Abomination of Desolation

Abomination of Desolation

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The abomination of desolation (or desolating sacrilege) is a term found in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, in the book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

. It also occurs in the book of 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

 and in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 gospels.

The Hebrew term (transliterated) is šiqqǔṣ mišômēm (שִׁקּוּץ מְשׁמֵם); the Greek equivalent is: τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως.

Hebrew Bible


The phrase "abomination of desolation" is found in three texts in the book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

, all within the literary context of apocalyptic visions.
Daniel 9:27 (ASV
American Standard Version
The Revised Version, Standard American Edition of the Bible, more commonly known as the American Standard Version , is a version of the Bible that was released in 1901...

) "And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations [shall come] one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out upon the desolate."

Daniel 11:31 (ASV) "And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual [burnt-offering], and they shall set up the abomination that maketh desolate."

Daniel 12:11 (ASV) "And from the time that the continual [burnt-offering] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days."

Gospels



The term is used by Jesus Christ in the Olivet discourse
Olivet discourse
The Olivet discourse or Olivet prophecy is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 21. It is known as the "Little Apocalypse" because it includes Jesus' descriptions of the end times, the use of apocalyptic language, and Jesus' warning to his followers that...

, according to both the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 and the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

. In the Matthew account, Jesus is presented as quoting Daniel explicitly. In the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

, the phrase "spoken of by Daniel the prophet" is absent in earlier manuscripts including the Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

.
Matthew 24:15-26 (ESV
English Standard Version
The English Standard Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version...

) "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."

Mark 13:14 (ESV) "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."


This verse in the Olivet Discourse also occurs in the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

.
Luke 21.20-21 (ESV) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…"


Notice that Luke uses the phrase Jerusalem surrounded by Armies in place of the Abomination of Desolation [standing where it ought not to be] in Matthew and Mark. Some commentators, including Church Father St. Chrysostom, hold that the Abomination of Desolation is used as a synonymous title for the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

. (See Preterism
Preterism
Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible, especially Daniel and Revelation, as events which have already happened in the first century A.D. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the...

)

Etymology


In both Biblical and rabbinical Hebrew abomination is a familiar term for an idol
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

, and therefore may well have the same application in Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

, which should accordingly be rendered, in agreement with Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, ix. 3, 4, "motionless abomination" or, also, "appalling abomination." The suggestion of many scholars—Hoffmann, Nestle, Bevan, and others—that, as a designation for Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

 it is simply an intentional perversion of his usual appellation "Baal Shamem" ("lord of heaven"), is quite plausible, as is attested by the perversion of Beelzebub
Beelzebub
Beelzebub -Religious meaning:Ba‘al Zəbûb is variously understood to mean "lord of flies", or "lord of the dwelling". Originally the name of a Philistine god, Beelzebub is also identified in the New Testament as Satan, the "prince of the demons". In Arabic the name is retained as Ba‘al dhubaab /...

 into "Βεελζεβούλ" (Greek version) in Mark, iii. 22, as well as the express injunction found in Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah, vi. (vii) and Babli 'Ab. Zarah, 46a, that the names of idols may be pronounced only in a distorted or abbreviated form (see the examples quoted there).

Rabbinical literature


The rabbis as a whole consider that the expression refers to the desecration of the Temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 by the erection of a Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 statue in its sacred precincts by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

. Some rabbis, however, see in it an allusion to Manasseh
Manasseh of Judah
Manasseh was a king of the Kingdom of Judah. He was the only son of Hezekiah with Hephzi-bah. He became king at an age 12 years and reigned for 55 years. Edwin Thiele has concluded that he commenced his reign as co-regent with his father Hezekiah in 697/696 BC, with his sole reign beginning in...

, who, as related in II Chron. xxxiii. 7, set up "a carved image … in the house of God". The Aggadah
Aggadah
Aggadah refers to the homiletic and non-legalistic exegetical texts in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, particularly as recorded in the Talmud and Midrash...

 narrates that two statues were erected, one of which fell over upon the other and broke off its hand. Upon the severed hand the following inscription was found engraved: "I sought to destroy God's house, but Thou didst lend Thy hand to its protection".

Modern Biblical scholarship


The 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

 usage of the term points to the actions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 in the mid-2nd century BC. Specifically, he set up an altar to Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 in the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem, and sacrificed swine on it around the year 167 BC
167 BC
Year 167 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Paetus and Pennus...

. Many modern scholars believe that Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11 are a prophecy after the event (or vaticinium ex eventu) relating to Antiochus. (see Dating of the Book of Daniel).

Many modern Biblical scholars conclude that Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 are prophecies after the event about the siege of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

 in AD 70 by the Roman general Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 (see Dating of the Gospel of Mark).
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city." Luke 21:20-21

Preterism


Preterist Christian
Preterism
Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible, especially Daniel and Revelation, as events which have already happened in the first century A.D. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the...

  commentators believe that Jesus quoted this prophecy in Mark 13:14 as referring to an event in his "1st century disciples'" immediate future, such as the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

.
when you (Jesus' 1st cent. disciples) see the abomination of desolation standing…then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains", Mark 13:14

Some commentators, such as Church Father St. Chrysostom, have understood this to refer to the armies that surrounded Jerusalem and the factions fighting within it which preceded the destruction of the city. In St. Luke's version of Jesus' warning, the abomination is not mentioned, and the sign that it is time to flee Jerusalem is explicitly said to be that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies.

Jeffrey White delivered a sermon at Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Redeemer Presbyterian Church , founded in 1989, is a church located in New York City. Its senior pastor is Timothy J. Keller.-Overview:...

 in New York City called "Living in the Last Days", in which he argues the "abomination" refers to the conquering Roman invaders in 70AD marching their flag standards into the Temple and into the Holy of Holies
Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

 and proceeding to worship their God Caesar's image that was emblazoned on their standard. It was Caesar and his invading army responsible for the desolation of Jerusalem.

One commentator relates the prophecy to the actions of Caligula
Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

 c. 40 AD when he ordered that a golden statue depicting himself as Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 incarnate be set up in the Temple in Jerusalem. This prospect however, never came into fruition since he was assassinated in 41 AD along with his wife and daughter.

Some scholars, including Hermann Detering see it as another vaticinium ex eventu about Emperor Hadrian's attempt to install the statue of Jupiter Capitolinus on the site of the ruined Jewish Temple in Jerusalem leading to the Bar Kokhba rebellion of 132-135 AD.

Peter Bolt, head of New Testament at Moore Theological College
Moore Theological College
Moore Theological College, otherwise known simply as Moore College, is the theological training seminary of the Diocese of Sydney in the Anglican Church of Australia...

, believes that the Abomination of Desolation in Mark 13 refers to the crucifixion of the Son of God; in other words, Jesus is referring to his own impending death at the hands of the Gentiles.

Futurism


Some other interpreters with a futurist
Futurism (Christian eschatology)
Futurism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, the Olivet discourse and the parable of the Sheep and the Goats as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context...

 perspective think that Jesus' prophecy deals with a literal, end-times Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

.

Futurist Christians
Futurism (Christian eschatology)
Futurism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, the Olivet discourse and the parable of the Sheep and the Goats as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context...

 consider the "Abomination of Desolation" prophecy of Daniel mentioned by Jesus in and as referring to an event in the end time future, when a 7 year peace treaty will be signed between Israel and a world ruler called "the man of lawlessness
Man of Sin
The Man of Sin or Man of Lawlessness is a figure referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, who is usually equated with the Antichrist.-Second Thessalonians, Chapter Two:...

", or the "Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

" affirmed by the writings of the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians.

Premillenialism-style futurists like Arthur Pink
Arthur Pink
Arthur Walkington Pink was an English Christian evangelist and Biblical scholar known for his staunchly Calvinist and Puritan-like teachings.-Biography:...

 in his classic work The Antichrist attribute vast portions within the Old and New Testament to this future figure.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


The Joseph Smith translation of Matthew states (in verse 12) that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel is concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (first in AD 70). Later in the text of the translation (verse 32) it states that the abomination of desolation will again be fulfilled when Jerusalem is again subject to much destruction before the second coming of Christ.

See also

  • Daniel 7
  • Daniel 8
  • Daniel 11
  • 1 Maccabees
    1 Maccabees
    The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

  • 2300 day prophecy
  • Abomination (Bible)
    Abomination (Bible)
    Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

  • Antichrist
    Antichrist
    The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

  • Antiochus Epiphanes
  • Book of Daniel
    Book of Daniel
    The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

  • Christian eschatology
    Christian eschatology
    Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning last and study , is the study of the end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world...

  • Preterism
    Preterism
    Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible, especially Daniel and Revelation, as events which have already happened in the first century A.D. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the...

  • Prophecy of Seventy Weeks
    Prophecy of Seventy Weeks
    The Prophecy of Seventy Septets appears in the angel Gabriel's reply to Daniel, beginning with verse 22 and ending with verse 27 in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, a work included in both the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian Bible; as well as the Septuagint...

  • Siege of Jerusalem (70)
    Siege of Jerusalem (70)
    The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

  • Summary of Christian eschatological differences

External links