The Day the Sun Stood Still In The Bible

The Day the Sun Stood Still In The Bible July 12, 2014

When Israel battled the Amorites, Joshua prayed to God to prolong the daylight and God answered his prayer.  This amazing story is about the power of God in the day the sun stood still.

God Answers Joshua’s Prayer

Joshua 10:12-14 “At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel. “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

Here is an amazing story and testimony to the power of God Who as Creator can easily suspend the natural laws of the universe. Because He is the One Who had the power to cause these laws to come into being, does He not also have the power to suspend these laws?  Obviously He does have the power and since He has all authority, He can do whatsoever He pleases to accomplish His will.  Joshua and Israel’s victory over the Amorites was a miracle indeed but is anything too hard for God (Jer 32:27; Gen 18:14)? Because Joshua was a faithful man and fully given over to being obedient to God, God listened to Joshua’s prayer and literally caused the sun to stand still until the Amorites were destroyed.  What is interesting is that many of these pagan nations, including the Amorites, worshiped the sun and the moon, yet their sun god was powerless against the One, True God…the Creator God Who alone is God.

The Day The Sun Stood Still In The Bible

Poetry, Allegory, or Fact?

There have been many attempts to make this account in the Bible only a poetic type of story that teaches us to rely on God to overcome our enemies.  Others see this as an allegory to the power of God and how anything can be accomplished through prayer.  Still others believe that it may have been an eclipse of the sun and that the sun’s light was refracted onto the earth’s surface but the problem is that eclipses last only a few minutes, not hours.  The issues that I have with these theories are that they can’t hold water.  The biblical account is either true or it isn’t and since we know the Bible to be true, we can say with certainly that this is an actual, literal, historical event that took place in read space and time.  There isn’t even a hint that this is a story that is supposed to just be an object lesson or to simply teach us a principle.  What it says is that God, as Creator, has the power to do anything that He wants to do that is according to His purpose and this fulfilled God’s desire to destroy a pagan, idol-worshiping nation whose false religion was detestable to God and allowing this nation to survive would have endangered their corrupting, infiltrating, and influencing the nation of Israel.   It was not that the earth stopped but apparently the sun and the moon stood still so this meant that no time would have been gained or lost.

Joshua’s Long Day and Long Night

If the day was protracted or extended in Joshua’s battle with the Amorites, surely other nations would have recorded such extended periods of daylight while others on the other side of the globe would have similar historical accounts of an extended period of darkness.  Such accounts do exist from Africa and parts of Europe and even into North and South America.  A retired Yale Professor of Military Science, Dr. Charles Adiel Lewis Totten, published a study of Joshua’s long day and one of his sources, the Greek Historian Herodotus wrote about some ancient Egyptian priests that showed him records about a day that lasted twice as long as normal and that fit into the timeframe in which Joshua’s battle with the Amorites took place.1  One Indian tribe in North American (the Ojibways) recounted “a long night without any light.”2 The Wyandotte Indians recalled an event, as told to the missionary Paul Le Jeune, that a previous generation had experienced a “long night”3 as well as the Indian tribes of the Omahas,4  the Dogrib,5 the Bungee tribes in Canada6 and multiple other North American and South American tribes.

The Best Explanation

I believe that the other scientific theories are just that…theories and they cannot ever be proven.  The best explanation is that God caused it and we must take this account as an actual, historical event at face value.  We must believe God in His written Word, the Bible.  We must take it literally and not figuratively because there is no room to do so in the way that it is written.  What other explanation is there besides the fact that it happened as recorded?  God is able to do what we cannot and does what we cannot sometimes explain and that is why He is God and we are not.  He is infinite and we are finite.  The finite can never explain the infinite; otherwise it would not be infinite. If I could explain God then He would no longer be God.


For those of us who believe this account we have faith that God can do whatever He wills to do because He has the power to bring it about.  There is nothing impossible for God to do except lie.  God desires to save those who are presently separated from Him by their sin.   If you will repent today, if you haven’t done so already, and put your trust in Christ, then you too will be saved and you can ask God Himself someday how He was able to make the sun and the moon stand still.

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

 1.  Totten, C. A. L., 1891.  Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz, A Scientific Vindication and A Midnight Cry, 3rd Edition, (New Haven: Our Race Publ. Co.) Reprinted in 1968 by Destiny Publishers, Merrimac, Mass.

2.  Olcott, W. T., 1914.  Sun Lore of all Ages: A Collection of Myths and Legends Concerning the Sun and its Worship, (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons).

3 Ibid., p. 215.

4 Ibid., p. 216.

5 Ibid., p. 217.

6 Ibid., p. 218.

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  • There is one option not considered above. It is put forward by John Walton and is summarized here…

    • Jack Wellman

      Sterling considerations my friend. Many of these I had not thought of. My compliments on a most excellent website sir.

  • Frank Lockwood

    Jack, this is clearly a fable, and we were meant to take it as such. I bet the author would have collapsed on the floor laughing if he had known that people would take it literally. “When I was an adult I put away childish thoughts” applies here. Don’t let your denomination cause you to make yourself look foolish. You are no fool, so don’t just go along to get along.

    • Guest

      So maybe you don’t believe a man rose from the dead either?

      • Jack Wellman

        Good point…the Bible is not a buffet of “take a little of this and not of that” but either Jesus was raised from the dead or it is not. God’s Word either speaks the truth or it doesn’t and I don’t want to be among those who call God a liar.

        • Frank Lockwood

          Jack, if the bible says that the hills clapped for joy does it mean that they grew hands and clapped?

          • Guest

            Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.
            To know the difference requires wisdom.

        • Frank Lockwood

          Jack Wellman: Without meaning any disrespect whatsoever, a buffet is exactly what the bible is.

          Everyone, probably you too, “picks and chooses” what scriptures to emphasize, and which to ignore. That explains to me why you probably do not go around stoning adulterers and cheeky teenagers.

          Many evangelicals choose to divide the bible into “dispensations” in order to avoid some of the conflicts. So, they would say, “This scripture applies to us, to the church, but that other scripture does not because it applies only to the Jews” etc. etc.

          This is none other than a form of picking and choosing from the “buffet.”

      • Frank Lockwood

        So maybe Guest believes in stoning adulterers.

        • Guest

          for crying out loud dude what’s your damage?

          • Frank Lockwood

            Guest: Excuse me?

          • Guest

            ok, you’re excused

  • Frank Lockwood

    Guest: Please do not presume to know what I believe about anything unless I have told y

    • Robert O. Adair

      The Fundamentalist is not “required to believe” anything. Coercion has nothing to do with faith. Define “progressive Christians”. They are allowed freedom to develop their own personal belief…? This is argument by insinuation, a typical Atheist tactic. Christianity is propagated in this country on a voluntaristic basis. Atheists by contrast try to promote their Evolutionism by legal decree.

      • Frank Lockwood

        Mr. Robert O. Adair: Concerning your comment that Fundamentalists are not “required to believe” anything: If you mean to say that there is no doctrinal test for fellowship and inclusion among various fundamentalist or evangelical groups, then I beg to differ with you.

        Actually, the comments by Guest implied as much but I can easily give other personal examples if necessary.

      • Frank Lockwood

        Mr. Robert O. Adair: With reference to the statment, “Christianity is propagated in this country on a voluntaristic basis. Atheists by contrast try to promote their Evolutionism by legal decree.”

        I don’t know how Atheism fits into the discussion.

        I am not an Atheist, and I don’t think anyone else involved in the discussion has indicated an Atheistic position, so it seems like just another accusation by implication.

        Just another dirty little insinuation from the believer’s point of view, but one that Atheists suffer daily I am sure.

        As to the rest: Ever since Brother Falwell and the so-called Moral Majority, the conservative element of Christianity has been heavily involved in politics and in attempting to improve their position through legal actions and political influence.

        They are, in fact, successfully promoting their version of Christianity by legal decrees.

        They have also been known to attempt to use the law to force Christianity down other people’s throats. Do you want some examples? Just saying …

        • Robert O. Adair

          You haven’t defined “Progressive Christians”. Having studied Logic, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and over 60,000 books, I am pretty good at reading between the lines of people’s statements. You and your friend the Emperor, should stop running around naked. People will notice.

          But since you are not an Atheist, what is your position? you attack Christianity, have something better to put in its place?

          • Frank Lockwood

            The only thing I can think of would be a degree of intellectual honesty. It is difficult to keep open to all the possibilities when there is so much pressure on each of us to conform to a prescribed religious belief.


          • Robert O. Adair

            How about being intellectually honest enough to explain what you mean by Progressive Christians? Since you are not a Christian what gives you the authority to tell us Christians how we should be progressive according to your opinion. which doesn’t strike me as being terribly informed.

            There is a lot of pressure on Christians by Atheists to get Christians to become Atheist. One person of my acuaintance was told by the the Atheist president of the college he was attending that if upon graduating from his school, he still was a Christian he should seek psychiatric treatment.Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thoas Auinas

            There has never been a great philosopher who was an Atheist or an Agnostic. Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, all towering intellects. Atheists like Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand, Peter Singer, Haeckel, Marx, Lenin and Stalin, all cracker barrel intellects, most with higly lethal agendas like murdering helpless babies.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Robert O. Adair: I belive that I posted definitions of Progressive Christianity on here a couple of times. It seems you missed it, so I will try again:

            Another source is

          • Guest

            ‘Intellectual’ honesty? You mean ‘honesty’?
            Sure, let’s have some of that, if you’re able.

          • Guest

            ‘Progressive Christians’ = communists

        • Jack Wellman

          If you are not an atheist may I ask if you are agnostic? If you want to cherry pick some evangelicals and make sweeping generalizations that all Christians are like that then you are most certainly being unfair Mr. Lockwood.
          Do you think that Christians have no right to participate in politics? What is your view on this sir? If not, then why not?

          • Frank Lockwood

            Jack Wellman: Thank you for commenting back. I believe that I made it plain in several of my postings that I am a former Pentecostal and now consider myself to be a Progressive Christian.

            I also posted links to definitions of Progressive Christianity, which I will do here again.

            Obviously I do not consider all Christians to be anti-intellectual, else I could not be a Christian myself. Here once again is a link to a site that gives some notions of what Progressive Christianity looks like.

            I am happy to discuss with anyone the reasons that I have changed,

            Most of the remarks on resemble me at this point in my life and

            See the link as follows:

          • Robert O. Adair

            Being a progressive Christian seems to involve saying things about the Bible which are not true. There are no fables in the bible and nothing that Christians are supposed to interpret as such. The Apostle Paul tells us we have not believed cunningly devised fables. Perhaps you are progressing right out of the Christian faith? Christians are not free to doubt God’s Word. The word “Question” is a word with more than one meaning. St Augustine tells us that some questioning is really disbelieving and some is “faith seeking understanding”. He also tells us that we should believe in order to understand not understand in order to believe. The latter amounts to bringing God under our authority. God has to satisfy our notions or as C. S. Lewis put it, “God is in the dock”, on trial before our understanding.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Robert O. Adair: Thank you for sharing your thoughts/beliefs.

            We do seem to be considering different types of possibilities.

            For example, when you say, “The Apostle Raul tells us we have not believed cunningly devised fables,” my first instinct is to wonder, “Why did he bring that up?”

            I consider a couple of possibilities here:

            1) Someone may have accused him of following fables or

            2) Someone else may have been following what he considered to be cunning fables.

            Both possibilities open more possibilities. So this is something to wonder about, to think about. .

            As to Augustine, Augustine may have been correct, or he may not have been. It seems to me that many Christians do, indeed, discourage inquisitive minds.

            As you pointed out, it may turn out in the end that we are on different trajectories.

          • Robert O. Adair

            “Jack, this is clearly a fable, and we were meant to take it as such”
            Your incorrect remark is what I am responding to. Paul said explicitly we do not deal in fables or pay attention to them. There are no fables in the Bible and nothing we are to interpret as such. I stand by my statement that you have progressed out side of Biblical faith and truth.

            Augustine’s book, The Confessions is one of the great books of Christian literature. It seems that your progressive Christianity has no place for the great towering intellects of Christian philosophy. I spent two years studying under Dr. Gordon H. Clark, the greatest Christian philosopher of the 20th century. They stand under the authority of God’s Word in contrast to progressive Christians who stand over God’s Word, demanding that it meets their standards.

          • Robert O. Adair

            “: In place of “fable” I should have used the word “legend,” which has a slightly different connotation.

            In other words progressive Christians believe that the Bible is not true, it’s just a bunch of legends inspired by a God who has taught us a bunch of fairy tales?

            Jesus says “I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me .”
            Just a legend, a thing nice to believe like Robin Hood and his merry men.


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          • Frank Lockwood

            Your remark is partly but not entirely correct. First off, I cannot presume to speak for other Progressive Christians.

            Secondly, I would not have put the word “just,” as in “just a legend.” Legends are powerful stories and are passed on through cultures precisely because they express the values of those cultures.

            Thirdly, authors included in the bible regularly incorporated legendary and imaginative elements, and they had no problem in mixing them with historical places and events.

            I might add, I assume that most of the books in the bible were written by an educated elite. These are not the writings of semi-literate cave men, rather they are sophisticated stories and accounts of people of various backgrounds. All of the writings of the bible, in fact, probably all writings known to man, were — and should be, to the extent possible — interpreted according to the social/cultural norms of the time periods in which they were written.

            Yes, it seems likely indeed that I read the bible through a set of filters than may be difficult for you to accept.

            Your basic assumption seems to be that there is one point of view/one author in the bible, penned by many men but authored by one God. I think that viewpoint has been thoroughly discredited.

            One source that greatly influenced me was “From Jesus to Christianity” by Michael White. There were others, of course, in addition to my own, personal bible studies. I simply got tired of trying to defend notions that were not defensible.

          • Robert O. Adair

            You say that the Bible “has clear evidence that only a supernatural
            being could have written it.” Say what? Where did the holy ghost get all
            that parchment and the pens and the ink? And did the holy ghost stand
            inside each wine-addled interpreter as it went from Aramaic, to Hebrew,
            to Greek, to Latin, to English? And aren’t most of the modern versions
            of the Bible just rehashes of the King James version with guesswork as
            to what the Elizabethan English text must have meant, without resorting
            to the foreign language texts anymore? And let’s not get started on how
            they voted on which sacred texts would be included in the Bible. And
            what about all those sacred texts hidden in caves that never came to
            light? Written by a supernatural force? The Bible is spiritual
            serendipity handed down through the muddle of centuries, and it is
            remarkable that it retains some powerful passages worth pondering.

          • Jack Wellman

            Thank you Mr. Lockwood. I am just curious. Do you believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was a historical event and if so, do you believe that He is able, by this sacrifice, to save us? What do you do with your sin or guilt? Where do you believe that a person goes when they die? I am not trying to be argumentative sir, please know that. I am only trying to understand what you believe and why you believe it and your ultimate source for what you believe. Thank you sir.

          • Frank Lockwood

            My bad: In place of “fable” I should have used the word “legend,” which has a slightly different connotation.

      • Frank Lockwood

        RE: “Coercion has nothing to do with faith”

        I wish that were true, but for many Christians it simply is not.

        Threats of eternal damnation, promised suffering for eternity, the flames of hell, eternal darkness, bottomless pits … what more brutality would it take before you labeled it “coercion”?

        • Robert O. Adair

          “Threats of eternal damnation, promised suffering for eternity, the
          flames of hell, eternal darkness, bottomless pits … what more
          brutality would it take before you labeled it “coercion”?”

          Ah yes, Pointing out that drinking poison could be injurious to your health, that climbing into a pit full of Crocodiles, jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, spending time in a Communist slave labor camp could also be a bad choice. Coercion, scare tactics! Grow up!

          • Frank Lockwood

            Robert O. Adair: Thank you for your reply, and yes, drinking poison would likely be injurious to one’s health: That metaphor has been used many times and is a double-edged sword.

            This morning is a bad morning to talk to me. It appears that coyotes at one of our two cats during the night. We try to lock them up an night but last night they took off before I got the little door closed.

            Only one returned. the neighbors brought me the other cat’s collar this morning. They had found a few remains of the cat in their yard this morning.

            Perhaps we can continue our discussion another time.

  • Jack Wellman

    How strange that Mr. Lockwood doesn’t even know hyperbole and reality. Does a person say “the sunrise was beautiful” really think the sun rose? It amazes me how people that do not believe in God so frequently denounce Someone whom they don’t believe in.

    • Frank Lockwood

      Mr. Jack Wellman: There was no intent do “denounce” anyone, least of all you, and if that is what you thought I apologize for giving that impression.

      I do, indeed, understand that the bible speaks with hyperbole, metaphor, parables and even with fables, apocalypses and perhaps other rhetorical devices, depending upon the time frame of the authors.

      Rather than me, it is the Guest who does not understand how the bible uses figures of speech or literary devices of the first century. I wonder if you mistook something I said that was directed at his comments, and mistakenly assumed it was referring to you.

      Mr .Guest presumed to know my private thoughts about things that we had not discussed.

      In my opinion, his comments revealed that he did not understand the realities of biblical rhetoric or ancient literary conventions.

  • Frank Lockwood

    The bible mixes fables with historical elements, all the time. That is the literary format of much of the bible. Trying to interpret it otherwise only makes us look foolish!

    The above is not a problem so long as the readers share that understanding, but when the book is picked up and read thousands of years later by people who do not share that cultural consensus, they cannot make sense of it.

    If one’s understanding of the nature of scripture is foolish to begin with, his basic interpretation of the bible will only heap error upon error.