An Ancient Sundial found at Sidon, Lebanon

The most famous of sundials is the events surrounding the end of Hezekiah’s life. God turning the sundial of Ahaz back 10 degrees or 15 “steps” of a staircase Heb Maalot, 2 Kings 20:8-11 (Translated as stairs by LXX, Josephus Antiq. x.2.1).  The movement of the sun was to demonstrate that God would not only heal Hezekiah, but save Judah from the hand of the Assyrians,  Isa 38:7,8. The number 10 is a number representing completeness, or an aggregate of the article. It was ten men who represent the whole community, and as such would form the corum required for prayer at the synagogue. It would ten women out of all nations taking the skirt of the jew to represent all nations. The turning back of time then represented the turning back of the process of ageing and it’s cause in sin. The sundial then is a measurement of the salvation of Yahweh (Isaiah!)

The fashion of this sundial may have been in the form of a flat plate as displayed above or possibly in the manner of the Egyptians of a wall of a building with 10 steps placed to mark the passage of the sun. The later form suggested by prof Yigael Yadin, and a replica created at Neot Kedumim.

Herodotus says the Greeks learned from Babylon the pole, the sunclock, and the division of the day into twelve parts (1).  The first eclipse on record, a lunar one, was accurately observed at Babylon, March 19th, 721 B.C. Rawlinson noted in his survey of Bir Nimrud the lack of uniformity of the steps of the Ziggurat. He suggested that the seven steps “reaching to heaven” were constructed with the celestial centre on the tope then followed with an arrangement of the planets with the moon at the top, then Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. A similar structure seen in the seven walls of Ecbatana.  This placed the priest at the summit as the pinnacle of the universe.  This ziggurat was reconstructed by Nebuchadnezzar to “astonish mankind” with the “wonder of Borsippa (Bir Nimrud) the temple of the seven spheres of the universe” (2). The association with Nimrod cannot be escaped, who thought he could control both the destiny of the calendar and of time.

As a result of the turning back of the sundial of Ahaz, the astrologers from Babylon came to investigate the reason, rumoured to be in concert to the king of Judah.  Hezekiah would show these men the treasures of “his” house.  Foolishly Hezekiah demonstrated his own prowess, particularly in light of his previous demonstration of trust in the strength of Yahweh in the face of the Assyrians. Isaiah coming to him demonstrated to him the emptiness of his and his father Ahaz (Matt 1:9) leading to an empty house of Eunuchs! Hezekiah quickly repents, a measure of his spirit, and God then in the following chapter answers all of his personal problems, the greatest being the removal of sin, and the provision within a spiritual house. Look at my house!: The glory of Yahweh revealed, all flesh shall see it together! The language and sentiments used of those of Gen 15, and in this regard God would say that the nations are “counted” as nothing, as empty space! whereas God who had created the vast spread of heavens, over the circle of the earth, meting it out with a span (measures time!) (and Hezekiah called to see the transit of these stellar beacons of Gods able hands cf Gen 15:5) was able to be involved with them to be “my God” 40:27  for those that wait on Yahweh as their spiritual father. He would be the father of the everlasting covenant Gen 17.

Faith is the ability to believe in things that we cannot do ourselves. God is about to change the world to be the home of all those that believe that He was the father of His son, a token seen in the resurrection from death, something an impossibility for us! He can create the same life in us, if we patiently wait for His peace.

ref: (1) Herodotus History book 2. 109   (2) F. Lenormant, A manual of the Ancient history of the east vol 1 pg 483