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Then spake Joshua to the Lord - Though Joshua saw that the enemies of his people were put to flight, yet he well knew that all which escaped would rally again, and that he should be obliged to meet them once more in the field of battle if permitted now to escape; finding that the day was drawing towards a close, he feared that he should not have time sufficient to complete the destruction of the confederate armies; in this moment, being suddenly inspired with Divine confidence, he requested the Lord to perform the most stupendous miracle that had ever been wrought, which was no less than to arrest the sun in his course, and prolong the day till the destruction of his enemies had been completed! Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou,
Moon, in the valley of Ajalon - To account for this miracle, and to ascertain the manner in which it was wrought, has employed the pens of the ablest divines and astronomers, especially of the last two centuries. By their learned labors many difficulties have been removed from the account in general; but the very different and contradictory methods pursued by several, in their endeavors to explain the whole, and make the relation accord with the present acknowledged system of the universe, and the phenomena of nature, tend greatly to puzzle the plain, unphilosophical reader. The subject cannot be well explained without a dissertation; and a dissertation is not consistent with the nature of short notes, or a commentary on Scripture. It is however necessary to attempt an explanation, and to bring that as much as possible within the apprehension of common readers, in order to this, I must beg leave to introduce a few preliminary observations, or what the reader may call propositions if he pleases.
- I take it for granted that a miracle was wrought as nearly as circumstances could admit, in the manner in which it is here recorded. I shall not, therefore, seek for any allegorical or metaphorical interpretations; the miracle is recorded as a fact, and as a fact I take it up.
אילון בעמק וירח
Shemesh begibon dom :
Veyareach beemek Aiyalon .
Sun! upon Gibeon be dumb:
And the moon on the vale of Ajalon.
The effect of this command is related, Joshua 10:13, in the following words: - עמד וירח השמש וידם vaiyiddom Hashshemesh Veyareach amad, And the sun was dumb or silent and the moon stood still. And in the latter clause of this verse it is added: And the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
It seems necessary here to answer the question, At what time of the day did this miracle take place? The expression השמים בחצי bachatsi hashshamayim, in the midst of heaven, seems to intimate that the sun was at that time on the meridian of Gibeon, and consequently had one half of its course to run; and this sense of the place has been strongly contended for as essential to the miracle, for the greater display of the glory of God: "Because," say its abettors, "had the miracle been wrought when the sun was near the going down, it might have been mistaken for some refraction of the rays of light, occasioned by a peculiarly moist state of the atmosphere in the horizon of that place, or by some such appearance as the Aurora Borealis." To me there seems no solidity in this reason. Had the sun been arrested in the meridian, the miracle could scarcely have been noticed, and especially in the hurry and confusion of that time; and we may be assured, that among the Canaanites there were neither clocks nor time-keepers, by which the preternatural length of such a day could have been accurately measured: but, on the contrary, had the sun been about the setting, when both the pursuers and the pursued must be apprehensive of its speedy disappearance, its continuance for several hours above the horizon, so near the point when it might be expected to go down, must have been very observable and striking. The enemy must see, feel, and deplore it; as their hope of escape must, in such circumstances, be founded on the speedy entering in of the night, through which alone they could expect to elude the pursuing Israelites. And the Israelites themselves must behold with astonishment and wonder that the setting sun hasted not to go down about a whole day, affording them supernatural time totally to destroy a routed foe, which otherwise might have had time to rally, confederate, choose a proper station, and attack in their turn with peculiar advantages, and a probability of success. It appears, therefore, much more reasonable that Joshua should require this miracle to be performed when daylight was about to fail, just as the sun was setting. If we were to consider the sun as being at the meridian of Gibeon, as some understand the midst of heaven, it may be well asked, How could Joshua know that he should not have time enough to complete the destruction of his enemies, who were now completely routed? Already multitudes of them had fallen by the hail-stones and by the sword: and if he had yet half a day before him, it would have been natural enough for him to conclude that he had a sufficiency of time for the purpose, his men having been employed all night in a forced march, and half a day in close fighting; and indeed had he not been under an especial inspiration, he could not have requested the miracle at all, knowing, as he must have done, that his men must be nearly exhausted by marching all night and fighting all day. But it may be asked, What is the meaning of השמים בחצי bachatsi hashshamayim, which we translate in the midst of heaven? If, with Mr. Bate, we translate חצה chatsah, to part, divide asunder, then it may refer to the horizon, which is the apparent division of the heavens into the upper and lower hemisphere; and thus the whole verse has been understood by some eminently learned men, who have translated the whole passage thus: And the sun stood still in the (upper) hemisphere of heaven, and hasted not to go down when the day was complete; that is, though the day was then complete, the sun being on the horizon; the line that to the eye constituted the mid heaven - yet it hasted not to go down; was miraculously sustained in its then almost setting position; and this seems still more evident from the moon's appearing at that time, which it is not reasonable to suppose could be visible in the glare of light occasioned by a noon-day sun.
But the main business relative to the standing still of the sun still remains to be considered.
I have already assumed, as a thoroughly demonstrated truth, that the sun is in the center of the system, moving only round his own axis, and the common center of the gravity of the planetary system, while all the planets revolve round him, Prop. 2 and 3; that his influence is the cause of the diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth; nor can I see what other purpose his revolution round his own axis can possibly answer, Prop. 5.
I consider that the word דום dom, in the text, refers to the withholding or restraining this influence, so that the cessation of the earth's motion might immediately take place. The desire of Joshua was, that the sun might not sink below the horizon; but as it appeared now to be over Gibeon, and the moon to be over the valley of Ajalon, he prayed that they might continue in these positions till the battle should be ended; or, in other words, that the day should be miraculously lengthened out.
Whether Joshua had a correct philosophical notion of the true system of the universe, is a subject that need not come into the present inquiry: but whether he spoke with strict propriety on this occasion is a matter of importance, because he must be considered as acting under the Divine influence, in requesting the performance of such a stupendous miracle; and we may safely assert that no man in his right mind would have thought of offering such a petition had he not felt himself under some Divine afflatus. Leaving, therefore, his philosophic knowledge out of the question, he certainly spoke as if he had known that the solar influence was the cause of the earth's rotation, and therefore, with the strictest philosophic propriety, he requested that that influence might be for a time restrained, that the diurnal motion of the earth might be arrested, through which alone the sun could be kept above the horizon, and day be prolonged. His mode of expression evidently considers the sun as the great ruler or master in the system; and all the planets (or at least the earth) moving in their respective orbits at his command. He therefore desires him, in the name and by the authority of his Creator, to suspend his mandate with respect to the earth's motion, and that of its satellite, the moon. Had he said, Earth, stand thou still, the cessation of whose diurnal motion was the effect of his command, it could not have obeyed him; as it is not even the secondary cause either of its annual motion round the sun, or its diurnal motion round its own axis. Instead of doing so, he speaks to the sun, the cause (under God) of all these motions, as his great archetype did when, in the storm on the sea of Tiberias, he rebuked the wind first, and then said to the waves, Peace! be still! Σιωπα, πεφιμωσο· Be Silent! be Dumb! Mark 4:39; and the effect of this command was a cessation of the agitation in the sea, because the wind ceased to command it, that is, to exert its influence upon the waters. The terms in this command are worthy of particular note: Joshua does not say to the sun, Stand still, as if he had conceived him to be running his race round the earth; but, Be silent or inactive, that is, as I understand it, Restrain thy influence - no longer act upon the earth, to cause it to revolve round its axis; a mode of speech which is certainly consistent with the strictest astronomical knowledge; and the writer of the account, whether Joshua himself or the author of the book of Jasher, in relating the consequence of this command is equally accurate, using a word widely different when he speaks of the effect the retention of the solar influence had on the moon: in the first case the sun was silent or inactive, דום dom ; in the latter, the moon stood still, עמד amad . The standing still of the moon, or its continuance above the horizon, would be the natural effect of the cessation of the solar influence, which obliged the earth to discontinue her diurnal rotation, which of course would arrest the moon; and thus both it and the sun were kept above the horizon, probably for the space of a whole day. As to the address to the moon, it is not conceived in the same terms as that to the sun, and for the most obvious philosophical reasons; all that is said is simply, and the moon on the vale of Ajalon, which may be thus understood: "Let the sun restrain his influence or be inactive, as he appears now upon Gibeon, that the moon may continue as she appears now over the vale of Ajalon." It is worthy of remark that every word in this poetic address is apparently selected with the greatest caution and precision. Persons who are no friends to Divine revelation say "that the account given of this miracle supposes the earth to be in the center of the system, and the sun moveable; and as this is demonstrably a false philosophy, consequently the history was never dictated by the Spirit of truth." Others, in answer, say "that the Holy Spirit condescends to accommodate himself to the apprehensions of the vulgar. The Israelites would naturally have imagined that Joshua was deranged had he bid the earth stand still, which they grant would have been the most accurate and philosophical mode of command on this occasion." But with due deference both to the objectors and defenders I must assert, that such a form of speech on such an occasion would have been utterly unphilosophic; and that the expressions found in the Hebrew text are such as Sir Isaac Newton himself might have denominated, every thing considered, elegant, correct, and sublime. Nor does it at all appear that the prejudices of the vulgar were consulted on this occasion; nor is there a word here, when properly understood that is inconsistent with the purest axiom of the soundest philosophy, and certainly nothing that implies any contradiction. I grant that when the people have to do with astronomical and philosophical matters, then the terms of the science may be accommodated to their apprehensions; it is on this ground that Sir Isaac Newton himself speaks of the rising and of the setting of the sun, though all genuine philosophers know that these appearances are produced by the rotation of the earth on its own axis from west to east. But when matters of this kind are to be transacted between God and his prophets, as in the above case, then subjects relative to philosophy are conceived in their proper terms, and expressed according to their own nature. At the conclusion of the 13th verse a different expression is used when it is said, So the sun stood still, it is not דסם dom, but עמד amad ; השמש ויעמד vaiyaamod hashshemesh, which expression, thus varying from that in the command of Joshua, may be considered as implying that in order to restrain his influence which I have assumed to be the cause of the earth's motion, the sun himself became inactive, that is, ceased to revolve round his own axis, which revolution is probably one cause, not only of the revolution of the earth, but of all the other planetary bodies in our system, and might have affected all the planets at the time in question; but this neither could nor did produce any disorder in nature; and the delay of a few hours in the whole planetary motions dwindles away into an imperceptible point in the thousands of years of their revolutions. But the whole effect mentioned here might have been produced by the cessation of the diurnal motion of the earth, the annual being still continued; and I contend that this was possible to Omnipotence, and that such a cessation might have taken place without occasioning the slightest disturbance in the motions of any others of the planetary system. It is vain to cry out and say, "Such a cessation of motion in one planet could not take place without disordering the motions of all the rest;" this I deny, and those who assert it neither know the Scripture nor the power of God; therefore they do greatly err. That the day was preternaturally lengthened, is a Scripture fact. That it was so by a miracle, is asserted; and whether that miracle was wrought as above stated, is a matter of little consequence; the thing is a Scripture fact, whether we know the modus operandi or not. I need scarcely add that the command of Joshua to the sun is to be understood as a prayer to God (from whom the sun derived his being and his continuance) that the effect might be what is expressed in the command: and therefore it is said, Joshua 10:14, that the Lord Hearkened unto the Voice of a Man, for the Lord fought for Israel. I have thus gone through the different parts of this astonishing miracle, and have endeavored to account for the whole in as plain and simple a manner as possible. It is not pretended that this account should satisfy every reader, and that every difficulty is solved; it would be impossible to do this in such a compass as that by which I am necessarily circumscribed; and I have been obliged, for the sake of brevity, to throw into the form of propositions or observations, several points which may appear to demand illustration and proof; for such I must refer the reader to Astronomical Treatises. Calmet, Scheuchzer, and Saurin, with several of our own countrymen, have spoken largely on this difficult subject, but in such a way as, I am obliged to confess, has given me little satisfaction, and which appears to me to leave the main difficulties unremoved. Conscious of the difficulties of this subject, I beg leave to address every candid reader in the often quoted words of an eminent author: -
Vive, Vale! si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum.
Hor. Epist. l. i., E. vi., ver. 68.
Farewell! and if a better system's thine,
Impart it frankly or make use of mine.
Book of Jasher - The book of the upright. See the note on Numbers 21:14. Probably this was a book which, in reference to Joshua and his transactions, was similar to the commentaries of Caesar, on his wars with the Gauls. Critics and commentators are greatly divided in their sentiments relative to the nature of this book. The opinion above appears to me the most probable.
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:/
The sun stood still, and the moon stayed.
The battle of Bethhoron
In some respects this victory had a special significance. In the first place, it had a most important bearing on the success of the whole enterprise; its suddenness, its completeness, its manifold grandeur being admirably fitted to paralyse the enemy in other parts of the country, and open the whole region to Joshua. By some it has been compared to the battle of Marathon, not only on account of the suddenness with which the decisive blow was struck, but also on account of the importance of the interests involved. It was a battle for freedom, for purity, for true religion, in opposition to tyranny, idolatry, and abominable sensuality; for all that is wholesome in human life, in opposition to all that is corrupt; for all that makes for peaceful progress, in opposition to all that entails degradation and misery. The prospects of the whole world were brighter after that victory of Bethhoron. The relation of heaven to earth was more auspicious, and more full of promise for the days to come. In the next place the tokens of Divine aid were very impressive. After the experience which Joshua had had of the consequences of failing to ask God for direction when first the Gibeonites came to him, we may be very sure that on the present occasion he would be peculiarly careful to seek Divine counsel. And he was well rewarded. Then as to the miracle of the sun and the moon standing still. It is well known that this was one of the passages brought forward by the Church of Rome to condemn Galileo, when he affirmed that the earth and the moon revolved round the sun, and that it was not the motion of the sun round the earth, but the rotation of the earth on her own axis that produced the change of day and night. No one would dream now of making use of this passage for any such purpose. Whatever theory of inspiration men may hold, it is admitted universally that the inspired writers used the popular language of the day in matters of science, and did not anticipate discoveries which were not made till many centuries later. A far more serious question has been raised as to whether this miracle ever occurred, or could have occurred. To those who believe in the possibility of miracles, it can be no conclusive argument that it could not have occurred without producing injurious consequences the end of which can hardly be conceived. For if the rotation of the earth on its axis was suddenly arrested, all human beings on its surface, and all loose objects whatever must have been flung forward with prodigious violence; just as, on a small scale, on the sudden stoppage of a carriage, we find ourselves thrown forward, the motion of the carriage having been communicated to our bodies. But really this is a paltry objection; for surely the Divine power that can control the rotation of the earth is abundantly able to obviate such effects as these. We can understand the objection that God, having adjusted all the forces of nature, leaves them to operate by themselves in a uniform way without disturbance or interference; but we can hardly comprehend the reasonableness of the position that if it is His pleasure miraculously to modify one arrangement, He is unable to adjust all relative arrangements, and make all conspire harmoniously to the end desired. But was it a miracle? The narrative, as we have it, implies not only that it was, but that there was something in it stupendous and unprecedented. It comes in as a part of that supernatural process in which God has been engaged ever since the deliverance of His people from Egypt, and which was to go on till they should be finally settled in the land. It naturally joins on to the miraculous division of the Jordan, and the miraculous fall of the walls of Jericho. We must remember that the work in which God was now engaged was one of peculiar spiritual importance and significance. He was not merely finding a home for His covenant people; He was making arrangements for advancing the highest interests of humanity; He was guarding against the extinction on earth of the Divine light which alone can guide man in safety through the life that now is, and in preparation for that which is to come. Who will take upon him to say that at an important crisis in the progress of the events which were to prepare the way for this grand consummation, it was not fitting for the Almighty to suspend for a time even the ordinances of heaven, in order that a day’s work, carrying such vast consequences, might not be interrupted before its triumphant close? One other notable feature in the transaction of this day was the completeness of the defeat inflicted by Joshua on the enemy. This defeat went on in successive stages from early morning till late at night. First, there was the slaughter in the plain of Gibeon. Then the havoc produced by the hail and by Joshua on the retreating army. Then the destruction caused as Joshua followed the enemy to their cities. And the work of the day was wound up by the execution of the five kings. Moreover, there followed a succession of similar scenes at the taking and sacking of their cities. When we try to realise all this in detail, we are confronted with a terrible scene in blood and death, and possibly we may find ourselves asking, “Was there a particle of humanity in Joshua, that he was capable of such a series of transactions?” But it must be said, and said firmly for Joshua, that there is no evidence of his acting on this or on other such occasions in order to gratify personal feelings; it was not done either to gratify a thirst for blood, or to gratify the pride of a conqueror. Joshua all through gives us the impression of a man carrying out the will of another; inflicting a judicial sentence, and inflicting it thoroughly at the first so that there might be no need for a constant series of petty executions afterwards. This certainly was his aim; but the enemy showed themselves more vital than he had supposed. And when we turn to ourselves and think what we may learn from this transaction, we see a valuable application of his method to the spiritual warfare. God has enemies still, within and without, with whom we are called to contend. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” When we are fighting with the enemy within our own hearts leniency is our great temptation, but at the same time our greatest snare. What we need here is courage to slay. And in reference to the outside world, want of thoroughness in warfare is still our besetting sin. If only the Church had more faith, and, as the fruit of faith, more courage and more enterprise, what help from heaven might not come to her! True, she would not see the enemy crushed by hailstones, nor the sun standing in Gibeon, nor the moon in the valley of Ajalon; but she would see grander sights; she would see men of spiritual might raised up in her ranks; she would see tides of strong spiritual influence overwhelming her enemies. Jerichos dismantled, Ais captured, and the champions of evil falling like Lucifer from heaven to make way for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let us go to the Cross of Jesus to revive our faith and recruit our energies. (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Fixing of sun and moon in the heavens
I. Consider the arguments, usually advanced against the possibility of the sun and moon standing still in the heavens. Not merely is it objected that such an occurrence would be an unwarrantable interference with the laws of nature; but the historian’s veracity has also been called in question. It is argued that in recording the circumstance he does not express himself scientifically; but that, on the contrary, he evinces ignorance of the true principles of astronomy: that therefore he should not be regarded as an inspired writer, this circumstance being sufficient in itself to shake credit in his testimony. To this objection we reply--Joshua did not mean to furnish us with a treatise on astronomy. He expressed himself according to the opinion formed on scientific topics during the times in which he lived. Do not we, ourselves, who know that it is the earth which moves, and not the sun, commonly speak of his rising and setting; while perfectly aware that in reality he neither rises nor sets. Certainly the lengthening out of the day (on the occasion of Joshua defeating the five kings) must have been caused by the earth not revolving so rapidly on its axis as it usually does. It is well known that in the equatorial regions the earth moves from west to east at the rate of one thousand miles in the hour; and that the rapidity of motion gradually diminishes as we go from the equator to the poles; so that, at the poles, there is no motion whatever. Supposing that, instead of moving at its usual speed, our earth were to revolve, on its axis, only five hundred miles in the hour: the result would be that the day would be protracted to double the ordinary length, because the apparent passage of the sun first, and of the moon next, over the concave surface would be proportionally retarded. But it is further objected that such an interference with the course of nature would have occasioned irreparable mischief. What! Is anything too hard for God? Cannot He, who called nature into existence, suspend its laws and operations when He pleases? Is any man so well acquainted with the complex machinery of nature as to be prepared to say that the conception and development of animal life are possible things; but that the slackening of the earth’s rotary motion is an impossibility? And now, before dismissing this head of our subject, we shall adduce from pagan mythology a proof that the miracle referred to in our text did really occur. The superstitious Greeks, in olden times, worshipped the sun, under the name of Apollo, who (according to them) had a son who was called Phaeton. Apollo was supposed to drive the chariot of the sun daily through the skies. Phaeton requested his father to permit him to drive the chariot for a single day. Apollo granted the request. Phaeton proved an unskilful charioteer, in being unable to curb the horses, which therefore went out of the proper track. Jupiter (whom the ancient pagans regarded as the supreme god) irritated at Phaeton’s rashness, and fearing that a conflagration of heaven and earth might ensue, struck the youth with the thunderbolt and hurled him into the river Po in Italy. This heathen anecdote cannot be altogether an invention. There lies a truth at the bottom of it. Some irregularity in the sun’s apparent diurnal course must have occurred at an early period of history; otherwise ancient heathens would have no foundation whereon to build their superstitious legend. And let us observe that where heathen testimony can be brought to corroborate revelation the testimony is invaluable; because it is the testimony of enemies.
II. We proceed to show that there existed an absolute necessity for the miracle in question being performed. Yes; there is an intimate connection between this miracle and the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. If sun and moon had not stood still at Joshua’s command there would (on human calculation) have been no chance of salvation for a single member of our fallen race. If Israel had not had sufficient light to guide them in pursuing their Canaanite enemies these enemies would have escaped during the darkness of the night. Had they escaped the five kings might have rallied; and, instead of Israel exterminating them, they might have exterminated Israel. Thus the advent of the promised Redeemer would have been prevented: for God had decreed that of Jacob’s seed (in the line of Judah) Messiah should descend. No doubt the Divine plans have long been settled in the councils of eternity; and the Most High will take good care that Satan shall not defeat them. But then God employs second means to work His ends. He ordains every single step and event which will be conducive thereto in order that a single link may not be broken in the chain of His providential dealing.
III. The conflict which Israel, under Joshua, had to maintain with the wicked nations of Canaan prefigured that deadlier conflict which we ourselves, under a greater than Joshua, have to keep up with the world, the devil, and the flesh. TO enable us to make head against these spiritual foes, who have in view nothing less than our destruction, God in mercy lengthens out the day. There is a spiritual sun, and there is a spiritual moon: even as there exist a literal sun and moon. God has set these moral luminaries in the spiritual firmament, to give such persons as have hitherto turned a deaf ear to the gospel space to believe it and be saved, ere it be too late; and also to afford light to those who already believe that they may continue firm to the end. (John Caldwell, B. A.)
How Joshua stopped the sun
For ages multitudes of Bible readers have seen in this narrative a stupendous miracle. Seeing the statement some have rebelled against it, and refused to believe it. Others have conscientiously striven to believe the statement, and defend it. Now, if a miracle is really declared to have taken place upon that day, its stupendous nature forms no objection whatever to my faith. Every miracle is to me stupendous, or else it is no miracle at all. Where God is concerned nothing is impossible. What objection then is there? The first, that such an act would seem, at any rate to be out of keeping with God’s economy of power; it serves no direct purpose here. Mere flourishes of almightinesses are never found in the Bible. Every miracle in the Bible is a means to an end, and there is a proportion between the means and the end in view. There is no waste. I search the Bible in vain for any reference to the fact that the earth was stopped, or the sun stayed. I find no such reference at all. No use whatever is made of this in any other age, or in any other book. God led His people out of Egypt with a high hand, and the nation was cradled among miracles, and these miracles are appealed to time after time, age after age, to the end of the Bible. But there is a remarkable silence with regard to this. But my chief objection to the ordinary view is that I do not believe that the Bible says there was a miracle at all. I hold that, given a fair translation of this chapter, and an average amount of intelligence in the reader, and a reasonable freedom for traditional bias, the alleged stupendous miracle disappears entirely, and gives way to something far more valuable. And I claim that it is one of the inestimable and innumerable benefits conferred upon us by the Revised Translation of the Bible, that by its means the average reader can, without the help of any commentary, see at a glance how the case stood, and what really took place on that great day. Now, you will ask, What is the difference, then, between the Revised and the Old Version? Why, simply this. If you read this chapter in the Old Version the verses follow one another in unbroken continuity, and no hint what ever is given to the reader that when he arrives at the twelfth verse he is no longer reading what the author of the Book of Joshua himself wrote; he is not warned that the author, at the twelfth verse, breaks off from telling his own story, and introduces a quotation as a climax to the description of the battle, and that that quotation is a poetical one, taken from a book once popular, but now entirely lost, the Book of Josher. If you read the Old Version it would seem to you that from the twelfth to the fifteenth verses is as much prose as the rest of the chapter, whereas in the Hebrew Bible, from the first, these verses were marked as a piece of quoted poetry; and in the Revised Version the thing is done almost in the same way. So that the reader who just looks at this chapter as it stands in the Revised Version will see that in the first part of the chapter he has to deal with history, and in this part he has to deal with poetry--a poetical quotation introduced by the historian as the climax of his description of the great battle of Bethhoron. Now it appears to me that this simple fact solves the difficulty entirely--relieves the faith of multitudes from a great burden; and, best of all, deprives a certain class of unbelievers of a very coarse but at the same time a very effective weapon. What; have we here, then? precisely what we have in many other parts of the Bible--namely, two accounts of the same thing: one the sober account of the historian, and the other the more glowing account of the poet. For instance, you have the same thing in the Book of Judges. You will remember--for you are Bible readers--you remember the great battle of Mount Tabor, The Jews were groaning under the tyranny of Jabin, the king of Jerusalem, and at last there arose Deborah. She aroused Barak, Barak routed the army of Sisera; Jael completed Barak’s work, and with a tent-pin and a hammer killed Sisera in her tent. This is the story of the battle of Mount Tabor, as told by the historian. But in the chapter next to it you will find the song of Deborah, and in that song an inspired poetess gives her account of the battle from the standpoint of the poet. She says: “They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” It was Barak who did it, and Jael, and the tent-pin and the hammer. No, no; they fought out of heaven. “The stars in their courses,” says Deborah, “fought against Sisera.” Is there any man on the face of the earth that has ever stood up to say that because Deborah said that the battle of Mount Tabor was actually won by planetary impulses, therefore the stars really entered the Jewish army and fought against the oppressor? Who is there that does not see at once that in that case we have to deal with poetry? We have something like that even in the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus Christ said on the very first day when discipleship was born--He said to one of His first disciples--“Ye shall see the heavens opened, and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Did they ever? Never, never. They never saw the blue rent; they never saw angels walking up and down the body of Christ. Never; it was a poetical form--a great mystical spiritual promise thrown into the larger language of poetry. And so the Gospel closes--“They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall do them no manner of harm.” Is that being carried out in everybody or in anybody that believes the name of Christ? No, not literally. The serpent will kill a Christian as well as an infidel. Poison is as effective on a saint as on a sinner. What does it mean then? It is a grand spiritual fact, put in the large language of poetry. And that is what we have in this chapter. But you will say, Is not the Bible a serious book? Of what value is the introduction of a bit of poetry like this when it misleads so many? I reply--
I. Yes, the bible is intensely serious. This is not quoted as an ornament; it is for use. And if you ask, What is the value of it? I reply it is immensely valuable. Apart from this poetical quotation the whole chapter is comparatively worthless. Why? Because a body without a soul is worthless. The Bible is valuable to us in so far as it touches my life and yours. To tell me that Joshua routed those people does not help me very much. That is the body of it. I want to get at the soul of it. I want to understand Joshua himself, to modernise him, to make him a brother and to get some good out of him. Well, this bit of poetry helps me: this is the key to it. If I read this i see how the thing is done, and I see how I can do the same thing, in a measure, when I am called upon to do it. This piece of poetry is a window through which we can look into Joshua’s heart. The great battle of Bethhoron was a battle that threatened to be a drawn battle. There stands the man on the ridge. The men have been running away faster than he has been able to pursue them, and at this moment it seemed as if nature were conspiring against him; as if he were not to have the usual hours of the day. A black, mysterious cloud was coming to help the people who were running away from him. Don’t you understand the agony that would come into a man’s soul at that moment?--the impassioned prayer that would go up to God from his heart--not to stretch the laws of nature till they crack--but to give him the usual day, to keep the sun from going down at noon. No child was Joshua, crying for the moon. No man with such sick fancies could have done the work he did. What this man prayed for was a fair day’s light to do a fair day’s work in the strength of and for the glory of God. And do not you know something of the fear that came over him? If you are trying to do any work you too will come to this point. It will seem to you as if God were going to make your day too short. You will see the night falling all too soon. The night cometh, and you will say, “Oh, for more light. Life is not long enough; I am being taken away in the very middle of my days.” And you will then know what it is to cry, “Sun, stand thou in the heaven; and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon.”
II. “and the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation had avenged themselves.” That is the key--“until the nation had avenged themselves.” What was coming up from the Mediterranean was not some awful preternatural piece of night, as Joshua feared. It was only a shower: a hailstorm. It was not going to help his enemies, but to slay them. The sun was not hasting from the heavens; the heavenly orbs would do their work as usual. The sun and moon were to be depended on; but if Joshua really wanted to have a longer day than usual, that did not depend on the sun and moon, he had to make it himself. How? Just as he lengthened the preceding night. From Gilgal to Gibeon, how long? Three days’ journey. What did Joshua do? Why, he took the twelve hours and stretched them till they became thirty-six. He did three days’ march in one night. So if Joshua wants a longer day on Bethhoron, it is not the sun that can make it for him, nor the moon either. He must go back on his recipe of the night before, and take the twelve hours of the day and stretch them. It is for Joshua himself to make the day longer, for it is not up in the skies that days are lengthened, but here on earth. The secret of a long day lies with Joshua, and not with the sun. No, the sun will not wait for you; but you can quicken your pace, and so lengthen your days. The longest day in your life is the day in which you work hardest, think the closest, live noblest.
III. Is that all? No. Was nothing done by god? Yes, everything, “And there was no day like that,” says the old poet, “before it, or after, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man.” By stopping the sun? No; “The Lord fought for Israel.” That cloud coming up from the Mediterranean, that Joshua mistook for the night, was one of his own soldiers marching to meet him; it was one of his own allies. Nature herself was in league with him. It was the hailstorm, one of God’s reinforcements coming to do the work of God. It is one of the deepest truths of experience that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” The hailstorms are still in league with the Joshuas. Are you false and mean in your aims? Are your ways corrupt on the earth? Then I tell you, whoever you are, you may succeed for a while, or you may seem to succeed, as the tares that ripen in the autumn sun that the fire may burn them all the easier by and by. You may seem to succeed for a while, but the very framework of the universe must be shattered; God’s throne must crumble in decay; heaven itself must be carried at the assault of hell’s dark troops before you can ultimately and really succeed. You too will be caught some day between Joshua and the hailstorm of the Lord. But are you seeking to be true, trying to be right, yet often finding things arrayed against you? Then, in God’s name, go on. You misread the signals. The blackness that threatens you is only an ally in disguise. You are bound to succeed in the battle of the Lord. The nature of things is in league with righteousness.
IV. “and Joshua returned into the camp at Gilgal.” Did he know what he had done? No. He knew he had done something; that it had been a great day, but he had no idea how great it was. It was one of the thousand-year days of God. It is still with us. That sun that Joshua cried to is still shining, and the moon has never left the vale of Ajalon. Serve the Lord with all your might, and you will do a work greater than you imagine, or dream, or desire. Our time-tables are altogether wrong--sixty seconds to the minute, sixty minutes to the hour; that will do very well for the rough and tumble work in the city, but apply a time-table like that to Gethsemane. Read the Gospels, watch in hand, beneath the shadow of the Cross--“From the sixth to the ninth hour Jesus hung on the Cross, dying.” Sixty minutes to the hour, sixty seconds to the minute! It will not do. These are eternal things, and they upset all our calculations. We do not know what we do when we serve God. Life is greater, grander than we dream. Do not think life is small. We sow time, and, lo, we reap eternity. We may so live as to leave behind us a light shining till the world itself shall end. “Returned to the camp.” Ah, men and women, the pathos of that old phrase! You and I will return to the camp very soon. The day over. Well, you may arrest the sun before night; but the sun, once it has dipped beneath the western wave, cannot be brought back. Yesterday! Where is it? It is beyond, in the great eternity. Can you run after the lightning and catch it and bring it back? Sooner shall you do that than at the end of the day recover the sun that has set. We shall be returning to camp soon. What histories are we bringing back--you and I? The number of our days is with God; but the length, fulness, quality, and eternalness arc with us. (J. M. Gibbon.)
1. We may learn whither to have recourse for help whenever the state of the weather has proved unfavourable to our respective undertakings. Is our land drenched with floods, that threaten to wash away or decay the seed lately sown? or chilled by cold and blighting winds? or parched up with a scorching heat, unmitigated by a passing cloud or a solitary shower? To complain and murmur under such visitations is as vain as ii is impious; whereas prayer for their alleviation or removal will probably procure us God’s favourable consideration, and certainly work for our spiritual profit.
2. Again, we learn by what unlikely means the Almighty brings about the deliverance of His people and the discomfiture of His enemies. To promote this great end, all hearts are in His hand, all events are at His disposal; yea, He directs and controls the elements themselves, so as to extort from the sons of men the confession, “This is God’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” What befell the Spanish Armada, fitted out for the invasion and conquest of Great Britain? “The Lord sent a great wind into the sea,” to destroy the remnant of those ships which had hitherto escaped defeat; so that the final discomfiture of the fleet was as much owing to the tempestuous violence of the ocean as to the desperate valour of the English. However inextricable your difficulties, however insuperable your dangers may appear, the time for surmounting or escaping them may be at hand: your last extremity is God’s gracious opportunity: the valley of Achor He is changing into the door of hope, and making the vast magazine of ordinary and extraordinary dispensations instrumental to your eventual happiness and eternal glory. But tremble, ye wicked, though peace and prosperity at present attend your path. The resources in the hand of a retributive Providence are leagued against you, which, if delayed now, will fall on your devoted heads with tripled weight hereafter.
3. But I may instance some still clearer points of resemblance between this special interference of the Almighty in the case of Joshua and His providential arrangements at the present day. Every year presents to us an appearance in the heavens as deserving our surprise and admiration as that which attracted the notice of the camp of Israel. From the depth of winter to the height of summer the sun gradually travels over a wider space in its daily course. Morning after morning it rises earlier; evening after evening later sets. At length it escapes nut sight for a few hours only; and during that short interval the twilight in great degree compensates for its absence. Lest, moreover, during winter nearly utter darkness should veil the skies, on account of the sun’s few and contracted visits, the stars on frosty nights shine with a brilliancy unknown in summer, while the unclouded moon supplies its place, a welcome substitute, guided by whose friendly rays at any time the wanderer may confidently rely on reaching his place of destination. I scarcely need remind you what assistance this lesser light lends the labourer in late harvests by rising about the full at the same hour for some evenings in succession; or how, when the sun does not rise above their horizon for months together, and they would otherwise be enveloped in continual darkness, Divine Providence lights up for the inhabitants of the polar regions the brilliant aurora borealis, or northern lights, to illumine and cheer their “noonday nights.” Is not as effectual a provision made for light by these contrivances as though the sun and moon in set terms stood still, and hasted not to go clown about a whole day? Are they not as hard to be accounted for?
4. By comparing this miracle wrought by the hand of Joshua with those performed by Jesus Christ, we may learn to ascribe all proper honour to His person, all due reverence to the religion He came hither to establish. (H. A. Herbert, B. A.)
The sun standing still
A new suggestion in regard to the standing still of the sun and the moon at the apostrophe of Joshua is given by the Rev. J. Sutherland Black in his edition of “Joshua,” issued as one part of the Smaller Cambridge Bible series. His new postulate is to the effect that no physical miracle occurred, or was desired; he thinks the cosmical features of the event do not touch upon the supernatural at all. His explanation runs thus: “To understand the quotation from the Book of Jasher, we must figure to ourselves the speaker at two successive periods of the summer day--first on the plateau to the north of the hill of Gibeon, with Gibeon lying under the sun to the south-east or south, at the moment when the resistance of the enemy has at last broken down, and again, hours later, when the sun has set, and the moon is sinking westward over the valley of Ajalon, threatening by its disappearance to put an end to the victorious pursuit. The appeal to the moon is, of course, for light--i.e., after sunset. The moon appears over Ajalon; that is somewhat south of west, as seen by one approaching from Beth-horon. There was, therefore, evening moonlight. Joshua prayed first that the sunlight, and then that the moonlight following it, might suffice for the complete defeat of the enemy.”
The desire and the improvement of life
It is the language of the passions, in the midst of a fervid and impetuous career. “Sun, stand thou still,” equally exclaim the sons of pleasure and of ambition: every rank, pursuit, and age joins in the same prayer. In the morning of our existence, when all things display their fairest aspect, and in the midst of a succession of pleasurable scenes time rolls rapidly along: should a moment of reflection intervene, who does not exclaim, with a sigh, “How brief, how vain is life! how silently and swiftly do the hours advance and vanish!” “O sun, stand thou still”; give us a few more of thy bright morning beams, that we may a little longer taste the sweetness of unsullied pleasure. When we advance to the noon of the human course; amidst all the weighty cares, the thronging projects and objects of strenuous pursuit, that by turns awaken our ardour and elude our expectation--if, amidst this busy scene, we throw a glance upon the enlarged and enlarging space we have already passed, and the short and shortening limits of that which remains--how naturally does the heart send forth the involuntary, fruitless wish, “‘Sun, stand thou still.’ Hasten not so precipitately to crush our aspiring hopes, and extinguish in untimely darkness our unripened purposes: shine a little longer in thy meridian brightness, that we may not only exert our strength, but reap some recompense of our toil.” Arrived at this period of imaginary tranquility--though many ties may be loosened which once bound us to the world, yet new objects of attachment rise, and new motives for wishing that our stay might be prolonged--or if expectation saddens, and all around the prospect grows more dim and desolate, still do we linger fondly on the verge of life, though bereft of its most valued comforts, from that unconquerable dread with which the untried and unknown future strikes the imagination. “O sun, stop, stop thy course. Stand thou still in the midst of heaven, yet another year, another day, to soften our removal from the cheerful light, from the society of our fellow-beings, that, with more composed and collected thoughts, we may stand before the tribunal of our Creator.” Thus various and inexhaustible are the excuses of each successive stage for wishing to lengthen out the brief span of life; and the same sentiment pervades all the different conditions and circumstances of mankind. If prosperity smile upon us, we think the sun, which lights us every day to a succession of pleasures, moves too quickly to his setting: “O sun, stand thou still” in the midst of this fair horizon--hasten not to draw the veil of night over these delightful prospects. And if adversity oppress our spirits, we complain that the days which are clouded with grief, like those which are illumined with joy, equally pass away never to return. “O Sun, stand thou still,” let the dark and lowering tempest pass from before thy refulgent orb: let thy sweet and pleasant light again gladden our hearts, that our few remaining hours may glide peacefully to the close. But if he, who, without his own fault, and by inevitable circumstances, has been deprived of happiness, may complain of the swiftness of time and the brevity of life, how much deeper regret must that man feel who is conscious of having wasted its most valuable seasons, in thoughtless inactivity! Well may he cry out to time, to suspend its course, “Sun, stand thou still,” or rather reverse thy flaming and impetuous career. On the other hand, the virtuous man. But who is so virtuous as to have no faults to repair, no defects to supply--the man, however, comparatively virtuous, whose youthful days have been introductory to a scene of honourable and useful exertion; who may justly look upon himself as a blessing to his fellow-creatures; and who is pursuing, with steady vigour, his well-chosen course; gradually extending his usefulness and his good affections; and is a progressive pattern of every social and every religious duty; though he may submissively await the Divine disposal, yet will he view, not without awe, the narrow space which even virtue itself can boast of here below; and will be almost tempted to wish that it might be the will of Divine Providence to protract the duration of a span so brief, so inadequate to his views and his desires: “‘Sun, stand thou still’; withdraw not thy precious and useful light so soon; let me still pursue the happy course on which I have entered.” Unavailing are all such wishes; the tide of time will be neither accelerated nor retarded by our entreaties; the sun will neither suspend nor deviate from his course. Since, therefore, we cannot rule the course of nature, let us endeavour to rule ourselves. If we are so unhappy as to have wasted our past hours in folly or to have abused them by misconduct it is in vain to sit down and fold our arms in melancholy inaction; wishing that the past might be recalled, and grieving that the future cannot be hindered from advancing. We should rather call upon our souls and all that is within us to amend our faults, and repair the ills we have thereby incurred, before it be too late; like travellers who having wandered from the right path hasten to regain it before the sun goes down. If, on the contrary, we have happily chosen the path of virtue, let us cheerfully and thankfully pursue our way. Pleasant but fleeting is the season of youth, life’s cheerful morning. You cannot prolong its absolute duration; but you can add inestimably to its value. You can extend its happy influence over every remaining period, and draw from it a rich harvest of knowledge, virtue, and true felicity. Youth is the blossom, the promise of mature years these are equally transitory with the former. In vain you implore the sun to stay, but you may call him to witness a train of pious and charitable actions as he passes; you may crowd into a small extent a multitude of valuable labours; it is not for us to fix the limits, but to fulfil the duties of life--well pleased to act in concert with the great first mover of all things, among the innumerable instruments of His benevolent designs, and not unwilling to cease from action, whenever He shall see fit to transfer the pleasing though arduous toil from ourselves to others. No sooner has the sun passed his meridian than the shadows lengthen and night approaches. The dawn, the noon, the evening, all glide with uninterrupted speed; and the hour when we must bid farewell to all their successive scenes nature cannot now long delay. All that remains is, by reason and reflection, by prayer and repentance, to calm the perturbation of our minds--by holy resignation to the will of God, and a cheerful performance of our remaining duties, to seek His aid and protection--then, though we cannot escape the stroke of death, we shall render it less painful and alarming; thus disarmed of its sting, it will lose its greatest terrors; and will appear somewhat like a sound and refreshing slumber, falling on the over-wearied mariner, who is within sight of his desired haven, and who expects, with the dawn of the succeeding day, to meet the glad congratulations of all whom he loves. (P. Houghton.)
Sun, stand thou still
“Oh,” you say, “the sun and moon didn’t stand still.” One man comes to me and says, “According to the Copernican system the sun stood still anyhow, and it was no miracle for it to stand still.” Another man says, “If you stop the sun, you upset the whole universe, and throw everything out of order.” Another man tells me it was only the refraction of the sun’s rays which made the sun seem to stand still. Another man tells me that all that was necessary to have this miracle right, was to stop the world on its own axis, and it was not necessary to stop it in its revolution through its orbit. The universe is only God’s watch. I suppose He could make it. Then I suppose He could stop it. Then I suppose He could start it again, and stop it again. Oh! not the sun standing still! Yes. A bad man does not live out half his days. His sun may set at noon. But a good man may prolong his days of usefulness. If a man, in the strength of Joshua, will go forth to fight against sin and in behalf of the truth, he shall live; a thousand years will be as one day. John Summerfield was a consumptive Methodist. He stood looking fearfully white in Old Sand Street Methodist Church, preaching the glorious gospel, and on the anniversary platform in New York pleading for the Bible until the old book unrolled new glories the world had never seen. And on his death-bed he talked of heaven until the wing of the angelic messenger brushed the pillow on which he lay. Has John Summerfield’s sun set? Has John Summer-field’s day ended? No! He lives in the burning words he uttered in behalf of the Christian Church. He lives in the fame of that Christ whom he recommended to the dying people. He lives in the eternal raptures of that heaven into which he has already introduced so many immortal souls. Faint, and sick, and dying, and holding with one hand to the rail of the altar of the Methodist Church, with the other hand he arrested the sun in the heavens, seeming to say, “I can’t die now; I want to live on, and live on; I want to speak a word for Christ that will never die; I am only twenty-seven years of age. Sun of my Christian ministry, stand still over America.” And it stood still. Robert M’Cheyne, of Scotland, was a consumptive Presbyterian. He used to cough in his sermon so hard that the people thought that he would never preach again; but thousands in Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, and Dundee, heard the voice of mercy from his lips. The people rejoiced under his ministry. His name to-day is fragrant in all Christendom, and that name is “mightier than ever was his living presence. The delirium of his last sickness was filled with prayer, and when in his dying moment he lifted his hand for a benediction upon his friends, and upon his country, he was only practically saying, “I can’t die now; I want to live on for Christ; I am only thirty years of age. Sun of my Christian ministry, stand still over Scotland.” And it stood still. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
No day like that.--
I. There had been none like it in the number and strength of the confederacy which was gathered against Israel. The highlanders, and lowlanders, and the maritime tribes combined their forces to oppose and crush the invaders, who now, by the defection of Gibeon, possessed a pathway into the heart of the country. Israel had previously dealt with separate cities, Jericho, At, Gibeon; but now six of the seven nations of Canaan joined together at the summons of the king of Jerusalem, who was allied with the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.
II. There was none like it in joshua’s life for heroic faith.
1. It was a day of vigour. As soon as he received the message he saw the importance of at once vindicating the trust reposed in him. Inertness and indolence ill become those who are entrusted with great concerns. The stirring of God’s Spirit in man makes the pulse throb quickly, purposes form themselves in the will; and all the nature is braced, and knit, to subserve the heroic soul.
2. It was a day of fellowship. Soon after the first message had come, with surely a certain amount of startling surprise, God had spoken to him and said, “Fear them not,” &c. And so we may expect it to be always. Sometimes the assurance comes first to prepare us for what is at hand. But if not then it will reach us simultaneously with the alarm, reassuring us, and giving us quiet confidence in the midst of evil tidings, as the bird rocks in its nest over the rush of the waterfall, serene, though the branch beneath it sways in the storm. There are high days in human lives when thought and purpose, which had been quietly gathering strength, like waters swelling against a barrier, suddenly leap from their leash, and vent themselves in acts, or words, or prayers, such as stand out from the ordinary routine of existence, like the cathedral of Cologne from the mean houses that gather around its base. We are not, then, drunk with wine, but we are flushed, as to our spirits, with the exhilaration and sense of power which the Spirit of God alone can give, or, to put it in another form, we catch fire. There is too little experience of this capacity of rising into the loftiest experience of that Spirit life which is within the reach of us all, through living fellowship with God; but whenever we realise and use it, it is as when the feeble, smouldering wick is plunged into oxygen gas, or as when a flower, that had struggled against the frost, is placed in the tropical atmosphere of the hot-house. In such hours we realise what Jesus meant when He said, “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain,” &c.
3. It was a day of triumphant onlook. The kings were summoned from their hiding-place, and as they crouched abjectly at the feet of their conquerors, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the chiefs of the men of war, “Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings.” And whilst they stood in that attitude of unquestioned victory, there broke on the exalted spirit-kindled imagination of the warrior-chieftain the sure prevision of the ultimate issue of the conflict in which they were engaged. He already saw the day when every knee should bow before Jehovah’s might, when every king should be prostrate before Israel’s arm, and when the whole land should be subdued.
III. There had been none like it in the extraordinary co-operation of Jehovah. The Israelites were the executioners of Divine justice, commissioned to give effect to the sentence which the foul impurities of Canaan called for. There is a judgment-seat for nations as well as for individuals. Within the limits of the ages as they pass, and on the surface of this earth, that throne is erected and that judgment is proceeding. We get some glimpse of this in the hand that wrote the doom of Belshazzar’s kingdom on the walls of the palace which beheld a scene of wanton revelry lit by the light of the temple’s sacred lamps. And the almighty Judge sees to it that His sentences are carried out. He has many agents--the Persian legions to execute his sentence on Babylon, the Vandals on Rome, the Russian Cossacks on Napoleon, as the Israelites on the Amorites, whose iniquity was now full, and threatened to infect the world.
IV. Such days come still to men. There are days in our lives so extraordinary for the combination of difficult circumstances, human opposition, and Satanic combination, that they stand out in unique terror from the rest of our lives. Looking back on them, we may almost adopt the language of the sacred historian, “there was no day like that before it or after it.” But these days do not come if we are living in friendship with God, intent on doing His will, without there coming also His sweet “Fear them not, for I have delivered them into thine hands.” Our only anxiety should be that nothing should divert us from His path, or intercept the communication of His grace. Like a wise commander we must keep open the passage back to our base of operations, which is God. Careful about that, we need have no anxious care beside. The greatness of our difficulties is permitted to elicit the greatness of His grace. He covers our heads in the day of battle. He is our shield and exceeding great reward. Though an host should encamp against us, we will not fear; though war should rise against us, in this we will be confident. Moreover, these days may always be full of the realised presence of God. All through the conflict Joshua’s heart was in perpetual fellowship with the mighty Captain of the Lord’s host, who rode beside him all the day. The blessed colloquy between the two was unbroken, as between a Wellington and a Blucher, a Napoleon and a Marshal Ney. So amid all our conflicts, our hearts and minds should thither ascend and there dwell where Christ is seated, drawing from Him grace upon grace, as we need, like the diver on the ocean floor who inhales the fresh breeze of the upper air. At these times it is very necessary not merely to ask God to help us, because the word “help” may mean that there is a great deal of reliance on self, and whatever there is of ourselves is almost certain to give way in the strain of battle. Achilles was mortally wounded in the heel, the one place which did not share in the plunge given him by his goddess mother into the immortal stream. The Divine part of our deliverance will be nullified by the alloy of our own energy, strength, or resolution. Let us substitute for the word “help” the word “keep.” Let us put the whole matter into the hands of God, asking Him to go before us, to fight for us, to deliver us, as He did for His people on this eventful day. “The Lord discomfited them before Israel.” (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 10:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https:/
THE MIRACLE OF THE SUN STANDING STILL
"Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel
"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
And thou Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed.
Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies.
"Is not this written in the Book of Jashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man: for Jehovah fought for Israel.
"And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal."
ATTEMPTS TO RATIONALIZE THIS MIRACLE
Much of the comment one encounters on this passage is nothing more than the skillful, learned, interesting, and even brilliant explanations of why this commentator or another one CANNOT believe this story as it is clearly written here. Why do men feel called upon to explain UNBELIEF? God gave every man the right either to believe or not believe as he may choose, only with this provision that he shall, of course, accept the consequences of his choice! Here are some of the explanations:
(1) This is poetry and was never intended to be understood literally. Joshua used this poetic language to request that God stop the sun from shining, or be dumb, or silent, because the weather was hot and Joshua and his troops needed relief from the heat! Even so conservative a writer as Unger wrote:
"So the passage simply means the sun was dumb (stopped shining) at Gibeon, and the moon likewise ceased to shine in the Valley of Aijalon, their light being blotted out by the thick, black clouds of the miraculous hailstorm that the Lord sent to discomfit Israel's foe."
The reliance of many commentators today on that translation which makes these verses declare that Joshua asked God to stop the sun from shining is pitiful. Such a rendition is clearly a corrupt translation as admitted by Sizoo: "The interpretation `cease from shining' is very questionable, and the very next verse proves that such a meaning was not intended."
(2) Another explanation is that "There was a total eclipse of the sun," and this theory also accepts the corrupt translation that says Joshua pleaded for the sun "not to shine," or to be "dumb," a result which is attributed to the total eclipse! Any truth in this? No! How could there be a total eclipse of the sun when on that very day Joshua mentioned seeing the sun in the east and the moon in the west? No eclipse at all is possible with the moon that far from the sun!
(3) There are other explanations, of course, which are worthy of no attention at all. Some are variations of the above; some make use of the critical device of declaring portions of the chapter a gloss, an interpolation, or a "late addition" by some writer who misunderstood the Book of Joshua that he was revising!
THE TRUE INTERPRETATION
Boling called this interpretation "the popular interpretation"; and so it is. It is found in Thomas Morrell's libretto for Georg Friedrich Handel's famed oratorio, Joshua, written in 1747. Here it is:
"O thou bright orb, great ruler of the day!
Stop thy swift course, and over Gibeon stay.
And oh! thou milder lamp of light, the moon,
Stand still, prolong thy beams in Aijalon.
Behold, the list'ning sun the voice obeys,
And in mid Heav'n his rapid motion stays.
Before our arms the scattered nations fly,
Breathless they part, they yield, they fall, they die."
Yes indeed, we believe that the sun did not set for the course of a whole day, giving us a very, very long day, unlike any ever known before or since. Now, of course, there are many arguments against receiving this view: (1) This event is unknown anywhere else in the literature of the whole world. (2) It is not even mentioned anywhere else in the O.T. (3) The normal motions of the earth rotating on its axis causes "sunsets" apart from any motion whatever by the sun itself. Therefore, for the day to have been lengthened as here indicated, some drastic change in the rotation of the earth on its axis would have been necessary. Joshua, of course, knew nothing of that; he merely prayed to God, telling what he wanted, but God knew how to grant the prayer, altogether apart from Joshua's ignorance (and apart from our ignorance as well).
None of such objections has any value whatever. The literature of the world is chock full of wars, military campaigns, etc., and has practically nothing at all regarding the most important event ever to happen on earth, namely, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. The absence of any event of importance from that corpus of the world's literature has absolutely no significance at all! Such literature does not even record who invented the wheel! The absence of the story from other O.T. books is likewise of no importance. The O.T. has only one reference to Jesus' feet being pierced, but the event occurred none the less. God does not have to say it twice for it to be true!
Now that denial about there being no physical evidence available to support the truth of this wonder, is itself false. There is indeed solid evidence, and it is this evidence that confirms our faith that this event occurred just as recorded here. The Holy Scriptures do not need to be continued by anything that men know or think that they know, but it is of some interest that the scientific facts available today prove that the axis upon which the earth today rotates is not in the same position as always. Seams in rocks are oriented to the magnetic pole of the earth, and these, in certain areas are criss-crossed by seams indicating a change in the position of the magnetic pole of the earth. Also in the frozen wastes of Siberia, the bodies of ancient dinosaurs have been discovered with flesh still capable of being eaten by dogs, and, in the mouths of these creatures, and in their stomachs, there still remains tropical vegetation unchewed and undigested. This proves a sudden change in the climate of Siberia from tropical to arctic. If that did not occur as a result of an interruption of the earth's rotation and the change of the position of its axis, then how did it happen? Until that question is answered, the postulation that it occurred on Joshua's long day is as good as any! The evidence of what we have cited here is found and is discussed at length in Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer's remarkable book, Genesis in Space and Time (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1972).
Aside from all the discussions and arguments, however, it is simply what the holy text says that is more than enough for any believer. Furthermore, what the text says may not be amended, changed, or revised by men whose avowed purpose is that of discrediting and denying the Word of God.
Many have been puzzled by what appears to be the erratic misplacement of Joshua 10:15, because, certainly, it may not be supposed that Joshua and all Israel precisely on that victorious day returned to Gilgal. Some have supposed that a scribal error copied it by accident here from Joshua 10:43; and others have considered it a prolepsis, referring parenthetically to the successful conclusion of the campaign and Joshua's return to Gilgal. We do not know what the true answer may be.
Several other facts should be noted. John Rea pointed out that Joshua 10:12-14 did not occur after the big hail, but concurrently with it. Adam Clarke solved the problem of Joshua 10:15 by pointing out that, "It is missing from the Septuagint (LXX) and from the Anglo-Saxon; and that it probably should be omitted here." In our view, this could do no harm at all, for the verse occurs almost verbatim again in Joshua 10:43.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https:/
Then spake Joshua to the Lord,.... In prayer, and entreated as follows, that the sun and moon might stand still, until the victory was complete; though the Jewish writers interpret it of a song; so the Targum, then Joshua praised, or sung praise, as in the Targum on Song of Solomon 1:1; and which is approved of by Jarchi and Kimchi:
in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; the five kings of the Amorites, and their armies, Joshua 10:5,
and he said, in the sight of Israel; in their presence, and in the hearing of great numbers, being under a divine impulse, and having strong faith in the working of the miracle, after related, and that it would be according to his word; he was bold to say what he did, being fully persuaded he should not be disappointed, and made ashamed:
sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon; where they now appeared, and were seen by all Israel, the one as if over Gibeon, and the other as in the valley of which Masius thinks is the same with the valley of Gibeon, Isaiah 28:21; and so must be near Gibeon, and the sun and the moon not far from one another, as they might be if it was now new moon, as Kimchi and R. Isaiah; or on the decrease; some say seven days before her change: but Abarbinel is of opinion that it was near the full of the moon, which was just rising in the valley of Ajalon, and the sun near setting as it seemed over Gibeon, and were just opposite one to another; and Joshua fearing he should not have time to pursue his enemies, and make the victory entire, should the sun set, prays that both sun and moon might continue in the position they were; the sun that he might have the benefit of daylight, which was the chief thing desired; the moon being only mentioned, that the heavenly motions might not be confounded, and the order of the orbs disturbed; and he observes, with Jarchi and Kimchi, that Gibeon was in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25; and Ajalon in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:42; and it may be observed, that there was also another in the tribe of Zebulun, Judges 12:12; but that seems to be at too great a distance; and still less probable is what some late travellers have observed
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:/
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
Spoke Joshua — Being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God's enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God's spirit, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that that they might be witnesses.
In the sight — That is, in the presence and audience of Israel.
Over Gibeon — That is, in that place and posture in which now it stands towards, and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem, that the sun, was declining, and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, He mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one and the moon over the other, which is absurd especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies, to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon's light, but because it was fit, either that both sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still to prevent disorder in the heavenly bodies. The prayer is thus exprest with authority, because it was not an ordinary prayer, but the prayer of a prophet, divinely inspired at this very time for this purpose. And yet it intimates to us the prevalency of prayer in general, and may mind us of that honour put upon prayer, concerning the work of my hands command you me.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:/
Joshua 10:12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
Ver. 12. Then spake Joshua to the Lord.] He first prayed, and then laid his commands on sun and moon to stand still, and not stir, till he had achieved a full victory, Hereupon one crieth out, O admirabilem piarum precum vim ac potentiam quibus etiam caelestia cedunt! O fidem heroicam, cuius virtutem ipsa astra sentiunt! quos non hostes terreret, feriret, fugaret illa manus quae victoriae suae trophaea etiam in ipsis caeli orbibus figit? O the power of prayer! O the force of faith! How could that hand do less than confound his enemies, which had set trophies of victory in the very celestial orbs?
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:/
Joshua spake to the Lord, to wit, in way of petition for this miracle; being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God’s enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God’s Spirit; and receiving a gracious answer, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that they might be witnesses of it.
In the sight of Israel, i.e. in the presence and audience of Israel; seeing being sometimes put for hearing, as Genesis 42:1, compared with Acts 7:12; although these words may seem rather to be joined with the following, thus,
In the sight of Israel stand still, O sun, & c., which sense the Hebrew accents favour.
Upon Gibeon, i.e. over and above or against Gibeon, i.e. in that place and posture in which now it stands towards and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem that the sun was declining; and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, and keep the place in which they now were.
In the valley, or, upon the valley; as before, upon Gibeon; the preposition being the same there and here.
1. That Ajalon which was in the tribe of Zebulun, Jude 12:12 northward from Gibeon. Or rather,
2. That Ajalon which was in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:42 Jude 1:35, westward from Gibeon, For,
1. This was nearer Gibeon than the other.
2. This was most agreeable to the course of the sun and moon, which is from east to west.
3. This way the battle went, from Gibeon westward to Ajalon, and so further westward, even to Lachish, Joshua 10:31. And he mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one, and the moon over the other, which is absurd and ridiculous to affirm, especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help and benefit of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon’s light when he had the sun’s, but because it was fit, either that both the sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still, to prevent disorder and confusion in the heavenly bodies.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:/
12.Then spake Joshua to the Lord — What Joshua said to the Lord we do not know, unless we are to construe the command to the sun and moon as Joshua’s prayer, “O Lord, let the sun stand still.” But it is more probable that the great captain, standing on the mountain summit, and seeing his fugitive enemies hastening for their lives far down in the valley below, ejaculated a prayer to Jehovah for supernatural aid, and that he was, in answer to prayer, suddenly endowed with the gift of faith to believe that the laws of the universe would be suspended at his command. The difference between the grace of faith and the gift of faith is this: The trust which Joshua reposed in God’s promise at Gilgal, Joshua 10:8, was an exercise of the grace of faith, which has a moral character, inasmuch as its opposite, a disbelief of God’s word, would have been sin; while the gift of faith is an extraordinary endowment, enabling the possessor to ask for things for which he has no specific promise, the non-exercise of which faith would not be sinful, inasmuch as it does not discredit God’s word. The Lord had never promised to arrest the sun in answer to Joshua’s command. Hence it would have been the highest presumption for Joshua to command a thing so extraordinary on the ground of God’s general promises. But being endowed with this miraculous gift of faith, the act of Joshua in giving orders to the sun and moon to halt in their march through the heavens — given, doubtless, in the name of Jehovah — becomes perfectly proper.
He said in the sight of Israel — That is, in their presence, or in sight of the army. This was done in their presence, in order that they might know to what cause to attribute so remarkable an occurrence, and might glorify God, who had given such power to a man. They could afterward attest to their children the truth of an event of which they had been eye-witnesses.
Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon — [Joshua 10:12 and the first part of Joshua 10:13 may be thus poetically rendered:
Then spake Joshua to Jehovah.
In the day of Jehovah’s giving the Amorite
In the presence of the sons of Israel;
And he said in the eyes of Israel:
Sun, in Gibeon be still,
And moon, in the valley of Aijalon.
Then still was the sun,
And the moon stood,
Until a nation should take vengeance on its enemies.]
Various have been the theories devised to explain the manner of this stupendous miracle. Some assert that the passage is merely a poetical interpolation to adorn the narrative and heighten its effect. They allege that it is never quoted in the catalogues of Old Testament miracles. To this we reply, that, as we never find any exhaustive catalogues of those miracles, the omission of this proves nothing. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews omits the striking and unquestioned miracle of the passage of the Jordan. See Hebrews 11:29-30. Others explain this miracle as merely a poetical statement of the fact that the Israelites, in answer to Joshua’s prayer, were endowed with power to do two days’ work in one; a theory too absurd to call for sober refutation. There are others who insist that the earth’s motion on its axis was actually arrested, causing a cessation of the apparent diurnal revolution of the sun and moon. Our objection to this theory is, that it involves several secret miracles. A sudden check in the velocity of rotation of the earth on its axis would violently throw down objects on its surface, especially near the equator. If a resisting force were gradually applied, like a brake to a car-wheel, Prof. Mitchell has ascertained that “in forty seconds the motion might cease entirely, and the change would not be sensible to the inhabitants of the earth, except from the appearance of the heavens.” But this would require a direct interposition of a secret miracle to keep the ocean, which is sustained at a higher level in the equatorial regions by the centrifugal force, from flowing toward the poles, and from submerging much of the continents, and to keep the Mediterranean Sea from dashing over Palestine. Again: By the recent discovery of the correlation of forces it has been demonstrated that a force requisite to arrest the revolution of the earth must convert momentum into heat equal to that generated by the burning of a mass of anthracite coal fourteen times as large as the globe itself. Another secret miracle would be required to prevent this universal conflagration. But secret miracles, so far as we know, have no place in the divine system, since they cannot authenticate a revelation, or demonstrate to man the interposition of God’s hand in the course of nature. We, therefore, with a large number of commentators and Christian philosophers, adopt the theory that the standing still of the sun and moon was optical, and not literal — that we have a description of phenomena as presented to the eyes of the spectators. The language of the Scriptures is evidently popular, and not scientific; as when they speak of the earth as standing still and the sun as rising and setting. By the supernatural refraction, or bending of the rays of light, the sun and moon might maintain a stationary appearance for several hours. Even by natural refraction we daily see the sun before he has risen above, and after he has gone below, the horizon. The miraculous receding of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz (2 Kings 20:11; Isaiah 38:8) was probably caused by a similar supernatural refraction of the sun’s rays. This explanation of these astronomical miracles involves the principle which is found in nearly all miracles, namely, the intensifying of some natural agency rather than the violation of any natural laws. As in the case of the widow’s cruse and the feeding of the multitudes, new oil and new loaves were not created, but that which was in existence was multiplied, so do we believe that instead of a new and strange force brought to bear on nature the natural law of refraction was intensified in both of these miracles.
There is no astronomical difficulty in the statement of the positions of the sun and the moon at that time. To Joshua, standing at Upper Beth-horon, the direction of Gibeon was southeast, which would also be the direction of the sun in the early part of the day, at which time the moon might have been in the southwest, above the valley of Aijalon, approaching its setting. See map of the scene of the battle, page 74. To the question why Joshua should ask for the day to be lengthened while more than half the day was still unspent, we reply that the account does not say that he asked for such a miracle. He “spake to the Lord.” We are left to supply the subject-matter of his prayer, which would most naturally be for aid to annihilate God’s foes. He receives no answer, but is suddenly endowed with the gift of faith that at his command to the sun and moon God will work an unheard-of miracle, for the demonstration of his sovereignty over physical law, and of his interest in his people.
It is quite probable that the sun and the moon, the gods of so many pagan nations, were the divinities of the Canaanites, to whom they were then appealing for aid against the victorious Hebrews. If this be true, there is a peculiar appropriateness in this miracle, strikingly demonstrating to both armies the superiority of the God of Joshua.
The absence of any account of this miracle in the annals of other nations should have little weight with us, since the records of nearly all the contemporaneous nations have perished, and none of them have histories containing complete accounts of that early period.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:/
Joshua 10:12. Then spake Joshua — Being moved so to do out of zeal to destroy God’s enemies, and directed by the motion of God’s Spirit, and being filled with a holy confidence, that what he said would be accomplished. And he spake it in the sight — That is, in the presence and audience; of all Israel — That they might be witnesses of the fact. Sun, stand thou still — Joshua does not speak according to the terms of modern astronomy, which it would have been highly improper for him to have done, as he would not have been understood by the people that heard him, but according to the appearance of things. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, the moon was over the valley of Ajalon, which we may suppose to be situated in a different direction; and there, in the name of God, he commanded them to continue to appear, which they did for a whole day — That is, either for the space of twelve hours, or for the time of one whole diurnal revolution. “Nothing,” we may observe in the words of Dr. Dodd, “is more common in Scripture than to express things, not according to the strict rules of philosophy, but according to their appearance, and the vulgar apprehension concerning them. For instance, Moses calls the sun and moon two great lights; but however this appellation may agree with the sun, it cannot in the same sense signify the moon, which is now well known to be but a small body, and the least of all the planets, and to have no light at all but what it borrows by a reflection of the rays of the sun; appearing to us larger than the other planets, merely because it is placed nearer to us. From this appearance it is that the Holy Scriptures give it the title of a great light. In like manner, because the sun seems to us to move, and the earth to be at rest, the Scriptures represent the latter as placed on pillars, bases, and foundations, compare the former to a bridegroom issuing from his chamber, and rejoicing as a giant, to run his course, and speak of his arising and going down, and hastening to the place from whence he arose, &c., when it is certain, that if the sun were made to revolve round the earth, the general laws of nature would thereby be violated, the harmony and proportion of the heavenly bodies destroyed, and the economy of the universe thrown into confusion and disorder. The general design of God, when he inspired the sacred writers, having been to form mankind to holiness and virtue, not to make them philosophers, it no way derogates from the respect due to the Holy Spirit, or from the consideration which the writings of those holy men merit, whose pens he directed, to suppose that, in order to accommodate themselves to the capacity, the notions, and language of the vulgar, they have purposely spoken of the phenomena of nature in terms most conformable to the testimony of the senses.” Add to this, those who are best informed in, and most assured of, the system of modern astronomy, and therefore well know that the succession of day and night is not caused by any motion of the sun and moon, but by the rotation of the earth upon its own axis; yet continually speak of the rising and setting, ascending and declining of the sun and moon, according as they appear to our senses to do. Indeed, if they spoke otherwise they would not be understood by people in general.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:/
Them. This may be considered as a canticle of victory, containing a fervent prayer, which was presently followed with the desired effect. --- Aialon. Hebrew, "Sun, in Gabaon, be silent; (moved not) and thou, moon, in the valley of Aialon," or "of the wood," which was probably not far from Gabaon. Josue had pursued the enemy at mid-day, to the west of that city, when turning round, he addressed this wonderful command to the sun. It is supposed that the moon appeared at the same time. But the meaning may only be, that the sun and the course of the stars should be interrupted for a time. (Calmet) --- The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation, Hebrews iii. 11. (Menochius) --- Many have called in question this miracle, with Maimonides, or have devised various means to explain it away, by having recourse to a parhelion or reflection of the sun by a cloud, or to a light which was reverberated by the mountains, after the sun was set, &c. (Prœdam iv. 6.; Spinosa; Grotius; Le Clerc) --- But if these authors believe the Scriptures, they may spare themselves the trouble of devising such improbable explanations, as this fact is constantly represented as a most striking miracle. If St. Paul (Hebrews xi. 30,) make no mention of it, he did not engage to specify every miracle that had occurred. He does not so much as mention Josue, nor the passage of the Jordan, &c., so that it is a matter of surprise that Grotius should adduce this negative argument, to disprove the reality of the miracle. (Calmet) --- The pretended impossibility of it, or the inconvenience arising to the fatigued soldiers from the long continuance of the day, will make but small impression upon those who consider, that God was the chief agent; and that he who made all out of nothing, might easily stop the whole machinery of the world for a time, and afterwards put it in motion again, without causing any derangement in the different parts. (Calmet) --- It is not material whether the sun turn round the earth, or the contrary. (Haydock) --- The Hebrews generally supposed that the earth was immovable; and on this idea Josue addresses the sun. Philosophers have devised various intricate systems: but the Scripture is expressed in words suitable to the conceptions of the people. The exterior effect would be the same, whether the sun or the earth stood still. Pagan authors have not mentioned this miracle, because none of the works of that age have come down to us. We find, however, that they acknowledged a power in magic capable of effecting such a change. Cessavere vices rerum dilataque longa,
Hæsit nocte dies: legi non paruit æther,
Torpuit & præceps audito carmine mundus. (Lucan, Phars. vi.)
See Homer, Odyssey xii. 382., and xxiii. 242.
This miracle would not render Josue superior to Moses, as some have argued. For all miracles are equally impossible to man, and equally easy to God: the greatness of a miracle is ot a proof of greater sanctity. (Calmet) --- Aialon lay to the south-west of Gabaon. (Haydock) --- Josue ordered the moon to stop, as a necessary consequence of the sun's standing still. God condescended to grant his request. (Worthington)
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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:/
Israel. Here the Septuagint supplies the words omitted by Homoeoteleuton (App-6) of the word "Israel, [when He destroyed them in Gibeon, and they were destroyed before the sons of] Israel".
Sun = the sun itself, because of what is said in the next verse.
stand thou still. Habakkuk 3:11. This is not the only miracle in connection with the sun. See shadow going back (2 Kings 20:11;. Isaiah 38:8). Going down at noon (Amos 8:9). No more going down (Isaiah 60:20), Darkened (Isaiah 13:10. Ezekiel 32:7. Joel 2:10, Joel 2:31; Joel 3:13. Matthew 24:29. Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:12; Revelation 9:2; Revelation 16:8). Miracle to be again performed (Luke 23:44, Luke 23:45). His motion described (Psalms 19:4-6).
upon = in, as in next line.
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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:/
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
Then spake Joshua to the Lord ... Sun, stand thou still.... and thou, Moon - literally, 'Sun upon Gibeon,
be still (remain), and the moon in the vale of Ajalon.' The language which Joshua addressed to the Lord was evidently a prayer that the day might not close until he should have completely overthrown his enemies; and it was most natural in the circumstances that such should have been the fervent wish of his heart; because it would appear that at the time when the ejaculation was uttered, the day was far advanced.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:/
- Joshua doubtless acted, on this occasion, by an immediate impulse upon his mind from the Spirit of God. The terms here employed to record the miracle, agree with the accustomed manner in which the the motions of the earth and sun are described in our own day. The sun apparently moves, but really is stationary; while the diurnal movement of the earth on its axis is by us unnoticed, and would not have been known except by astronomical science. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Ajalon, and there they stayed in their course for "a whole day." Many vain enquiries have been made concerning the way in which this miracle was wrought, and many difficulties and objections have been urged against understanding it literally. But the fact is authenticated by the Divine testimony; and the manner in which it was accomplished lies entirely out of our province, because beyond our comprehension.
- 13; Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3; Job 9:7; 31:26,27; Psalms 19:4; 74:16; 148:3; Isaiah 28:21; 38:8; 60:20; Amos 8:9; Habakkuk 3:11
- stand thou
- Heb. be silent.
- Habakkuk 2:20; *marg:; Zechariah 2:13
- 19:42; Judges 12:12
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:/
12.Then spoke Joshua to the Lord, etc Such is the literal reading, but some expound it as meaning before Jehovah: for to speak to God, who, as piety dictates, is to be suppliantly petitioned, seems to be little in accordance with the modesty of faith, and it is immediately subjoined that Joshua addressed his words to the sun. I have no doubt that by the former clause prayer or vow is denoted, and that the latter is an expression of confidence after he was heard: for to command the sun to stand if he had not previously obtained permission, would have been presumptuous and arrogant. He first, then, consults God and asks: having forthwith obtained an answer, he boldly commands the sun to do what he knows is pleasing to God.
And such is the power and privilege of the faith which Christ inspires, (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6) that mountains and seas are removed at its command. The more the godly feel their own emptiness, the more liberally does God transfer his power to them, and when faith is annexed to the word, he in it demonstrates his own power. In short, faith borrows the confidence of command from the word on which it is founded. Thus Elias, by the command of God, shut and opened the heaven, and brought down fire from it; thus Christ furnished his disciples with heavenly power to make the elements subject to them.
Caution, however, must be used, lest any one may at his own hand presume to give forth rash commands. Joshua did not attempt to delay and check the course of the sun before he was well instructed as to the purpose of God. And although, when he is said to have spoken with God, the words do not sufficiently express the modesty and submission which become the servant of God in giving utterance to his prayers, let it suffice us briefly to understand as implied, that Joshua besought God to grant what he desired, and on obtaining his request, became the free and magnanimous herald of an incredible miracle unlike any that had previously taken place. He never would have ventured in the presence of all to command the sun so confidently, if he had not been thoroughly conscious of his vocation. Had it been otherwise, he would have exposed himself to a base and shameful affront. When, without hesitation, he opens his mouth and tells the sun and the moon to deviate from the perpetual law of nature, it is just as if he had adjured them by the boundless power of God with which he was invested. Here, too, the Lord gives a bright display of his singular favor toward his Church. As in kindness to the human race he divides the day from the night by the daily course of the sun, and constantly whirls the immense orb with indefatigable swiftness, so he was pleased that it should halt for a short time till the enemies of Israel were destroyed. (94)
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 10:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:/
the Third Week after Epiphany