Hatsoff Responds to Michael Jones about Joshua’s Long Day

Apart from the battle of Jericho, arguably the most famous scene in the book of Joshua is the section on the “long day” (Joshua 10:12-14). The idea that Yahweh could suspend in the sky the sun and moon would have disheartened Israel’s enemies who often worshipped them as deities. The suspension of their regularity would be alarming! Unfortunately, the story only makes sense from a geocentric perspective. In reality, for the sun and moon to pause in the sky the earth would need to stop rotating and that would have dire effects.

Christian apologists have various techniques to escape the problems posed by this passage. Apologist Michael Jones of the YouTube channel Inspiring Philosophy takes his cues from the work of biblical scholar John Walton who has argued in places like Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament that the focus is not so much on the sun and moon stopping but on “ancient celestial omens.”[1] Joshua isn’t requesting the sun and moon cease their motion but rather that they appear in certain parts of the sky, functioning as an evil omen and helping Israel in battle. This reading seems to fly in the face of a straight-forward reading of the text. So, does it work?

The YouTuber Hatsoff published a video back in January responding to Jones (and therefore Walton). He begins with an overview of the historicity of Joshua and how scholars treat ancient sources like it. He then dives into specific aspects of Jones’s argument, noting along the way how scholars have received those kinds of claims. I don’t want to steal Hatsoff’s thunder so I recommend you give it a watch.

[1] John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 262-263.

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