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Abomination (Bible)

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This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

Abomination (Latin abominatus, past participle of abominari, "to deprecate as an ill omen"); English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts, ("shiqqûts") and sheqets which are derived from shâqats, or the terms תֹּועֵבָה tōʻēḇā or to'ba (noun) or ta'ab (verb). Abomination in English signifies that which is exceptionally loathsome, hateful, sinful, wicked, or vile.

The Biblical words usually translated abomination do not always convey the same sense of moral exceptionalism as the English term does today, as it often may signify that which is forbidden or unclean according to the religion (especially sheqets). Linguistically in this case, it may be closer in meaning to the Polynesian term taboo or tapu, signifying that which is forbidden, and should not be eaten, and or not touched, and which sometimes was a capital crime. The word most often translated abomination to denote grave moral offenses is Tōʻēḇā. This article examines the term as it is used in English translations of the Bible, and also the actual senses of the words which are being translated into this term in English.

The term shiqquwts is translated abomination by almost all translations of the Bible. The similar words, sheqets, and shâqats, are almost exclusively used for dietary violations.

The most often used but different Hebrew term, tōʻēḇā, is also translated as abomination in the Authorized King James Version, and sometimes in the NASB. Many modern versions of the Bible (including the NIV and NET) translate it detestable. It is mainly used to denote idolatry, and in many other cases it refers to inherently evil things such as illicit sex, lying, murder, deceit, etc., and for unclean foods.

Another word which can signify that which is abhorred is zâ‛am. There are less used Hebrew words with a similar conveyance, as well as Greek terms for such.

Analysis of the term


Shiqquwts is used in the following ways:

  1. In Daniel's prophecies in Daniel 11:31 (cf. 12:11), it is generally interpreted as referring to the fearful calamities that were to fall on the Jews in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, saying "And they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." Jerome, and most of the Christian fathers, suppose that the reference is to Antiochus as the type of Antichrist, and that the description passes from the type to the antitype.[1] Idolatry is presented as the chief sin in the Bible, and shiqquwts is often used to describe such.
  2. In his campaign of Hellenization, Antiochus caused an altar to be erected on the altar for burnt-offerings of the Second Temple, on which sacrifices were offered to Zeus Olympios. (Comp. 1 Maccabees 1:54). Following the wording of Daniel 9:27, this may have been the abomination of desolation of Jerusalem.
  3. sinful sacrifices (Isaiah 66:3)
  4. idolatry (Deuteronomy 29:17, Ezekiel 20:7,8, 1Kings 11:5-7)
  5. witchcraft (2 Kings 23:24)
  6. sexual sins (Jeremiah 13:27)

The word sheqets is used with eating:

  1. seafood that lacks fins and scales (Leviticus 11:10-12)
  2. all insects (Leviticus 11:23, Leviticus 11:41)
  3. eagles, ossifrage, and the ospray (Leviticus 11:13

other biblically unclean animals or touching certain things,(Leviticus 7:21)

Shâqats is rendered in the KJV as follows:

  1. abominable (Leviticus 11:43, Leviticus 20:25)
  2. abomination (Leviticus 11:11, Leviticus 11:13)
  3. abhorred (Psalms 22:24)
  4. detest (Deuteronomy 7:26)


Tōʻēḇā is used in the following ways:

  1. Every shepherd was "an abomination" unto the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). This aversion to shepherds, such as the Hebrews, arose probably from the fact that Upper and Lower Egypt had formerly been held in oppressive subjection by the Hyksos (a tribe of nomad shepherds), who had only recently been expelled, and partly also perhaps from this other fact that the people of Egypt detested the nomadic habits of these wandering shepherds.
  2. Pharaoh was so moved by the fourth plague, that while he refused the demand of Moses, he offered a compromise, granting to the Israelites permission to hold their festival and offer their sacrifices in Egypt. This permission could not be accepted, because Moses said they would have to sacrifice "the abomination of the Egyptians" (Exodus 8:26); i.e., the cow or ox, which all the Egyptians held as sacred and so regarded as sacrilegious to kill.
  3. Proverbs 6:16-18 lists six things which are also abominations: "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief."

Tōʻēḇā is also used in Jewish (and Christian Old Testament) scriptures to refer to:

  1. idolatry or idols (Deuteronomy 7:25, Deuteronomy 13:14, Isaiah 44:19)
  2. illicit sex (Ezekiel 16:22,58, Ezekiel 22:11, Ezekiel 33:26)
  3. illicit marriage (Deuteronomy 24:2-4)
  4. male homosexual and (collectively) heterosexual immorality (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 18:27-30, Leviticus 20:13)
  5. temple prostitution (1Kings 14:24)
  6. offerings from the above (Deuteronomy 23:18)
  7. child sacrifice (Jeremiah 32:35)
  8. cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5)
  9. cheating in the market by using rigged weights (Deuteronomy 25:13-19, Proverbs 11:1)
  10. dishonesty (Proverbs 12:22)
  11. dietary violations (Deuteronomy 14:3)
  12. stealing, murder, and adultery, breaking covenants (Jeremiah 7:9,10)
  13. violent robbery, murder, oppressing the poor and needy, etc. (Ezekiel 18:10-13)

Tâ‛ab is rendered the following ways in the KJV

  1. abhor, 9 Deu_7:26, Deu_23:7 (2), Job_9:31, Job_30:10, Psa_5:6, Psa_119:163, Amo_5:10, Mic_3:9;
  2. abominable, 6 1Ch_21:6, Job_15:16, Psa_53:1 (2), Isa_14:19, Eze_16:52;
  3. abhorred, 3 Job_19:19, Psa_106:40, Eze_16:25;
  4. abhorreth, 2 Psa_107:18, Isa_49:7;
  5. abominably, 1 1Ki_21:26;
  6. committed, 1 Eze_16:52.

See also

External links


  1. Albert Barnes commentary

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