And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed
The sun that came out of his chamber like a bridegroom, and rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, stopped his course at once; and the moon that walks in her brightness proceeded not on, but both stood still, motionless, and continued in this position:
until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies:
until the nation and people of Israel had taken vengeance on and destroyed the live kings and their forces: how this is to be reconciled to the Copernican system, or that with this, I shall not inquire. It was a most wonderful and surprising phenomenon, to see both luminaries standing still in the midst of heaven; it is pretended by some historians F6, that a like miracle was wrought at the battle of Mulberg, won by the Emperor Charles the Fifth, on April 24, 1547. In the Chinese history F7 it is reported, that in the time of their seventh, emperor, Yao, the sun did not set for ten days, and that men were afraid the world would be burnt, and there were great fires at that time; and though the time of the sun's standing still is enlarged beyond the bounds of truth, yet it seems to refer to this fact, and was manifestly about the same time; for this miracle was wrought in the year of the world 2554, which fell in the seventy fifth, or, as some say, the sixty seventh year of that emperor's reign, who reigned ninety years:
[is] not this written in the book of Jasher?
about which the Jews are divided; some say it is the book of Genesis, others the book of Deuteronomy, others the book of Judges F8; the Targum interprets it of the book of the law, and so Jarchi and Kimchi; and Ben Melech interprets it of the book of the law of Moses, where they suppose this miracle was predicted. The former thinks, in the words of Jacob to Joseph, "his seed shall fill the nations", ( Genesis 48:19 ) ; which he supposes was fulfilled in Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim, when the whole world was filled with the fame of him on account of this miracle; and the latter in the words, "before all thy people I will do miracles", ( Exodus 34:10 ) ; one was in making the face of Moses to shine, the other the standing still of the sun for Joshua, as he interprets it. Bolducius, a commentator on the book of Job F9, fancies that that book is designed, and that this miracle is foretold in it, particularly in ( Job 9:7 ) ; "which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not"; it is most likely that this book of Jasher, in which this miracle was recorded, was a public register, or annals, in which memorable events were written, as they happened in different ages by different persons; and Masius thinks Josephus F11 means this by the archives laid up in the temple, to which he appeals for the truth of this miracle:
so the sun stood still in the midst of heaven;
somewhere above the horizon, very probably this was about noon, when the sun was in its meridian. Gussetius F12 thinks about ten or eleven o'clock; it may be supposed that early in the morning Joshua came up with his troops, and engaged the kings, and it might be noon before the battle was over, and the victory obtained, at least before Joshua had proceeded in his pursuit of them, so far as he had done, when the miracle was wrought; and the rather, as it would be the more conspicuous in the several parts of the world; for had it been near sun setting, it could not have been seen in some places, and particularly by the Chinese, as it seems to have been by what has been observed:
and hasted not to go down about a whole day;
which was either artificial or natural; if an artificial day, then it stood still but twelve hours; if a natural day, twenty four hours; and accordingly the length of the day must be judged of; if it was at noon when it stood still, and continued so a natural day, or twenty four hours, then as it had gone six hours to noon, and, after it returned to its motion, had six more to go to its setting, this day must be thirty six hours long; and so the Jews commonly say F13; but if an artificial day, or twelve hours, then it was but a day of twenty four hours; but if this was, as the Jews say F14, on the third of Tammuz, which answers to part of June, and was in the summer solstice, on the longest day in the year, when their days consisted of fourteen hours, this will make this long day four hours longer. According to the author of Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha:
``Did not the sun go back by his means? and was not one day as long as two?'' (Sirach 46:4)it was a double day, or, as he expresses it, one day became two, or was as long as two.
(In the late 1960's, someone circulated a story that NASA had discovered there was a missing day in the solar system. Using this passage they accounted for about twenty one missing hours and the account in ( Isaiah 38:8 ) to account for the rest of the missing time. This story is a complete fable and has absolutely no basis in fact. Editor.)
F6 See Bayle's Dictionary, vol. 4. p. 268.
F7 Martin. Sinie. Histor. l. 1. p. 25.
F8 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 35. 1.
F9 Bolduc. in Job. ix. 7.
F11 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 17.
F12 Comment. Ebr. p. 281.
F13 Targum in Cant. i. 1. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1. Kimchi in loc. So Justin Martyr. Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 361.
F14 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31. Kimchi in loc.