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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Ezekiel 37

Verse 1

Eze 37:1. Various imagery has been used in course of the prophetic writings to describe the predictions being made. Some of them are related to the departure from Palestine and others to the return. There were always some people who doubted the truth of these predictions and even proclaimed loudly that they would never come to pass. We have seen the exposure of the false prophets who made light of the idea that any foreign force coaid take Israel into captivity. Now at this writing the thing has occurred and the nation is actually languishing in a foreign land. But many of them seem to have forgotten all those predictions notwithstanding they are actually fulfilling them by their own situation. Now then, they are just as doubtful about the prophecies of the return and are sighing and bemoaning their fate and saying that they Will never get out of their lost estate. Hence the Lord is going to do some "acting" with the co-operation of the prophet, and demonstrate that even a nation that is dead can he brought to life again. He is going to do so by putting life and fleall on some dead bones. In the spirit means that Ezekiel will see in a vision the things that are about to happen.

Verse 2

Eze 37:2. The prophet was shown a valley that was full of bones, and he says they were very dry. They were so represented because they stood for the nation of Israel that was lo spend 70 years in the valley which was Baby-lon. In that length of time all the flesh and moisture would be decayed and gone from the bones.

Verse 3

Eze 37:3, Can these hones live was asked of Ezekiel to represent the state of mind the house of Israel had at that time. The answer thou Slowest is the prophet's way of saying that things which seem impossible to man are possible with God.

Verse 4

Eze 37:4. Prophesy upon these bones means for him to direct his speech to and for the dry bones. In the preceding chapter the Lord directed a prophecy to the land of Israel, in this He addresses Israel herself Who Is in the form of dry bones. The purpose is to give encouragement to the Jews in exile who are represented by the dry bones, and who are told to hear the word of the Lord.

Verse 5

Eze 37:5. The language is addressed to the bones because they represent the children of Israel in Babylonian captivity, and are in a state of discouragement bordering almost on total despair. Hence the Lord tells these dry bones that their breath will enter into them which Will restore them to a living condition.

Verse 6

Eze 37:6. The parts mentioned here had been removed by time and decay leaving only the dead, dry bones. Again the main point is that I am the Lord.

Verse 7

Eze 37:7. When the sinews and flesh of a body have decayed and dried up it will leave a mass of disconnected bones. These will be lying about in a state as if none of them was related to the others. Before the former life of the body can be restored, the bones must resume their attachment for each other in the proper position. Hence the prophet heard the sound caused by the rustling of these bones as the various members sought its "next of kin” in the anatomy of its own peculiar structure. Let us imagine a valley where the bones of several thousand bodies have been lying around for years, dried up and lifeless. Then let us picture a power that causes all these bones to begin moving toward their proper joints, and we will have some idea of why Ezekiel heard the noise and fett the shaking of these hones in their act of assembling.

Verse 8

Eze 37:8. But a group of dry bones that is even carefully assembled, each one forming the joint for which it was created, would immediately fall apart again were not something added to hold them together, Hence the prophet saw the flesh for the immediate union come upon the bones, and the skin around them for a general binding. So far the form of the body is complete, but as yet it is a dead body-flesh, skin and bones only, having nothing within to enable it to move.

Verse 9

Eze 37:9. Wind, winds and breath are all from EUWACtt and Strong’s definition follows: “Wind; by resemblance breath, I.e.. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).” We can understand the verse means that the breath of life was ordered to enter into these bodies which had just been formed in the preceding verses. When a word is added to give the expression four winds, it means the four quarters of the earth into which the people of God had been scattered. Breathe is the verb form and has virtually the same meaning as the words already defined. That Is, the breath of life was told to enter the dead bodies that they might live.

Verse 10

Eze 37:10. Prophesied is used because the event ordered to be done was to be in the future. It was still half a century away and would be accomplished after the 70-year captivity has expired.

Verse 11

Eze 37:11. The Lord gives Ezekiel the interpretation of the foregoing symbols, leaving nothing to guesswork or uncertainty. The second half of this verse is a statement of facts being done at the very time the prophet is writing. That makes history out of the circumstance, and since history shows the fulfillment of a prophecy, I will suggest that the reader connect this with the famous prophecy of Psalms 137.

Verse 12

Eze 37:12. I will open your graves is figurative and refers to the national graves of which Isaiah wrote in chapter 22: 14 of his book. That passage is commented upon in the 3rd volume of this Commentary. Of course the fulfillment of this national resurrection means the return from Babylonian captivity, recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Verse 13

Eze 37:13, Ye shall know . . . when. A prophecy does not become an evidence until it has been fulfilled, hence the Lord says that He will be known as the Lord when this great deliverance has taken place.

Verse 14

Eze 37:14. Put my spirit in you means the spirit of life for the nation will be given to Israel from God. But even the condition of life would not be completely satisfactory if one had no place to live. Hence this nation that is to be brought to life again is promised the privilege of returning to its own land.

Verse 15

Eze 37:15-16. The preceding vision was for the purpose of demonstrating the surety of the national resurrection and the possibility of the departure from the grave which was Babylon. Having given unusual but visible proof of that great event, the next subject is a description of the return with spe-cific attention to certain features of the revolution. From this paragraph through verse 23 the passage should he labeled "the return,” and the several verses will be commented upon in their order. While doing this, it should be remembered that many things that are said are true of both fleshly and spiritual Israel; the first application, however, will be to the former. In the introduction of the long bracket the prophet is directed to do some "acting” in sight of the people. He is to use a stick in his acting and it is to represent a certain portion of the children of Israel, then take another stick to be for tlie other part of them. The house of Tsrael had been divided into 2 kingdoms (1 Kings 12) and they were known as Judah and Israel when considered as separate kingdoms: they also had other designations at times. Ezekiel is to write Judah on one stick, and Ephraim (because the capital of the 10-tribe kingdom, Samaria, was in the territory possessed by that tribe) on the other.

Verse 17

Eze 37:17. There is an erroneous doctrine in the world pertaining to the so-called “lost 10 tribes." It is maintained that the 10 tribes who went into captivity under the Assyrians were lost and that only the 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were able to return to Palestine. There is not the slightest foundation for such a notion. On the other hand there is much evidence of the existence of the 12 tribes, and the present verse with the context is a positive denial of the mentioned false notion. Here are 2 sticks that are expressly named for the 2 groups of Israel, the 2-tribe and the 10-tribe kingdoms. It is also stipulated that both sticks are to be joined in such a way as to form one stick. If this means that the 10 tribes were “lost” then also the 2 tribes were, which nobody believes. It is true that in the second or spiritual application there is to be but one tribe (that of Christ who was a descendant of Judah according to the flesh), but that is as true of the 2-tribe kingdom as it is of the other. More on this union of the 2 sticks further on In the chapter.

Verse 18

Eze 37:18. This verse shows that Ezekiel was to do his acting in the sight of the people. The fact of their asking for the meaning of the demonstration will indicate that everything was done “above board,” that it was not an act of trickery but was all in plain sight. The thing that they could not understand was the purpose or meaning of the scene that they had so plainly witnessed.

Verse 19

Eze 37:19. This verse explains the actions of verse 17. The 2 sticks became one in the hands of Ezekiel, and the 2 groups of Israel were to be one in mine hand says the Lord. God knows the whereabouts of all things and persons, and He is able to bring all the 12 tribes together.

Verse 20

Eze 37:20. It is carefully directed that Israel shall see the performance of Ezekiel.

Verse 21

Eze 37:21. This verse is a general statement with a literal meaning, The Babylonian Empire was made up of numerous groups from the four quarters of the civilized world. The dominions that were once the Assyrian Em-pire now belonged to Babylon, and that would naturally embrace the remnants of the kingdom of Israel that had been taken by Assyria, recorded in 2 Kings 17, All of God's people scattered throughout the various localities of heathendom were to be given the privilege of returning to the home land in Palestine after the fall of Babylon and end of the 70-year captivity.

Verse 22

Eze 37:22. Make them one nation . . . neither divided into two kingdoms. The subject of the 2-tribe and 10-tribe kingdoms has not been changed in the message, hence we have a final evidence that the theory of the "lost 10 tribes” is false.

Verse 23

Eze 37:23. The most important result to be accomplished by the captivity was the cure from idolatry. The first clause of this verse repeats the prediction of that fact and the historical evidence is quoted at Isa 1:25. See the comments at that place in volume 3 of this Commentary.

Verse 24

Eze 37:24. The comment has been made (verse 16) that some things in this chapter would apply to both fleshly and spiritual Israel. The remainder of the chapter is a prominent specimen of that truth. In a general sense this group of verses applies to fleshly Israel restored to the land of Palestine with Jerusalem as the capital. Because of this the reference is made to David since Jerusalem was his capital. Also because under his one capital ail the 12 tribes were to be ruled after the return from Babylon. And it applies more significantly to spiritual Israel because David was the ancestor of Christ who was to be king and shepherd over all the flock of God.

Verse 25

Eze 37:25. The fleshly and spiritual sense of the prophecy are combined in one statement. Fleshly Israel did occupy Ihe land of Palestine after the return from captivity. It is also true that under Christ the son of David the people of God occupy the spiritual land of the kingdom of Christ, the church.

Verse 26

Eze 37:26. This covenant of peace is the one Paul writes about in Heb 8:8-12 and Jeremiah in chapter 31: 31. Sanctuary . . . evermore meaus the kingdom that was pictured to Nebuchadnezzar and was predicted to “stand forever," Dan 2:44.

Verse 27

Eze 37:27. Tabernacle with them indicates the close relationship that was to exist between God and his people. The church is not far off, across the sea, up in the skies, in Samaria or Jerusalem, but anywhere that has "two or three gathered together In [into]” the name of Christ, which means by His authority and according to His law.

Verse 28

Eze 37:28. The literal heathen were shown that God was with Israel when He brought them out of the captivity, as may be observed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. And today the world may behold an institution, the church, that has stood for 19 centuries.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 37". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.