Thursday, November 9, 2017

Remember when Joshua made the sun and moon stand still?


You'll find the Biblical account in Joshua 10:1-15.  Turns out there may be more to that story than meets the eye.

Joshua may have asked the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still, but scientists have reconsidered previous objections, and now think the Book of Joshua describes a solar eclipse on October 30, 1207 B.C.E., over 3,220 years ago.

. . .

"That the eclipse occurred at exactly the time of the important battle that Joshua was fighting is either an amazing miracle of timing or else it was lucky chance (for Joshua!)," Dr. Humphreys wrote to Haaretz. "When one has a sequence of miracles, as there are in the Hebrew bible, which are either miracles of timing or lucky chance, it becomes inconceivable to me that they are all lucky chance! So I firmly believe that this was a miracle, an amazing miracle of timing."

To begin with the theory of eclipse, the authors suggest that rather than the sun and moon stopping in their celestial tracks, including based on the original Hebrew word, "a plausible alternative meaning is that the Sun and Moon stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining." This interpretation actually goes back at least a century, the authors themselves point out, to an article in the Princeton Theological Review of 1918.

"This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated 'stand still' [dom] has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses," Humphreys stated.

. . .

Was there an annular solar eclipse in the right time frame for Joshua? There was, calculate the writers: on October 30, 1207 B.C.E., which is within the possible dates of Joshua's incursion into Canaan.

There's more at the link.

I find it amusing how often science has tried to debunk a Biblical story, only for further investigation to uncover evidence that it might have more than a passing foundation in fact.  (The account of Noah's Flood and the Black Sea deluge hypothesis is another fascinating conflation.)  Wouldn't it be fun if the tale of the sun and moon "standing still" isn't just a religious myth, but based on actual historical events?

Peter

11 comments:

TheOtherSean said...

"Remember when Joshua made the sun and moon stand still?"

Sorry, no, that was a bit before my time.

Rev. Paul said...

The reason for Joshua's prayer was to maintain daylight, so that Israel's army could see to fight. Somehow, I don't think a period of darkness would have helped. Also, the Bible says the sun stood still "for about a day". No eclipse ever provided light, nor lasted the length of a day.

Just another scientist trying to show that a divine miracle was just a natural occurrence.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain made this the centerpiece of his novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Catapulted back into medieval England and facing execution, the hero uses a total eclipse of the sun fortuitously taking place then to establish himself as a powerful wizard (and incidentally, turning Merlin into a mortal enemy). If memory serves, he knows about the date because it's on a scrap of newspaper in his pocket.

Some of the ancients did know enough about astronomy to be able to predict eclipses. Whether Joshua had access to this knowledge, I don't know.

MadMcAl said...

I don't know about Joshua making the sun stand still, but there are many instances where biblical (and other mystical) events can be explained by science.

1. Noah's flood: I don't think that the Black Sea Deluge is the right answer. There are too many flood myths over too big a geographical area to explain it with such a relative local occurrence (same with a similar idea of the Gibraltar Break Through). The best theory is IMO the comet impact at the Burckle Crater (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burckle_Crater).

2. Sodom & Gomorrah: A good candidate for this event is a meteor that exploded over the alps, and literally blew a mountain all the way to the dead sea. The exact date is (if that is the right suspect) known as June 29th 3123 B.C. (https://www.universetoday.com/13560/evidence-of-asteroid-impact-for-sodom-and-gomorrah/)

3. The plagues of Egypt: There is a very interesting theory that the plagues where, in essence all one and the same. A algae bloom in the Nile, that tinted the water red, made the river uninhabitable by the frogs, prevented the frogs from decimating the insects, including flies and locusts, poisoning the livestock and finally (due to the custom that the first born son ate the most and "best" and such got a much higher concentration of poison) the death of the first borns.

Rolf said...

Rev Paul - you and I define a day as 24 hours, or perhaps "sunup to sunup." If you define it as a cycle with the sun in the sky, than a period from sunup to eclipse is a day, the night is spent freaking out, then the next day is the eclipse until sundown. A metaphorical way of saying it, so to speak, for a people who are not excessively scientifically literate and knowledgeable as yet.

Just speculatin' here.

wildriver said...

"Remember when Joshua made the sun and moon stand still?"
Actually, it was the LORD, not Joshua, that made the sun stand still, just as it was the LORD, not Moses, that parted the red sea.
Regardless, it may be helpful to some to see science agree with the bible, perhaps it will help them believe it is more than a cleverly concocted fairy tale. I sincerely hope so.

Quartermaster said...

If what is related in scripture is not a journal of actual events, then there is no reason to believe anything that is said there as it's all a lie.

An eclipse is not a result of the sun standing still. All we have here is someone that wishes to demythologize scripture for their own purpose.

Larry said...

The theory that with the way it is worded, and the immediately following reference, "Is it not written in the Book of Jasher?" that it's actually a literary allusion to an event in the lost Book of Jasher, and not a literal description of events of that battle. The eclipse theory (as if there's any way to tie it to any specific eclipse, or any eclipse at all, for that matter) seems as strained as Velikovsky's theory, though it at least is physically possible.

The Black Sea deluge can't be connected to the Biblical Flood because it was far too slow and wasn't caused by rain, and people "escaped" ... by walking.

Larry said...

The otherwise confusing reference, "Is it not written in the Book of Jasher?" in the middle of the passage opens the possibility that it was a literary allusion to an event in the lost Book of Jasher rather than a literal description of events. As if the Israelites had writing back then and didn't embellish the tales of their victories. Like the sacking of Jericho whose walls had been tumbled by earthquakes long before the Israelites showed up. Same with the city of Ai, which was also a tumbled ruin with a greatly diminished population. Interestingly, "Ai" means "ruins" in Hebrew. The nomads sacked ghost towns. Great. Or what archaeology shows of the city of Jerusalem at the time of Solomon versus what the Bible claims of it...

Larry said...

Oops, sorry for double post -- my browser led me to believe the first disappeared into the aether after what seemed to be a failed captcha quiz.

Larry said...

Well, mostly by walking. Those too close might have had no chance, but the vast majority would've filled slowly just due to the sheer size. I think the Biblical flood story is based upon an extreme weather event in the very flat lands of Mesopotamia. Something like a comet impact in mid-ocean might put so much water in the air without leaving any evidence outside tsunamis that it could explain the world-wide flood myths involving massive rains.