CLAIM: This passage says that “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day” (NASB). However, modern science teaches us that if the sun stood still, this would have major catastrophic effects on our planet.
RESPONSE: There are a couple of ways to interpret this passage that are held by Bible-believing scholars.
First, this was simply a supernatural miracle. If you do not believe in an all-powerful God, then miracles are impossible. However, if the Christian God exists, then slowing the rotation of the Earth would be no more difficult than slowing the rotation of a spinning basketball. Critics point out that if the Earth stopped rotating, animals and trees and everything else would fly off the surface at incredible speeds. However, if God could stop the Earth, perhaps he could slow everything else, as well. Advocates of this view argue that the Earth could have slowed to a stop, according to the text, rather than stopped on a dime.
In addition, advocates of this view claim that Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu sources all speak of an extra long day, and some astronomers have noted that there is a missing day in our calendar. However, we cannot find sources which support these claims, and other Christians believe that they are most likely fraudulent.
Second, since this is perspectival language, it is possible that Joshua (and the people) only saw the sun in the sky. The Hebrew text does not say that a day lasted 48 hours. Instead, it says that the sun “stood still” and “stopped” in the sky “for about a whole day.” Advocates of this view argue that God may have used a type of cosmic refraction or cosmic mirror to make it appear as though there was sunlight. Geisler writes, “The Bible speaks in everyday observational language. So the sun did not actually stop; it only appeared to do so.”
Third, the language might refer to the blocking of the sun –not the stopping of the sun. The Hebrew word for “stood still” is dom, and the word for “stopped” is amad. Amad is used in Joshua 3:16 of the waters pouring out. Dom can also be translated as “silenced” or “ceased,” as in Leviticus 10:3 or Psalm 35:15.It could be that the sun stopped shining on the people, rather than stopped moving. In the heat of battle, it could be that Joshua commanded the sun to keep from shining. The sun was pouring down heat on the men, and he prayed that they could get some relief from the sun. Moreover, if the hailstorm was covering the sky, how could Joshua have seen the sun and moon anyway (Josh. 10:11)? While they would have had a relative sense of time passing, they did not have clocks at this time in history. And, in the heat of battle, they would not have been able to know how much time passed.
 Archer notes, “The words ‘did not hasten’ seem to point to a retardation of the movement so that the rotation required forty-eight hours rather than the usual twenty-four.” Archer, Gleason L., and Kenneth S. Kantzer. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982. 161.
 Ramm writes, “There are Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu reports of a long day.” Ramm, Bernard L. The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1954. 109.
 Ramm writes, “It is common knowledge among astronomers that one full day is missing in our astronomical calculations and that Prof. Pickering of the Harvard Observatory traced it back to the time of Joshua. Maunder of Greenwich and Totten of Yale are then supposed to have taken it right back to the time of Joshua, practically to the year and day… This I have not been able to verify to my own satisfaction.” Ramm, Bernard L. The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1954. 109.
 Kaiser, Walter C. More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992. 124-125. For a thorough critical assessment, see Brunvand, Jan Harold., and Erik Brunvand. The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story. Urbana: University of Illinois, 2000. 137-148.
 Geisler, Norman L., and Thomas A. Howe. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1992. 141.
 Archer writes, “Another possibility has been deduced from a slightly different interpretation of the word dom (translated in KJV as “stand thou still”). This verb usually signifies to be silent, cease, or leave off.” Archer, Gleason L., and Kenneth S. Kantzer. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982. 161. Kaiser writes, “We can conclude that dom in verse 13 should be translated ‘was dumb’ or ‘silent.’ The did not ‘stop’ in the middle of the sky, but its burning heat was ‘silenced.’” Kaiser, Walter C. More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992. 125.