|I agree with you that deleting the inbox will not restore the emails even if it does rebuild.|
This is an untried shot in the dark. Make a new box from within OE, called whatever you like (let's say "Test"). Take a "copy" of your present, faulty, inbox.dbx folder and rename it to "Test.dbx". Now copy this over to replace the Test.dbx you made previously. If by chance the emails arrive in your new Test box then at least they are available and might drag over into your Inbox.
If the above should happen to work then you could, instead, drag them over to your new inbox (after deletion), assuming it rebuilds - I've never tried.
some other bloke...