Question: How did God cause the sun to stay in the sky for an extra day (Joshua 10: 12, 13)?
Answer: Joshua 10: 12, 13: “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”
Unfortunately, the translators of the Authorized Version have mistranslated several words in these verses and have thereby given an entirely erroneous impression of what was prayed for, and what was given in answer to the prayer. The words translated “sun,” “moon,” “stand still” and “whole,” should have been translated “sunlight,” “moonlight,” “be inactive” and “perfect” respectively. The following is offered as a correct translation of these verses, with a few bracketed comments: “Sunlight be inactive on Gibeon and moonlight [be inactive] in the valley of Ajalon. And the sunlight was inactive and the moonlight stood [inactive] until the nation took vengeance on its enemies. Is this not written in the book of the Righteous? And the sunlight stayed in the midheavens [remained in the atmosphere above the clouds from which the great hail was falling] and did not hasten to come [from the midheavens upon the surface of the mountain] as on a perfect day.”
It was the sunlight that Joshua desired not to shine on Gibeon; for he knew that the sun itself never had been or could be on that mountain, but that its light had been and could be there. Likewise, it was the moonlight that Joshua desired not to shine in the valley of Ajalon; for he knew that the moon itself never had been or could be in that valley, but that its light had been and could be there. The facts of the case make Joshua’s meaning plain: The hail falling upon, confounding and killing the Amorites was so dense as to darken during the day the entire mountain and at night the entire valley where the Amorites successively were; and Joshua desired that condition to be continued, because thereby the enemy was being overthrown. And for that he prayed. In effect his prayer was this: “O LORD, continue to cause the hail to fall in such dense masses upon Thy and our enemies as to darken the mountain by day and the valley by night, and thus overthrow Thy and our enemies.” Joshua did not desire the sun and the moon themselves to cease in their course that day, as so many have been deceived into believing because of the above mentioned mistranslations.