…..A. Absolute Ellipsis:

That is, the omission of words or terms which must be supplied only from
.                                                  the nature of the subject.
The omitted word may be a noun, adjective, pronoun, Verb, participle, adverb, preposition.

I. The Omission of Nouns and Pronouns.

.        1. The Omission of the Nominative.

.          2. The Omission of the Object or Accusative, etc., after the verb.

.              3. The Omission of the Pronoun.


.    II. The Omission of VERBS and PARTICIPLES.

A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer, and expresses the action,
the suffering, or the being, or the doing.

When therefore the verb is omitted, it throws the emphasis on the thing that is done rather than on the doing of it.

On the other hand, when the noun is omitted, our thought is directed to the action of the verb, and is centered on that rather than on the object or the subject.

Bearing this in mind, we proceed to consider a few examples:

………..1. When the VERB FINITE is wanting.

Gen. 25:28 —“And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison.”
Or it may be that there is no Ellipsis, and it may mean “because hunting was in his [Esau’s] mouth,” i.e., on his tongue.

The A.V. has given a very free translation. But here again, the correct supply of the words omitted enables us to retain a literal rendering of the words that are given: “because the food taken by him in hunting [was sweet, or was pleasant] in his mouth.”

Num. 16:28 —“And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me
to do all these works; for not of my own mind.”

Here we may render it, “for not of mine own heart [have I said these things].
See verse 24.

1 Sam. 19:3 —“I will commune with my father of thee;
and what I see, that I will tell thee.”
The R.V. translates “and if I see aught.” But the Hebrew with the Ellipsis supplied, is: “and will see what [he replies], and will tell thee.”
2 Sam. 4:10 —“When one told me, saying, behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings.”
Here the A.V. has supplied the verb “thought” but perhaps the verb “had come” is better, i.e., “who [had come] that I should give him a reward for his tidings.”
The R.V. translates, “which was the reward I gave him for his tidings.”
2 Sam. 18:12 —“Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.”
2 Sam. 23:17 —This is a case in which the Ellipsis is wrongly supplied in the A.V.
“And he said. Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?”
The R.V. rightly supplies from 1 Chron. 11:19, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: shall I drink the blood of the men, etc.”

1 Kings 11:25 —“And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad didi.e., that Hadad wrought or brought upon him.”

1 Kings 14:6 —“I am sent to thee with heavy tidings
The Hebrew is, “I am sent to thee hard.”

The Ellipsis may thus be supplied:
“I am sent to thee [to tell thee, or to bring thee, or to prophesy to thee] hard [things]”.
See verse 5.

1 Kings 22:36 —“And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.”

Here the verb return is to be supplied. “Let every man return to his city, etc., “or” [Return] every man to his city, etc.”

2 Kings 25:4 —The word “fled” is not in the Hebrew.
The Ellipsis is thus supplied in the A.V. and R.V. correctly in italics.

Ezra 10:14 —“Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned away.”
The Hebrew of the last clause reads, “Until (עַד ) the fierce wrath of our God be turned back from us, until (עַד ) this matter [be carried out],” This filling up of the Ellipsis enables us to take the other words in the verse literally. The non-observance of the figure leads the A.V. to give two different meanings (viz., “until” and “for”) to the word עַד until, which is used twice in the same passage.

The R.V. reads, “Until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us,
until this matter be dispatched,” and gives an alternative in the margin for the last clause “ as touching this matter“.

Ezra 10:19 —“And being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.”

Here the Ellipsis of the verb is properly supplied.

Job. 3:21 —“Which long for death, but it cometh not;
and dig for it more than for hid treasures [but find it not].”

The A.V. supplies the first verb, but not the second.

Job 4:6—“Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?”

The R.V. renders it:—“Is not thy fear of God thy confidence,
and thy hope the integrity of thy ways?”

These two lines are arranged as an introversion in the Hebrew:

.Is not thy fear
thy confidence?
And thy hope
 the integrity of thy ways?

Or by transposing the words they may be exhibited as an alternation:

Is not thy fear thy confidence?
And the integrity of thy ways, thy hope ?

It should be noted that the A.V. of 1611 originally read, “Is not this thy feare thy confidence; the uprightness of thy wayes and thy hope?”
The change first appears in the Cambridge edition of 1638, But by whom this and many similar unauthorised changes have been made in the text of the A.V. of 1611,
is not known, and can only be conjectured! *
.* See Appendix A. (Pages 985-988).

Job 39:13 seems to have caused much trouble to the translators.
The A.V. reads, “Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks?
or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?”
The R.V. and other versions which ignore the Ellipsis
(which the A.V. correctly supplies) have to give a very unnatural translation,
and miss the challenge which is connected with all the other wonders of God’s
works in these chapters.

The scanty featherless wing of the ostrich (רְנָנִים renana [rᵊnānîm], not peacock)
is contrasted with the warm full-feathered wing of the stork
(חֲסִידָה chaseedah, not ostrich), and man is challenged,
“Didst thou give either the one or the other?”
See Gesenius’ Lexicon note under Job 39:13

Psa. 4:2 —“O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?”

Psa. 22:16 —“They pierced my hands and my feet.”
Through not seeing the Ellipsis of the verb in this verse, the word in the Hebrew text כָּאֲרִי (kāree), as a lion, has been translated as though it were a verb כָּארוּ (kāroo) they pierced.† But we have no authority thus to ignore the printed text. On the contrary, verse 16 corresponds exactly with verse 12. In verse 12 we have two animals, “ bulls” and “a lion” (the first plural, and the second singular). So also we have in verse 16, two animals, “dogs” and “a lion.” If, however, we take kāree as a noun, there is an Ellipsis of the verb, which we may well supply from Isa. 38:13, and then we may translate the rest literally: “As a lion [they will break up] my hands and my feet.”*
† In the first case the Kaph כ is rendered “as” and is prefixed to אֲרִי (aree) a lion;
in the latter case it forms part of the verb כָּארוּ (kāroo).

* See Ginsburg’s Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Hebrew Bible, p. 969.
(PDF download)

The structure of the passage proves that this is the case. Verses 12-17 form the center of this part of the Psalm: —
…..A / 12-13. They. Beasts surrounding: “bulls” (pl.), and “a lion” (sing.).
………..B / 14-15. / The consequence. “I am poured out like water.”
…..A / 16. They. Beasts surrounding: “dogs” (pl.), and “a lion” (sing.).
………..B / 17. / The consequence. “I may tell all my bones.”
Psa. 25:15 —“Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord,”
i.e., “mine eyes are ever lifted up or looking toward the Lord.”
See Psa. 121:1. The verb is omitted, that we may not think of the act of looking,
but at the object to which we look.
Psa. 120:7 —“I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”
There are no verbs in the Hebrew, which is:—“I peace; but when I speak, they for war.” The verbs to be supplied are doubtless, “I [love] peace ; but when I speak they [cry out] for war,” or “they break forth into war.”
Ecc. 8:2 —“I counsel thee keep the king’s commandment.”
Isa. 61:7 —“For your shame ye shall have double.”
Here the Ellipsis is properly supplied. (See this passage under other Figures).
Isa. 66:6 —“A voice of noise (tumult, R.V.) from the city, a voice from the temple,
a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies”:
i.e., a voice of tumult is heard from the city, a voice sounds forth from the temple, etc.
Jer. 18:14 —“Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field?”

There is no sense whatever in this rendering, and the R.V. is but little better:
“Shall the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field?”

The Ellipsis is not to be supplied by the verb “cometh.” But it should be:

“Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon for the rock of the field?
Or shall the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?”

Jer. 19:1 —“Go and get (R.V. buy) a potter’s earthen vessel and take of the elders
of the people, &c.”

Hos. 8:1 —“He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord:”
i.e., as an eagle shall the enemy come against the house of the Lord.

Amos 3:11 —“Thus saith the Lord God (Adonai Jehovah): an adversary there shall be, etc.” So the R.V. But “an adversary shall come”, would be better.

Matt. 26:5 —“But they said, not on the feast day
i.e., Let us not do it on the feast day (so also Mark 14:2).

Acts 15:24 —“Certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ye must be circumcised, and keep the law,”
i.e. saying, ye ought to be circumcised, and to keep the law.

Rom. 2:7-10 There are several ellipses in these verses which may be thus supplied.

“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality [he will give] eternal life. But unto them that are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [shall come] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile*; but glory, honour, and peace [shall be rendered] to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.”

* In Deut. 28:53, this is applied to the Jew (cf. Sept.).
“In thy anguish and tribulation wherewith thine enemy shall afflict thee.”
(A.V.,“In the siege and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee”). Cf. Isa. 8:22.

While in Isa. 13:9, this is applied to the Gentile.

Thus these words are applied even in the Old Testament:
“to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”

Rom. 4:9 —“Cometh this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?” i.e., “This blessedness, then, [cometh it only] on the circumcision?”

Rom. 6:19 —“For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” i.e., “To [work] iniquity”: and “to [work] holiness.”

Rom. 11:18 —“Boast not against the branches.
But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee,”
i.e., but if thou boast, I tell thee (or know thou) thou bearest not the root,
but the root beareth thee.

Rom. 13:11 —“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, etc.”

The Greek is καὶ τοῦτο (kai touto), “and this [I add or I exhort] knowing the reason, that [it is] already the hour [for us] to awake out of sleep.”

1 Cor. 2:12 —“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit which is of God.”

There is no verb in this latter clause, and the verb “is” which is supplied in the A.V. should be in italics. But “which [cometh] from God,” is better; or “is received ” repeated from the previous sentence.

1 Cor. 4:20 —“For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”

There is no verb in the whole of this verse; consequently one must be supplied:— “For the kingdom of God [is established or governed] not by word
(or speech as in verse 19) but by power.”

1 Cor. 14:33 —“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,
as in all churches of the saints.”

There is no verb in the latter clause, therefore one must be supplied.
The word “ God” may also be repeated as in the R.V.: —
“For God is not [a God] of confusion, but of peace, as [He is] in all churches of the saints.”
Or, “as in all the churches of the saints [is well known].”

2 Cor. 9:14 —“And by their prayer for you,
which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.”

The Greek is ἐφ̓ὑμῖν (eph’ humin) upon you, and requires the verb to be supplied,
“for the exceeding grace of God [bestowed] upon you.”

2 Cor. 12:18 —“I desired Titus [to go to you] , etc.”

Gal. 5:13 —“Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”

Here the A.V. supplies “use.” But it might well be “misuse” or “abuse

Eph. 4:9 —“Now that he ascended.”
The Greek reads as in R.V., “Now this, He ascended.”
But the Ellipsis must be supplied: “ Now, this [fact] ” or
“Now, this [expression], He ascended, what is it unless that he also
descended first into the lower parts of the earth?”

Eph. 5:9 —“For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth:” i.e., [consists] in these things. All the ancient MSS. and critical texts, and the R.V. agree in reading φωτός (phōtos) of the light, instead of πνεύματος (pneumatos),
of the Spirit; and thus “the fruits of the light” are contrasted with
“the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Phil. 3:15 —“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:”
i.e., [desire to be] perfect.
There is no verb, and the word “ be” ought to have been put in italics.

1 Tim. 2:6 — “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Here there is no verb in the latter clause.
The Greek reads, “the testimony in due times” or in its own seasons.
Hence the A.V. has boldly substituted a verb for the noun “to be testified”;
while the R.V. has rendered it: “the testimony to be borne in its own times”-
We may supply the Ellipsis more fully thus:
“the testimony [of which, was to be borne by us] in his own appointed season”

The word “all ” must be taken here in the sense of “all ” without distinction,
because before Christ’s death the ransom was only for one nation—Israel.
It cannot be “all ” without exception, for in that case all would and must be saved.
See under Synecdoche.

Philemon 6 —“[I pray] that the communication of thy faith may become effectual, etc.”

1 Pet. 4:11 —“If any man speak, let him speak, as the oracles of God [require]”


2 Pet. 2:3 —“Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not.”

There is no “ now ” in the Greek. “Whose judgment [threatened] of old, lingereth not.” See Jude 4.

1 John 3:20 —“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

In the Greek, the word ὅτι (hoti), that, occurs twice, and the construction is difficult. The A.V. avoids it by translating the first ὅτι “for”, and ignoring the second occurrence altogether. The R.V. evades it by adopting for the first ὅτι the reading (ὅ τι for ὅτι), which, beyond the Alexandrian Codex, has scarcely any MS. support, and only that of one Textual critic (Lachmann). The R.V. connects verse 20 with verse 10, and translates “and shall assure our heart before him, whereinsoever our heart condemn us, because God is greater, &c.” But this English is as difficult as the Greek.

The difficulty is met by supplying the ellipsis before the second ὅτι, and translating it “that,” as it is rendered 613 times in the N.T.: —
“For if our heart condemn us [we know] that God is greater than our heart.”


From “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible by E. W. Bullinger,
(Public Domain) pages 26-47. Adapted for website compatibility.
See original at link.     
Stream           Download.


figuresofspeechinthebible.net © 2013-2022. All rights reserved. Material in public domain may be freely copied and distributed without charge for educational, non-commercial purposes. This website, and those referenced by this site as sources of public domain material, are to be referenced. Material that is not in public domain, and indicated as such, is the property of its rightful owner(s), and/or originator.