555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

22. How Are We to Interpret the Miracle at Ajalon?




The passage in Joshua, 10th chapter, describing the miracle of the sun and moon at the time of the battle in the vale of Ajalon, has been much discussed. Some commentators hold that it is a passage in which the inspired historian departs from his narrative to introduce a highly poetic quotation, in other words, a poetical figure of speech, not to be interpreted literally—as though one might say that "God and all nature fought on the side of Joshua." Again, the reference to the poetical book of Jasher as the source of this passage lends color to this explanation (see verse 13). Others prefer the literal view, regarding it as a miracle in which the hours when sun and moon were both visible (the sun on the heights of Gibeon at noon and the moon in the valley) were extended into a whole day, or twelve hours of light (see Macdonald's Prin-cipia and the Bible), the continued radiance of both orbs lighting the battleground. Still another interpretation is that the sun and moon were heavily obscured by storm clouds (see verse 11), and that Joshua's prayer was that they should withhold their light and that the gloom or semi-darkness of the storm might last until the battle was fought, giving the Israelites the advantage of a surprise with smaller numbers, the strength of which the enemy could not properly estimate.