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A meteorological anomaly in Palestine 33 centuries ago: How did the sun stop?

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Summary

The meteorological conditions pertaining to the famous biblical episode during which Joshua stopped the sun when the Hebrew pursued the Amorites (Joshua 10, 10–13) are analyzed. The story, which cannot be interpreted as an anomaly in the astronomic motions, could be interpreted from the point of view of atmospheric optics. The event occurred at sundown, after an exceptional hailstorm, which left the ground of the valley where the Amorites stayed covered with ice. This resulted in a big drop in the air temperature, forming the conditions for a “superior mirage”. The Hebrew were in another nearby place, untouched by hail, on hot soil, in the usual daytime conditions of “inferior mirage”. When they reached the place of the Amorites, their optical path inverted curvature, displacing upwards the sun which was setting. Hail in Palestine is a quite rare meteorological event and the superior mirage would seem decidedly rare in the subtropical climate. Given that the event has been described in detail it could not have been invented, as the superior mirage was then unknown, in particular its connection with hailstorms. This would thus lead to the conclusion that the miracle described should be interpreted as a meteorological event which actually did happen.

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Camuffo, D. A meteorological anomaly in Palestine 33 centuries ago: How did the sun stop?. Theor Appl Climatol 41, 81–85 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00866205

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00866205

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