Could Isaiah 26:19 saying, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”, be taken as the OT prophecy pointing forward to NT resurrection?


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The words of this verse are "יִֽחְי֣וּ מֵתֶ֔יךָ נְבֵלָתִ֖י יְקוּמ֑וּן הָקִ֨יצוּ וְרַנְּנ֜וּ שֹׁכְנֵ֣י עָפָ֗ר כִּ֣י טַ֤ל אוֹרֹת֙ טַלֶּ֔ךָ וָאָ֖רֶץ רְפָאִ֥ים תַּפִּֽיל׃" "Let Your dead live, נבלתי יקומון. Awake and sing, those who dwell in the dust, for Your dew is the dew of light and the land of the shades You bring to life." (Isaiah 26:19). The confusing words here are נבלתי יקומון. The word נבלתי is a singular noun; whereas the word יקומון is is a plural verb which means arise. There is a lack of agreement between these words makes this passage confusing. The more important word is נבלתי; however, the word יקומון cannot be translated without properly understanding what נבלתי means.

The context of this verse is that of a song which will be sung in Judah as it says "בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא יוּשַׁ֥ר הַשִּׁיר־הַזֶּ֖ה בְּאֶ֣רֶץ יְהוּדָ֑ה עִ֣יר עָז־לָ֔נוּ יְשׁוּעָ֥ה יָשִׁ֖ית חוֹמ֥וֹת וָחֵֽל׃" "On that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah. Our city is mighty. He makes victory in our inner and outer wall" (Isaiah 26:1). Through the words "Our city is mighty," we understand that this is most likely the Jews singing about Jerusalem. Thus Isaiah 26:19 must also be spoken by the Jews. It is to be sung after the events of Isaiah 25 which include the destruction of death in Isaiah 25:8.

Back to Isaiah 26:19. The word נבלתי could mean several things. It must come from the word נבלה which means "a corpse." The translation difficulty comes from understanding which grammatical form this word is using. The first possible structure would have this word meaning "my corpse" as Ibn Ezra understands it. According to this reading, the verse reads as "Let Your dead live along with my corpse, let them rise [...]". This is a possible reading; however, it has several issues. The first being that there is the particle ו (and) missing before the word since this word alone can not be the subject of the verb after it. The next issue is the context of who is singing this song. Since this is a song to be sung after death is destroyed, it would not make sense for the people singing this song to be talking about their dead bodies being resurrected since their bodies will not die. It also would not fit the use of the first person plural pronoun "we" which the people use to describe themselves.

The next possibility is that it could mean a corpse in general. This reading would have נבלתי as the subject of יקומון causing it to read as "Let Your dead live. Let corpses rise [...]". This possibility also has some issues such as the word נבלתי being singular. This can be resolved because this behavior of a singular object describing a collections of plural occasionally gets a plural verb such as in I Kings 1:39 and in several other places. This possibility is more likely because it better fits the context of the song.

This passage is referring to the eventual resurrection of the dead at the end of days. It is not referring to an earlier event. Another interesting detail from this song is that death will be destroyed before the dead resurrect.


Almost all versions provide an interpretive translation for Isa 26:19. The most literal versions I found here is Webster and NKJV who translates as per the OP.

Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.

The context of this chapter of Isa 26 is a picture of what will happen "in that day" (V1), a phrase almost always used to denote Judgement day of the LORD when He establishes His perfect kingdom, eg, Amos 8:3, 9, Isa 27:1, Eze 30:9, Zech 14:20, Micah 4:6, etc, compare Mal 4. See especially Isa 26:21.

The prophecy in Isa 26 predicts that "Jerusalem" would be secure and in perfect peace, all enemies would be subdued and all inhabitants will be righteous. {this has never been the case so far in history!]

In V14 we have what will happen to God's enemies the wicked:

They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish.

By contrast the righteous are prophesied "to live", that is, the dead who live "in the dust" (ie, grave, compare Job 40:13, Dan 12:2, Job 21:26, 20:11).

Thus, Isaiah anticipates the later prophecies such as:

  • Dan 12:2 - Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
  • John 5:28, 29 - Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
  • 1 Cor 15:51-53 - Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

The Pulpit commentary has this for Isa 26:19 -

Awake and sing; rather, awake and shout for joy (comp. Psalm 35:27; Psalm 67:4, etc.). Ye that dwell in dust (comp. Daniel 12:2, "Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake"). Thy dew is as the dew of herbs; i.e. refreshing, vivifying, potent to make even dead bones live. "Thy dew" may be said with reference to Jehovah, for changes in the person addressed are frequent in Isaiah; or with reference to the people of Israel, meaning, "the dew which Jehovah will shed on thee," i.e. on thy dead.


For completeness I should mention that Benson and Barnes see in this chapter a prophecy of the restoration of national Israel after the Babylonian and thus, the allusion to resurrection of dead bodies is used as a metaphor of the Israelite national restoration. I beg to differ because the description of such a restored Israel never eventuated, either politically, spiritually nor morally. Further, the parallels with other resurrection passages appear too striking to be ignored.


Isaiah 26:19:- prophecy forward-looking to the resurrection?

"Yes," it can be taken as the OT prophecy pointing forward to NT resurrection.The prophet Isaiah painted this touching picture of the resurrection:

Isaiah 26:19 (ESV)

19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

It is indeed comforting to know that the dead are not forgotten by God and that under God's kingdom they will be brought back to life. Yes, God promises to swallow death forever, no one will die from natural causes or cry because of losing a loved one.

Isaiah 25:8 NASB

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord [b]God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.

Revelation 21:3-4 NET

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence[a] of God is among human beings.[b] He[c] will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them.[d] 4 He[e] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist anymore—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”

Mark 12:26 NASB

But regarding the fact that the dead rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

John 5:28-29 NASB

Do not be amazed at this; for [a]a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come out: those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the bad deeds to a resurrection of judgment

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