Can we explain the “long days” of Joshua and Hezekiah?
Two sun-related miracles of the Old Testament
In Joshua 10, the Bible tells the story of the day when the sun—and time—stopped. The Israelites were fighting the Amorites in Canaan. During the battle, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stop, so he would have extra daylight to finish the task. Scripture records that this prayer was answered: The sun “delayed going down about a full day” (verse 13). The very objects in the sky that the Amorites worshipped fought against them!
Several modern interpretations of the story have been suggested:
Some say there was no actual miracle, but only the use of poetic language. The Israelites had fought so hard that it just seemed like two days of work in a row!
Others propose that a cloud shaded the sun, keeping the day cool enough for the fighting to continue all through the afternoon. However, this relief from the heat would have benefited the enemy as much as Israel.
Similarly, a solar eclipse has been suggested as causing reduced sunlight. But eclipses of the sun last for only a few minutes, not a whole day.
What really happened on that special day? As with all miracles, it is futile to speculate with scientific theories. The details are unclear, but we know that God could have refracted the light, or slowed the Earth’s rotation, or stopped the entire universe—all with equal ease!
God used this event as a special sign to show Hezekiah that he would regain his health. The sun’s shadow moved backwards by ten steps, probably five to six hours on the sundial. That is, the sun appeared to move eastward instead of westward. The conclusion is again the same, that such a miracle is beyond scientific explanation.
God may have temporarily reversed the Earth’s rotation, including all its inhabitants, or the miracle in Hezekiah’s day could have been local instead of worldwide. The latter view is supported by 2 Chronicles 32:31, which describes envoys who traveled to the land where the miracle occurred.
Joshua and Hezekiah both made lofty requests of the Lord, that the very heavens might be altered. And God answered their prayers. The sun, moon, and stars obey the Creator who placed them in the sky by the power of his word.
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