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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sun’

Ben Gurion U. Scientists Offer Intriguing Theory on Joshua’s ‘Sun Stand Still’ Miracle

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

According to new research by Ben Gurion University scientists – one physicist, one Bible scholar, one archaeologist – the miracle described in the Book of Joshua in which the sun and the moon stood still to provide a longer day so that the Israelites could finish off their Canaanite enemies – was merely an eclipse that lasted five minutes and fifteen seconds, which happened, according to NASA’s calculations, on October 30, 1207 BCE 4:28 PM, a.k.a. 1 Kislev, or 29 Cheshvan (it was Rosh Chodesh either way), 2554. We have not seen the actual work, and so must rely on the reports on it in the Israeli media, so that if the media got it wrong, we apologize.

The researchers suggested that what makes the biblical event unique is the fact that it mentions the role of the sun and moon:

“Then, on the day God handed over the Emorite to the people of Israel, Joshua spoke to God in the sight of Israel, saying: ‘Sun, stand motionless over Givon! Moon, you too, over Ayalon Valley!’ So the sun stood still and the moon stayed put, until Israel took vengeance on their enemies.” (Joshua 10:12-13)

The mention of both the sun and the moon led the three researchers to the conclusion that the text refers to a solar eclipse, during which the moon moves between the sun and the earth, blocking the sunlight. They checked the NASA data, discovered the eclipse, and published their results.

The physicist, Dr. Hezi Yitzhak, who led the team, has been contemplating that bit of text from the Book of Joshua for some time now, and his conclusion regarding the eclipse bears some merit, even though it appears counterintuitive. Those of us who are familiar with the text, as well as all of Jewish tradition, have always imagined the story as being about the daylight hours becoming twice as long, to let the Israelites kill as many of their enemies as they could. What if what Joshua and his army needed was not more daylight, but instead more darkness? After all, they began their successful battle that day with a quick trek from Gilgal, on the shores of the Jordan River, under cover of the darkest night of the month – Rosh Chodesh is when the moon is usually unseen. It was darkness that gave them the element of surprise and the edge over their enemies – what if darkness is what they needed for the rest of the day?

There are several problems with this theory, not the least of which is the notion that the Bible offers a verifiable historical record. The Bible is, first of all, a religious text meant to teach us moral values. It is also the poetry of several Jewish prophets, starting with Moses, author of the Torah. From its very first chapter, the account of Creation, it is self-evident that the Bible is not a scientific account of history. Of course, it is also not detached from history, seeing as the events it describes did take place. The fact that our sages debate their conflicting notions of the reality of those events proves that the authors of our Biblical stories did not consider scientific details their topmost priority.

Having said that, the reported attempt to interpret an event described traditionally as two daylight periods stitched together as having actually been five minutes of darkness is, well, wanting. Especially since, according to the media reports, the scientists base much of their claim on interpreting the Hebrew word Dom (stand still) as meaning darkness.

In the two mentions of the word Dom in the Bible, it is used in the context of standing still (which, incidentally, is the IDF’s equivalent command to Attention – stand up straight, don’t move a muscle), in Joshua 10, and as “be silent” (Psalms 37:7).

However, we do have a related Hebrew word, Dimdum, which is often used as reference to dusk (Dimdum Hama – sunset). So, if Joshua actually commanded the Sun to remain in its dusk state, this would support the researchers’ theory.

Still, if the astronomic event lasted only five and a quarter minutes, what good was it really in terms of affecting the outcome of the battle?

Then there’s the matter of the meteor shower described in Joshua 10:11: “As they fled before Israel down the road to Beit-Horon, God threw huge stones down on them all the way to Azekah, and they died; more died because of the hail stones than because Israel had killed them with the sword.”

Which means that the Sun standing still incident was just one in a day full of exceedingly traumatic events for the poor Canaanite armies.

Incidentally, the entire campaign that day was Joshua’s effort to save the Givonites, a nation that earlier on had fooled him into signing a peace pact with him, and were then being attacked by their neighbors. So that all those amazing astronomic events and bloody fighting were the result of God’s and Joshua’s combined attempt to live up to their word to a group of converts. Our sages noted (Midrash Shmuel 28:5) that God reminded Joshua of his own origin, Osnat, wife of Joseph, who was a convert.

So, as usual in such cases, an intriguing idea gives birth to more, equally intriguing notions. Good job, Dr. Hezi Yitzhak et al.


Summer Break Fun

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Asher Schwartz

Fun In The Sun

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Alright, boys and girls, it’s time to pat ourselves on the back because we did it. We got through another cold winter, managed to put away all of the Pesach paraphernalia and now we get to enjoy some well-deserved chill time. Go ahead and kick up your feet while you enjoy a good book, head out to the beach to soak up some rays or pack everyone into the car for a road trip, because it is time to take advantage of the gorgeous seasonal weather. So grab some sunscreen, throw a few bottles of good old H2O in your bag and consider taking a few of these fabulous items with you as well to make sure that your day is nothing less than perfect.Eller-050616-Run-Phones

I can’t think of a cuter name for a company that makes headphones designed for sleeping than Acoustic Sheep, whose line of products can be called lightweight only in their lack of heaviness. With super skinny flat speakers embedded in a deliciously soft fleece headband, Acoustic Sheep’s SleepPhones are comfortable to wear and won’t do that annoying falling out of your ear thing that happens all too often with those pain-in-the-neck earbuds. While they are great for listening to music or for blocking out snoring or other nighttime noises, my first thought was that they had plenty of daytime uses as well, although fleece was far too warm to wear in hot weather or while exercising. Thankfully the nice folks at Acoustic Sheep were one step ahead and their RunPhones are SleepPhones’ cooler cousin in every sense of the word. Made with a lightweight, breathable headband in a variety of cheerful colors, RunPhones are crazy comfortable and those speakers stay put no matter how active you are, making them the perfect accessory for your morning workout, hike, jog, trip to the pool or long airplane trips. Both are available in a Bluetooth version for wireless listening and are machine washable, provided you remove the speakers before tossing the headband into the washing machine. But you didn’t really need me to tell you that, did you?

While officially sunglasses are to offer our eyes important UV protection, in reality our shades are a fun fashion statement. And because styles change faster than a toddler on a sugar rush and our sunglasses tend to get misplaced or broken frequently (often thanks to that same toddler on a sugar rush) I prefer to buy my sunglasses on the cheap. Zero UV’s is a great website with hundreds of mega cool sunglasses offering full UV protection, most of which are priced at about ten dollars a pop. So, chic shades can be an affordable accessory that won’t break the bank when you need to replace them once (or twice) during the season. Their selection is really impressive, and whether you are looking for a pair of foldable aviators, Ray Ban knockoffs, red and white polka dot oversize bow-shaped frames or metal steampunk sunglasses with flip up bulls eye lens covers, Zero UV has got your sunnies.

Eller-050616-Yogarat-TowelNo matter how small you pack up your gear, towels take up more than their fair share of space, especially when you need one for every member of the family. Kiss those space hogs goodbye with microfiber Yogarat towels in a variety of sizes that may just blow your mind because of their supermodel thin silhouettes. Yogarat’s full sized Beach and Pool towel measures a generous 32×68 inches but rolls up into a deceptively small bundle which admittedly lacks the fluff factor of your average terry towel but is soft, mega-absorbent and dries in no time flat. Endorsed by the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association, this is the one you want to throw into your bag this year, leaving you plenty of room for other must-haves. Like chocolate. And an oversized bag of Oreos…

Sandy Eller

How the British Media Covered Omar Misharawi’s Death

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
We recently noted that on March 12 the Guardian’s media blogger Roy Greenslade corrected his erroneous Nov 15 report (a day after the start of the Gaza war) that an Israeli missile killed the 11-month old son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Misharawi, Omar, as well as Jihad’s sister-in-law. (Misharawi’s brother also later died of wounds suffered in the blast.)

Greenslade, as with journalists at numerous other news outlets over the past week, noted in his new report that on March 6 the U.N. issued an advance version of its report on the war which concluded that Misharawi was likely killed by an errant Palestinian missile, not by the IDF. (This information in the report was first discovered by Elder of Ziyon, who also was one of the few bloggers who critically examined initial reports in the MSM blaming Israel for Misharawi’s death.)

Additionally, the Guardian published an A.P. report on March 12, ‘U.N. report suggests Palestinian rocket killed baby in Gaza,’ which went into detail about the new information which contradicted the “widely believed story behind an image that became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression.”

Thus far, the Guardian still hasn’t corrected a Nov. 15 report by Paul Owen and Tom McCarthy, ‘Gaza Twitter war intensifies over pictures of infant casualties‘, which included the heartbreaking photo of Misharawi as well as the following text:

Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack [emphasis added]. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.

Though the damage done by the now iconic image of Misharawi ‘clutching his slain child wrapped in a shroud‘ can not be ameliorated by even the clearest retractions, it’s important nonetheless that the media be held accountable to report new information which comes to light contradicting their previous version of events.

Whilst you can of course find out how the BBC covered the news at CifWatch’s sister site, BBC Watch, here’s a quick round-up of how others in the British media performed:

The Telegraph. On Nov. 15, the Telegraph published ‘Baby son of BBC worker killed in Gaza strike‘ which included the photo of Misharawi, and this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. Mr Misharawi’s brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

Additionally, a Nov. 15 Telegraph Live Blog post on the Gaza war included this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. His brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

Corrections: None.

Daily Mail. On Nov. 15, the Daily Mail published a sensationalist piece by David Williams, titled ‘What did my son do to die like this?’Anguish of BBC journalist as he cradles the body of his baby son who died in Israeli rocket attack on Gaza‘, which included multiple photos of Misharawi with his baby and the following passages:

“Tiny Omar…died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in Gaza.

Masharawi had arrived at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital after Omar suffered severe burns in an airstrike that sent shrapnel tearing into his home killing a woman and leaving his brother and uncle critically injured.

Corrections: None.

Spectator. David Blackburn published a piece titled ‘Israel’s public relations problem‘ which included the image of Misharawi with his baby, as well as the following passage:

The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the BBC’s Jihad Masharawi holding his dead 11-month-old son, an innocent victim of Israeli action against Hamas’ paramilitary targets following months of indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel*

Corrections: The piece has now been updated, per the asterisk, and includes the following at the bottom:

*Since this article was published, a United Nations investigation has found that the incident described by the Washington Post was caused by the shortfall of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants at targets in Israel.

The Sun. On Nov. 15 The Sun published ‘The Innocents: Beeb journalist’s son dead, another hurt..babies hit as Gaza war looms,’ by Nick Parker, which included a photo of Misharawi and his baby, and this passage:

Omar was one of at least 15 Palestinians killed in air strikes as Israel retaliated over the Hamas missiles.

Corrections: None.

Adam Levick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/how-the-british-media-covered-omar-misharawis-death/2013/03/14/

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