Ajalon - and Aij'alon, place of deer. (1.) A town and valley at the lowland of Shephelah, originally assigned to the tribe of Dan, from which, however, they could not drive the Amorites (Judg. 1:35). It was one of the Levitical cities given to the Kohathites (1 Chr. 6:69). It was not far from Beth-shemesh (2 Chr. 28:18). It was the boundary between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and is frequently mentioned in Jewish history (2 Chr. 11:10; 1 Sam. 14:31; 1 Chr. 8:13). With reference to the valley named after the town, Joshua uttered the celebrated command, "Sun, stand thou still on Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon" (Josh. 10:12). It has been identified as the modern Yalo, at the foot of the Beth-horon pass. In the Tell el-Amarna letters Adoni-zedek speaks of the destruction of the "city of Ajalon" by the invaders, and describes himself as "afflicted, greatly afflicted" by the calamities that had come on the land, urging the king of Egypt to hasten to his help.
A battle between invaders and the natives of the "city of Ajalon" may have happened more than once. The Tell el-Amarna letters were written during the last twelve years of Pharaoh Aknenaton and the first regnal year of Tutankhamun. The event may have been connected to an attack of the Amorites, before the arrival of the Israelites under Joshua. The present "Emeq (or 'Emeq or 'Emeq) Ayyalon" is long, it stetches as far to the west as to a point halfway between Shaalvim and Latrun. So the City of Ajalon may have been any settlement, not necessarily Gibeon of the Bible, the modern El Jib. (Which was not in the Valley of Ajalon but above its beginning.)
The biblical Gibeon, the modern El Jib, stood between Jerusalem and Ramallah, at the headwaters of the modern Emeq Ayyalon. This was the Valley of Ajalon, running westwards from Gibeon. Joshua 10:11-14 tells that "The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since... O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon..." These could have been the two eclipses at the beginning of Joshua's reign. The first one was a lunar eclipse, right above the Valley of Ajalon and the rugged western horizon, at the moon was still eclipsed when reaching the horizon, its middle about an hour before sunrise on December 22, 1471 BCE, with a magnitude of 1.28 or 128%.
As for the wording that the sun and the moon "stopped" in the sky, there was a widespread explanation, even during the Middle Ages, for example in A.D. 1595. According to it, the light issued by celestial bodies served them as a propulsion for their apparent movements in the sky, just like for comets. The second one, still during that long battle of Joshua, must have been the eclipse of the sun at noon, in the middle of the sky. It occurred on January 6, 1470 BCE. This date corresponds very well with the biblical and Jewish chronology (Seder Olam, Josephus, Bar Hebraeus) but has never been widely accepted by secular authorities. According to them, the Egyptian chronology is much more reliable than that of the Jewish nation, despite that it has no reliable absolute dates for about three millennia. It is a floating chronology, and even Prof. Bickerman cites three different dates (by 25 years uncertainty) for the accession of Ramses II. These questions cannot be resolved without harmonizing the Jewish and Egyptian chronologies, and being neutral.
Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Ajalon. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.