One of the evidences for the historicity of the long day recorded in Joshua 10:13 and reiterated in Habakkuk 3:11 lies in the large body of traditions from many parts of the world according to which there was a long day (or night, or evening, depending upon the location) at about the same time that Joshua lived. David Nelson dramatically informs us of this fact as follows:
Chinese history speaks of Yao, their king, declaring that in his reign the sun stood so long above the horizon that it was feared the world would have been set on fire; and fixes the reign of Yao at a given date, which corresponds with the age of Joshua the son of Nun. . . . The Latin poet Ovid amuses the school-boy greatly, in his fanciful narrative of Phaeton’s chariot. This heathen author tells us, that a day was once lost, and that the earth was in great danger from the intense heat of an unusual sun. . . . Our notice is somewhat attracted, when we find him mention Phaeton–who was a Canaanitish prince– and learn that the fable originated with the Phoenicians, the same people whom Joshua fought. If you ask an unbeliever of these incidents, or of the common traditions with early nations that a day was lost about the time when the volume of truth informs us that the sun hasted not to go down for the space of a whole day, you will find that he had never thought on these points: they are not of the character which he is inclined to notice.1
T. W. Doane relates the following facts concerning these traditions:
There are many stories similar to this, to be found among other nations of antiquity. We have, as an example, that which is related of Bacchus in the Orphic hymns, wherein it says that this god-man arrested the course of the sun and the moon. An Indian legend relates that the sun stood still to hear the pious ejaculations of Arjouan after the death of Crishna. A holy Buddhist by the name of Matanga prevented the sun, at his command, from rising, and bisected the moon. . . . The Chinese also, had a legend of the sun standing still, and a legend was found among the Ancient Mexicans to the effect that one of their holy persons commanded the sun to stand still, which command was obeyed.2
Doane refers to Anacalypsis by Higgins, Buddhist Legends by Hardy and Bud. and Jeyens by Franklin in support of his statements.
In 1940, Harry Rimmer summarized these traditions as follows:
In the ancient Chinese writings there is a legend of a long day. The Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico have a like record, and there is a Babylonian and a Persian legend of a day that was miraculously extended. Another section of China contributes an account of the day that was miraculously prolonged, in the reign of Emperor Yeo. Herodotus recounts that the priests of Egypt showed him their temple records, and that there he read a strange account of a day that was twice the natural length.
Rimmer concludes this section with a lengthy quotation from the Polynesian account of this event.
In 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky came out with his controversial book, Worlds in Collision, based on the premise that the account of the long day in Joshua is accurate, accounting for many other unsolved scientific mysteries. In support of his premise, he also refers to the ancient traditions of a long day:
In the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan–the history of the empire of Culhuacan and Mexico, written in Nahua-Indian in the sixteenth century–it is related that during a cosmic catastrophe that occurred in the remote past, the night did not end for a long time. . . .
Sahagun, the Spanish savant who came to America a generation after Columbus and gathered the traditions of the aborigines, wrote that at the time of one cosmic catastrophe the sun rose only a little way over the horizon and remained there without moving; the moon also stood still.4
In a footnote, Velikovsky states that the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan, were also known as the Codex Chimalpopca, and that these manuscripts contained a series of annals of very ancient date, many of them going back to more than a thousand years before the Christian era.
Velikovsky’s theory was that at some time in the middle of the second millennium B.C., either the earth was interrupted in its regular rotation by a comet, or the terrestrial axis was tilted in the presence of a strong magnetic field, so that for several hours the sun appeared to lose its diurnal movement.
Velikovsky’s book brought about quite a bit of discussion on this topic. “The Day The Sun Stood Still,” by Eric Larabee was published in Harper’s in January of 1950. It was reprinted in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune on February 5 of that year, with the comment that “The article on this page–`The Day the Sun Stood Still’–will quite probably become the most discussed magazine piece of 1950. It was published in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, and the Tribune is the first newspaper to reprint it. The account is based on a book, Worlds in Collision, by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky. The article has created such interest in publishing circles that, the Tribune has learned, the editors of Collier’s and of The Reader’s Digest have other presentations of the same idea in preparation. This Week magazine, which is a section of the Sunday Tribune and twenty- five other Sunday newspapers, is preparing a pictorial presentation of some of Velikovsky’s unusual theories which lace together elements of religious beliefs and scientific events and try to explain that once–within the recorded history of man–the sun stood still.”5
Gordon A. Atwater, curator of the Hayden Planetarium, wrote at the time, “The theories presented by Dr. Velikovsky are unique and should be presented to the world of science in order that the underpinning of modern science can be re-examined . . . I believe the author has done an outstanding job.”6
Another indication of the trustworthiness of Joshua 10:13 can be found in astronomical data. It appears that one full day is missing in our astronomical calculations. On different occasions, Sir Edwin Ball, the great British astronomer, and Professors Pickering of the Harvard Observatory, Maunders of Greenwich, and Totten of Yale have traced this back to the time of Joshua. If we disregard calendar changes and deal only with a chronology based upon solar motion, and go back to the earliest available records, and trace the calendar through to the time of Joshua, the day of Joshua’s battle was on a Tuesday, whereas if we compute backwards to the time of Joshua from the present day, the day of the battle would have been on a Wednesday. The day of the month is the same, but it is a different day of the week.
In other words, if we reckon from the first recorded solstice in the ancient Egyptian records, the day is Tuesday, but if we reckon back from the most recent solstice, the day is Wednesday. These facts are extensively corroborated with astronomical data by Charles A. L. Totten in Joshua’s Long Day, and the Dial of Ahaz (New Haven: Our Race Publishing Co., 1890).
These facts came to widespread public attention in the late 1960’s, after Mary Kathryn Bryan published an article in the Evening Star of Spencer, Indiana, about Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland, a consultant to NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. According to the article, computer calculations bearing upon the positions of the sun, moon and planets were not coming out properly. These calculations were necessary, and had to be exact, in order to lay out the orbits of satellites and manned space flights. However, once the long day of Joshua and the retreat of the sun backward ten degrees in II Kings 20:9-11 were taken into account, all of the calculations worked out perfectly.
This article was widely quoted, and copies of it appeared in many places for several years. Harold Hill later published his own account of these events in the thirteenth chapter of How To Live Like A King’s Kid, which was substantially the same as that in Kathryn Bryan’s article. In his account, he wrote:
Later, someone sent me a clipping . . . saying I had admitted the whole thing was a hoax. Shortly thereafter, numerous religious magazines, some of them Christian, began repeating the false “retraction” and apologizing for their original participation in the rerun of the article. Not one of them ever checked with me as to the truth or error of the article as originally published.
For the record–the report is true, the retraction false. . . . The whole sequence of events has demonstrated to me how prone even Christians are to believe a lie instead of the truth.7
In an appendix to this chapter, Hill published a review of Totten’s book written by V. L. Westberg, who stated:
While Mr. Totten suggests an intervening comet perhaps caused the slow day by cutting off actinic rays, I feel a more realistic theory is to examine the possibility of a huge meteor or asteroid plunging into the earth’s mantle slowing it down about one revolution while the inner molten core continued to rotate and eventually pull the mantle back in speed. Mr. Totten recounted how Newton demonstrated how the earth could be suddenly slowed down without appreciable shock to people.
I have examined several maps of the Pacific Ocean which lend support to this theory. The October 1969 map in National Geographic Magazine shows a large sink area between Hawaii and the Philippines with long fracture lines in the ocean bottom radiating outward to the continents. The effect of such a crash would be maximum there at the equator on slowing the earth and would result in huge tidal waves which might help explain Dr. Northrup’s studies on California’s sand deposits. The size of the asteroid needed to slow down the earth one revolution could be calculated if mantle thickness were known and it could have been as large as Ceres–480 miles diameter.8
1 David Nelson, The Cause and Cure of Infidelity (New York: American Tract Society, 1841), pp. 26-27.
2 T. W. Doane, Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions, fourth ed. (New York: Charles P. Somerby, 1882), p. 91.
3 Harry Rimmer, The Harmony of Science and Scripture (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1940), pp. 269-270.
4 Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950), pp. 45, 46.
5 Quoted by O. E. Sanden, Does Science Support the Scriptures? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1951), p. 9.
6 Ibid., p. 10.
7 Harold Hill, How To Live Like A King’s Kid (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International), p. 71.
8 Ibid., p. 76.