TEXT CRITICAL NOTES
In verse one the word “ah” is used with the word “habbiq ah” refers to a specific valley “although the valley is not specifically stated it is generally assumed that it is the valley where Ezekiel first saw the visions of God” (Gaebelien, 926). However, there seems to be a varying opinion of the word that is “user” in this situation Strong uses the word “bikaw” which means “properly a split, that is a wide level valley between mountains: plain or valley” (Strongs). Strong’s appears to use the Hebrew root word while Gabelein appears to use an article with the root as a qualifier for a specific place.
Verse 5 uses the word “ruah” is used in several verses within this scripture focus. Within these verses, it has three different meanings (see vs.5, 9, 14). Those meanings are “wind, breath and spirit” (Gabelein, 926; McConville, 95; Walvoord, 1298; Weirsbe, 231). Another source narrows this down to say “spirit” as the proper understanding of the word (Netbible). While others say the proper interpretation “wind, breath, breath” (Laymon, 430). All the interpretations appear to point to one ultimate understanding, which is it is God’s breath that creates life. These three references are an allusion to Genesis 2:7 where God breathed life into Adam.
Verse 6 uses the word “Gheed” and translates it to sinews or tendons depending on the translation. The actual meaning of the word “in the physiological sense is not certain” (Netbible). The word is used on in the following four verses: Gen 32:32, Job 10:11, Job 40:17, and Jer 48:4. All the references to sinews or tendons appear when the scriptures are talking about either muscles or bones and how they’re being held together. This lends to the implication of what we know tendons function are and do.
Finally in chapter 11 the phrase “nigzarnu lanu” which is translated “we are cut off” is the key phrase to unlocking the entire Apocalyptic dream (Gaebelein,926). The reason for the vision of the valley of dry bones and its meaning becomes clear when Israel’s understanding of their relationship with God is revealed.
THE VISION: THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES
The prophetic dream in Eze 37:1 begins with the declaration that the hand of God was upon the prophet. That is to say that there was a great deal of confidence by the prophet that this was indeed, a vision from God for a message that he wanted to be shared with his people. The question remains why a vision of a valley of dry bones? What does that have to do with the nation of Israel?
At first, the prophecy opens with a very grim look a valley of the dead, it is understood that these are the soldiers that were overcome “in one of the battles with the Chaldeans” (Laymon, 430). The word “habbiq ah” refers to a specific location known by Ezekiel, therefore Ezekiel recognized the valley in which he stood. He did not identify the specific valley in the scripture passage. There are a few different schools of thought on the location of this valley, though: some believe that it was the valley in which Ezekiel received his original calling, others speculate that it was a known battlefield, while yet others believe that it was the plain of Jericho. Regardless of the inability to place the exact geographical location of this plain the overall prophetic message is not harmed by this unknown location.
As one looks at Eze: 3-10 one sees the impossible there are bones strewn everywhere in the valley. The bones were stated to be the army of Israel. The Israelites would have looked on this in utter horror. This would have been a humiliating and disrespectful thing for “the body of a Jew not to be washed, wrapped and buried in the dignity of a tomb or grave” (Wiersbe, 230). The bodies were just left for the birds to eat and the carrion-eating creatures of the earth to tear apart, no lower position in death could be taken than this in the eyes of the Jew. God had warned Israel that breaking his covenant would lead to exactly this in Deu 28:25-26 “The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. (26) “Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away” (NASB). Jeremiah also preached this message in Jerusalem during this same time period (Jer. 34:20).
Ezekiel was instructed to prophecy to the dry bones of these fallen of Israel. They were after all in the worst, most disgraced, and furthest from the customs and beliefs of the Jews of the day. Ezekiel is asked if they can live, can those who have fallen so far from Jewish custom be made whole, Ezekiel says only God knows. It is significant to note that this point that the Jews is captivity were, for the most part, the same as these dry bones. The nation was scattered out into various locations, removed from the Promised Land, their place of worship destroyed as well as their cities. In essence, the nation of Israel resembled a living version of the valley of dry bones. They were cut off from their covenant and in their eyes their God and his promises.
Ezekiel began to preach to these dry bones and they began to come together taking on flesh and tendons once again becoming whole. This as well is an allusion to the nation of Israel. Israel could come together once again from their broken separated ways by the preachings of the prophets. It did not matter how far that they had fallen for the nation to listen and respond to the prophet would once again unify them. However, well the prophet did one thing was missing and reserved. That is the breath, the spirit of God. It is thru God’s spiritual blessing that the nation of Israel would unify this also symbolizes the end of the punishment for the disobedience of the nation. They once again would be reunited, whole and the evidence that they are God’s chosen people would show once again. For Ezekiel “although he only preached in Babylonia, national rebirth took the form of bodily resurrection, he insists that the people of the nation would receive a new heart and new spirit to follow God’s laws faithfully” (Lieber, 1437-38). The dry bones became whole because of the words of the prophet of God and God’s spirit calling them back to life, and the nation of Israel would also become whole in the same way.
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A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 1
A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 2
A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 3
A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 4
A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 5
A Rebirth through the valley of dry bones – part 6