Friday, April 21, 2006

Abomination - Often Used Therefore It Must Be Understood

Abomination - Often Used There3fore It Must Be Understood

Abomination Defined

a-bom-i-nā´shun (tō‛ēbhāh): three distinct Hebrew words are rendered in the English Bible by "abomination," or "abominable thing," referring (except in Gen_43:32; Gen_46:34) to things or practices abhorrent to Yahweh, and opposed to the ritual or moral requirements of His religion. It would be well if these words could be distinguished in translation, as they denote different degrees of abhorrence or loathsomeness.

The word most used for this idea by the Hebrews and indicating the highest degree of abomination is תּועבה, tō‛ēbhāh, meaning primarily that which offends the religious sense of a people. When it is said, for example, "The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians," this is the word used; the significance being that the Hebrews were repugnant to the Egyptians as foreigners, as of an inferior caste, and especially as shepherds (Gen_46:34).

The feeling of the Egyptians for the Greeks was likewise one of repugnance. Herodotus (ii.41) says the Egyptians would not kiss a Greek on the mouth, or use his dish, or taste meat cut with the knife of a Greek.

Among the objects described in the Old Testament as "abominations" in this sense are heathen gods, such as Ashtoreth (Astarte), Chemosh, Milcom, the "abominations" of the Zidonians (Phoenicians), Moabites, and Ammonites, respectively (2Ki_23:13), and everything connected with the worship of such gods. When Pharaoh, remonstrating against the departure of the children of Israel, exhorted them to offer sacrifices to their God in Egypt, Moses said: "Shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians (i.e. the animals worshipped by them which were taboo, tō‛ēbhāh, to the Israelites) before their eyes, and will they not stone us?" (Exo_8:26).It is to be noted that, not only the heathen idol itself, but anything offered to or associated with the idol, all the paraphernalia of the forbidden cult, was called an "abomination," for it "is an abomination to Yahweh thy God" (Deu_7:25, Deu_7:26). The Deuteronomic writer here adds, in terms quite significant of the point of view and the spirit of the whole law: 'Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thy house and thus become a thing set apart (ḥērem = tabooed) like unto it; thou shalt utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is a thing set apart' (tabooed). Tō‛ēbhāh is even used as synonymous with "idol" or heathen deity, as in Isa_44:19; Deu_32:16; 2Ki_23:13; and especially Exo_8:22.

Everything akin to magic or divination is likewise an abomination tō‛ēbhāh; as are sexual transgressions (Deu_22:5; Deu_23:18; Deu_24:4), especially incest and other unnatural offenses: "For all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you" (Lev_18:27; compare Eze_8:15). It is to be noted, however, that the word takes on in the later usage a higher ethical and spiritual meaning: as where "divers measures, a great and a small," are forbidden (Deu_25:14-16); and in Proverbs where "lying lips" (Pro_12:22), "the proud in heart" (Pro_16:5), "the way of the wicked" (Pro_15:9), "evil devices" (Pro_15:26), and "he that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous" (Pro_17:15), are said to be an abomination in God's sight.

At last prophet and sage are found to unite in declaring that any sacrifice, however free from physical blemish, if offered without purity of motive, is an abomination: 'Bring no more an oblation of falsehood - an incense of abomination it is to me' (Isa_1:13; compare Jer_7:10). "The sacrifice of the wicked" and the prayer of him "that turneth away his ear from hearing the law," are equally an abomination (see Pro_15:8; Pro_21:27; Pro_28:9).Another word rendered "abomination" in the King James Version is שׁקץ, sheḳec or שׁקּוּץ, shiḳḳuč. It expresses generally a somewhat less degree of horror or religious aversion than tō‛ēbhāh, but sometimes seems to stand about on a level with it in meaning. In Deu_14:3, for example, we have the command, "Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing," as introductory to the laws prohibiting the use of the unclean animals (see CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS), and the word there used is tō‛ēbhāȟ. But in Lev_11:10-13, Lev_11:20, Lev_11:23, Lev_11:41, Lev_11:42; Isa_66:17; and in Eze_8:10 sheḳec is the word used and likewise applied to the prohibited animals; as also in Lev_11:43 sheḳec is used when it is commanded, "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable." Then sheḳec is often used parallel to or together with tō‛ēbhāh of that which should be held as detestable, as for instance, of idols and idolatrous practices (see especially Deu_29:17; Hos_9:10; Jer_4:1; Jer_13:27; Jer_16:18; Eze_11:18-21; Eze_20:7, Eze_20:8).

It is used exactly as tō‛ēbhāh is used as applied to Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, which is spoken of as the detestable thing sheḳec of the Ammonites (1Ki_11:5). Still even in such cases to'ebhah seems to be the stronger word and to express that which is in the highest degree abhorrent.The other word used to express a somewhat kindred idea of abhorrence and translated "abomination" in the King James Version is פגול, piggūl; but it is used in the Hebrew Bible only of sacrificial flesh that has become stale, putrid, tainted (see Lev_7:18; Lev_19:7; Eze_4:14; Isa_65:4). Driver maintains that it occurs only as a "technical term for such state sacrificial flesh as has not been eaten within the prescribed time," and, accordingly, he would everywhere render it specifically "refuse meat." Compare leḥem meghō'āl, "the loathsome bread" (from gā'al, "to loathe") Mal_1:7.

A chief interest in the subject for Christians grows out of the use of the term in the expression "abomination of desolation" (Mat_24:15 and Mar_13:14), which see. See also ABHOR.LiteratureCommentators at the place Rabbinical literature in point. Driver; Weiss; Gratz, Gesch. der Juden, IV, note 15.

Passages in Proverbs Concerning Abomination:

(Pro 3:32) For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

(Pro 6:16-19) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

(Pro 8:7) For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

(Pro 11:1) A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

(Pro 11:20) They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

(Pro 12:22) Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

(Pro 13:19) The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

(Pro 15:8) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

(Pro 15:9) The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.

(Pro 15:26) The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.

(Pro 16:5) Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

(Pro 16:12) It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

(Pro 17:15) He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

(Pro 20:10) Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

(Pro 20:23) Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.

(Pro 21:27) The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

(Pro 24:9) The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

(Pro 28:9) He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

(Pro 29:27) An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.


At 3:12 AM, Blogger Dennis Day said...

After reviewing the information in this blog, I thought your readers would also be interested in the contents of my website. Within the pages of the Bible, you will find numerous passages pertaining to Ancient History. I have done and extensive study on the genealogy of the Bible and created a database that contains the information of every individual mentioned. I used numerous other history sites to compile and expand the information of the surrounding areas at the time of each Bible character. You will be able to see all the Egyptian dynasties, Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians and many more. If you are interested, you can find this information at


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home