Professor George Bush (1796-1859)
The Vision of the Dry Bones is a biblical prophecy that describes, among other biblical events, God's promise to the people of Israel for their homeland in the land of Israel. In the middle of the 19th century, an American scholar named George Bush, took this prophecy and located it in the heart of his spiritual and academic work, which had also expressed his religious beliefs. George Bush's works and views were actually Zionist, even before the Zionist movement had started to shape.
After he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1818, Bush studied Theology at the Princeton University and was a tutor during the years 1823-1824. Later, he spent four years as a Christian Missionary in Indiana and was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry. In 1831, Bush became Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature at the New York University. His Biblical scholarship led him to become solidly convinced of the prophecies foretelling the people of Israel's return to their homeland. His first book though, was concerning a Muslim leader- "The Life of Mohammed", a groundbreaking book for being the first biography of the religious leader written by an American Author.
In 1844, Bush published some of his writings that were considered relatively radical at that time in America. Among those works was the Hierophant Magazine, a monthly magazine devoted to the elucidation of scriptural prophecies. In addition, he had issued a piece called "Anastasis", in which he opposed the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the body. This work attracted much attention and attacks, which led him to answer with his publication "The Resurrection of Christ".
In the same year, he published his views in a landmark book entitled “The Valley of Vision; or, The Dry Bones of Israel Revived”, based on the prophecies of Ezekiel in the Bible. In this book, Bush called for the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel. He said: “The dispersed and downcast remnant shall, one after another, turn their faces to Zion ... find their way to the land of their fathers...This will not only benefit the Jews, but all mankind, forming a link of communication between humanity and God". Although considered radical for those days, “The Valley of Vision” sold more than a million copies- an unheard amount for the era before the American Civil War, and it turned Professor Bush into a national voice calling for the restoration of the Jewish people to their historic homeland. His writing had a profound impact in shaping their views of the Jews and their homeland, including men of influence like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt.
In 1845, one year later, Bush became the editor of the "New Church Repositor", a monthly review. In the same year, he translated and published the diary of Emanuel Swedenborg, and wrote many defenses of his new faith. Many decades later, two of his descendants, who were named after him, became presidents of United States.
George Bush himself and his publications are considered to be very important Zionist activities before the rise of the Zionist movement. The public support of the biblical prophecies for a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel required a revolutionary thought and courage. A century later, his assertion have been answered in the shape of a new Jewish state in the land of Israel- the state of Israel.