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Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible

Hysteresis; or Subsequent Narration

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A subsequent Narration of prior Events

Hys´-ter-ee-sis. Greek, ὑστέρησις, from ὑστερέω (hystereô), to come later. Hence, a coming after or later.

This is a special form of Hysterologia, and does not refer to connected records or events, but gives, long afterwards, further details of some long prior events; or, gives events never before recorded.

When a record, written much later, gives supplemental or new particulars, quite disconnected from the original historical record, it is called Hysteresis: and hence has been called


by which the Holy Spirit, in later and subsequent Scriptures, adds supplementary details which were not given in the history itself; and sometimes even historical facts, of which no mention had before been made.

Man often does, and is allowed to do, this in human literature: but God may not! and so man cavils at this beautiful figure, and sees in it only "discrepancy"; instead of delighting in these subsequent supplementary facts thus revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, and such as none but He could give.

Genesis 31:7-8.-Jacob mentions later, certain facts in his history which had taken place before.

1 Samuel 12:12.-A prior event is here recorded, not mentioned in the earlier narration.

1 Samuel 22:9-16.-Certain supplementary details are given here which are not recorded in the account as narrated in chap. 21:1-9.

Psalms 105:18.-"Whose feet they hurt with fetters." This, by Hysteresis, is mentioned here, though not recorded in the history of Joseph in Genesis.

Hosea 12:3-5 gives further particulars supplementing the history in Genesis 32:24, etc.; 28:12-19, and 35:9-15.

Amos 1:1.-A particular earthquake is here mentioned, of which no historical record is given. It is possibly the earthquake mentioned in Zechariah 14:5. Amos is said to have prophesied "in the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam"; and it is added, "two years before the earthquake." Now, in Zechariah, we have no mention of Jeroboam. Hence it is very possible that, by the time the earthquake took place, he was dead. How Amos came to be "among the herdmen from Tekoa"; or, why these men migrated, as it may seem, into Israelite territory, we are not told. But if we take the mysterious "it,"* [Note: Which is masc. in all the eight occurrences: and always followed by the great pause.] which the Lord, by Amos, says, He will not "avert," to be this very earthquake, we avoid a very puzzling Ellipsis, and shall very likely be correct.

Amos 2:1.-Moab is here said to have "burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime," a fact of which we have no historical mention. Mesha, king of Moab, evidently was a cruel man. In his superstitions he offered his own son upon the wall, and turned the tide of battle.

See further information concerning this in the history of The Moabite Stone.

Amos 5:25-26.-Here we learn the names of certain of the gods which the Children of Israel worshipped in the wilderness. See also Ezekiel 20:6-7; Ezekiel 20:18; Ezekiel 20:22, etc.

Matthew 2:23.-"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."

Through missing this Hysteresis, the commentators have created a difficulty of their own.

First, they cannot find such a prophecy in any of the prophets.

Then, they try and make a connection between netzer, a branch, and Nazarene; and, as there is none, the difficulty is only increased.

Even if the connection could be established, the difficulty would not be removed: for it says "prophets" (plural), and the word netzer is used of Christ in only one prophet, Isaiah. So the difficulty is further increased.

But there is really no difficulty at all. It is absolutely created. It is assumed from the outset that it says "which was written." But it does not say so! It says "which was SPOKEN." The fact is, some prophecies were written down and never spoken; some were both written and spoken; while others were spoken and never written. This is one of the latter class: and there is all the difference in the world between τὸ ῥηθέν (to rheethen), which was spoken, and ὃ γέγραπται (ho gegraptai), which standeth written!

Thus, this beautiful Hysteresis reveals to us the historical fact that several prophets had declared by the Holy Spirit that the Messiah should be called a Nazarene. But for this Hysteresis we should never have known it.

Matthew 23:35-36.-"That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." etc.

Now, from failing to see the historical Hysteresis here, it has been hastily assumed that the reference is to 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, where we read, "The Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord."

By this inaccurate reference, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is charged with making a serious mistake.

But note that when the Lord says that Zachariah was "the son of Barachias," He could not possibly have been speaking of "the son of Jehoiada" as the same man.

If He began with Abel, the first martyr, it is not probable He would end with a murder which took place 870 years before he spoke the words, when there were many more during those 870 years.

It is remarkable that there was another Zechariah, the son of Baruch, who was martyred some 36 years afterward (a.d. 69), immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem, as recorded by Josephus (Wars, iv. 5, 4).

Matthew 27:9-10.-See under Gnome.

Acts 9:1-43; xxii.; xxvi.-In the three accounts of the conversion of Saul, we have supplementary facts, disconnected from the historical event.

2 Timothy 3:8.-"Jannes and Jambres" are named as two of the Egyptian wise men; whose names are not given in Exodus, but are supplied here by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 9:19.-The sprinkling of the book is supplementary information which is not given in Exodus 24:1-18

Hebrews 11:21.-Here we have an additional fact, which at once explains and amplifies Genesis 48:12, and is not in discrepancy with Genesis 47:31, as is commonly supposed.

We must give the whole of this verse, because of the controversies which have raged around it: "By faith, Jacob, when he was a dying, Messed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff."

The marginal reference in the A.V. [Note: The Authorized Version, or current Text of our English Bible, 1611.] is Genesis 47:31; but this, though followed by every one, is certainly not correct. The circumstance in Hebrews 11:21 is Jacobs blessing of the sons of Joseph, which is set in company with Isaacs blessing of his own sons. The two together giving the beautiful lesson that Isaacs blessing was given contrary to the will of the flesh (i.e., his own will), while Jacobs blessing was given contrary to the will of man (i.e., Josephs will) (Hebrews 11:20-21).

It is clear, therefore, that the whole emphasis of the reference is to the occasion of the blessing: of which there is not a word in Genesis 47:31, and to which it does not refer.

In Genesis 47:31, Jacob was causing Joseph to swear that he would bury him not in Egypt, but in the land of Canaan, and "Israel bowed himself upon the bed,s head."

But it was "after these things" (Genesis 48:1), that the blessing of Joseph and his sons took place. And, then, we have, in chap. 48:12, the worship of Jacob who "bowed himself with his face to the earth." Jacob must, therefore, have been in a sitting posture; for, in verse 2, we read that when they told him that Joseph was approaching, "Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed"; and, from verse 12, when he embraced Ephraim and Manasseh, he took them "between his knees." It was then, we gather that, in the blessing of his own sons (for chaps. 48 and 49 are continuous), that he "leaned on the top of his staff." And this inspired addition to the information is given us in Hebrews 11:21, to enhance and emphasize his faith, and to indicate Israels extreme infirmity, for it was his last dying act (chap. 49:33).

There is no necessity, therefore, for us to discuss the question of the various reading involved in the Hebrew מִטָּה (mittah), the bed, and the LXX. [Note: XX. The Septuagint Version (325 b.c.).] and Syriac rendering, the staff, which would require the Hebrew to be pointed מַטֶּה (matteh). Had the word been used in the Hebrew of Genesis 48:1-22, the true pointing would have been there decided.*[Note: Had a staff been intended in Genesis 47:31, it would probably have been מַקֵּל (makkail), as in chaps, 30:37; 32:10, etc.] But the point is decided for us in Hebrews 11:21; which clearly states that it was his "staff" that Israel leaned upon while worshipping God and blessing "by faith" the sons of Joseph. We must, however, point out "the incalculable quantity of idolatrous nonsense," to use the words of Dean Alford (in loco), which (he says) "has been written on these words by Roman Catholic commentators, taking as their starting point the rendering of the Vulgate: et adoravit fastigium virgae ejus [and worshipped the top of his staff], and thence deriving an argument for the worship of images"! This corruption of the Vulgate is perpetuated in all the Romish translations of it; and all therefore come under the Deans vigorous condemnation.

Hebrews 12:21 gives a particular which we do not find recorded in Exodus 19:1-25 and xx.

Judges 1:9 mentions by the Holy Spirit the contention of Satan about the body of Moses; and, in verse 14, some words of a prophecy of Enoch. Trading on this reference, men have forged "the book of Enoch" evolving its fancies and trivialities out of this historical Hysteresis.

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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, E. W., D.D. Entry for 'Hysteresis; or Subsequent Narration'. Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.

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