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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 37

 

 

Introduction

Ezekiel 33-39. Changes and Preparations Necessary for the Blessed Future. Now that the security of Israel for the days to come is guaranteed by the destruction of the foreign nations, the mood of the prophet changes—the old rebellious house" (Ezekiel 2:5) gives place to "the children of my people" (Ezekiel 33:2)—and he passes on to his programme of reconstruction. The turning-point is constituted by the definite announcement of the fall of Jerusalem brought to Babylon by one who had escaped (Ezekiel 33:21). Ezekiel's gloomy threats, so long ignored or disbelieved, have at last been fulfilled; his prophetic reputation is confirmed; and he is now free to utter his message of hope and promise, to prepare his people, and to help them to prepare themselves, for the blessed future, with its restoration and reorganisation of Israel, which he so confidently anticipates. The first and fundamental item on his programme is the


Verses 1-14

Ezekiel 37:1-14. The Resurrection of the People.—Those fair ideals, however, cannot abolish the melancholy reality. The truth is that the exiled people are as good as dead and in their graves (Ezekiel 37:11 f.). Over their despondent words the imagination of Ezekiel broods till once, in an ecstatic mood (Ezekiel 37:1), he seemed to see a valley filled with bones, multitudinous, dry, and loosely scattered—for they have not even the coherence of skeletons—so that there seemed no promise or possibility of life. He hears a Divine voice—it is the voice of his own heart—asking, "Can these bones live?" and gradually it is borne in upon him that the resuscitation of the national life is not beyond the power of God. If the breath of the Divine life be breathed through it, then the people may yet rise to their feet. It is of deep significance that the Divine resuscitating word has to be spoken by the prophet himself. This is historically true of the place of Ezekiel in the revival of Jewish nationalism, and profoundly suggestive also of the place of the modern preacher in national life. With weird dramatic power the quickening of the dead valley is described, step by step, until the once dry bones, brought together, clothed with flesh and vivified by the mysterious power of God, stand like an organised army—a telling symbol, as Ezekiel 37:12-14 explain, of the coming revival of Israel's national life, and her restoration to her own land. (The mystery of this powerful passage is heightened by the use of the same word in Hebrew for wind, breath, and spirit.)

Ezekiel 37:15-28. But the nation, thus quickened and restored, must be divided no more into two kingdoms (Judah and Israel) as it had been since the rupture in 937 B.C. The unity, so dear to the prophet's heart, is symbolically indicated by joining one stick marked "Judah and the associated tribes" (i.e. Benjamin and Simeon) to another marked. "Joseph, i.e. Ephraim and the associated tribes" of the northern kingdom. Just as there is to be one undivided kingdom, so there must be one king, ruling in the spirit and power of David, over a cleansed and obedient people, devoted to the true religion, and abhorring idolatry. The land will be theirs for ever and the dynasty everlasting; and the guarantee of the "covenant of peace" between Israel and her God will be the presence of His sanctuary in the midst of them, which would prove to the world at large that Yahweh had "sanctified" them, i.e. chosen them out of all nations and set them apart. (In Ezekiel 37:23, for "dwelling places," read, with LXX, "backslidings." With Ezekiel 37:24; cf. Ezekiel 34:23.)

Ezekiel 38 f. The Final Triumph of Yahweh and Establishment of Israel.—Now that Israel is regenerated and restored, and her nearer neighbours annihilated, her future security might seem to be guaranteed, and the power, "holiness," uniqueness, and Godhead of Yahweh abundantly and permanently vindicated. But another act in the great drama of revelation and redemption has yet to take place. The more distant heathen peoples must also be brought to the conviction that Yahweh is Lord. So they are represented—and in this Ezekiel is unique—as at some future day attacking the holy land and perishing to a man ingloriously. Thus Israel's future is permanently guaranteed and Yahweh's uniqueness vindicated.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 37:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezekiel-37.html. 1919.

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