Bible Eclipses

Joshua’s Solar Eclipse 31 May 1478 BC

The sunset on May 31, 1478 BC, was 29 Sivan of the Jewish calendar. The new month was to begin with the sighting of the new moon at sunset within the next two days. On this day, 29 Sivan, the message came to Joshua that Gibeon was under siege. Joshua gathered the army and set out, marching through the dark, moonless night. With no moon in the sky, the walk would be challenging. In addition to no light, the terrain they crossed was some of the most mountainous in the region. There is more than half a mile altitude shift between the starting location to the destination, indicating that they were walking uphill, for the most part, all night. At roughly two hours after sunrise, 7:00 AM in the morning, Israel arrived at Gibeon.

The sky would have been covered with clouds seeing that a hailstorm fell shortly after their arrival. The sun could be visible through some of the thinner clouds in the sky, allowing for observation of the sun. 

Before Israel’s confrontation with the armies of Canaan at Gibeon, Joshua requested God to stop the sun over Gibeon and the moon in the Valley of Aijalon. As a result of Joshua’s request, Israel expected the sun to go out over Gibeon and they expected to see the new moon after sunset that evening in the Valley of Aijalon.

Everyone at Gibeon would have noticed the sun through the clouds as a dark circular object moved in front of it. At the point of maximum eclipse, almost all the sun was blocked out by the circular object. Over 90% of the light was removed from the sky. The thick cloud coverage amplified the darkness to the point of complete darkness.

Israel was expecting this darkness to occur shortly after sunrise. Joshua spoke to God requesting the sun to stop. When the sun eventually stopped, Israel knew God had blessed their mission. The fulfillment of God stopping the sun caused Israel to rally.

The army of Canaan did not expect this eclipse, and it terrified them. The Canaanite army expected the sun to come up as usual, but when it went dark, it produced pure terror. Moreover, the terror was amplified by the sight of Israel rallying at the event—as if it had been expected.

The sight of an eclipsing sun and the arrival of the Israeli army would have the potential to “discomfit” the enemy of Israel.

The Canaanite army, in their pure moment of terror ran as fast as they could. The egress for the enemy army was directly downhill toward the town of Beth-horon. The pass was steep, so they moved fast, putting distance between themselves and Israel. This pass left them exposed on the side of the mountain. In their exposure, God sent a hailstorm that was amplified into a severe hailstorm due to the solar eclipse. The severe hailstorm crushed and killed most of the Canaanite army. As told, more people died to hail than from the sword.

That evening, at sunset, while standing on a mountain pass where a hailstorm wiped out the majority of the Canaanite army, looking directly west at the setting sun over the Valley of Aijalon, the new moon would have been visible for 20 minutes, marking the new month. The ram’s horns announced the beginning of the new month and the celebration of God’s deliverance from their enemies.

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