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The Lost Day

Gregory Matthews

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Thank  you Gregory. I believe in the miracle that Joshua 10 recounts; but the Hebrew words could be understood as EITHER the sun did not move that day, BUT the Hebrew can also understood as the sun was silent that day, having been blocked out by thick storm clouds producing very large hail stones a size that would require clouds so thick that it would be as dark as night.  To be fair to the Bible we need to be aware of both possibilities. It is tradition that limits our understanding of Joshua 10 to the sun not moving.

I believe that as we study the geography of the battlefield, and where the sun stood "still" and where the moon stood fast that we can get a good understanding of which way we should understand the miracle; but once again, when we deal with the words themselves they can be understood either way. 

One of the first questions we Seventh-day Adventists should ask is: If we want the sun to have not moved that day, then what does it do to the Sabbath? Also, second, there is a true and false health message. The true health message is teaching that health comes from cooperation with God's laws, including the laws of health. The false health message is what many of the so called (and will become more prevalent and supernatural as we get closer to the end) "faith healers" use where God arbitrarily  makes you sick and will heal you when the faith healer calls for healing no matter how much you smoke or what other garbage we put into our body.  Of the two possible understandings of the Hebrew words, which one sounds more in harmony with our understanding of God's law and the principles behind our health message.

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I got to study this chapter on the very battlefield that Joshua was on. While it has become a tradition that the sun was shining all day, this is NOT the only way to understand the text. The Hebrew words can be understood two ways (I'm not a linguist, but our professor said that he likes teaching this to his Hebrew speaking Israeli students because when pointed out, they can clearly read the text and see what has been sitting there the whole time.) Then besides the two possible understandings of the text; the geography gives powerful insights, as well as the theological implications of the miracle. 


What about the Hebrew words of the text?


First, the Hebrew word often translated as "still" the word "still" makes an excellent translation. If you were with a child and told the child to be still, you could mean "Don't move" and/OR "Be Quiet!" The term for the moon clearly means don't move and often this word has been the reason why the text has been understood of the sun not moving. However, over the years and in archaeological discoveries, the term for the moon has always been a military command to hold your ground and do not retreat from an oncoming army's charge. Then we have the text from the book of Jashar which is often translated as the sun stopping in the middle of the sky and hastened not to go down for about a day. Now, having the sun stop in the middle of the sky contradicts verse 12. But again there is an alternative reading of this text. In the thought and language of the ancient near east, and is in the Bible in Psalm 19, the sun is pictured as starting a dash like in a race to the finishing line (going down). And the text could be understood as the sun getting ready for it's dash, but then interrupted in the middle of getting ready to run the race: the picture of "On your mark, get set HOLD IT"  ant it was not until the next morning that the daily dash was commenced. 


Thus the Hebrew gives us two possible understandings, either the traditional sun shining all night, or that the sun was quiet and did not shine on the battlefield that day, Can we learn anything from the geography and theologically, both the culture as well as other Bible passages that supports one reading of the other?


Geography evidence

Joshua said: 

Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
    and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
 So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,


Gibeon was on the top of the hill on the EASTERN horizon. It was the dawning glimmers of the sun that was told to stand still (don't move or be quiet). And the valley of Aijalon was in the west where the the moon was told to hold it's ground and do not retreat from an oncoming enemy assault. If Joshua wanted the sun to shine all night, why did he ask for the early morning rays of dawn to be still? Why the moon getting ready to set on the western horizon get the command to hold it's ground and fend off an oncoming army's assault?


Besides the two horizons, the ground was very uneven. Joshua and the Hebrews marched all night, and arrived as the enemy was preparing by campfire to begin the assault on Gibeon as soon as it was light. Joshua and the Hebrews eyes had become adjusted to the dark. As they arrived they just needed to shoot arrows towards the campfires and they will hit someone. Due to the uneven ground, as the armies fled before Joshua, they needed to carry torches to navigate the uneven ground, and the old road has several places of steps and not just flat. The Hebrews could see the uneven areas both from their eyes being more use to the dark and by seeing from the torch light of the enemy. And of course, they just had to shoot arrows towards the torches. As the sun came up, the enemy no longer needed their torches, they could turn and see the Hebrews and the battlefield would have become equal and no longer give Joshua the advantage. 


Theological considerations 


We find the story beginning with two different conversions. The Gibeonites, had just changed from worshiping the false god Baal and turned to the God of Israel. Adoni-Zedek's name is very similar to another king of Salem/Jerusalem, Melchinzedek. This could indicate that Adoni-Zedek was a descendent of the faithful Melchinzedek but some where along the line the family turned from worshiping the true God to worshiping the false god Baal. Thus we have indication of two changes in religion. It was this apostate Adoni-Zedek who gathered other city states to come and punish the Gibeonites for their apostasy against Baal.

The Gibeonites, Adoni-Zedek, and the others would have understood a sudden storm as the god Baal showing up. Adoni-Zedek and the others would have seen the storm as Baal coming to their rescue, to punish the Gibeonites for their apostasy, and to destroy these horrible Israelites. But surprise, Baal is not supporting his followers and getting revenge on his apostate Gibeonites, and the Israelites. Instead Baal shows the Gibeonites and Adoni-Zedek and the others that he, Baal, is simply a servant of Israel's God YAHWEH, and he totally approves of the Gibeonites turning from worshiping him and worshiping his master instead. Baal is recommending that Adoni-Zedek and the other attackers to follow the Gibeonites example and to stop worshiping him and to start worshiping his boss, the God of Israel, the God that the Gibeonites turned to and who Adoni-Zedek has turned away from . We miss all of this in our traditional reading.

There is evidence that some of the events in Joshua are telescoped together *. The name Adoni-Zedek is similar, very similar to another King of Salem, maybe his ancestor. In Joshua 10:23 the name "Adoni-Zedek" disappears and only the words ?King of Jerusalem? could this event from the storm have caused Adoni-Zedek to repent from worshiping Baal and return to the God of his Father, and that it is another king of Jerusalem who dies in Joshua 10:23? We don't know, but our traditional reading does not even allow us to ask this question. We won't know until heaven this detail. But even if Adoni-Zedek did not repent, how many of the soldiers who came to attack Gibeon understood this message and changed their allegiance to the God of Israel?


If God wanted to he would have had no problem in performing all the miracles to have the sun shine in the sky all day and all night, but that would only be showing off. God is not a show off. He was helping Joshua keep his battlefield advantage, and he was letting the Gibeonites know that they made the right choice turning to YAHWEH, and that they did not need to worry about Baal coming for revenge, and he was encouraging Adoni-Zedek to return to the God of his father Melchinzedek, and encouraging all the kings and their troops to follow the lead of the Gibeonites and stop worshiping Baal and start worshiping Yahweh. (Can you imagine the joy that we will see in Melchinzedek's face if this did win Adoni-Zedek over? Even if this did not work, Can you imagine the sadness in Melchinzedek's face if he realized God didn't even try to win his descendant, since God only wanted to show off?)



Other Biblical Evidence


Many of Jesus' miracles are based on Old Testament miracles, either repeating them at the same geographic locations, or similar situations, or even doing the opposite. Joshua 10:14 says: There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being [in a sudden change in the weather].


We need to say " not so fast Deuteronomic Historian, we find that the text is open towards, and that the geography and culture indicates that it was a beautiful morning when suddenly the sky became black with clouds making huge hailstones, and to make hailstones that size the sky would indeed be as dark as night. Thus an instant change from a beautiful morning, on land, where Joshua told the sun to be still which suddenly changed into a stormy day; so we find Jesus one stormy night on the sea told the storm to be still and the storm suddenly stopped. Joshua stormed the beautiful day, and Jesus stilled a storm. And we find Joshua 10:14 reflected in Matthew 8: 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!


By the way, it is interesting that when Mrs. White refers to Joshua 10 she simply says "Joshua saw that the day was not long enough for the battle" quotes the text then instead of using beautiful flowing language to describe the sun shining in the sky, she uses the beautiful flowing language to describe the sudden hail storm


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