Epibole (Overlaid Repetition) (page 346)

“E-pi’-bo-lee is from ἐπιβάλλειν (epiballein), to cast upon. The figure is so named, because the same sentence or phrase is cast upon or laid upon (like layers or courses of bricks) several successive paragraphs.
It thus differs from Anaphora (q.v.) in that it consists of the repetition of several words, whereas in Anaphora only one word is repeated.”
(See Anaphora)

Ex. 16:35
And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

Here we can clearly see that a word or words are intentionally repeated, and at an irregular interval. They appear not at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence or thought, but they are repeated nonetheless. Their form differs from other figures of repetition, such as Anaphora, which is successive in the placement of its word(s). This is Epibole’s
Form, which Functions by grabbing our attention, causing us to stop and consider the words being repeated. It thus Fulfills the Purpose of bringing our thought back to something especially important, and to be remembered.

Num. 9:18
At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

Num. 9:3
In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

3 the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.

I wouldn’t consider this a mid-sentence repetition, as that would come before “
and in the place where the cloud abode,” nor is it exactly at the end of the sentence. Its form is somewhat irregular, therefore we should consider it to be an Epibole. It brings our thought back to the “whom” that were pitching their tents, and to the “whom” that were taking their tents up to move elsewhere, implying the great wisdom of God, Yehovah. Yehovah, or Jehovah, is the name God uses of Himself in relationship to His creation. Ultimately, the repetition here shows us the great love and concern God has for His loved ones.

Dr. Bullinger points out another example of Epibole in Psalm 22:9 with the repetition of the words
The Voice Of The Lord. His example doesn’t hold to his definition of the figure being at irregular intervals, as he points out they appear “commencing seven successive clauses.” This, I believe, is Anaphora, as they have the symmetry of being at the beginnings of sentences. Within his example are the words “The Lord“, which form another, more broad, Anaphora, which also is symmetrical, being at the beginnings of sentences. A third Anaphora can be seen in the words Give unto the Lord, in verses 1 and 2. “Give” is a verb, and we are told to give glory and strength (ours) unto the Lord through worship (verses 1-2). We see then in verse 3 that “glory” is repeated, and His strength is shown in verses 4-8, finally returning to the worship of Him in verse 9. Through His loving kindness He then gives strength and praise to His people. What a beautiful Psalm!

Perhaps the whole Psalm can be considered holding to the form of Epibole in that the words “The Lord” are repeated, and overall that repetition joins with different words, therefore the overall repetition is irregular.

Psa. 29:1-11 KJV [A Psalm of David.]
1 Give unto the LORD
, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD [is] upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD [is] upon many waters.

4 The voice of the LORD
[is] powerful; the voice of the LORD [is] full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD
breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

7 The voice of the LORD
divideth the flames of fire.

8 The voice of the LORD
shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD
maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of [his] glory.

10 The LORD
sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

11 The LORD
will give strength unto his people;
the LORD will bless his people with peace.

I hope that you have enjoyed these few examples of Epibole. As always, your thoughts are welcomed. If you should come across examples of Epibole in your studies, please let us know.
Ken Rossoll January 15, 2021.


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