Sun standing still?

Joshua 10:12-13—”How can the sun possibly “stand still” without massive cosmic disruptions?”

It is interesting that some Muslim critics will attack this passage, for Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim confirms that Muhammad (pbuh) believed exactly the same story:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “One of the Prophets made a holy war.”… So he (Allah’s Messenger) marched on and approached a village at about the time of the Asr (evening) prayers. He said to the sun: “Thou art subservient to Allah and so am I. O Allah, stop it for me a little.” The sun was stopped for him until Allah granted him victory.” (Sahih Muslim, 19:4327)

Nevertheless, there are ways to reconcile the Biblical story with science. The term used for “stand still” can also mean “be silent” or “forbear,” so this passage can be understood to mean that the sun was “made silent,” concealed behind the hailstorm clouds until Joshua won the victory. Just before this miraculous event, God sent a pre-dawn hailstorm to destroy the enemy army, and provided a cool night and day so they could march overnight and fight for eighteen hours. These merged days were then the “extended day” of Joshua, and the hailstone and cloud cover were a miraculous answer to Joshua’s prayer for assistance. Whatever the case, it seems rash to condemn a couple of verses when we know so little of the historical background to this account. Archeological and scientific discoveries have often cleared up seeming ‘contradictions’ in the Bible, and we can trust that further research may provide further insight into this account.

We know that the Bible uses observational language, so we need not insist that the sun actually stopped but that it appeared to.

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