This post is part of a series. The last post explained what the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was really about, applying what we understand with the weird parts of scripture. This post does the same thing. We’re going to explain what is really going on when the sun stands still in Joshua 10.
However, unlike other posts, where we need to jump into a bunch of old myths and stories about the “sons of God” and stuff, this one is going to involve a bunch of astronomy.
Incredibly, I don’t think I’ve EVER heard this explained before. In fact, when I have seen it explained, it has been pretty crappy. For instance, here is an article from BioLogos, claiming that what you THINK you are reading did not really happen. They even have the gall to say the following about this day:
It should be noted that the text does not suggest the astronomical phenomena were unique; instead, verse 14 says plainly that what was unique was the Lord accepting a battle strategy from a man (“the Lord listened to a man”).
However, here is the passage they are referencing:
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:13-14)
So, that explanation is a bunch of poppy-cock. Better explanations exist in articles like this one, or like this one, both of which are much more “low-budget” than Biologos, but at least has the faithfulness to say “We have no idea what happened here, but we know God is powerful, so we know it happened.” Bravo for them.
However, that’s not good enough for me. I’m going to be breaking new ground here by explaining EXACTLY what is happening here. So, I hope you are ready.
Part 1: The Part of the Bible Where the Sun Stops in the Sky
The following text is the one we’re going to explore, so we might as well read it all:
As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.
And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.
So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
Now, if you read that and you take it as a silly “Bible Story,” then that might not be all that shocking. But one theme that I hope has been picked up by the readers in this series is this:
When stuff happens in the Bible, it happens EXACTLY AS IT IS DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE.
That’s how we apply the Weird Parts of Scripture to our understandings of stories in the scriptures. So with that being said, there is only one question we have about the story in Joshua 10:
WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?
I’m here to tell you that what happened is EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS happened. But first, I’m going to explain the reasons why it can’t happen.
Part 2: The Reasons Why the Sun Cannot “Stop.”
Let’s take a quick look at all the problems with the Sun standing still.
The Basic Language of the Description
First, there is a problem because it is not the Sun that moves, but the Earth that moves. “The sun stopped” is something about the Earth, not the Sun, right? So that’s something there. This is less of a “problem” than a requirement of our interpretation.
What we are required to understand is that whatever is going on, it is happening to the EARTH, not the Sun, because the Earth’s spin is what causes the Sun to move in the sky.
The Problems for Earth with Stopping the Earth’s Spin
Second, let’s imagine that the Earth stopped spinning. What effect would this have? Surprisingly, the answer has already been given in this WILDLY interesting article titled “XKCD’s Creator Explains What Would Happen If Earth Stopped Spinning.” The answer is given through this very helpful graphic:
If you were on the North or South Pole, it wouldn’t have much effect, because the North and South Poles do not move all that much. However, if you were near the equator, this would be a SERIOUS problem.
That graphic above is mainly about the effects on the WIND. But let’s not stop there. Imagine that there was some FORCE that stopped the Earth from spinning. Think of a the inertia involved there. Think of the momentum that exists with the Earth’s spin. Think of the inertia that is involved in stopping a MOUNTAIN from moving. This is an extremely big deal. Think of the effect on the OCEANS that would happen if the motion of the Earth stopped. What kind of waves would that create? It would definitely be something like this:
The Problems for You of Stopping the Earth’s Spin
But let’s pretend that there is some magic “glue” that holds every water molecule and spec of dust in place when the Earth stops spinning. This wouldn’t solve the all the problems.
You see, when you change the speed of things that are moving, things happen to the things THAT WERE MOVING. This is especially true for LIVING THINGS.
If you stop the Earth from spinning, you also run into a different problem, which is the change in G-Force. This happens both in acceleration and deceleration. If the Earth stopped spinning, this would be MASSIVE deceleration. Here is a video of a man going unconscious because of the change in force which has an effect on the blood in his system:
Notice that this is what happens when there is no problem of wind or anything like that. It’s just the effect of the change of speed on his body, even though he is strapped in place.
Do we see anything like that in Joshua 10? Nope. So that’s weird.
The Problems of Consistency With Stopping the Earth’s Spin
The final difficulty of the Earth’s spin stopping is that the Earth is spinning RIGHT NOW. That means that even if something crazy STOPPED the Earth’s spin, we would need something to START the Earth’s spin again. That means you have all of the same problems AGAIN in REVERSE.
If you can’t come up with a way to factor that in, then obviously, things are not matching up to the real world.
Part 3: How the Sun Stopped
Now that we’ve given the explanation of why the Sun can’t stop, I’m now going to explain how the Sun CAN stop. I’m also going to explain how all of the problems of stopping the Earth’s spin DO NOT cause a problem. That’s because the Earth never stops spinning.
But this is where the astronomy comes into play. We need to get very technical. The following section will help the reader understand is going on in Joshua 10 by asking a series of SEEMINGLY basic questions, which are not that basic at all.
Question 1: What is a Day?
The first question is pretty easy. “What is a day?”
Well, that’s pretty easy: “A day is the period it takes for the sun to rise and fall.”
Correct. Good job. But now let me ask a slightly more complex question. How long is a day on the Moon? This question is a bit tricky, because the Moon does not spin like the Earth. The Sun does rise and fall on the Moon, but it doesn’t do it at the same rate or in the same way because the Moon does not “spin” like on Earth. Instead, the Moon orbits the Earth, and is tidally locked with the Earth in its orbit. This means the part of the moon that is facing the Earth is always the same, even as it travels around the Earth in its orbit. The “day” of the Moon in relation to the Sun (the sun rising and setting) is the same as the “year” of the Moon in relation to Earth (the completion of one revolution around the Earth).
It might be easier to see this in action. Therefore, look at this video I took of the Moon and the Earth in a program called Universe Sandbox that simulates the solar system.
Notice how quickly the Earth spins (after I speed up time) compared to the Moon. Notice also how the entire surface of the Moon sees a “day” and “night,” but there isn’t a “spin” of the Moon like there is of the Earth. Instead, the direction the Moon is facing is ALWAYS towards the Earth.
In the video, the “spin” that appears on the Moon is only a result of the camera angle. As anyone on Earth can see, the same side of the Moon if facing the Earth, no matter how illuminated the Moon is. Therefore, rather than “day” on the Moon being timed to its spin (which doesn’t really exist), the rising and setting of the Sun on the Moon is related to its orbit around the Earth.
I hope this makes it clear that a “day” is quite complicated.
Question 2: What is the length of a day?
The second question seems silly, but it must be asked: “How long is a day?”
This answer is also easy: “A day is a day long.”
Technically correct, but no points for you, because that gives us nothing.
Let me ask another question: “How long does it take the Earth to spin 360°?”
Let me guess that you said: “24 hours.”
Wait…. WHAT? Yep. If you said 24 Hours, you are wrong. It does NOT take the Earth 24 hours to spin 360°. Instead, it takes 23 hours and 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds for the Earth to spin 360°.
“Surely, you must be joking.”
No. I’m not joking, and don’t call me Shirley.
Here’s the thing: The Earth is spinning. But “spinning” is NOT THE ONLY THING the Earth is doing. The Earth is also orbiting. The Earth is orbiting in the same direction that it is spinning, too. This creates a very complicated motion that is hard to get your head around.
When we say that the Earth spins 360° in a day, we need to fill in some extra information. It spins 360° COMPARED TO WHAT? If you look at the Earth’s rotation in comparison to the stars, that is called a “Sidereal Day.” This is what takes 23 hours and 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds. However, if you are looking at the Earth’s rotation in comparison to the one particular star that has the biggest effect on our daily lives – the Sun – then you are talking about a “Solar Day.”
Because the Earth is spinning and orbiting AT THE SAME TIME and IN THE SAME DIRECTION, this means that things get complicated. If the Earth spins 360°, it will have to CONTINUE SPINNING for the Sun to return to the same place in the sky. Here’s a video from YouTube of the same concept:
Even worse, the Earth orbits in an ellipse, just like all objects in the solar system. Objects at perihelion (when they are closest to the Sun) go faster than when they are at aphelion (when they are furthest from the Sun). This means that that “extra spin” that is added to each day is actually SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT at different times of the year.
While most people know that the “longest day” for people in the Norther Hemisphere is June 22 or 23, at the summer solstice, when the northern latitudes above the Tropic of Cancer get the most hours of daylight. However, what most people do not know is that the “true solar day” is a period of time that CHANGES throughout the year. The “mean solar day” is basically the average of how long it takes for the Sun to return to the same spot in the sky. The “mean solar day” is 86,400 seconds. If you do some math, you will see that this is simply 24 hours (86,400 seconds * 1 minute/ 60seconds * 1 hour / 60 minutes = 24 hours). However, because of the effects of the Earth’s movement and tilt, the TRUE solar day can be as long as 86430 seconds, and it can be as short as 86387 seconds. In a strange twist, the longest TRUE solar day is around same time of the calendar as the winter solstice, making the “shortest” day one of the “longest” days, as well. In short, astronomy is complicated. But we’re not going to get complicated here, we’re going to make things really simple.
Here is the simple fact that you need to understand about the “length of a day” and how it applies to Joshua 10:
Every single day is about FOUR MINUTES LONGER because the Earth is orbiting around the Sun.
Remember that fact. It will be important later on.
Question 3: How Fast Are You Moving RIGHT NOW?
The third question seems like it has many answers depending on the reader: “How fast are you moving RIGHT NOW?”
- Are you on a leisurely stroll? Maybe you’re moving 4 miles per hour.
- Are you on a boat? Maybe you’re moving 20 miles per hour.
- Are you in a car? Maybe you’re moving 55 miles per hour.
- Are you in a plane? Maybe you’re moving 500 miles per hour.
Well, all of you are wrong. NONE of you are moving AT ALL unless you answer the question: “Compared to what?”
Question 3a: How fast are you moving compared to the center of the Earth?
Let’s compare your speed to the center of the Earth. We must acknowledge that the Earth spins about 360 degrees in a day, and the circumference of the Earth is 24,902 miles. This gives us some strange facts, assuming my math is right:
- Someone at the North Pole is moving 0 miles per hour, slowly rotating in a circle.
- Someone sitting in a chair on the equator would be moving about 1000 miles per hour compared to the center of the earth.
- If someone is at the latitude of 45° N, then they would be moving about 500 miles per hour compared to the center of the earth.
- If someone is at the latitude of 45° N and is in a jet traveling EAST at 500 knots, this would mean that COMPARED TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, this person is traveling 1000 miles per hour.
- If someone is at the latitude of 45° N and is in a jet traveling WEST at 500 knots, this would mean that COMPARED TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, this person is not moving at all.
See how this works? So let’s use ANOTHER reference point.
Question 3b: How fast are you moving compared to the Sun?
How fast are you moving COMPARED TO THE SUN?
Before, we looked at the circumference of the Earth itself. Now we need to look at the circumference of the Earth’s ORBIT. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to pretend that the Earth orbits in a circle, and not an ellipse.
The Earth, on average, is 94,246,000 million miles away from the Sun. That’s the radius of the circle that we need the circumference of. If we multiply that by 2, we get the diameter of the circle we want, which is 188,492,000. If we multiply that by 3.14, then we get a circumference of 591,864,880 miles. Everyone on Earth travels this distance in one year, which is 365.24 days. This means that we are traveling 591,864,880 miles per 365.24 days, or 1,620,482.1 miles per day, or 67,520 miles per hour. That is the speed that everyone on Earth is traveling RIGHT NOW because the Earth is orbiting the Sun. We could get more complicated, and point out that people at midnight on the equator are traveling 68,520 miles per hour and those same people at noon are traveling at 66,520 miles per hour, because of the spin of the Earth, but we won’t go there.
The thing to realize is that we measure “day” on the basis of where the Sun is in the sky. This is MORE COMPLICATED than the Spin of the Earth. The picture below shows how an observer on Earth encounters the Sun in light of Earth’s spin and orbit:
With that knowledge established, we need to understand that everyone on Earth is traveling around 67,520 miles per hour around the Sun in the orbit. But remember our previous fact about the weird additional-length of days on earth:
Every single day on Earth is about FOUR MINUTES LONGER because of the Earth is in an orbit around the Sun.
This means we can get an updated fact based on what we know about the speed of the Earth:
Every single day on Earth is about FOUR MINUTES LONGER because the Earth is in an orbit around the Sun AT A SPEED OF 67,520 MILES PER HOUR.
This fact will be very important in Question 6.
Question 4: What is a day like on Mercury?
You may think that we have gone on a very big tangent. This post is still about that VERY WEIRD thing in Joshua 10, where the Sun stood still for an entire day. However, now it seems that I’m going on a tangent TO A TANGENT. Well, that’s not what’s happening.
The key thing here is to understand that the interaction between the orbit and spin of a planet is what makes it move in the sky. And believe it or not, there is a key scientific fact I want you to realize:
There is a place in the solar system where the Sun NORMALLY stands still in the sky, moves backwards, and then continues on.
That planet is Mercury.
The reason the Sun acts weird in mercury is that Mercury is orbiting REALLY FAST, while it spins REALLY SLOW. The time it takes Mercury to spin 360° — a “sidereal day” — is 58.6 earth days, or 1,407.5 hours. Meanwhile, the orbit of Mercury takes 87.969 earth-days.
While we pretended that the Earth orbited in a circle, this simply won’t do for Mercury. Earth’s ellipse is actually quite close to a circle. Mercury has the most exaggerated ellipse of all the planets. While we did a simple math trick for earth, I can share that the real numbers to show how weird this is that I got from NASA.
The speed the Earth moves around the Sun is between 67,756.8 miles per hour at its fastest and 65,519.9 at its slowest. In other words, there’s not too much difference. That’s a change of 3.5%.
On the other hand, Mercury’s slowest movement (at aphelion, when it is furthest from the sun) is 86,927.3 miles per hour. Mercury’s fastest movement (at perihelion, when it is closest to the sun) is 131,934.5 miles per hour. That’s a change of 50%. The increase of speed is about 2/3 of the speed that Earth has right now.
That’s a big difference, and that is REALLY fast. In fact, it is SO FAST, that if you were on Mercury, you would notice some VERY STRANGE THINGS happening as it relates to the Sun in the sky. Someone made a video of it:
Therefore, we learn something ELSE about the Sun:
Mercury’s differing orbital speed, changing from 86,927.3 miles per hour to 131,934.5 miles per hour makes the Sun STOP IN THE SKY on the surface of Mercury.
Perhaps you are seeing where I am going with this.
Question 5: What does it feel like when the Sun stands still on Mercury
Part 2 of this post explained how TERRIBLE things would be if the Earth stopped spinning. Now, we’ve explained that there is a planet that is spinning and continues spinning, but that NORMALLY has the Sun stopping in the sky. Now we need to answer the question: What does this feel like on Mercury when the planet accelerates 45,000 miles per hour so that the Sun stands still in the sky.
The answer is surprising: YOU WOULDN’T FEEL ANYTHING.
Except of course that there would be an intense burning sensation because you are on the surface of Mercury). While Mercury’s tidal forces from the sun are 17 times greater than the tidal forces on Earth (according to Wikipedia, anyway), that’s a negligible thing to feel. Life goes on on Mercury like nothing happened. There are no intense earthquakes or geological activity on Mercury. There’s no terrible dust storms or anything like that. Everything on Mercury is NORMAL.
The reason this happens is that the overwhelming majority of the gravity on Mercury (just like the gravity on Earth) comes from the planet itself, not the Sun. You feel the heat of the Sun much more than you feel the gravity of the Sun.
Therefore, this shows something rather crazy. Mercury FEELS NO EFFECT of either its acceleration in the solar system or the Sun standing still in the sky. This is where we ask the big question about Joshua 10.
Question 6: How fast would the Earth need to travel to make a day last 24 hours longer?
We already have one important fact:
Every single day on Earth is about FOUR MINUTES LONGER because the Earth is in an orbit around the Sun AT A SPEED OF 67,520 MILES PER HOUR.
We also know a different fact about Mercury, which is that an observer on the planet doesn’t feel anything significant when the planet speeds up to cause the sun to “stop” in the sky due to the crazy orbit of Mercury and the slow spin.
Therefore, to understand how the Sun can stand still in Joshua 10, we need to ask a simple question:
How fast would the Earth need to travel to make a day last 24 hours longer, just as it describes in Joshua 10?
Before we get to actual numbers, let’s get the concept in our minds. We need the Sun to STOP for a long period of time. Therefore, we need THIS to happen:
Look at that again, and take it in because it is SO SIMPLE.
To make this happen, you need ONE DAY to equal ONE YEAR.
Yep. That’s what needs to happen. And since we already know the distance the earth travels in one year (591,864,880 miles) and we know that we need to travel that distance in 24 hours, we can get the speed we need to travel.
The answer is about 24,661,000 miles per hour.
Now, that is RIDICULOUSLY fast. And therefore, we need to know whether this is physically possible. As Einstein explained, there is a universal speed limit, which is the speed of light. What is the speed of light in miles per hour?
The answer is about 670,616,629 miles per hour.
In other words, you need to travel about 3.6% of the speed of light. Is that ridiculously fast? Yes. That is UNBELIEVABLY fast. But it is also theoretically possible.
Question 7: What were those “hailstones”?
If you remember back at the top, we read that the thing that did the most damage was not the battle of Joshua, but the following:
And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones (eben) from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones (barad) than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (Joshua 10:11)
What is going on here? Well, to understand that, we need to go to the text. In Hebrew, the word for “stones” is אֲבָנִ֨ים (’ă·ḇā·nîm) which is the plural of the Hebrew eben. Then we see that more people died because of the “hailstones,” which is הַבָּרָ֔ד (hab·bā·rāḏ), than Joshua’s attack.
Here’s the thing, though, “eben” does NOT mean “hailstone,” and the ESV gets that right. However, another thing to know is that “barad” also doesn’t mean “hailstone.” It only means “hail.” For example, when the seventh plague of “hail” comes to Egypt, God says that “hail” will come (barad) on Egypt. A word that is NEVER used in that passage is “eben.”
You see, we know what “hailstones” are just as the ancient Israelites knew what hailstones were. It is solid things that come from the sky, usually in the form of ice. However, we can also use this word to describe a “hail of bullets” or something.
Joshua 10 is not describing this type of hail. Instead, it SPECIFICALLY mentions STONES that come from heaven.
And this is where we need to go back to our rule from the “Weird Parts of Scripture,” which is that when something looks strange in Scripture, the best way to explain it is to understand that it means EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS. This isn’t describing “hailstones” from heaven. It is describing STONES FROM HEAVEN.
These are METEORS.
God fought on behalf of Israel WITH METEORS. And based on the physics we just learned about what it takes to make the Sun stop in the sky, it doesn’t seem like he threw the meteors at the Earth. Instead, it looks like he threw the Earth at the meteors.
That’s some next-level s*** right there.
Part 4: The Mechanism for Making the Sun Stand Still in the Sky
This leaves a final question, which is HOW do you make the Earth speed up from 67,520 miles per hour to 24,661,000 miles per hour?
The answer is quite simple “gravity.” You can get A LOT OF FORCE using using gravity.
Because of gravity on the surface of the Earth, literally anything will accelerate 9.2 m/s^2. However, with more mass, you can get more gravity. With more gravity, you can get more acceleration. At the cloud-tops of Jupiter, things accelerate more than three times faster, at 24.79 m/s^2. That means with the pull of Jupiter’s surface gravity, the Earth would go 55.45 miles per hour faster EVERY SECOND.
But that’s just not good enough. With that kind of acceleration (adding 55.45 miles per hour every second), it would take Earth 123 hours to accelerate to the required velocity of 24,661,000 mph. Just spit-balling here, but if you were to accelerate Earth to the required speed of 24661,000mph in 6 hours (because you also need to slow back down at the end of the day), you would need an acceleration of about 491.744 m/s^2. That’s a little less that twice the gravitational pull on the surface of the sun.
Cool. So we know what we need, right? A black hole, right?
Wrong. A black hole is not what you need. That would be TERRIBLE.
The problem with a black hole is tidal forces. The thing about tidal forces is that whenever you have a “thing” that is exerting a gravitational pull, the further away from the “thing” you get, the less gravity you have pulling you. This is why the Moon has more effect on tides that Jupiter or the Sun. Here is how it works:
You can see it happen throughout the day, as the Earth spins beneath this tidal bulge that has a bigger effect on the oceans than the land (because the oceans are liquid, while the land is more solid).
Now, that’s the MOON, which is relatively small. Here’s a diagram of what would happen with the same effect on a BLACK HOLE:
The details are approximate, but the science is solid, because I saw it on the movie Interstellar.
But to make it clear, a black hole creates its own problems as the method of delivering the type of gravity we need. We can’t have a CONCENTRATED source of gravity like a black hole. We need something ELSE. We need:
- Something with mass that is CLOSE to the Earth, so it has the maximum gravitational pull.
- Something that is DIFFUSE in its gravity, so that it does not create terrible tidal bulge.
- Something that does not have ANY EFFECT on the Earth EXCEPT THROUGH GRAVITY.
And we need a CLOUD of this stuff to both increase and decrease the speed of Earth in its orbit, allowing it to continue spinning.
But can any such stuff exist? Isn’t this all fantasy? What exists in clouds but doesn’t have ANY EFFECT on matter except through gravity?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I’ll let my man Neil deGrasse Tyson tell you what “stuff” fits the bill:
“Dark Matter” is the name astronomers give to something that cannot be seen, touched, felt, or detected, but still HAS A GRAVITATIONAL EFFECT on stars and galaxies in the universe. The only reason we know it exists is that we see it working.
We don’t know what it is. We don’t know where it comes from. We don’t know where it goes. We don’t know how to detect it. All we know is that it is NOT NORMAL MATTER, and it exerts a gravitational effect on normal matter.
Therefore, if I had to explain how Joshua 10 happened, I can do it by updating our previous pictures. This is a general sketch of what it would take to make the Sun stop in the sky without any ill-effects on the Earth.
The Earth was accelerated due to the gravity of Dark Matter. This Dark Matter has a gravitational effect on Earth (exerting a force on every atom air, liquid, and earth, including every rock, tree, and person), but it does not have any tangible effect on the Earth except for its one effect on matter: Gravity.
As you can see, the gravitational effect from the Dark Matter increases as the Earth goes around its orbit, then it decreases as it come back on the other side. This has the effect of ACCELERATING the Earth on the first half of the journey and DECELERATING the Earth on the second half of the journey. This is similar to what happens to Mercury when it speeds up and slows down.
Assuming the Dark Matter is perfectly balanced, none of this would be felt by an observer on Earth, except that the Sun would not go down. Even cooler is the fact that by the time the Earth gets back to the spot where it started, the background stars would be in exactly the same place. In fact, this is ONLY the case if the Sun stays “stopped” in the sky for “about a day,” because if it was stopped in the sky for half a day, this would flip the winter constellations to the summer and the summer constellations to the winter.
Yes. It is.
And THAT is how the Sun can “stop” in the Sky. I hope the lesson here is that when something seems WEIRD in scripture, it is best to assume that it means EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS.