New Defender's Study Bible Notes
10:12 stand thou still. Next came the most amazing miracle of all, the stopping of the sun “in the midst of heaven” (presumably at mid-day) along with the simultaneous stopping of the moon in its own orbit about the earth. Since the earth rotates on its axis, the sun could only be made to “stand still” relative to earth by stopping the earth’s rotation.
This amazing event could hardly have been a miraculous change in atmospheric refraction of the sun’s rays (as some have suggested) nor supernatural strength imparted to the Israelites, so that it only seemed like a longer day (as others have supposed). Neither would account for either the concurrent hailstones or the halting of the moon. A gradual deceleration of the earth to a stop, then later a gradual acceleration again to its normal speed would not produce any necessary tectonic disturbances in the earth’s crust or any displacement of objects on its surface. It would, however, generate profound atmospheric disturbances, since the normal circulation of the atmosphere is tied in closely with the earth’s rotation. It might even generate volcanic activity, since the earth’s interior magma circulation may also be influenced to some degree by its rotation. Thus a stopping of the planetary rotation and simultaneous stopping of the lunar revolution is the sole explanation satisfying all the descriptors of the event. The entire phenomenon (deceleration, stones from heaven, hailstones, acceleration, etc.) occupied “about a whole day,” so this long day was about twice the length of a normal day. This was surely a unique miracle, but not beyond the capabilities of the Creator of the sun and moon and planets. He started their motions, has maintained them through the ages, and is able to change them at will.
10:13 their enemies. The Amorite horde, though decimated, could still have escaped down the mountains, particularly as the day wore on into night. But God had commanded their complete destruction. Thus the long day enabled the Israelites to finish the job. These people (whose iniquity was “not yet full” in Abraham’s time) were now irreclaimably evil, and God miraculously aided in their elimination.
10:13 book of Jasher. The original book of Jasher, to which Joshua could appeal for corroboration of this amazing miracle, has been lost. There still exists a book of the same name, purporting to be a copy of the original, but this copy was probably written much later than the original. The other Biblical mention of the book of Jasher is in reference to the lament of David over the death of Saul and Jonathan (II Samuel 1:18). Therefore, the original book of Jasher must have been compiled sometime after the time of David. This reference in Joshua was most likely inserted by a scribe of this later period. In any case, the great miracle was clearly known and believed in these ancient times.
10:13 sun stood still. One trivial objection to the long day account is that the writer made a scientific mistake when he said that the sun stood still. The sun does not move, it is argued, so Joshua should have told the earth to stand still. The sun does move, however, and so does every star, planet and satellite in the universe, so far as known. Scientifically, every motion must therefore actually be expressed as relative motion, using some arbitrarily assumed reference point of zero motion. The latter is normally chosen for maximum convenience and simplicity of calculations. As far as relative motion of the sun and the earth is concerned, the optimum method normally is to define the point of the observer as the point of zero motion. Thus the most scientific approach is (as in the Bible) to assume that the sun moves relative to the earth.
10:14 no day like that. This day was unique in history, and the main evidence that it really happened is the historical record–not only as recorded in the Bible and the (probably) lost book of Jasher–but in the legends and traditions of all parts of the world. Such legends of a long day are found in Greece, Egypt and other ancient nations; legends of a long night are found among the American Indians, South Sea islanders and others in the Western Hemisphere. Reports that a “missing day” turned up in a space program computer analysis of ancient chronology, however, are false. This report seems to have been a modern interpretation of a later nineteenth century astronomical calculation by followers of the British-Israel belief. This calculation had been based on an arbitrary premise concerning the specific date of creation, a necessary starting point for any such attempted calculation.