Note: this remarkable prophecy resists a simple analysis. The vision and the two prophecies described in verses 1-10 are explained in verses 11-14. The first command to prophesy covers the complete resurrection of Israel and their acknowledgement of YHWH, but the first fulfilment falls short of this – only the bodies and flesh come together – there is still no life. It takes a second prophesying to bring breath/life to the corpses. When this is explained in verses 12-14 these two stages can be recognised. Firstly, verse 12 explains the coming together of the bones and flesh as the opening of the graves and the regathering of “the bones” of Israel to the land. Secondly, in verses 13 and 14 there is a repetition of the regathering to the land but with the addition of the acknowledgement of YHWH and the bodies come to life. This suggests that the full restoration of Israel takes two stages – firstly a regathering to the land, and secondly a spiritual revival afterwards.
A. Vision of the valley of dry bones –
1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
Question: can the LORD bring them back to life –
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
B1. First command to prophesy –
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones;
Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
First Prophecy and fulfilment –
7 and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
B2. Second command to prophesy –
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind,
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
Second prophecy and fulfilment –
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me,
and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
A’. Vision of valley of dry bones explained –
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
B1′. First prophecy explained –
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
B2.’ Second prophecy explained –
13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.