even before the battle began. Praise be to God.
The Long Day of Joshua and Six Other Catastrophes – Donald Patten
Catastrophism and the Old Testament: The Mars- Earth conflicts – Donald Patten
The Long Night of Sennacherib – Dr. Chuck Missler
Mars Getting Closer to Earth – Dr. Chuck Missler
Mysteries of the Planet Mars – Dr. Chuck Missler (part 1)
Has the Length of the Year Changed? – Barry Setterfield