Joshua 10:13
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the middle of heaven, and hurried not to go down about a whole day.
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(13) And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed.—Literally, the sun was silent, and the moon stopped.

The sun stood still (i.e., stopped) in the midst of heaven.—Literally, in the half of the heavensi.e., either “in the midst of heaven,” or “in the same hemisphere” (in the one-half of the heavens).

And hasted not to go down (or to go in) about a whole day.—The word cannot mean to rise, or ascend, and thus these words absolutely exclude the view that what Joshua desired was to prevent the sun from rising, in order to complete a night attack upon the Amorites.

Joshua 10:13. And the sun stood still — God heard Joshua’s request, and gave him the thing he asked for, a prolongation of the day to near twice the length of any other day. This is the fact here attested, and this we are bound to believe on the divine testimony. But as to the manner in which this wonderful miracle was accomplished, God has not informed us; and to make inquiries concerning it would be a mere waste of time, being beyond our discovery and comprehension. Until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies — That is, till they had utterly destroyed them. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? — This book was written and made public before Joshua wrote his history, and is therefore properly alluded to here. It was probably a collection of records, or of poems, concerning the principal events of these wars, and no doubt gave a further account of this miracle. But this and some other books of these ages have long been lost, not being canonical, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care wherewith they guarded their inspired writings. If it seem strange to any one that so wonderful an event as is here recorded should not be mentioned by any heathen writers, it may be answered, 1st, That many learned men have shown that there is a great appearance of its being alluded to in many of the fables of the heathen poets, and mythologists of Greece and Rome, and in the histories of the Chinese. But whether or not, it must be observed, 2d, That it is confessed by the generality of writers, heathen and others, that there is no certain history or monument in heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which happened a thousand years after Joshua’s time, and that all the ages preceding that war are termed, by the most learned heathen, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time.10:7-14 The meanest and most feeble, who have just begun to trust the Lord, are as much entitled to be protected as those who have long and faithfully been his servants. It is our duty to defend the afflicted, who, like the Gibeonites, are brought into trouble on our account, or for the sake of the gospel. Joshua would not forsake his new vassals. How much less shall our true Joshua fail those who trust in Him! We may be wanting in our trust, but our trust never can want success. Yet God's promises are not to slacken and do away, but to quicken and encourage our endeavours. Notice the great faith of Joshua, and the power of God answering it by the miraculous staying of the sun, that the day of Israel's victories might be made longer. Joshua acted on this occasion by impulse on his mind from the Spirit of God. It was not necessary that Joshua should speak, or the miracle be recorded, according to the modern terms of astronomy. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Ajalon, and there they appeared to be stopped on their course for one whole day. Is any thing too hard for the Lord? forms a sufficient answer to ten thousand difficulties, which objectors have in every age started against the truth of God as revealed in his written word. Proclamation was hereby made to the neighbouring nations, Behold the works of the Lord, and say, What nation is there so great as Israel, who has God so nigh unto them?Book of Jasher - i. e. as margin, "of the upright" or "righteous," a poetical appellation of the covenant-people (compare "Jeshurun" in Deuteronomy 32:15, and note; and compare Numbers 23:10, Numbers 23:21; Psalm 111:1). This book was probably a collection of national odes celebrating the heroes of the theocracy and their achievements, and is referred to again (marginal reference) as containing the dirge composed by David over Saul and Jonathan.

About a whole day - i. e. about twelve hours; the average space between sunrise and sunset.

Jos 10:12-15. The Sun and Moon Stand Still at the Word of Joshua.

12-15. Then spake Joshua to the Lord … and … he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still … and thou, Moon—The inspired author here breaks off the thread of his history of this miraculous victory to introduce a quotation from an ancient poem, in which the mighty acts of that day were commemorated. The passage, which is parenthetical, contains a poetical description of the victory which was miraculously gained by the help of God, and forms an extract from "the book of Jasher," that is, "the upright"—an anthology, or collection of national songs, in honor of renowned and eminently pious heroes. The language of a poem is not to be literally interpreted; and therefore, when the sun and moon are personified, addressed as intelligent beings, and represented as standing still, the explanation is that the light of the sun and moon was supernaturally prolonged by the same laws of refraction and reflection that ordinarily cause the sun to appear above the horizon, when it is in reality below it [Keil, Bush]. Gibeon ("a hill") was now at the back of the Israelites, and the height would soon have intercepted the rays of the setting sun. The valley of Ajalon ("stags") was before them, and so near that it was sometimes called "the valley of Gibeon" (Isa 28:21). It would seem, from Jos 10:14, that the command of Joshua was in reality a prayer to God for the performance of this miracle; and that, although the prayers of eminently good men like Moses often prevailed with God, never was there on any other occasion so astonishing a display of divine power made in behalf of His people, as in answer to the prayer of Joshua. Jos 10:15 is the end of the quotation from Jasher; and it is necessary to notice this, as the fact described in it is recorded in due course, and the same words, by the sacred historian (Jos 10:43).

Stood still, Heb. was silent, i.e. still, as this phrase is commonly used, as 1 Samuel 14:9 Psalm 4:4 Jonah 1:12; the cessation of the tongue’s motion being put synecdochically for the cessation of any other motion or action.

Until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies, i.e. till they had utterly destroyed them, as is mentioned in the following chapter.

The book of Jasher; either of a man so called, or of the righteous or upright, wherein possibly the memorable actions of worthy men were recorded, and this amongst the rest. And this book was written and published before Joshua wrote his, and so is fitly alleged here. But this, as well as some few other historical books, is lost, not being a canonical book, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care as they were.

So the sun stood still: here is no mention of the moon, because the sun’s standing was the only thing which Joshua desired and needed; and the moon’s standing he desired only by accident, to prevent irregularity in the motions of those celestial lights. Some take this to be but a poetical phrase and relation of the victory, that Joshua did so many and such great things in that day, as if the sun and moon had stood still and given him longer time for it. But the frequent repetition and magnificent declaration of this wonder manifestly confutes that fancy. That the sun and moon did really stand still, is affirmed, Habakkuk 3:11; /APC Sir 46:5,6. And if it seem strange to any one that so wonderful a work, observed by the whole world that then was, should not be mentioned in any heathen writers; he must needs be satisfied, if he, considers, that it is confessed by the generality of writers, heathens and others, that there is no certain history or monument in heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan wars, which was a thousand years after Joshua’s time; and that all time before that is called by the learnedest heathens the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time. In the midst of heaven; not mathematically, in the very meridian or middle part of that hemisphere; but morally, and with some latitude, when it had begun a little to decline, the consideration whereof seems to have given Joshua occasion for his desire.

About a whole day, i.e. for the space of a whole day. Understand an artificial day, between sun-rising and sun-setting; for that was the day which Joshua needed and desired, a day to give him light for his work. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,.... The sun that came out of his chamber like a bridegroom, and rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, stopped his course at once; and the moon that walks in her brightness proceeded not on, but both stood still, motionless, and continued in this position:

until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies: until the nation and people of Israel had taken vengeance on and destroyed the live kings and their forces: how this is to be reconciled to the Copernican system, or that with this, I shall not inquire. It was a most wonderful and surprising phenomenon, to see both luminaries standing still in the midst of heaven; it is pretended by some historians (f), that a like miracle was wrought at the battle of Mulberg, won by the Emperor Charles the Fifth, on April 24, 1547. In the Chinese history (g) it is reported, that in the time of their seventh, emperor, Yao, the sun did not set for ten days, and that men were afraid the world would be burnt, and there were great fires at that time; and though the time of the sun's standing still is enlarged beyond the bounds of truth, yet it seems to refer to this fact, and was manifestly about the same time; for this miracle was wrought in the year of the world 2554, which fell in the seventy fifth, or, as some say, the sixty seventh year of that emperor's reign, who reigned ninety years:

is not this written in the book of Jasher? about which the Jews are divided; some say it is the book of Genesis, others the book of Deuteronomy, others the book of Judges (h); the Targum interprets it of the book of the law, and so Jarchi and Kimchi; and Ben Melech interprets it of the book of the law of Moses, where they suppose this miracle was predicted. The former thinks, in the words of Jacob to Joseph, "his seed shall fill the nations", Genesis 48:19; which he supposes was fulfilled in Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim, when the whole world was filled with the fame of him on account of this miracle; and the latter in the words, "before all thy people I will do miracles", Exodus 34:10; one was in making the face of Moses to shine, the other the standing still of the sun for Joshua, as he interprets it. Bolducius, a commentator on the book of Job (i), fancies that that book is designed, and that this miracle is foretold in it, particularly in Job 9:7; "which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not"; it is most likely that this book of Jasher, in which this miracle was recorded, was a public register, or annals, in which memorable events were written, as they happened in different ages by different persons; and Masius thinks Josephus (k) means this by the archives laid up in the temple, to which he appeals for the truth of this miracle:

so the sun stood still in the midst of heaven; somewhere above the horizon, very probably this was about noon, when the sun was in its meridian. Gussetius (l) thinks about ten or eleven o'clock; it may be supposed that early in the morning Joshua came up with his troops, and engaged the kings, and it might be noon before the battle was over, and the victory obtained, at least before Joshua had proceeded in his pursuit of them, so far as he had done, when the miracle was wrought; and the rather, as it would be the more conspicuous in the several parts of the world; for had it been near sun setting, it could not have been seen in some places, and particularly by the Chinese, as it seems to have been by what has been observed:

and hasted not to go down about a whole day; which was either artificial or natural; if an artificial day, then it stood still but twelve hours; if a natural day, twenty four hours; and accordingly the length of the day must be judged of; if it was at noon when it stood still, and continued so a natural day, or twenty four hours, then as it had gone six hours to noon, and, after it returned to its motion, had six more to go to its setting, this day must be thirty six hours long; and so the Jews commonly say (m); but if an artificial day, or twelve hours, then it was but a day of twenty four hours; but if this was, as the Jews say (n), on the third of Tammuz, which answers to part of June, and was in the summer solstice, on the longest day in the year, when their days consisted of fourteen hours, this will make this long day four hours longer. According to the author of Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha:"Did not the sun go back by his means? and was not one day as long as two?'' (Sirach 46:4)it was a double day, or, as he expresses it, one day became two, or was as long as two. (In the late 1960's, someone circulated a story that NASA had discovered there was a missing day in the solar system. Using this passage they accounted for about twenty one missing hours and the account in Isaiah 38:8 to account for the rest of the missing time. This story is a complete fable and has absolutely no basis in fact. Editor.)

(f) See Bayle's Dictionary, vol. 4. p. 268. (g) Martin. Sinie. Histor. l. 1. p. 25. (h) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 35. 1.((i) Bolduc. in Job. ix. 7. (k) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 17. (l) Comment. Ebr. p. 281. (m) Targum in Cant. i. 1. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1. Kimchi in loc. So Justin Martyr. Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 361. (n) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31. Kimchi in loc.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of {e} Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

(e) Some read, the book of the righteous, meaning Moses: the Chaldea text reads, in the book of the Law, but it is likely that it was a book thus named, which is now lost.

13. And the sun stood still] God hearkened to the voice of Joshua. Once more the sunlight burst forth, and the day was miraculously protracted till the end was gained. For expressions similar to those here used compare what is said in Jdg 5:20, of the stars “fighting (not in but out of) their courses against Sisera;” in Isaiah 34:3; Amos 9:13; Micah 1:4, of the melting down of the mountains; in Isaiah 64:1, of the rending of the heavens; in Psalm 29:6, of the skipping of Lebanon; in Isaiah 55:12, of the clapping of hands by the trees in the field; in Psalm 18:9, of the bowing of the heavens. How or in what way this protraction of the light was brought about we are not told.

Is not this written in the book of Jasher?] The Book here quoted is also alluded to in 2 Samuel 1:18, “Also he—David—bade them teach the children of Israel the Bow (i.e. ‘the Song of the Bow’); behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher,” or, as it is rendered in the margin, “the Book of the Upright,” or “Righteous.” It was in all probability a collection, rhythmical in form and poetical in diction, of various pieces celebrating the heroes of the Hebrew nation and their achievements. The word itself Jasher, or Jashar, is considered to be an appellation of the Elect Nation, nearly equivalent to “Jeshurun” in Deuteronomy 32:15. The Book was naturally compiled only by degrees, and gradually any ode or song deemed worthy of preservation was added to it, “so that the quotation of it here is no proof at all that the Book of Joshua was composed after the date of the reference to the ‘Book of Jasher’ in 2 Samuel 1:18, and as little is the quotation there a proof that the ‘Book of Jasher’ was not extant until, at any rate, the time of David.”

And hasted not to go] Edersheim would translate this, “And hasted not to go—like (as on) a complete day.”Verse 13. - The moon stayed. The word עמד, which does mean to stand still, is used here. See also Habakkuk 3:11. But if we are to apply it to the moon and not to the light of the moon, where would be the use of the moon's standing still in the valley of Ajalon, when she would be low down in the sky westward, and incapable of rendering Joshua any help? If we regard the light of the moon as meant, there is no phrase more common in poetry and poetic prose than to speak of moonbeams "resting" upon an object. The people. The word here is גוִי. See note on Joshua 5:6. The Book of Jasher. See Introduction, Note 6. And the sun stood still. Here the word עָמַד is used of the sun. But, as before, it refers naturally enough to the sun's light. The declining sun continued to shine upon Gibeon, and in the neighbourhood, upon the descent from Beth-heron the Upper, and on the whole region throughout which the fugitive Canaanites were scattered. We need not suppose that all the discomfited host fled in one direction, and possibly in the neighbourhood of Gibeon itself there remained quite enough of the scattered portions of the host to need urgently the sun's light to complete their destruction. The midst. The Hebrew here is not the usual word for midst. It signifies literally, the half. About a whole day. Literally, as a perfect day. The LXX. renders οὐ προσεπορεύετο εἰς ἱυσμάς εἰς τέλος ἡμέρας μιᾶς, and the Vulgate, "Non festinavit occumbere spatio unius dict." What is the precise meaning of this passage it is difficult to say. The language is very obscure. It has been usually interpreted to mean that the sun remained in the heavens twelve hours longer than usual. But this, though the most natural, is by no means the only interpretation of the passage. The words, "did not hasten to go down as a perfect day," cannot be proved to have this meaning. In fact, it is difficult to fix a precise meaning on them. They belong rather to the domain of poetry than history, and their language is that of hyperbole rather than of exact narration of facts. Consequently, we are not entitled to build conclusions upon them, or draw arguments from them. It seems tolerably clear that twelve additional hours could hardly have been required by the Israelites for the complete extermination of their enemies. In accordance with this petition Joshua advanced from Gilgal (ויּעל, not went up) with all the people of war, even (vav expl.) all the men of valour.
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