(d.) Where the omission of  CONNECTED WORDS is to be supplied by
repeating them out of a preceding clause.

This form of Ellipsis, though it is very clear, is not always supplied in the A.V.

Num. 26:3, 4 —“And Moses . . spake . . saying,
Take the Sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward,”
which words are correctly repeated from verse 2.

Josh. 24:19 —“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord:
for he is an holy God,” etc.

The words must be supplied from verses 14-16: see also verses 20, 23.
“Ye cannot serve the Lord [unless ye put away your idols],
for he is a holy God,” etc.

Psa. 84:3 —“Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.”

There is evidently a figure here:
for in what way could birds build nests and lay young in the altars of God?
The one was covered over with brazen plates, with fires perpetually burning
and sacrifices continually being offered upon it; the other was overlaid with gold,
and was within the Holy Place! The question therefore is, What is the kind of figure here? It is the figure of Ellipsis, which the A.V. and R.V. have made worse by inserting the word “even” (the A.V. in italic type, the R.V. in Roman).
It must be correctly supplied by repeating the words from the preceding clause:
so hath my soul found thy altars, O Lord of hosts,”
i.e., as the birds find, and love, and use their house, so I find and love Thy house,
my King and my God.


If we observe the structure of the passage,* we see how this supply of the Ellipsis
is necessitated: —
* See Key to the Psalms, p. 79. Edited by the same author.

a / 1. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
……….b / 2. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
………………..my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
…………….c / 3. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house,
…………….c / and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
…….b / even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
….a / 4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

This structure at once puts c and c practically in a parenthesis, and b and b may be
read on literally and connectedly without a break, and without any apparent Ellipsis; thus: —
……….b / 2. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
………………..my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
b / even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

But b read after c must have the Ellipsis supplied:—
“ The sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself . . .
[so have I found] thine altars, O Lord of hosts.”

Prov. 21:1 —“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water:
he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Here the second sentence is manifestly incomplete. There is a subject, but there is no verb, and no object, as will be seen if we present it in this way: —

.The King’s heart……………..is………………..in the hand of the Lord.
.as the rivers of water.

It is clear from this that we have to supply both the verb and the predicate in the latter sentence. What they are to be will be seen more clearly when we translate the other words more correctly.
The expression “rivers of water” is in the Hebrew פּלְגֵי־מַיִם (palgey mayim).

Palgey means divisions of and is the plural construct of פּלַג (palag), to divide,†
פּלַג (palag), to divide, occurs only in Gen. 10:25; 1 Chron. 1:19.
“In his days was the earth divided”;
Job 38:25, “Who hath divided a watercourse,”; and
Psa. 55:9, “Destroy their tongues and divide them”.

The name of the Patriarch Peleg (i.e., division) was so called “because in his days was the earth divided” (Gen. 10:25). The term palgey mayim* is the technical term for the little channels, or gullies, of water which divide the Eastern garden into small squares of about 12 feet each, for purposes of irrigation. Hence the word is used for any little channel by which the water is distributed or divided, especially the channels which divide-up a garden. It is used also of the trickling of tears. In Psa. 1:3, the man who meditates in the law of God is like a tree planted by the palgey mayim, i.e., in a garden, where it will have a sure supply of water and the constant care of the gardener! Not left out in the plain to shift for itself; to thrive if it gets water, and to die if it does not!

These little channels were filled by the gardener with water from the spring, or well,
or fountain, which every Eastern garden must possess; and then the water was sent first into one channel, then into another, by the simple movement of his foot:
“the land whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs” (Deut. 11:10). The gardener did not deign to use a tool, or to stoop down and use his hands. By simply moving the foot he dammed up one little stream, or by a similar movement he released the water in another.

Now we are able to supply the Ellipsis correctly in this verse: —
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord as the palgey mayim
[are in the hand of the gardener]: He turneth it whithersoever He will”.
.“To an Eastern mind this would be perfectly clear without the supply of the Ellipsis. Just as in England the expression, “A coach and four” is perfectly clear, and the supply of the Ellipsis “horses” is wholly unnecessary. But an Esquimaux or a South Sea Islander, or an Arab, would ask, “A coach and four what?” It would be unintelligible to him, while with us it needs no explanation.


* The word is used of any very small artificial channel. The following are all the occurrences:
Job 29:6 The rock poured me out rivers of oil.
Psa. 1:3 Like a tree planted by the rivers of water.
Psa. 46:4 A river the streams whereof shall make glad.
Psa. 65:9 Enrichest it with the river of God.
Psa. 119:136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes.
Pro. 5:16 (And) rivers of waters in the streets.
Isa. 30:25 Rivers and streams of waters.
Isa. 32:2 As rivers of water in a dry place.
Lam. 3:48 Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water.

So when we learn and understand the customs and peculiarities of the East we can often supply the Ellipsis from such knowledge, as Easterns would supply it naturally. The teaching of the passage then is that just as the little channels of water in a garden are turned about by the gardener by the simple movement of his foot, so the king’s heart is as easily turned about by the Lord, “whithersoever He wills.”

Oh how full of comfort for ourselves, for our friends, for our children, to know this, and to be assured of it! “On that night could not the king sleep” (Est. 6:1). A sleepless night! The king’s heart turned—the law of the Medes and Persians reversed—and Israel delivered. Oh how simple! Let us never again limit His almighty power—for it is almighty power that is required to turn the heart of man. We know how difficult it is to convince even a friend on the simplest matter of fact. But let us remember that the heart of even an Eastern despot is as easily turned by the Lord’s mighty hand as the palgey mayim are turned by the simple movement of a gardener’s foot.

Job 3:23.—“Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?”

Here the words, “why is light given,” are correctly repeated from verse 20.
This expression about giving light is similar to that of “seeing the sun”
(Psa. 58:8, and Ecc. 7:11). Both are idioms (q.v.) for living or being alive, as is clear from verses 20, 21 “Wherefore is light given,” i.e., why is life prolonged, in the case of those who are in misery and long for death?

The latter part of the verse may be cleared by noting that the word “hid,” as applied to “a way,” differs from that in Psa. 2:12. In Psa. 2:12 אָבַד (avad) is to lose a way which is already known. Here, it is סָתַר ( sathar) which implies that the way is not known at all. It hides itself. In this case God has hidden it and it cannot be found.

What good is life, Job complains, to a man if God has completely covered up the way? The word סָכַךְ (sakak), rendered “hedged in,” refers to the way, not to the man, and means, not “hedged in,” but covered up (see 38:8). It is not the same word as 1:10 (which is שׂוּךְ (sook), to hedge in), nor as 19:8, as indicated in the margin
(which is גָּדַר (gadar), to fence up).

Ecc. 7:11,12 has evidently given some trouble, as is clear from the italics in Text and margin both of A.V. and R.V. “Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.” Margin, “as good as an inheritance, yea, better too.

The R.V. reads:—“Wisdom is as good as an inheritance: yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun.”
Margin, “is good together with an inheritance: and profitable unto themetc.

We must take עִם (im), with, in its idea of accompaniment,
in common with, i.e., like or as
(see Gen. 18:23, 25; Job 3:14, 15; 9:26; 21:8; 40:15; Psa. 73:5, 25; 143:7; Ecc. 2:16), and translate:—
“Wisdom is good, as an inheritance is good,
and more excellent to them that see the sun”
(i.e., for living men, see above under Job 3:23).
For to be in (בְּ b, which is ignored by A.V. and R.V.) the shelter
( צֵל ,tzel, Gen. 19:8; Num. 14:9; Psa. 17:9) of wisdom
[is more excellent than to be] under the shelter (בְּ); and the advantage of wisdom is that wisdom preserveth the life of them that possess it.”

That is to say, briefly, wisdom is good: and money is good, but wisdom has this advantage over money; it can preserve life, while an inheritance or money cannot.

Zech. 14:18 —The verse reads in the Hebrew (see margin): —
“And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, not upon them there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

Here, there is evidently a figure: because, read with verse 17, there is not only no sense, but quite an opposite sense to that which is clearly intended. Our duty is to ask. What is the figure? For we are not at liberty to suggest an alteration of the Text, or to make even a free translation of it. The R.V. resorts to the easy method of suggesting in the margin:
“ The text is probably corrupt.” This is a very common practice of commentators!
It never seems to enter their heads that the difficulty lies with themselves. It would have been more becoming to have said, “Our understandings are probably at fault”! The R.V. arbitrarily inserts words, as does the A.V., and even then both Versions fail
to make sense.

The A.V. says: “ That have no rain”
(marg., “upon whom there is not”).
The R.V.: “Neither shall it be upon them”
(marg., “shall there not be upon them the plague?” etc.).

The Ellipsis is correctly and simply supplied by repeating “there shall be no rain”
from the preceding clause: which, describing millennial days, says—
“Whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, not upon them [shall there be no rain]* there shall be the plague, [aforesaid, verse 12] wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to the feast of tabernacles.”

.* Because Egypt has no rain, as it is, and is therefore thus excepted here.


Matt. 2:10 —“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy:”
i.e., “When they saw the star [standing over where the young child was], they – rejoiced.” The words are to be repeated from verse 9.


Matt. 13:32 —“Which indeed is the least of all seeds
[which a man takes and sows in a field];” from verse 31;
i.e., not the least, absolutely, but relatively, as to those seeds which are usually sown in the field.


Mark 5:23 —“And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed.”

Here the A.V. adds: “I pray thee,” but it is better to repeat the verb from the beginning of the verse, and then we may take the other words literally: — “I beseech thee earnestly that having come thou wouldest lay on her thy hands,” etc.


John 1:18 —“No man hath seen God at any time;
the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him

Here the sense is to be completed by repeating the words from the preceding clause, thus: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath [seen God, and] declared [the Father].”


John 9:3 —Here the Ellipsis is to be supplied from verse 2.
“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents [that he should be born blind]:
but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” See below (page 107).


Rom. 4:12 —“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision,” etc.

Here the words are to be repeated from the preceding clause: —
“And the father of the circumcision [that righteousness might be imputed] to them who are not of the circumcision only, but also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.”


Rom. 5:3 —“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also,”
“And not only do we [rejoice in hope of the glory of God] , but we glory also in tribulations.”*
* In the Greek the emphasis is on the verb “glory.” “We GLORY also in tribulations,” i.e., we not only have them like all other people, but by grace we are able to glory in them. For the usage of the word “also” see page 90; (1 Thess. 4:14).


Rom. 5:11 —“And not only so:”
i.e., “And not only [are we saved from wrath through him], but we also† joy in God
[as our God] through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
†In the Greek the emphasis is on the word “joy.” “We JOY also in God.”
See a pamphlet on the biblical usage of the word Also, by the same author and publisher.

It is at this point that the great doctrinal portion of Romans divides into two portions. It runs from 1:16 to 8:39. Up to 5:11 the subject is “sins”: from verse 12 it is “sin.”
Up to this point the subject is the products of the old nature: from this point it is the old nature itself. Up to 5:11 it is the fruits of the old tree: from 5:12 it is the old tree itself. Up to this point we are considered as “in the flesh”: from this point we are considered as “not in the flesh,” but the flesh is in us. ‡
‡ See further, on this, a series of articles in Things to Come commencing September, 1898


Rom. 7:7,8 —“What shall we say then? [that] the law [is] sin? God forbid!
Nay, I had not known sin but by (or through) the law; for I had not known lust
[to be sin] except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (verse 8) But [I say that] (from verse 7) sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (or desire). For without the law sin [is] dead.”


Rom. 8:23 —“And not only they,”
i.e., “And not only [every creature groaneth] , but ourselves also,” etc.


Rom. 9:10 —“And not only this,”
i.e., “And not only [was there that limitation of the promise to this son] ,
but when Rebecca also had conceived [twins] by one, even by our father Isaac . . . .
it was said unto her. The elder shall serve the younger.”


Rom. 10:8 —“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy, heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach [is nigh thee].”


1 Cor. 15:42 — “So also is the resurrection of the dead.”
Here instead of using the verb substantive we must repeat the words from verses 37 and 41, and then we can preserve the proper emphasis shown by the position of καί “also”: —“So the RESURRECTION also of the dead [is with a different body].”
This preserves the harmony of the whole argument.


2 Cor. 8:19 —“And not that only,”
i.e., And, not only [is his praise throughout all the churches], but he was chosen* also of the churches to travel with us with this grace (or gift),” etc.
* In the Greek the emphasis is on the word “chosen”:— “CHOSEN also.”


Col. 3:4 —“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear.”
It is a question whether this Ellipsis should be supplied (as in A.V. and R.V.) by the verb substantive, or whether the words should be repeated from the preceding verse, “When Christ, [with whom] our life [is hid], shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Many ancient MSS., with Lachmann (margin), Tischendorf, Tregelles, R.V. margin, read “your life.”


2 Tim. 1:7 —“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Here, by way of contrast, the words are to be repeated in the second clause:
“but [God hath given to us the spirit] of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
More properly it should be “a” spirit, not “the spirit,” and the fact that a noun is used (by the figure of Enallage, q.v.) instead of an adjective, shows us that the emphasis is to be placed on the adjective. “a COWARDLY spirit,” πνεῦμα δειλίας (pneuma deilias); δειλία (deilia), means timidity, fearfulness, cowardice, and always in a bad sense
(see the verb δειλιάω (deiliaō), John 14:27.
The adjective, Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:40; Rev. 21:8).


1 John 2:19 —Here the Ellipsis is correctly supplied in the A.V., “they went out.”


1 John 5:15 —“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask
[according to his will] , we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

Here the words, “according to His will,” are to be supplied from the preceding verse.


From “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible ” by Dr. E. W. Bullinger,
(Public Domain) pages 96-103. Adapted for website compatibility.
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