These two verses have suffered badly at the hands of translators. As Rotherham suggested, the subject of the passage is the "other lords" of verse 13. It is like saying, "When our enemies die, we have done with them for ever; even though, for a time, they have been our 'lords.'"
The following is set forth as a possible tentative rendering which might help to a solution of the meaning of the passage.
These other lords are (verse 14):
Dying ones, they will fail to keep alive;
Healers will fail to raise them.
Therefore Thou dost visit them and wilt devastate them,
And Thou wilt make lost every recollection of them.
For verse 19 I would suggest:
Your dying ones will live,
Their carcases will rise. . . . .
And earth to healers shall give birth.
The last line is based upon Rotherham. The Revised Standard Version reads, "and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall" (that is, the dew or night mist). There is, however, no proper foundation for rendering the Hebrew word rephaim as "shades." The word means healers.
The Septuagint reads in v. 19 as follows: "The dead will rise, and those in the tombs will be roused, and those in the earth will be gladdened. For the dew which is from thee is healing to them, yet the land of the irreverent ones will fall." Here it seems likely that the Greek text renders Rephaim as though it had been reshayim, which means wrongdoers.
Vast millions of human beings lie buried in our earth, of whom all recollection has long since been lost. But that fact does not imply that God has forgotten them.
The last line of v. 19 has been rendered, "and the earth shall cast out the dead," where the final word is really is Rephaim. The Hebrew says "And earth shall cause healer to fall." There is not a word to shew that 1. Cor. 15:22 is untrue of anyone here mentioned. Nor is there anything to shew that the peoples known as the Rephaim, were unhuman.
AT. Last updated 13.6.2006