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As I learned from my previous question, the Toltecs had a myth where the Sun did not move for a day.

In the year 8 Tochtli, which was 1,347 years after the second calamity and 4,779 years since the creation of the world, it is recorded in their history that the sun stood still one natural day without moving,

~ The Historical Works of Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. Edited and annotated by Alfredo Chavero, 1892.

This struck me as interesting because this myth also appears in the Bible.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
    and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on[b] its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

~ Joshua 10:12-14

This made me wonder if these are the same event. Do the chronologies of these myths match up?

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  • For there to be a connection between the Bible and a South American civilization, wouldn't it make more sense to find a case in which the sun didn't rise for a long time (because it was "stuck" in the other side of the world)?
    – Harel13
    Jun 6, 2021 at 9:37

2 Answers 2

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Alas, no, they do not happen around the same time. The time difference is about 1350 years.

The corresponding footnote in the source for the Toltec version states that

  1. Anytime a number is in front of a name such as 8 Tochtli, the number refers to the day and the month and is correlated with a year. The date in which the sun stood stilt [sic] corresponds with 52 BC in the dates given by Ixtlilxochitl.

(Emphasis mine.)

For the Judeo-Christian version in Joshua, this BibleHub website page has a chronology for Joshua and gives 1406 B.C. for the events of Joshua 10.

Thus, these two myths are separated by 1354 years. Hence, these two events did not happen around the same time.


If you're really desperate to make the dates coincide, you can try to subtract 1664 years (the length of an age for the Toltecs) for no real good reason from 52 B.C. and get a date of 1716 B.C., which is only 310 years away from the Joshua version! A small enough time span to invoke fuzzy memories and the Toltec desire to have significant events fit into a numerically significant chronolgy.

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  • Of course physics as we know it cannot allow for stopping the earth in its tracks in any way except in falling into the sun:losing radial velocity drastically. If this happened, from asteroid impact for example, there would be a lot more dire upheavals than the sun standing still , to remain as a mythic description..
    – anna v
    May 7, 2015 at 4:04
  • 1
    @annav: Of course this event is not possible according to the laws of physics as we know it. This is Mythology.SE after all... May 7, 2015 at 4:13
  • 1
    well, the flood for example has historical basis, is true according to science/physics because there has been geological evidence for large floods and the physics mechanisms that can be involved are not totally destructive . So myths can have a historical point where they started, and in this case common to all cultures. This cannot be true for a stopping the angular velocity of the earth .
    – anna v
    May 7, 2015 at 4:29
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    @annav: Considering the Joshua version, we're talking about an omnipotent God who created the universe. Stopping the rotation of the earth for one full day with no ill effects is peanuts compared to that. Sure, there are physical considerations, but when it comes to mythology, we're usually talking about forces more powerful and/or beyond mundane physical laws. I don't really see much of a point in discussing the physical aspects of the events in the myths. May 7, 2015 at 12:34
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    @annav Possible physical explanations depend very much on the precise meaning of "stood still". I remember an argument that the original text (not the English translation) used words that just mean that the sun "stopped doing what it normally does", which could mean "stop on its path", but also just "stop shining". In that case, it could've been anything that darkened the sun, like an eclipse or volcanic ash in the air. Feb 15 at 23:16
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I believe it should be noted that Mexico (location of the Toltec empire) is 8 hours behind Israel. Pretty much halfway across the world. Now I don't know about you, but to me, it seems like it'd be more likely for the Toltecs to have seen the Moon frozen in the sky rather than the Sun.

The Israelites obviously lived in a place where it was the Sun they witnessed as frozen. So the time of day when Joshua made his prayer must've been somewhere between sunrise and sunset. This varies on the season, of course.

According to Cambridge researchers (2017), the Sun and the Moon were frozen in between October and November (specifically October 30th). So the sunrise time had to have been at 6 AM (approximately). The sunset time had to have been at 5 PM (still approximately).

In Mexico time (CST), that is 10 PM and 9 AM respectively.

Mexico sunrise time for that date would be 7 AM, and sunset time would be 6 PM (still approximating).

The amount of hours where it is even remotely possible for the Toltecs to have seen a Sun frozen in the sky instead of a Moon is: 2 hours (7 AM - 9 AM). That means the probability of the Toltecs witnessing a frozen Sun is 2/15 or 13.3%. The probability of the Toltecs witnessing a frozen Moon instead of a Sun is 13/15 or 86.6%.

It is highly unlikely that the frozen Sun that the Toltecs witnessed the was same frozen Sun that Joshua asked God to stop, for those very reasons. That isn't to say impossible, it's just unlikely. There are so many variables involved that I simply don't know. And I can't possibly know for sure what happened on that day without being there myself.

If you want, you can try to see how I came to this conclusion, yourself. Please note that I approximated a lot.

FINAL WORD(s)

So I saw the previous answer about the dates between the two events being separated by 1354 years. Although I find their findings to be likely (One thousand years a part sounds about right), there are always assumptions and approximations involved in the process to reach such conclusions. There are simply too many variables we don't know! Even in my findings I made assumptions and approximations. However, my approximations aren't that big of a deal for a time period of One day when compared to One thousand plus years.

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  • Can you give more details who the "Cambridge researchers" are and where this was published? What is that date (October/November) based on? Physical calculation (on what basis) or historical texts or what else? Feb 15 at 23:21

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