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Ezekiel: Chapter 37

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1The 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 a Or spirit 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 a Or spirit in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

7So 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: b Or wind or spirit Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, b Or wind or spirit 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.

11Then 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.”

15The word of the LORD came to me: 16Mortal, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the Israelites associated with it”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with it”; 17and join them together into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. 18And when your people say to you, “Will you not show us what you mean by these?” 19say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with it; and I will put the stick of Judah upon it, a Heb I will put them upon it and make them one stick, in order that they may be one in my hand. 20When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, 21then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. 22I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. 23They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, b Another reading is from all the settlements in which they have sinned and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

24My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. 25They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children's children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless c Tg: Heb give them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. 27My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then the nations shall know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.

Notes:

a Or spirit

b Or wind or spirit

a Heb I will put them upon it

b Another reading is from all the settlements in which they have sinned

c Tg: Heb give

Text Commentary view alone

37.1–14 :

The valley of dry bones. Ezekiel's vision of dry bones symbolizes the restoration of the people of Israel. Many assume that it is based upon his observation of a battlefield filled with the bones of dead soldiers. The vision plays upon priestly concepts of purity, in that a priest must have no contact with the dead (Lev 21.1–12 ; those who do have contact with a corpse are defiled for a period of seven days, Num 19.10b–22 ). Since such impurity is the epitome of defilement in priestly thought, this image of new life is a very powerful metaphor * for the restoration and purification of Israel.

1–10 :

God instructs him to prophesy. Valley, or “plain” is the location of his initial visions ( 1.22–27 ). Breath: Literally “wind.”

11–14 :

Resurrection symbolizes the restoration of Israel to its own land (see Isa 26.19; Dan 12.1–4 ).

37.15–28 :

The two sticks. Ezekiel's symbolic action represents the unification of Israel and Judah under the rule of a Davidic king. See Isa 11 , which also employs the image of a growing tree to symbolize the unification of Israel and Judah under a Davidic king.

15–19 :

God instructs Ezekiel to write the names Judah and Joseph on two sticks (see Num 17.1–13 ). Judah is the southern kingdom, and Joseph is the father of Ephraim, the central tribe of the northern kingdom, Israel. Stick: Literally “tree” or “wood.”

20–27 :

Just as one gathers sticks for a fire (Isa 27.11 ), God will gather the exiles to establish them as one nation. Ezekiel draws upon the tradition of permanent Davidic rule (2 Sam 7; Ps 89; 132 ), the eternal covenant * of peace granted to the priest Phineas the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron (Num 25.10–13; see also Ezek 34.25 ), and the role of the Temple * as the center of both Israel and all creation (Ex 40; see also Gen 2.1–3 ).

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