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The Valley of Dry Bones

37

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”

 


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Eze 37:1-28. The Vision of Dry Bones Revivified, Symbolizing Israel's Death and Resurrection.

Three stages in Israel's revival present themselves to the prophet's eye. (1) The new awakening of the people, the resurrection of the dead (Eze 37:1-14). (2) The reunion of the formerly hostile members of the community, whose contentions had affected the whole (Eze 37:15-28). (3) The community thus restored is strong enough to withstand the assault of Gog, &c. (Eze 38:1-39:29) [Ewald].

1. carried … in the spirit—The matters transacted, therefore, were not literal, but in vision.

the valley—probably that by the Chebar (Eze 3:22). The valley represents Mesopotamia, the scene of Israel's sojourn in her state of national deadness.

2. dry—bleached by long exposure to the atmosphere.

3. can these bones live? … thou knowest—implying that, humanly speaking, they could not; but faith leaves the question of possibility to rest with God, with whom nothing is impossible (De 32:39). An image of Christian faith which believes in the coming general resurrection of the dead, in spite of all appearances against it, because God has said it (Joh 5:21; Ro 4:17; 2Co 1:9).

4. Prophesy—Proclaim God's quickening word to them. On account of this innate power of the divine word to effect its end, prophets are said to do that which they prophesy as about to be done (Jer 1:10).

5. I … cause breath to enter into you—So Isa 26:19, containing the same vision, refers primarily to Israel's restoration. Compare as to God's renovation of the earth and all its creatures hereafter by His breath, Ps 104:30.

ye shall live—come to life again.

6. ye shall know that I am the Lord—by the actual proof of My divinity which I will give in reviving Israel.

7. noise—of the bones when coming in mutual collision. Perhaps referring to the decree of Cyrus, or the noise of the Jews' exultation at their deliverance and return.

bones came together—literally, "ye bones came together"; as in Jer 49:11 (Hebrew), "ye widows of thine shall trust in Me." The second person puts the scene vividly before one's eyes, for the whole resurrection scene is a prophecy in action to render more palpably to the people the prophecy in word (Eze 37:21).

8. So far, they were only cohering in order as unsightly skeletons. The next step, that of covering them successively with sinews, skin, and flesh, gives them beauty; but still "no breath" of life in them. This may imply that Israel hereafter, as at the restoration from Babylon was the case in part, shall return to Judea unconverted at first (Zec 13:8, 9). Spiritually: a man may assume all the semblances of spiritual life, yet have none, and so be dead before God.

9. wind—rather, the spirit of life or life-breath (Margin). For it is distinct from "the four winds" from which it is summoned.

from the four winds—implying that Israel is to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth (Isa 43:5, 6; Jer 31:8), even as they were "scattered into all the winds" (Eze 5:10; 12:14; 17:21; compare Re 7:1, 4).

10. Such honor God gives to the divine word, even in the mouth of a man. How much more when in the mouth of the Son of God! (Joh 5:25-29). Though this chapter does not directly prove the resurrection of the dead, it does so indirectly; for it takes for granted the future fact as one recognized by believing Jews, and so made the image of their national restoration (so Isa 25:8; 26:19; Da 12:2; Ho 6:2; 13:14; compare Note, see on Eze 37:12).

11. Our bones are dried—(Ps 141:7), explained by "our hope is lost" (Isa 49:14); our national state is as hopeless of resuscitation, as marrowless bones are of reanimation.

cut off for our parts—that is, so far as we are concerned. There is nothing in us to give hope, like a withered branch "cut off" from a tree, or a limb from the body.

12. my people—in antithesis to "for our parts" (Eze 37:11). The hope that is utterly gone, if looking at themselves, is sure for them in God, because He regards them as His people. Their covenant relation to God ensures His not letting death permanently reign over them. Christ makes the same principle the ground on which the literal resurrection rests. God had said, "I am the God of Abraham," &c.; God, by taking the patriarchs as His, undertook to do for them all that Omnipotence can perform: He, being the ever living God, is necessarily the God of, not dead, but living persons, that is, of those whose bodies His covenant love binds Him to raise again. He can—and because He can—He will—He must [Fairbairn]. He calls them "My people" when receiving them into favor; but "thy people," in addressing His servant, as if He would put them away from Him (Eze 13:17; 33:2; Ex 32:7).

out of your graves—out of your politically dead state, primarily in Babylon, finally hereafter in all lands (compare Eze 6:8; Ho 13:14). The Jews regarded the lands of their captivity and dispersion as their "graves"; their restoration was to be as "life from the dead" (Ro 11:15). Before, the bones were in the open plain (Eze 37:1, 2); now, in the graves, that is, some of the Jews were in the graves of actual captivity, others at large but dispersed. Both alike were nationally dead.




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