on Joshua 10 :11
The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them - Some have contended that stones, in the common acceptation of the word, are intended here; and that the term hail-stones is only used to point out the celerity of their fall, and their quantity. That stones have fallen from the clouds, if not from a greater height, is a most incontestable fact. That these have fallen in different parts of the world is also true; the East Indies, America, France, Germany, England, Ireland, etc., have all witnessed this phenomenon: of such stones I possess and have seen several fragments; some considerable pieces may be seen in the British Museum. That God might have cast down such stones as these on the Canaanites, there can be no doubt, because his power is unlimited; and the whole account proves that here there was a miraculous interference. But it is more likely that hail-stones, in the proper sense of the word, are meant as well as expressed in the text. That God on other occasions has made use of hail-stones to destroy both men and cattle, we have ample proof in the plague of hail that fell on the Egyptians. See the note on Exodus 9:18. There is now before me a square of glass, taken out of a south window in the house of Mr. Ball of Crockerton, in the parish of Longbridge Deverell, county of Wilts., through which a hail-stone passed in a shower that fell there June 1, 1780, at two o'clock, P.M. The hole is an obtuse ellipsis or oval, and is cut as true as if it had been done with a diamond: it is three inches and a half in diameter; a proof that the stone that pierced it, which was about eleven inches in circumference, came with inconceivable velocity, else the glass must have been shivered to pieces. I have known a cannon ball go through a square of glass in the cabin window of a ship, and make precisely the same kind of hole, without either shattering or even starring the glass. It is needless to add that this hail-shower did great damage, breaking even trees in pieces, and destroying the vegetation through the whole of its extent. But allowing that extraordinary showers of hail have fallen in England or France, is it likely that such showers ever fell in the promised land or its vicinity? They certainly have. Albertus Aquensis, one of the writers in the collection Gesta Dei per Francos, in describing the expedition of Baldwin I. in the Holy Land, observes that, when he and his army were in the Arabian mountains, in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, they suffered incredibly from horrible hail, terrible frost, and indescribable rain and snow, so that thirty of his men perished by them. His words are: "Sexta vero die montanis permensis, in extremo illorum cacumine maxima pertulerunt pericula, in Grandine horribili, in Glacie terribili, in Pluvia et Nive inaudita, quorum immanitate, et horrore ingruente ad triginta homines pedites prae frigore mortui sunt." - Hist. Hieros., p. 307. I conclude, therefore, that a shower of hail-stones may be meant; and that this shower, though natural in itself, was supernaturally employed on this occasion, and miraculously directed to fall where it did, and do the execution described. But I am ready to grant, notwithstanding, that as a most stupendous miracle was in this instance wrought, in causing the sun and moon to stand still; there can be no doubt that the shower of stones, which was also miraculous, might have been of real stones as well as hail-stones. Of late, this subject of the fall of real stones from the clouds has been very closely investigated, and not only the possibility of the fall of such stones from the clouds, or from much higher regions, but the certainty of the case has been fully demonstrated. These substances are now, in philosophical language denominated aeroliths or air-stones; and the following table constructed by M. Izarn, a foreign chemist, exhibits a variety of facts of this kind, and shows the places and times in which these substances fell, and the testimony by which these facts are supported. As it is as possible that God might have projected a shower of stones on these idolaters, even from the moon, as to arrest that planet in her course, I give the table, and leave the reader to decide, in the present case, for aeroliths or hail-stones, as may seem to him most congruous to the fact here related.
Historical Record of Large Hail Stones Substances Places Where They Fell Period of Their Fall Testimony Shower of stones At Rome Under Tullus Hostilius Livy Shower of stones At Rome Consuls, C. Martius and M. Torquatus J. Obsequens A very large stone Near the river Negos, Thrace Second year of the 78th Olympiad Pliny Three large stones In Thrace Year before J.C., 452 Ch. of Count Marcellin Stone of 72 lbs Near Larissa, Macedonia January, 1706 Paul Lucas About 1,200 stones; one 120 lbs. Near Padua in Italy In 1510 Carden, Varcit Another of 60 lbs Near Padua in Italy In 1510 Carden, Varcit Another of 59 lbs On Mount Vasier, Provence November 27, 1627 Gassendi Two large stones weighing 20 lbs Liponas, in Bresse September, 1753 De La Lande A stony mass Niort, Normandy In 1750 De La Lande A stone of 7 1/2 lbs At Luce, in Le Maine September 13, 1768 Bachelay A stone At Aire, in Artois In 1768 Gurson de Boyaval A stone In Le Cotentin In 1768 Morand Extensive shower of stones Environs of Agen July 24, 1790 St. Amand, Baudin, etc About 12 stones Sienna, Tuscany July, 1794 Earl of Bristol A large stone of 56 lbs Wold Cottage, Yorkshire December 13, 1795 Captain Topham A stone of 10 lbs In Portugal February 19, 1796 Southey A stone of about 120 lbs Sal, department of the Rhone March 17, 1798 Le Lievre and De Dre Shower of stones Benares, East Indies December 19, 1798 J. Lloyd Williams, Esq. Shower of stones At Plann, near Tabor, Bohemia July 3, 1753 B. de Born Mass of iron, 70 cubic feet America April 5, 1800 Philosophical Magazine Mass of iron, 14 quintals Abakauk, Siberia Very old Pallas, Chladni, etc Shower of stones Barboutan, near Roquefort July, 1789 Darcet, jun., Lomet, etc Large stone, 260 lbs Ensisheim, Upper Rhine November 7, 1492 Butenschoen Two stones, 200 and 300 lbs Near Verona In 1762 Acad. de Bourd A stone of 20 lbs Sales, near Ville Franche March 12, 1798 De Dre Several stones from 10 to 17 lbs Near L'Aigle, Normandy April 26, 1803 Fourcroy
These stones generally appear luminous in their descent, moving in oblique directions with very great velocities, and commonly with a hissing noise. They are frequently heard to explode or burst, and seem to fly in pieces, the larger parts falling first. They often strike the earth with such force as to sink several inches below the surface. They are always different from the surrounding bodies, but in every case are similar to one another, being semi-metallic, coated with a thin black incrustation. They bear strong marks of recent fusion. Chemists have found on examining these stones that they very nearly agree in their nature and composition, and in the proportions of their component parts. The stone which fell at Ensisheim in Alsace, in 1492, and those which fell at L'Aigle in France, in 1803, yielded, by the Analysis of Fourcroy and Vanquelin, as in this table: -
Their specific gravities are generally about three of four times that of water, being heavier than common stones. From the above account it is reasonable to conclude that they have all the same origin. To account for this phenomenon, various hypotheses have appeared; we shall mention three:
1. That they are little planets, which, circulating in space, fall into the atmosphere, which, by its friction, diminishes the velocity, so that they fall by their weight.
2. That they are concretions formed in the atmosphere.
3. That they are projected from lunar volcanoes. These are the most probable conjectures we can meet with, and of these the two former possess a very small degree of probability, but there are very strong reasons in favor of the last. Among the reasons we may notice the following:
1. Volcanoes in the moon have been observed by means of the telescope.
2. The lunar volcanoes are very high, and the surface of that globe suffers frequent changes, as appears by the late observations of Schroeter.
3. If a body be projected from the moon to a distance greater than that of the point of equilibrium between the attraction of the earth and moon, it will, on the known principle of gravitation, fall to the earth.
4. That a body may be projected from the lunar volcanoes beyond the moon's influence, is not only possible but very probable; for on calculation it is found that four times the force usually given to a twelve pounder, will be quite sufficient for this purpose; it is to be observed that the point of equilibrium is much nearer the moon, and that a projectile from the moon will not be so much retarded as one from the earth, both on account of the moon's rarer atmosphere, and its less attractive force. On this subject, see Mr. Haward's valuable paper in the Philosophical Transactions for 1802, and Dr. Hutton's dissertation in the new abridgment, part xxi. It is highly probable that the ancile, or sacred shield, that fell from heaven in the reign of Numa Pompilius, was a stone of this sort. The description of its fall, as given by Ovid, Fast. lib. iii., bears a striking resemblance to recent accounts of stones falling from the atmosphere, particularly in the luminous appearance and hissing noise with which it was accompanied.
Dum loquitur, totum jam sol emerserat orbem,
Et gravis aethereo venit ab axe fragor.
Ter tonuit sine nube Deus, tria fulgura misit:
on Joshua 10 :11
Compare Ecclesiasticus 46:6. Frightful storms occasionally sweep over the hills of Judaea; but this was evidently a miraculous occurrence, like the hail which smote Egypt Exodus 9:24 and the tempest which fell on the Philistines at Ebenezer 1 Samuel 7:10.
on Joshua 10 :11
10:11 Great stones - That is, hailstones of extraordinary greatness, cast down with that certainty, as to hit the Canaanites and not their pursuers the Israelites. Josephus affirms, that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Hab 3:11. They had robbed the true God of his honour, by worshipping the host of heaven, and now the hosts of heaven fights against them, and triumphs in their ruin. Beth - horon lay north of Gibeon, Azekah and Makkedah, south, so that they fled each way. But which way soever they fled, the hailstones pursued them. There is no fleeing out of the hands of God!