What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
was left now of the people of Judah was a company of
captives, carried away from their own land to the
land of Babylon. Theirs was a long, sorrowful
journey, with their wives and children, dragged by
cruel soldiers over mountains and valleys almost a
thousand miles. They could not go straight across
the vast desert which lies between the land of Judah
and the plains of Babylonia. They were led around
this desert far to the north, through Syria, up to
the Euphrates river, and then following the great
river in all its windings down to the land of their
captivity. There in the land of Babylonia or Chaldea
they found rest at last.
When they were once in their new home the captives
met with less trouble than they had feared; for the
people of the land under Nebuchadnezzar, the great
king, treated them kindly, and gave them fields to
work in as their own. The soil was rich, and they
could raise large crops of wheat, and barley, and
other grains. They planted gardens and built for
themselves houses. Some of them went to live in the
cities, and became rich, and some were in the court
of King Nebuchadnezzar, and rose to high places as
nobles and princes, standing next to the king in
rank and honor.
And the best of all was that these captives in a
strange land did not worship idols. They saw the
images of the Babylonian gods all around them, but
they did not bow down to them. They worshipped the
Lord God of their fathers, and the Lord only. The
idol worshippers in Judah had been slain, and most
of the captives were good men and women, who taught
their children to love and serve the lord.
And these people did not forget the land from which
they had come. They loved the land of Israel, and
they taught their children to love it by singing
songs about it. Some of these songs which the
captive Jews sang in the land of Chaldea are in the
Book of Psalms. Here is a part of one of these
rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willow-trees in the midst of that land
We hanged up our harps
For there they that led us captive asked us to sing;
And they that wanted us asked us to be glad, saying,
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How shall we sing the Lord's song
In a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her skill,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I do not remember thee
If I do not prefer Jerusalem
Above my chief joy."
this time these people were called Jews, a name
which means "people of Judah." And the Jews
everywhere in the world belong to this people, for
they have sprung or descended from the men who once
lived in the land of Judah. And because they had
once belonged to the twelve tribes of Israel, and
ten of the tribes had been lost, and their kingdom
had forever passed away, they were also spoken of as
Israelites. So from this time "people of Judah,"
Jews, and Israelites, all mean the people who had
come from the land of Judah, and their descendants
God was good to his people in the land of Babylon,
or Chaldea, another name by which this country was
called. He sent to them prophets, who showed to them
the way of the Lord. One of these prophets was
Daniel, a young man who lived in the court of King
Nebuchadnezzar. Another was a priest named Ezekiel,
who lived among the captive people beside a river in
Chaldea, called the river Cheban. God gave to
Ezekiel wonderful visions. He saw the throne of the
Lord, and the strange creatures with six wings, that
the prophet Isaiah had seen long before. And he
heard the voice of the Lord telling him of what
should come to his people in the years to come.
At one time the Lord lifted up Ezekiel and brought
him into the middle of a great valley. The prophet
looked around, and saw that the valley was covered
with the bones of men, as though a great battle had
been fought upon it, and the bodies of the slain had
been left there, and they had become a vast army of
"Son of man," spoke the voice of the Lord to
Ezekiel, "can these dry bones live again?"
And Ezekiel answered, "O Lord God, thou knowest
whether these dry bones can live."
Then the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Preach to these dry
bones, O son of man, and say to them, 'O ye dry
bones, hear the voice of the Lord. Thus saith the
Lord, I will send breath into you, and you shall
live, and I will put flesh upon you, and cover you
with skin, and you shall be alive again, and know
that I am the Lord.' "
Then Ezekiel spoke to the army of dry bones spread
over the valley, as the Lord bade him speak. And
while he was speaking there sounded a noise of
rolling thunder, and all through the field the
different bones began to come together, one part to
another part, until they were no more loose bones,
but skeletons of bones fitted together. Then another
change came. Suddenly the flesh grew over all the
bones, and they lay on the ground like an army of
dead men, a host of bodies without life.
Then the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Speak to the wind, O
son of man; speak, and say, 'Come from the four
winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that
they may live.' "
Then Ezekiel called upon the wind to come, and while
he was speaking the dead bodies began to breathe.
Then they stood up on their feet, a great army of
living men, filling the whole valley. Then the Lord
said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, these dry bones are
the people of Israel. They seem to be lost, and
dead, and without hope. But they shall live again,
for I, the Lord, will put life into them; and they
shall go back to their own land, and be a people
once more. I, the Lord, have spoken to it, and I
will do it."
When Ezekiel told the captive people this vision
their hearts were lifted up with a new hope that
they should see their own land again.