Vers. 11–14.The Divine Interpretation of the Vision
The process in the vision vers. 1–10 is symbolical, as shown by the phrase in ver. 11: these bones are, etc., which refers to the whole vision as it treated of the bones. Hence the bones, which lay there very dry, but at Jehovah’s word became alive, which were very many (ver. 2), a very great army (ver. 10), bear the sense of and signify the whole house of Israel; and this already prepares for the second section of our chapter. According to Hitzig, Judah and Israel combined denote the State broken up by the war, and also the generation cut off by it; against which view we observe that the dead cannot be “saying” here any more than the bones, but, as in ch. 11:15 sq., the Israel in exile must be contemplated, who now indeed compared themselves to the dead, but to whom, on the contrary, life is immediately (ver. 12) to be proclaimed and promised. In what they say (comp. ch. 33:10) is contained the so frequently overlooked tertium comparationis, and the cause for the vision in vers. 1–10. Hence the divine interpretation does not primarily start from the outward condition of the people in general, and still less from that of a part of them, the dead of Israel, but from what the despair of those in exile says, hence from the frame of mind which thus found voice: our bones are dried, etc.
The relation of יָבְשׁוּ and יְבֵשׁוֹת (ver. 2) to each other is evident.—נִגְזַרְנוּ, properly: “cut off,” separated, shut out from God’s help (Ps. 88:6 , 31:23 ; Isa. 53:8).—לָנוּ, according to Gesenius, a superfluous pronominal dative, as much as to say: We are undone. Hitzig: Reduced to ourselves. [Delitzsch: It is over with us. Hengst.: We are cut off for us, referring the “for us” to the sadness of the fact for those concerned.] The language which they employ corresponds thoroughly to the question in ver. 3. That which, believing themselves abandoned, without any hope (ch. 19:5) of again rising up to be a nation, they say of themselves, Ezekiel beheld in the valley,—merely very dry bones. So much the more, and the more literally, can what was done with these bones, a procedure which the prophet had to prophesy, and was afterwards permitted to behold, avail as a promise to them.—Ver. 12 therefore parallel to ver. 4 sq., but still keeping primarily in view the despairing speech of the exiles: הִנָּבֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ, not yet, however, הנֵּה אֲנִימֵבִיא בָכֶם רוּחַ׳ (ver. 5), as ver. 14 hereafter, but first: behold, I open your graves, meaning thereby the abodes of the exile, since the Jews who were in exile considered themselves like dead men. The accommodating interpretation changes the valley with the many bones on its surface into many graves, which have “to be opened,” etc.
My people, here and in the following a very comforting title. Israel, however, ought always to be so, and therefore also to have constantly been so. Consequently we have at the same time prominence given to the contrast between Israel’s destiny and its deadly despair, and hence a notification of its unbelief and offences in general.—What in the vision the clothing with sinews, flesh, and skin was in relation to the bones (ver. 6 sq.), could in the interpretation applying to the living be regarded as political restoration, as this has to begin with leading out of Babylon and bringing back to Canaan.—Ver. 13. וִידַעְתֶּם reminds of וִידַעְתֶּם in ver. 6.—Ver. 14 takes up וְנָתַתִּי בָכֶם רוּחַ of ver. 6 and the rest of the vision, pointing, however, by רוּחִי to ch. 36:27, as by וְהִנַּחְתִּי to לְעוֹלָם in the following, for which comp. ch. 28:26, 34. The inspiriting and quickening for a home system which is to have permanence, and especially in the case of a people like Israel, will of necessity be spiritual and religious.—Isa. 14:1.—Ch. 17:24, 22:14, 36:36.
Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Schröder, W. J., Fairbairn, P., Findlay, W., Crerar, T., & Manson, S. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Ezekiel (p. 350). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.