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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Ezekiel 37

Ezekiel 37:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Oracles of Restoration(Ezekiel 33:1-29)
Vision of the Valley of Dry BonesThe Dry Bones LiveVision of the Valley of Dry BonesThe Valley of Dry BonesThe Dry Bones
Ezekiel 37:1-6Ezekiel 37:1-10Ezekiel 37:1-6Ezekiel 37:1-3aEzekiel 37:1-10
Ezekiel 37:3b
Ezekiel 37:4-6
Ezekiel 37:7-10 Ezekiel 37:7-10Ezekiel 37:7-8
Ezekiel 37:9
The Vision Expanded Ezekiel 37:10
Ezekiel 37:11-14Ezekiel 37:11-14Ezekiel 37:11-14Ezekiel 37:11-14Ezekiel 37:11-14
Reunion of Judah and IsraelOne Kingdom, One KingOracle of the Two SticksJudah and Israel in One KingdomJudah and Israel in One Kingdom
Ezekiel 37:15-23Ezekiel 37:15-17Ezekiel 37:15-23Ezekiel 37:15-19Ezekiel 37:15-16
Ezekiel 37:17-19
Ezekiel 37:18-23
The Davidic Kingdom Ezekiel 37:20-28Ezekiel 37:20-28
Ezekiel 37:24-28Ezekiel 37:24-28Ezekiel 37:24-28

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This section of Ezekiel (i.e., Ezek. 33-39) is confusing to me because

1. it is surprising that Edom is condemned again in Ezekiel 35:0 (cf. Ezekiel 25:12-14)

2. it is surprising that after Israel's marvelous restoration she is attacked again by surrounding nations (i.e., Ezek. 38-39)

This section sets the theological stage for John's vision in Revelation 19-20. As surprising as it is, the truth is clear. Spiritual restoration will be followed by conflict! Things are not getting “better and better” (i.e., post-millennialism)! However, a time of spiritual victory will be followed by a time of ultimate victory over evil. It is surely possible that Edom, as well as Gog, Magog, Meshech, and Tubal, is representative of the pervasive evil which attacks God's people.

B. The final literary unit (Ezek. 40-48) is a way of showing that the spiritual apostasy of Ezek. 8-10 is over and God's throne is restored to its special place. The last vision is one of ultimate, complete victory (i.e., a new temple).

C. However, if it is true that one must interpret the OT through the eyes of the NT, then the book of Hebrews tells believers that Ezekiel was a partial, temporary divine revelation (cf. Hebrews 1:1). Progressive revelation negates a new temple! Even 2 Thessalonians 2:4 must be seen as a Greek temple (i.e., “take his seat,” there is no seat in a Jewish Temple). A current popular theology (i.e., dispensationalism) focuses on Israel and Jerusalem, thereby reading the NT through the eyes of the OT. The NT must have priority! The focus of the gospel is Jesus and His death for all humans, not Israel! Please look at my “crucial introduction” to Revelation (Special Topic: Why are OT Covenant Promises so Different from NT Covenant Promises?). Who are the “covenant people” now? Ths is the question!!

D. There are several key terms repeated in this chapter.

1. רוח (BDB 924, KB 1194-1201, see Special Topic: Spirit in the Bible, also used extensively in Ezekiel 1:3, Ezekiel 1:11,42)

a. Spirit, Ezekiel 37:1, Ezekiel 37:14

a. breath, Ezekiel 37:5; Ezekiel 37:5, Ezekiel 37:6, Ezekiel 37:8, Ezekiel 37:9 (twice),10

c. wind, Ezekiel 37:9

2. חיה (BDB 310, KB 309, see Special Topic: Know, also used extensively in Ezek. 18, 33)

a. live, Ezekiel 37:3, Ezekiel 37:9, Ezekiel 37:14

b. come to life, Ezekiel 37:5, Ezekiel 37:6, Ezekiel 37:10

3. ידע, know, Ezekiel 37:3; Ezekiel 37:3, Ezekiel 37:6, Ezekiel 37:13, Ezekiel 37:14, Ezekiel 37:28 (BDB 393, KB 309, used extensively in Ezekiel)

4. כתב, write (BDB 507), Ezekiel 37:16 (twice), 20 (cf. Ezekiel 2:10; Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 24:2; Ezekiel 43:11)

5. נבא, prophesy, Ezekiel 37:4, Ezekiel 37:7 (twice), 9 (twice), 10,12 (BDB 612, KB 659, see Special Topic: Prophecy [OT])

E. There may be a shift in metaphors from a battlefield, full of the unburied, sun-bleached bones in Ezekiel 37:1-11 (esp. Ezekiel 37:10), to a graveyard in Ezekiel 37:12. We must remember this is highly symbolic Hebrew poetic prophecy. Ezekiel is a precursor to the interbiblical apocalyptic literature. However, this chapter is not apocalyptic!

F. Especially in a prophetic book like Ezekiel we must familiarize ourselves with the genre of prophecy. Three small paperback books have helped me navigate these turbulent waters!

1. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (pp. 181-204)

2. Plowshares and Pruning Hooks by D. Brent Sandy

3. Cracking Old Testament Codes by D. Brent Sandy and Ronald Giese

4. Also note Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard, pp. 292-312.

Many personal and denominational dragons (i.e., presuppositions and biases) live in these waters!

G. After thinking through this whole issue of a restored geographical Israel, it becomes obvious why dispensationalsim wants to separate Israel and the church. This relatively new system of thought (see C. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism) takes seriously OT Scripture (cf. Matthew 5:17-19). If OT prophecy is literally true (and I am not sure this is true in light of genre studies, cf. Plowshares and Pruning Hooks by D. Brent Sandy), there must be an end-time national Israel and we learn from Ezek. 38-39 that it will be invaded during a golden age of peace and security.

The problem comes when this is not the theological agenda of the NT, which focuses on believers and unbelievers and depreciates the Jew-Gentile divide (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13). At this point the theological options are difficult to make.

1. OT Scripture has been superceded by the gospel

2. Israel is no longer the key to world evangelization

3. the OT prophesies about national Israel must be rethought

4. the whole theological system of dispensationalism which posits

a. all prophecies must be literally fulfilled to national Israel

b. the church and Israel are totally separate

c. there will be a secret rapture of the church so that OT prophecies can be literally fulfilled to Israel

d. the millennium (and the book of Revelation) are primarily about Israel and not the church

must be rejected as sincere and clever, but misguided! Its presuppositional grid is more logical than biblical! All systems have errors. The Bible does not support “systems.”

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 37:1-6 1The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” 4Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.' 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. 6I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD .'“

Ezekiel 37:1 “The hand of the LORD was upon me” This has been a recurrent literary marker of a new revelation (cf. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14, Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 37:1; Ezekiel 40:1).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND (ILLUSTRATED FROM EZEKIEL)

“by the Spirit of the LORD” The word “Spirit” in Ezekiel 37:1, Ezekiel 37:14 and the word “breath” in Ezekiel 37:5, Ezekiel 37:6, Ezekiel 37:8, Ezekiel 37:9 (twice), and 10 and the word “wind” in Ezekiel 37:9 all relate to one Hebrew term, Ruah (BDB 924), which means “wind, breath, spirit” and is a play on this word throughout this chapter.

SPECIAL TOPIC: SPIRIT IN THE BIBLE

“the valley” This seems to refer to the place of slaughter (cf. Jeremiah 7:32-2). The place of idolatry and judgment (i.e., Jerusalem, the Valley of Topheth, Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, Gehenna) will become the very place of resurrection and restoration.

The real question is to whom does this refer?

1. past idolatrous leaders and Israelites (cf. Jer. 7:37-8:2)

2. current Judeans

3. the righteous remnant (see Special Topic: The Remnant, Three Senses)

4. future Jews

5. symbol of God's people (cf. Ezekiel 37:11)

but not previous idolaters. It seems to me in context that #4 fits best. It is texts like this that cause some to say all Jews will be saved, but this violates too many NT texts, even the Jews of Romans 9-11 (as well as those of Zechariah 12:10) must be repentant believers (cf. Jeremiah 3:22-2). There is no biblical support for the restoration of unbelieving, unrepenting descendants of Abraham. Only the people of faith are his true seed (cf. Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 6:16). Remember that chapter 36 (i.e., new heart, new spirit) sets the contextual stage for chapter 37.

The term “valley” in Ezekiel 37:1 is BDB 132, while Jeremiah 7:32 is BDB 161. However, they may still relate to one another.

Ezekiel 37:4 Notice that the Spirit (wind, breath) and the Word (note Ezekiel 37:14) of the Lord are parallel (cf. Isaiah 59:21). As God (i.e., Jesus, cf. John 1:3, John 1:10; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 2:10) breathed into the newly formed human body (cf. Genesis 2:7) to create persons for fellowship, so He does again!

This emphasizes the power of the Word of God (cf. Ezekiel 6:3; Ezekiel 13:2, Ezekiel 13:6; Ezekiel 16:35; Ezekiel 20:47; Ezekiel 25:3; Ezekiel 34:7, Ezekiel 34:9; Ezekiel 36:1; Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 24:35). This is a re-creation event!

Ezekiel 37:5 This is parallel to Genesis 2:7 (notice Ezekiel 37:8); there by God (i.e., Jesus) and here by His Spirit (cf. Ezekiel 37:14). Only God can give and sustain life! Only He has life! Here the “life” is national restoration to the Promised Land. The reversal of exile (national death) is the renewal of the covenant promises (conditional on covenant obedience, cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-28).

Ezekiel 37:6 This is a recurrent theme, usually connected to judgment (i.e., Ezekiel 35:9; Ezekiel 38:23; Ezekiel 39:6), but here to symbolic resurrection of a whole people (i.e., Joel 2:27; Joel 3:17). In Isaiah 49:0 this phrase is linked to the inclusion of the Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13). This has always been God's plan! See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan.

Verses 7-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 37:7-10 7So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.'“ 10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Ezekiel 37:7 “a noise” The term (BDB 876) can refer to

1. a human voice (Ezekiel 27:30; Ezekiel 33:32)

2. a sound (cf. Genesis 3:8, Genesis 3:9)

3. the Lord's voice (Isaiah 6:8)

4. Cherubim wings (Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 3:13; Ezekiel 10:5)

5. Seraphim's voice (Isaiah 6:4)

6. angel (Daniel 8:16)

7. animals/chariots (Ezekiel 3:13)

8. musical instrument

9. thunder

10. lament (Ezekiel 26:15; Ezekiel 31:16)

BDB (#2g) calls it an earthquake. However, the context implies it was the sound (i.e., rattling) of bones coming together. That these unburied bones could live again is amazing symbolism of resurrection and forgiveness (both corporate and individual).

“a rattling” In Ezekiel 12:18 this same word (BDB 950) is used of fear and trembling. It can also refer to an earthquake (cf. 1 Kings 19:11, 1 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 29:6; Ezekiel 38:19; Amos 1:11; Zechariah 14:5). These bones made a lot of noise as they assembled themselves.

Ezekiel 37:8 Apparently the bones were scattered on the ground. At Ezekiel's prophesying they came together as a complete skeleton, but still lying on the ground (cf. Ezekiel 37:10b). This cannot be used as a proof-text that Israel will return to the Promised Land unconverted (i.e., The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Lee Feinberg, p. 213.

Ezekiel 37:9 “say to the breath” This verse has five commands.

1.,2. “prophesy,” BDB 612, KB 659, Niphal IMPERATIVES directed to Ezekiel (cf. Ezekiel 37:12)

3. “come,” BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. “breathe,” BDB 655, KB 708, Qal IMPERATIVE directed to the breath/wind/spirit

5. “come to life,” BDB 310, KB 309, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense to the newly formed bodies

This word “breath” can also be translated “wind,” “spirit.” Notice this breath is personified.

1. It comes from the four corners of the earth (cf. Isaiah 43:5).

2. It, itself, breathes breath on the inanimate human bodies.

3. It comes into the human bodies (Ezekiel 37:10) and brings life.

This is all parallel to Genesis 2:0 (esp. Ezekiel 37:7). This is new life before the Fall, a new chance at obedience with a new heart and a new spirit!

“from the four winds” This is a metaphor for all directions. The exiles will return from all directions; the Spirit is with them and will bring them home.

Note the enemies of chapters 38-39 are also from all directions. Evil is also pervasive!

Ezekiel 37:10 “an exceedingly great army” Although this Hebrew term (BDB 298) can mean “army” (i.e., Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 27:10), it can be understood as a multitude (cf. NRSV, note Ezekiel 37:11). The new Israel does not need a great army, they have a great God (this is why chapters 38-39 are so surprising)!

Verses 11-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 37:11-14 11Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' 12Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. 14I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.'“

Ezekiel 37:11 “we are completely cut off” There is a possible manuscript issue in this phrase.

NASB“we are completely cut off” NKJV“we ourselves are completely cut off” NRSV“we are cut off completely” LXX“we are quite spent” or “we are lost” PESHITTA“we are completely gone”

The Tyndale OT Commentary Series, Ezekiel, by John Taylor mentions that F. Perles redivides the phrase to “our thread-of-life has been cut off” (238), which fits the context better than “we have been cut off for us” (Niphal PERFECT).

This refers to the Judean's view of themselves in light of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the exile of the Davidic King. There was no hope humanly speaking (cf. Ezekiel 19:5)!

Ezekiel 37:12-14 These are covenant promises (i.e., the land, cf. Ezekiel 37:12, Ezekiel 37:14) and covenant title (i.e., “My people,” Ezekiel 37:12, Ezekiel 37:13). The covenant is renewed! Destruction and exile have ceased.

Again one asks the question, when did or will this occur?

1. post-exilic return under Nehemiah (seed of David) and Joshua (seed of High Priest)

2. some future time

Because Israel was attacked again by Rome and the temple destroyed again (A.D. 70), many modern interpreters assert a future orientation. There are certainly eschatological elements in chapters 36-48! My focus is on the conditional nature of prophecy. This reflects what God wanted His people to be and do, as well as what He wanted to do for them, but Genesis 3:0 (the Fall) got in the way again. Mankind's fallen propensity can be dealt with only by the Messiah's work and the new age (new covenant). Chapter 36 surely reflects this, but what of 38-39? Israel is attacked again by surrounding enemies. Security is challenged!

The question is, “Was the opposition caused by

1. Israel's continuing sin

2. evil's attack on God?”

Number 1 fits the post-exilic period (cf. Malachi).

The hard question is, “Must all prophecy be literally fulfilled to Israel?” I think not. The NT focuses on Jesus, not Israel. The NT widens the OT promises to all humans. The national and/or geographic promises to Israel are not repeated or mentioned by Jesus or the Apostles! This is very surprising, but true (see Special Topic at Ezekiel 34:26).

Ezekiel 37:12 “Thus says the Lord GOD” This recurrent literary phrase introduces (list from NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 445)

1. judgment against the surrounding nations (cf. Ezekiel 25:3; Ezekiel 30:2)

2. judgment against individuals (cf. Ezekiel 28:2; Ezekiel 39:1)

3. judgment against Judah (cf. Ezekiel 5:8; Ezekiel 12:19)

a. her mountains, Ezekiel 6:3

b. her false religious leaders, Ezekiel 13:3, Ezekiel 13:18

c. her faithlessness, Ezekiel 20:30

d. her injustices, Ezekiel 45:9

4. call for Judah to repent (cf. Ezekiel 14:6)

5. message of restoration and forgiveness (cf. Ezekiel 36:33; Ezekiel 37:12, Ezekiel 37:21; Ezekiel 39:25)

6. message of hope to Ezekiel himself (cf. Ezekiel 2:4; Ezekiel 3:11)

Verses 15-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 37:15-23 15The word of the LORD came again to me saying, 16”And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' 17Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18When the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' 19say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”' 20The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.”

Ezekiel 37:16 This is a symbol of the reuniting of Israel's tribes that politically split in 922 B.C. under Solomon's son, Rehoboam (Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, and most of Levi) and the Emphraimatic labor leader, Jeroboam I, who took the Northern Ten Tribes.

Note the IMPERATIVES in this paragraph.

1. “take,” Ezekiel 37:16, Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 542, KB 534)

2. “write,” Ezekiel 37:16, Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 507, KB 503)

3. “take,” Ezekiel 37:16, Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB542, KB 534)

4. “write, Ezekiel 37:16, Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB507, KB 503)

5. “join,” Ezekiel 37:17, Piel IMPERATIVE (BDB 897, KB 1132)

6. “declare,”Ezekiel 37:18; Ezekiel 37:18 Hiphil IMPERATIVE (BDB 616, KB 665)

7. “say,” Ezekiel 37:19, Piel IMPERATIVE (BDB 180, KB 210)

8. “say,” Ezekiel 37:21 Piel IMPERATIVE (BDB 180, KB 210)

Ezekiel 37:17-22 The one God will have one people, with one leader, in one place! This sense of “oneness” is also found in Ephesians 4:4-6. It only makes sense that the one God (i.e., monotheism) who made all humans in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) for fellowship, and who promised to redeem all humans in Genesis 3:15, would provide a way (Christ, cf. John 1:12; John 3:16; John 4:42) for all humans to come into this fellowship (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 4:14).

In this context the oneness refers to a reunification of Israel and Judah. The people of God will be united again.

This text is a foreshadowing of the NT oneness! Monotheism demands a universal fulfillment to those who believe, not to those who can document their lineage. See Special Topic: Monotheism.

My biases are showing in this chapter! I pray they are biblically based!

Ezekiel 37:18 Ezekiel has been asked and has responded to several questions by the exiled Israeli community (cf. Ezekiel 12:9; Ezekiel 21:7; Ezekiel 24:19).

Ezekiel 37:23 It is true that the exile cured God's people of idolatry, but unfortunately other sins returned as the book of Malachi and interbiblical history show.

YHWH does cleanse His people, but the pull of the fallen nature traps them again. They need the nature which only comes with the new covenant (Ezekiel 36:22-38; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Joel 2:28-32).

There is a possible manuscript variant in this verse.

1. NASB, NKJV “dwelling places”

2. NRSV “all their apostasies into which they have fallen”

3. TEV “all the ways in which they sin and betray Me”

4. NJB “the acts of infidelity which they have committed”

The MT has מושבתיהם, “their dwellings” (BDB 444), but many modern translations have משובתיהם, “their backslidings” (BDB 1000). This kind of reversal of letters is surely possible in hand-copied manuscripts over an extended period of time.

Verses 24-28

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 37:24-28 24”My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”'“

Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them” This is a Messianic title and shows the new-covenant focus of this context (cf. Ezekiel 34:23-24; Isaiah 55:3-5; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). See Special Topic: OT Titles of the Special Coming One.

It is surely possible that a new Davidic ruler, with a heart towards YHWH, will be manifested in order to fulfill 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalms 89:0; and Genesis 49:10! This ideal, godly king became a rallying hope for a godly people and the fulfillment of the conditional covenant promises. David was sinful, yet forgiven, so too, Israel! Restoration and salvation are the work of God (i.e., new heart and new spirit), but the new covenant must be received and walked in!

“they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them” For the terms “ordinances” (BDB 1048) and “statutes” (BDB 349) see the Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation.

The VERB “walk” (BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERFECT) denotes a lifestyle obedience, as do the next two VERBS.

1. “keep,” BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal IMPERFECT

2. “observe,” BDB 793, KB 889, Qal PERFECT

God's covenant people will be an obedient, godly people. This does not denote sinlessness, but a heart for God and His word (cf. 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:9). By their fruits you shall know them (Matthew 7:15-23, i.e., false prophets).

Ezekiel 37:25, Ezekiel 37:26 “forever. . .everlasting. . .forever” This word (BDB 761) must be dealt with in context (cf. Ezekiel 37:28) and it seems to imply the eternal kingdom, as in the book of Daniel (cf. Daniel 7:14). It seems inappropriate to use this for the return from the exile (i.e., post-exilic period) or for the millennium (Revelation 20:0).

SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('OLAM)

One Greek idiomatic phrase is “unto the ages” (cf. Luke 1:33; Romans 1:25; Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; Galatians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:17), which may reflect the Hebrew 'olam. See Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, pp. 321-319. Other related phrases are “unto the age” (cf. Matthew 21:19 [Mark 11:14]; Thess. 1:55; John 6:58; John 8:35; John 12:34; John 13:8; John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 9:9) and “of the age of the ages” (cf. Ephesians 3:21). There seems to be no distinction between these idioms for “forever.” The term “ages” may be plural in a figurative sense of the rabbinical grammatical construction called “the plural of majesty” or it may refer to the concept of several “ages” in the Jewish sense of “age of innocence,” “age of wickedness,” “age to come,” or “age of righteousness.”

Ezekiel 37:26 “a covenant of peace” This same period of restoration is discussed in chapts. 16 and 20. For the term “covenant,” see Special Topic: Covenant. The full phrase “covenant of peace” is mentioned in Ezekiel 34:25. The covenant of peace is contingent on repentance, trust/faith/belief, obedience, and perseverance, as is the “new covenant” fully clarified in the NT. It is free from a sovereign God, but it has requirements! The very concept of “covenant” implies responsibilities on both parties!

NASB“And I will place them and multiply them” NKJV“I will establish them and multiply them” NRSV“and I will bless them and multiply them” TEV“I will establish them and increase their population” NJB“I will resettle them and make them grow” LXX----omits---- PESHITTA“and I will multiply them”

The VERB “give” or “set” (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal PERFECT with waw) is repeated twice. It seems that the LXX translators left out an entire phrase.

The MT has “set” or “establish,” but NRSV changes the VERB to “bless.” The UBS Hebrew OT Text Project gives “set” a B rating (some doubt).

“an everlasting covenant” The NIV Study Bible, p. 1279, has a good footnote about this. It is used sixteen times in the OT. Here are some examples.

1. Noah, Genesis 9:16

2. Abraham, Genesis 17:7; Genesis 17:7, Genesis 17:13, Genesis 17:19 (cf. Psalms 105:9-10)

3. David, 2 Samuel 23:5 (cf. Ezekiel 7:12; Isaiah 55:3)

4. the “new covenant,” Jeremiah 32:40 (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 50:5)

5. earlier in Ezekiel, Ezekiel 16:60

6. new Israel, Isaiah 61:8

It is found most often in Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 61:8).

Ezekiel 37:28 God wants a righteous people who reflect His character to the nations. Israel was meant to be “a kingdom of priests” (cf. Exodus 19:5-6), but this wonderful call turned into an elitism! The goal of creation is not Israel, but the whole world in fellowship with its Creator. Monotheism cannot become a weapon of exclusivism. It must become a promise of inclusion!

“I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel” YHWH transfers His holiness to His people (cf. Ezekiel 20:12). They are holy because of their relationship to Him. Now this positional sanctification must become fleshed out. See Special Topic at Ezekiel 20:12.

“when My sanctuary is in their midst forever” YHWH's sanctuary was abandoned by Him in chapters 8-10. Now Ezekiel asserts it will return to a sanctified, united Israel under a new Davidic ruler. Chapters 40-48 are a graphic symbol of this new day. This may be an allusion to Exodus 25:8.

However, as the temple was central in the OT, Jesus, the true temple, becomes central in the NT (cf. Matthew 26:61; Matthew 27:40; Mark 14:58; Mark 15:29; John 2:19; Acts 6:14). You may say to yourself, why bring Jesus into Ezekiel? He is the fulfillment of the OT. It is no longer about Israel (cf. John 8:31-59). These OT symbols and prophecies have their ultimate fulfillment and expansion through Him!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How do Ezekiel 36:0 and 37 relate to the people of Ezekiel's day?

2. How do they relate to end-time events?

3. Why are Deuteronomy 27:0 and 28 such important passages?

4. Explain what Ezekiel 36:27 means when it says, “I will put My Spirit within them.”

5. Summarize Ezekiel 37:0 in one sentence in your own words.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 37". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-37.html. 2021.