Kristine from Rogers, MN
In Joshua 10, Joshua prayed for the Sun to stand still and God answered his prayer and the Sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down for about a full day. In Isaiah 38, the Lord provided a sign to Hezekiah that he would live longer by having the shadow cast by the Sun go back 10 steps. What was going on here? Is there a hypernatural explanation for this?
Joshua 10 is a bit ambiguous about the nature of the “long day.” It is possible to interpret the event as an extra-long night rather than an extra-long day. In fact, most Old Testament scholars assert that the extra-long night is the most likely interpretation. Furthermore, the original Hebrew text does not require any adjustment in the positions or movements of the Sun, Moon, or Earth.
What the text demands is God bringing an extra period of light or darkness into the Valley of Aijalon. God could have brought about such effects through a supernatural meteorological event that blanketed the region with heavy darkness or refracted or reflected extra light into the desired location. Alternately, God could have shone his Shekinah glory into the Valley of Aijalon or used His “hand” to block out the Sun and Moon’s light.
Isaiah and the chroniclers describe a more outstanding miraculous event in Isaiah 38–39, 2 Kings 20, and 2 Chronicles 32. After the miraculous defeat of the Assyrian army, Judah’s King Hezekiah became deathly ill. The Lord healed him and gave him a sign to confirm his healing—moving the shadow of Hezekiah’s sundial back by 40 minutes.
This backward movement of sundial shadows was also witnessed in Babylon. Interestingly, the Babylonians recognized their god Marduk could not perform such a miracle. Therefore, they sent a delegation to Jerusalem to find out from the real God the reason for the event.
The miraculous movement of the sundial shadows could have occurred over the entire region extending from Jerusalem to Babylon or it may have been limited to just the cities of Jerusalem and Babylon. God could have manipulated meteorological conditions at the same time in both Babylon and Jerusalem. It is hard to imagine, however, God manipulating meteorological conditions so that sundials over the entire region between Jerusalem and Babylon would have their shadows shifted by 40 minutes without bringing about far more disturbing meteorological consequences. Alternatively, God could have temporarily shone some kind of transcendent light, like His Shekinah glory, into the cities of Jerusalem and Babylon or even upon the entire region between Jerusalem and Babylon.