What is the meaning and force of the passage in Isaiah 26:19, which reads: "Thy dew is as the dew of herbs"?
The full text reads: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." This prophecy met a direct fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ and those saints who were raised with Him. Concerning this incident, inspiration makes this comment:
"As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they came forth with Him. They were those who had been colaborers with God, and who at the cost of their lives had borne testimony to the truth. . . . During His ministry, Jesus had raised the dead to life. He had raised the son of the widow of Nain, and the ruler's daughter, and Lazarus. But these were not clothed with immortality. After they were raised, they were still subject to death. But those who came forth from the grave at Christ's resurrection, were raised to everlasting life."—"The Desire of Ages," p. 786.
In this discussion we will not concern ourselves with the questions as to who they were, how many they were, or why they were raised; but as to their condition after being raised. The quotation just cited says they were "raised to everlasting life." The Bible expresses the same thought in the words, "For thy dew is as the dew of herbs." This resurrection was the dawn of the new or immortal life to them. Instead of the words, "the dew of herbs," Dr. Adam Clarke translates it thus: "the dew of dawn." This, he says, is according to the Vulgate (Latin), Syriac, and Chaldee. The Septuagint version uses for the word "dew," the Greek word (drosos). This word is used for dew or a light rain, much as the word "drop" is used in English. The primary meaning of the word drosos is "anything tender; the young of animals." Applying this meaning to the text in hand, it would signify that they were resurrected to the tenderness of eternal youth or of young and tender herbs. The Hebrew word is (tal), which means dew or gentle rain. This word comes from an Arabic root (tolal), meaning "moisten." From this fact the phrase in hand might be translated, "Thy moisture shall be as the moisture of the tender herbs."
The word "dew" is found in several passages of the Bible; but the most significant meaning is found in Psalms 110:3, which reads as follows: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." The marginal reading is: "More than the womb of the morning: thou shalt have the dew of thy youth." In the light of the preceding renderings, this text might read: "More than the womb of the morning: thou shalt have the dew, moisture, tenderness of thy youth."
In the book of Hosea, God says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon." Hosea 14:5. The redeemed are here described as plants which receive the gentle dews which refresh them, and they grow and flourish. God says, "I will be as the dew." In age, men and all living things dry up, wither, and lose their moisture of youth; but the faithful will awake to immortal youth.
W.R. French, Dean. School of Theology. Pacific Union College.