From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths & Legends

By Avigdor Shinan; Yair Zakovitch et al. | Go to book overview

5
The Hero Who Stopped the Sun

Joshua’s stopping the sun and the moon in order to lengthen the day — and provide him with more time to complete his victory over the Canaanite kings — is one of the most spectacular of the Bible’s miracles.

Then Joshua addressed the LORD, on the day when the LORD
routed the Amorites before the Israelites; he said in the presence
of the Israelites:

“Stop O sun at Gibeon, O moon in the Valley of Aijalon!”
And the sun stopped and moon stood, while a nation wreaked
judgment on its foes, as is written in the Book of Jashar. Thus the
sun halted in mid-heaven and did not press on to set, for a whole
day; Neither before nor since has there ever been such a day, when
the LORD acted on words spoken by a man, for the LORD fought
for Israel. (Joshua 10:12–14)

A close look at these verses reveals several distinct notions of what occurred. The bulk of the story attributes the miraculous act to God: Joshua turns to the Lord, who then performs the feat because He fights “for Israel,” that is, on Israel’s behalf. Joshua’s greatness, according to this view, lies in the fact that God listened to his plea. A different idea, however, is found in the actual words that Joshua utters: “Stop O sun at Gibeon, O moon in the Valley of Aijalon!” (Joshua 10:12), which resemble not so much a prayer to God as a direct command to the sun to stop in its place and express Joshua’s tremendous confidence in his own ability to control the workings of the heavens and the earth.

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