Tuesday, 16 May 2017

When Sun and Moon ‘Stopped’

“O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon”  (Joshua 10:12)

Yes, it was the elements that helped Joshua defeat five heathen kings on that day of Bible miracles.  He prayed; the light from sun and moon was arrested, and victory was complete.

True, the English reading – that the sun ‘stopped’ (v.13) - has caused many readers to suppose that Joshua – in his concern for victory over his adversaries  - was needing more daylight and that the earth simply stopped turning on its axis for the best part of a day – but now, look at the Bible again! A little further Bible study can help, when a passage presents uncertain interpretations to us, the readers.

Dig out your Bible and have another look!  Verse 9 indicates that Joshua was on a NIGHT march, and that what he needed was not more daylight, but more darkness - lest the approaching dawn threaten to derail his night attack.

And the Hebrew scholars help us here.  The word in verse 12  for ‘stand still’ can, in the Hebrew Old Testament, equally well mean ‘cease,’ as, for example, in 2 Kings 4:6: ‘Then the oil stopped flowing’ or ‘ceased.’

As for the English reading that the sun delayed ‘going down’ about a full day (v.13),  it was the evangelical Bible scholar F. F. Bruce who observed that while the Hebrew word for going down -  ‘Bo’ - usually applies to sunset, it can also mean ‘to come’,  and is parallel to the word ‘zarah’ (‘to RISE) – as in Isaiah 60:1; ‘Arise, shine’ (compare Job 31:26).

Could it be, then, that with the need for more darkness, Joshua prayed, and the resulting thunderous hailstorm (v.11) served him well, not only by devastating the enemy (v.11), but also by delaying the sunrise.  Both sun and moon ‘died’ on them, and never put in an appearance at all!

Here was a God-given miracle of extended darkness. Try this Bible study yourself….