The Sun Dial of Ahaz
It is not known when man first divided the day into hours. The recitals of Mose tell us that a bibical event occurred "of the morning; of the evening; or when the sun was at the highest." It is safe to conclude that Moses was ignorant of the regular subdivisions of the day into shorter periods. The first time-indicating apparatus mentioned in the Bible is the "Sun Dial of Ahaz" (Isaiah 38) In the year 701 BC Isaiah tells us that King Hezekiah, when at the point of death, repented of his sins, and weeping, prayed to the Lord to prolong his days on earth. The Lord answered Hezekiah's prayer by granting him another 15 years and gave the King a sign that his life would be prolonged; "Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backwards." So the shadow returned 10 marks (10 maalah in Hebrew) by which it had gone down. (Also see II Kings 20) We want to believe Isaiah but we also know that the earth can not reverse its spinning, so there must be some logical explanation. First, we know that the earth's axis has changed positions in the past. There is plenty of evidence that there was once tropical vegetation growing in the Antarctica; meaning that the south pole was once positioned near the equator. Secondly scientists strongly believe that the strong gravitational pull of a large asteroid passing through our solar system could alter the positioning of the earth's poles. Therefore one must assume that 2,700 years ago an astronomical event occurred that caused the earth's axis to wobble slightly so that the shadow of the sundial of Ahaz appeared to reverse itself. A similar wobbling must have occurred 750 years earlier to cause the sun to appear to stand still for a whole day as reported in Joshua 10:12.