The Figure of Speech – Anadiplosis as used in the Bible

God is the Author of language, and the ability to communicate with words is one thing that sets apart man from all other creatures. Figures of speech add emphasis and feeling to what we say and write. No one has ever used language as precisely as God does in His Word. When we recognize the figures of speech in the Bible, we are able to more fully enjoy the richness of the Word of God, and also learn much more truth from it. It is important that we become at least somewhat familiar with the figures of speech in Scripture, of which there are more than 200 varieties.

This article will cover the figure Anadiplosis, which is the repetition of the same word or words at the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next, or at the end of one phrase and the beginning of the next. Anadiplosis is from the Greek prefix ana, again, and diploun, to double, or diplous, double, and it is the very first figure of speech used in the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 and 2 (KJV)
(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…

Notice that Genesis 1:1 refers to both the heaven and the earth, but the second verse refers only to the earth. Thus there is a clear emphasis on the earth and God’s relation to it, which we see all throughout early Genesis.

When it comes to the Passover lamb, Anadiplosis places a special emphasis on the lamb, the “flock animal” that was to be slain. It is worth noting that although almost all versions of the Bible read “lamb” in verses 4 and 5 of Exodus 12, the Hebrew word seh does not mean “lamb,” but is the generic word for an animal from the flock, and can refer to a sheep or a goat.

Exodus 12:4 and 5 (KJV)
(4) And if the household be too little for the lamb [lit. “a flock animal”], let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb [“the flock animal”].
(5) Your lamb [“a flock animal”] shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

By repeating the “flock animal” at the end and beginning of the sentence, God places his emphasis on the importance of its part in the Passover. Furthermore, the figure of speech is even clearer in Hebrew than in English because the word “your” does not appear at the front of verse 5 in the Hebrew text, but occurs later in the verse. Unfortunately for Bible students, many modern versions lose the emphasis that the figure of speech brings to the text because they translate it right out of the Bible.

For example, look at the NIV:

Exodus 12:4 and 5
(4) If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.
(5) The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

First and most obviously, there is no Anadiplosis in the NIV at all. The noun “flock animal,” has been moved from the end of verse 4 into the middle of the verse, where it is translated as “lamb.” Second, although the Hebrew word ending verse 4 and starting verse 5 is the same singular noun, the NIV translates it “lamb” in verse 4 and “animals” in verse 5.

Given that the Anadiplosis emphasizes the flock animal, the lamb, we must ask, “Why would God emphasize the animal in the first place?” The answer to that lies in the whole concept of the Passover and the importance of the shedding of blood. Think about it. God did not need to have the Israelites shed the blood of a Passover lamb to ensure their protection, as evidenced by the fact that in 10 plagues upon Egypt, the fourth was swarms of flies, but God protected the Israelites from the flies such that there were no flies where the Israelites lived (Exod. 8:22). The fifth plague was the death of Egyptian livestock, but no Israelite livestock died (Exod. 9:4-7). The seventh plague was hail, but no hail fell where the Israelites lived (Exod. 9:26). The ninth was darkness over the land of Egypt for three days, but there was light where the Israelites lived (Exod. 10:23).

So after protecting the Israelites from the brunt of the plagues without them having to do anything for their own protection, why does God have them kill a flock animal, a lamb or a goat, in order to be protected from the last plague? The answer it that the death of the lamb or goat, and the putting blood on the doorposts, points to the life and death of Jesus, who is called “our Passover” in 1 Corinthians 5:7.

There are quite a few examples of Anadiplosis in the Bible, including one in Genesis 7 that emphasized the importance of the water in Noah’s flood.

Genesis 7:18 and 19 (ESV)
(18) The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.
(19) And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.

Psalms has a beautiful Anadiplosis that emphasizes how we should praise God:

Psalm 98:4 and 5 (ESV)
(4) Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
(5) Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

Another Anadiplosis in Psalms emphasizes that God is to be our help.

Psalm 121:1 and 2 (KJV)
(1) A Song of degrees. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
(2) My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

This verse demonstrates why some figures of speech are hard to translate, and why studying multiple versions of the Bible is helpful. Most modern versions translate verse one with an ending that is easy to read in English, such as “where does my help come from?” Sadly, however, that makes it impossible to reproduce the Anadiplosis.

To reproduce the Anadiplosis, a modern English version would have to read, “from where comes my help?” Although possible, this makes the verse hard to read. Anadiplosis, and many other figures of speech that are hard to translate, demonstrate the need for good study Bibles that have important biblical information in a format that is easily accessed by the reader without making the biblical text itself difficult to read.

Bullinger has many examples of Anadiplosis, and the diligent Bible student will enjoy examining them and looking for the emphasis in each context.

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