Joshua's Long Day in the News

FOR some months several periodicals throughout the United States have published in varied forms a news report saying that astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., have discovered, by means of IBM computers, the length of the day when "the sun stood still" in the time of Joshua (Joshua 10:13, 14), and also that of the day when the Lord "brought the shadow ten degrees backward" in the reign of King Ahaz (2 Kings 20:11). . .

FOR some months several periodicals throughout the United States have published in varied forms a news report saying that astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., have discovered, by means of IBM computers, the length of the day when "the sun stood still" in the time of Joshua (Joshua 10:13, 14), and also that of the day when the Lord "brought the shadow ten degrees backward" in the reign of King Ahaz (2 Kings 20:11).

One version of that news story says that "one of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Md. They were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets out in space.

FOR some months several periodicals throughout the United States have published in varied forms a news report saying that astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., have discovered, by means of IBM computers, the length of the day when "the sun stood still" in the time of Joshua (Joshua 10:13, 14), and also that of the day when the Lord "brought the shadow ten degrees backward" in the reign of King Ahaz (2 Kings 20:11). One version of that news story says that "one of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Md. They were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets out in space.

. . . They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong either with the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards. They called in the service department to check it out, and they said, 'It's perfect.' The IBM head of operations said, 'What's wrong?' 'Well, we have found there is a day missing in space in elapsed time.' They scratched their heads and tore their hair. There was no answer."

The tale then goes on to say that a religious fellow on the computer team remembered that he had learned in Sunday school that the sun had stood still about a whole day in Joshua's time. "The space men said, 'There is the missing day!' Well, they checked the computers, going back into the time it was written and found it was close but not close enough! The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua's day was 23 hours and 20 minutes not a whole day. . . .

"Forty minutes had to be found." The religious fellow now recalled the story of the shadow going ten degrees backward in King Ahaz's time. "Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes. Twenty-three hours and 20 minutes in Joshua plus 40 minutes in 2 Kings make the missing 24 hours the space travelers had to log in the log-book as being missing in the universe! Isn't that amazing?"

That sensational report attracted much attention. The alleged discovery has been hailed by some persons as a marvelous corroboration of Bible testimony, and a flood of letters have inquired about it.

Misplaced Information

Most of the reports that this writer has seen, concerning that alleged discovery, have pointed to Harold E. Hill of Towson, a community near Baltimore, Maryland, as the primary source of the news story. In response to my request for further information, Mr. Hill, in a letter dated July 7, 1970, denies having written the news article, and assumes that "it was adapted from one of the many talks I have made on the subject of the complete harmony I find be tween science and the Bible. . . . Since this event came to my attention about two years ago, I have misplaced the source of information but will forward it to you when I locate it. In the meantime I can only say that had I not considered the source to be completely reliable, I would not have used it in the first place."

In Mr. Hill's letter to me and in those to some other people, no mention is made of the astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, Maryland. However, a letter received at our world headquarters on May 27, 1970, from Edward Mason, chief of the Office of Public Affairs, Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Center, at Greenbelt, Maryland, states: "We know nothing of Mr. Harold Hill and in no way can corroborate the 'lost day' reference in the article. . . . Although we make use of planetary positions as necessary in the determination of spacecraft orbits on our computers, I have not found that any 'astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt' were involved in the 'lost day' story attributed to Mr. Hill."

Mr. Hill did say in his letter of July 7, 1970: "This incident has been documented in the writings of many civilizations over the centuries and appear[s] in the historical lore of the ancient Chinese, Aztecs, Peruvians, Babylonians, et cetera, with references to a 'long day,' 'extended day,' a day of twice natural length, et cetera. In addition, two eminent men of science, Professor C. A. Totten of Yale University and Sir Edwin Ball, British astronomer, discovered many years ago that a day had been lost out of solar time. Full details are given in a book titled Joshua's Long Day by Professor C. A. Totten, and available from Destiny Publishers at Merrimac, Massachusetts 01860."

Sensation or Truth?

That information confirmed my suspicion that Totten's book could have had something to do with the sensational news story mentioned above. It is the book Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz, written by "C. A. L. Totten, M.A." The author's name is given also as "Charles A. L. Totten, First Lieutenant Fourth Artillery, U.S.A.; Professor of Military Science and Tactics, S. S. S. of Yale University." That book was published by Our Race Publishing Company at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1890, and again (after a third revision) in 1891. It was reprinted by Destiny Publishers at Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1941.

Mr. Totten has affirmed: "Joshua's 'long day' actually consisted of 23 1/3 hours added to the regular 24 hours which marked the day of the 'winter solstice' of the year 2555 A.M., the autumnal-equinoctial beginning of which year was 3333 solar years ago, reckoning from Sunday, Sept. 22, 1889." Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz, Destiny Publishers' edition of 1941, pp. 17, 18.

Totten said further: "Upon June 21st, 1890, it was announced by the author that, as the final result of several years of close calculation, he had succeeded in identifying the conjunction of the sun and moon at which, 'as it is written' in the Sacred record, "Joshua's Long Day' occurred, and that his calculations completely vindicated the Biblical Chronology." Ibid., pp. 23, 24. He speaks of it as "my original announcement, made in the New Haven Register, of June 21st, 1890." Ibid., p. 55.

In his presentation of his calculations, Totten says: "In the foregoing equations, Y is the mean-solar-year-value, and cannot now be altered 1 second plus or minus from 365d 5h 48m" 5s 53''' and 60"', while as to the number of years involved, the rigid work of the 'British Chronological Society' has demonstrated, by verification of all the eclipses and transits, both in and out of history, that the number of years spanned from the dawn of Genesis to our September 22d, 1889, is no more, and no less, than 5888 of mean astronomical duration." Ibid., pp. 60, 61.

Note that Totten cites as his authority the British Chronological Society, which a few years later called itself the British Chronological and Astronomical Association. In his presentation of his calculations, he refers his readers twice (on pages 39 and 58) to "Appendix C" of his book, where we find him saying:

"The interesting circumstances of the first eclipse of history (No. 1, Solar) of the regular team, have been calculated by the Premier Chronologist of the British Association (Mr. J. B. Dimbleby, The Shrubber, Chatham Place, South Hackney, Eng.)." And he climaxes the appendix by quoting a statement from the pen of "J. B. Dimbleby, Premier Chronologist, B.C.A." Ibid., pp. 98-100.

Totten's Indebtedness to Dimbleby

In fact, Totten cites J. B. Dimbleby, the British Chronological Society, and Dimble by's book All Past Time, at least ten times as his chief authority in chronology and astronomy (ibid., pp. 60, 74, 75, 78, 98-100, 109, 111, 142, and 153). The significance of this is well stated by Totten himself, as follows:

"The results at which we have been permitted to arrive were only rendered possible by the previous publications of the British Chronological Society, and by them in fact, was the original idea of attempting the problem begotten. We, therefore, wish to testify in behalf of their inestimable re searches, and to urge upon all faithful Christians to possess themselves at once of whatever they can reach of their results. Not only, however, have we used these works very freely in our calculation, but we are particularly indebted to them for the basis of our chronological tables at the end of this volume.

"Most of the original data we have verified, and whatever we have added has but demonstrated the exactness of their system. We, therefore, endorse those publications with as little reserve as may be due to human labors for the truth, and we assert that no arguments based upon any former hap hazard systems of chronology can be held to militate against our own discoveries, unless at the same time they overthrow the system to, and which has now for the past ten years, been fully set forth in their annual almanacs entitled 'All Past Time.' " Ibid., pp. 74, 75.

Thus Totten makes it unmistakably clear that his chronological calculations stand or fall with those of J. B. Dimbleby and his British Chronological Society, as set forth in Dimbleby's book All Past Time.

In his book which treats particularly of the chronology of the Flood of Noah's time in relation to world history, Totten repeatedly cites Dimbleby again as his principal authority on Biblical chronology (pages 26, 27, 51, 53, 54, 60, 68, 72, 183, 209, 290, 313, 314), and says: "It was in 1885 that a copy of one of the Annual Almanacs of this [British Chronological and Astronomical] Association fell into the writer's hands. . . .

"We shall quote at length the four Chronological Tables which constitute the basis of their system, and by means of which the whole scheme of Biblical Chronology unravels without hitch or halt." A Scientific Spike Through Noah's Ark, pp. 53, 54 (published in 1892 by Our Race Publishing Co. at New Haven, Conn.).

Next month we will examine carefully Dimbleby's book, All Past Time.


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November 1970

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