Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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
(2) The reunion of the formerly hostile members of the community, whose
contentions had affected the whole
(3) The community thus restored is strong enough to withstand the
assault of Gog, &c.
1. carried . . . in the spirit--The matters transacted, therefore,
were not literal, but in vision.
the valley--probably that by the Chebar
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
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
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
5. I . . . cause breath to enter into you--So
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,
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
(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
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;
even as they were "scattered into all the winds"
(Eze 5:10; 12:14; 17:21;
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!
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;
Ho 6:2; 13:14;
compare Note, see on
11. Our bones are dried--
explained by "our hope is lost"
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"
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;
out of your graves--out of your politically dead state, primarily in
Babylon, finally hereafter in all lands (compare
The Jews regarded the lands of their captivity and dispersion as their
"graves"; their restoration was to be as "life from the dead"
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
16. stick--alluding to
the tribal rod. The union of the two rods was a prophecy in action of
the brotherly union which is to reunite the ten tribes and Judah. As
their severance under Jeroboam was fraught with the greatest evil to
the covenant-people, so the first result of both being joined by the
spirit of life to God is that they become joined to one another under
the one covenant King, Messiah-David.
Judah, and . . . children of Israel his companions--that is, Judah
and, besides Benjamin and Levi, those who had joined themselves to him
of Ephraim, Manasseh, Simeon, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, as having the
temple and lawful priesthood in his borders
(2Ch 11:12, 13, 16; 15:9; 30:11, 18).
The latter became identified with Judah after the carrying away of the
ten tribes, and returned with Judah from Babylon, and so shall be
associated with that tribe at the future restoration.
For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim--Ephraim's posterity took the lead,
not only of the other descendants of Joseph (compare
but of the ten tribes of Israel. For four hundred years, during the
period of the judges, with Manasseh and Benjamin, its dependent tribes,
it had formerly taken the lead: Shiloh was its religious capital;
Shechem, its civil capital. God had transferred the birthright from
Reuben (for dishonoring his father's bed) to Joseph, whose
representative, Ephraim, though the younger, was made
From its pre-eminence "Israel" is attached to it as "companions." The
"all" in this case, not in that of Judah, which has only attached as
"companions" "the children of Israel" (that is, some of them, namely,
those who followed the fortunes of Judah), implies that the bulk
of the ten tribes did not return at the restoration from Babylon, but
are distinct from Judah, until the coming union with it at the
18. God does not explain the symbolical prophecy until the Jews have
been stimulated by the type to consult the prophet.
19. The union effected at the restoration from Babylon embraced but
comparatively few of Israel; a future complete fulfilment must therefore
be looked for.
stick of Joseph . . . in the hand of Ephraim--Ephraim, of the
descendants of Joseph, had exercised the rule among the ten tribes: that
rule, symbolized by the "stick," was now to be withdrawn from him, and
to be made one with the other, Judah's rule, in God's hand.
them--the "stick of Joseph," would strictly require "it"; but
Ezekiel expresses the sense, namely, the ten tribes who were subject to
with him--that is, Judah; or "it," that is, the stick of Judah.
22. one nation--
one king--not Zerubbabel, who was not a king either in fact or name,
and who ruled over but a few Jews, and that only for a few years;
whereas the King here reigns for ever. MESSIAH
(Eze 34:23, 24).
The union of Judah and Israel under King Messiah symbolizes the union
of Jews and Gentiles under Him, partly now, perfectly hereafter
out of . . . their dwelling-places--
(Eze 36:28, 33).
I will remove them from the scene of their idolatries to dwell in their
own land, and to serve idols no more.
24. David--Messiah (See on
Eze 34:23, 24).
25. for ever--
26. covenant of peace--better than the old legal covenant, because
an unchangeable covenant of grace
I will place them--set them in an established position; no longer
unsettled as heretofore.
my sanctuary--the temple of God; spiritual in the heart of all true
followers of Messiah
and, in some literal sense, in the restored Israel
27. My tabernacle . . . with them--as foretold
"The Word . . . dwelt among us" (literally,
"tabernacled"); first, in humiliation; hereafter, in manifested glory
sanctify Israel--set it apart as holy unto Myself and inviolable
(Ex 19:5, 6).