Joshua 10:14: Sun and Moon Stand Still, Part 3

Verse 14:[1] And there was (see Isa. 38:8) no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for (Deut. 1:30; Josh. 10:42; 23:3) the LORD fought for Israel.

[There was no day so long before or after] Question: How is this true? they object the much longer days in the polar regions. Response: The comparison of the days is not made except with respect to the same region of Palestine (Bonfrerius, Maresius). But they object the day of Hezekiah, which was thirty-two hours long. For it went back by ten degrees: therefore, ten hours were consumed in the retrogression, and just so many again in the return to its prior location. Responses: 1. The Sun did not go backwards gradually, but completed those ten degrees as if in a moment, and began again to retraverse in the usual way (Menochius, Masius). Thus the day was only twenty-two hours long, while this our day lasted at least twenty-four (Masius). 2. The day of Joshua was actually around the summer solstice, and so the artificial day was fourteen hours long, and, with those doubled, this day was twenty-eight hours long (Bonfrerius, Lapide). But, on the other hand, perhaps the day of Hezekiah was at the time of the winter solstice, and at that time the twelve artificial hours prove to be only ten natural hours, and so ten hours of retrogression are eight natural hours and a little more. Therefore, these with the ten hours of regression do not quite prove to be seventeen whole natural hours. Thus that day shall not be twenty-seven hours long, and is exceeded by the day of Joshua by one hour (Bonfrerius out of Lyra). 3. By the name of individual lines in 2 Kings 20 others understand half-hours. Thus Bertram[2] Lucubrations in Frankenthal.[3] Others: quarter-hours (Serarius, Menochius). 4. A comparison of the length of this day is not undertaken, but it is only set before whatever other days, because God prolonged no other day in this way at the prayers of any man for the sake of smiting enemies (Masius). 5. This writer denies that any day was so long either before or afterward, but he does not deny that one might be afterwards (Bonfrerius). Now, some understand here a natural day (thus the Hebrews in Munster): others, an artificial day; for this alone provides light; and he indicates this in Ecclesiasticus 46:4[4] (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius). And this was a day of twenty-four, or more exactly twenty-eight, hours (Lapide).

[With God hearkening unto the voice of a man] There is an antithesis between mortal man and the immortal God (Piscator).

[לִשְׁמֹ֥עַ יְהוָ֖ה בְּק֣וֹל אִ֑ישׁ] That the Lord hearkened to the voice of any man (Syriac, similarly Jonathan, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius), that is, petitioning that the course of nature be changed (Vatablus). In which God obeyed, etc. (Pagnine), that is, accommodated himself to the will of Joshua, and in a certain manner gratified him (Bonfrerius). It is a portent that God would listen to a man (Lapide). The Sun and moon are obedient to the son of Joseph, Genesis 37:9 (Lightfoot).

There was no day like that, to wit, in those parts of the world in which he here speaks, and about which the comparison is here made: vain therefore is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was purely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua’s prayer, as is here added. Objection. In Hezekiah’s time, and at his prayer, there was a day which may seem to have been longer; for the sun went back ten degrees in ten hours, and then returned again ten degrees in ten hours, and so it was twenty hours longer than a common day, and so longer than this. Answer. It is not certain either that each degree designed an hour, and not rather half an hour, or a quarter, as others think; or that the sun returned those ten degrees as slowly as he went down before or after. Besides, it was now near summer solstice, when the day was longest, and about fourteen hours; and that being doubled, the artificial day was twenty-eight hours; and because there is not the least evidence that Hezekiah’s day was longer, but rather of the contrary, it is much more reasonable to believe this Scripture assertion, than to deny or question upon mere suppositions or idle conjectures. Hearkened unto the voice of a man, to wit, in such a manner to alter the course of nature, and of the heavenly bodies, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies.

[And with Him fighting[5]] I translate it, For God was fighting. It renders the reason,either, why no day was the equal of this day. For on no other day did God fight for Israel with stony hail (Hebrews in Masius). Or, rather, why God rushed to meet Joshua in that prayer; that is to say, so that God might fulfill the obligation of His promise, He prolonged the day: For He said, I have delivered into thy hand;[6] but, with night now coming on, the enemies saw that they were going to escape, unless the Sun had stood still. Or, the particle כִּי does not signify the cause, but the time, when He fought. It is to be noted here that God rather forces the stable law of the nature of things, than that He might fail to provide things convenient for His Church (Masius).

The Lord fought for Israel this is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua’s petition herein, because he was engaged and resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner.

[1] Hebrew: וְלֹ֙א הָיָ֜ה כַּיּ֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ לְפָנָ֣יו וְאַחֲרָ֔יו לִשְׁמֹ֥עַ יְהוָ֖ה בְּק֣וֹל אִ֑ישׁ כִּ֣י יְהוָ֔ה נִלְחָ֖ם לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Bonaventure Cornelius Bertram (1531-1594) was minister of the Gospel and Professor of Hebrew at Geneva, at Frankenthal, and at Lausanne.  His revision of the French Bible is used by French Calvinists to the present day.

[3] Lucubrationes Franktallenses, sive Specimen Expositionum in Difficillima Utriusque Testamenti Loca.

[4] Ecclesiasticus 46:4:  “Did not the sun go back by his means? and was not one day as long as two?”

[5] Hebrew: כִּ֣י יְהוָ֔ה נִלְחָ֖ם לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃.

[6] Verse 8.

1 thought on “Joshua 10:14: Sun and Moon Stand Still, Part 3

  1. Augustine, “The Gospel of John”: “But what is meant when, after saying, ‘If I had not done among them works,’ He immediately added, ‘which none other man did’? Of a certainty, among all the works of Christ, none seem to be greater than the raising of the dead; and yet we know that the same was done by the prophets of olden time. For Elias did so; and Elisha also, both when alive in the flesh, and when he lay buried in his sepulchre. For when certain men, who were carrying a dead person, had fled thither for refuge from an onset of their enemies, and had laid him down therein, he instantly came again to life. And yet there were some works that Christ did which none other man did: as, when He fed the five thousand men with five loaves, and the four thousand with seven; when He walked on the waters, and gave Peter power to do the same; when He changed the water into wine; when He opened the eyes of a man that was born blind, and many besides, which it would take long to mention. But we are answered, that others also have done works which even He did not, and which no other man has done. For who else save Moses smote the Egyptians with so many and mighty plagues, as when He led the people through the parted waters of the sea, when he obtained manna for them from heaven in their hunger, and water from the rock in their thirst? Who else save Joshua the son of Nun divided the stream of the Jordan for the people to pass over, and by the utterance of a prayer to God bridled and stopped the revolving sun? Who save Samson ever quenched his thirst with water flowing forth from the jawbone of a dead ass? Who save Elias was carried aloft in a chariot of fire? Who save Elisha, as I have just mentioned, after his own body was buried, restored the dead body of another to life? Who else besides Daniel lived unhurt amid the jaws of famishing lions, that were shut up with him? And who else save the three men Ananias, Azariah, and Mishael, ever walked about unharmed in flames that blazed and did not burn?

    I pass by other examples, as these I consider to be sufficient to show that some of the saints have done wonderful works, which none other man did. But we read of no one whatever of the ancients who cured with such power so many bodily defects, and bad states of the health, and troubles of mortals. For, to say nothing of those individual cases which He healed, as they occurred, by the word of command, the Evangelist Mark says in a certain place: ‘And at even, when the sun had set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils.’ And Matthew, in giving us the same account, has also added the prophetic testimony, when he says: ‘That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sickness.’ In another passage also it is said by Mark: ‘And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole.’ None other man did such things in them.”

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