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What Is an Abomination? Definition, Meaning, and Bible Verses

An abomination, as mentioned in the Bible, is a violation of God’s law and the tenets of Christianity. Discover the contemporary definition of abomination and its meaning in the Bible with scripture quotes.
What Is an Abomination? Definition, Meaning, and Bible Verses

Even if you haven't spent much time in Scripture, you probably have a familiarity with the word "abomination." You may even know a good "abomination definition" or have heard the word used in sermons. It should come as no surprise that an abomination has a negative connotation in Christian circles. The Bible never speaks favorably of anything with the label of abomination. In this article we'll explore the dictionary definition of abomination, what the Bible labels as an abomination, and what we should know about abominations as Christians.

Abomination Definition

As on Dictionary.com, listed below are the definitions of abomination.

1. Anything abominable; anything greatly disliked or abhorred.

2. Intense aversion or loathing; detestation: He regarded lying with abomination.

3. A vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.: Spitting in public is an abomination.

Abomination Meaning in the Bible

Abomination expresses the idea that the Egyptians considered themselves as defiled when they ate with strangers (Genesis 43:32). The Jews subsequently followed the same practice, holding it unlawful to eat or drink with foreigners (John 18:28; Acts 10:28; 11:3).

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 Lower and Middle Egypt had formerly been held in oppressive subjection by a tribe of nomad shepherds (the Hyksos), who had only recently been expelled, and partly also perhaps from this other fact that the Egyptians detested the lawless habits of these wandering shepherds.

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 which they regarded it as sacrilegious to kill.

In Daniel 11:31, that section of his prophecies which is generally interpreted as referring to the fearful calamities that were to fall on the Jews in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, says, "And they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." Antiochus Epiphanes caused an altar to be erected on the altar of burnt-offering, on which sacrifices were offered to Jupiter Olympus. (Compare 1 Maccabees 1:57). This was the abomination of the desolation of Jerusalem. The same language is employed in Daniel 9:27 (Compare Matthew 24:15), where the reference is probably to the image-crowned standards which the Romans set up at the east gate of the temple (A.D. 70), and to which they paid idolatrous honors. "Almost the entire religion of the Roman camp consisted in worshipping the ensign, swearing by the ensign, and in preferring the ensign before all other gods." These ensigns were an "abomination" to the Jews, the "abomination of desolation."

This word is also used symbolically of sin in general (Isaiah 66:3); an idol (44:19); the ceremonies of the apostate Church of Rome (Revelation 17:4); a detestable act (Ezekiel 22:11).

Excerpt from Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Bible Verses about Abomination

Leviticus 18:22 - "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."

Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

Often the above two verses talk about reasons why the Bible is against acts of homosexuality. Christians often will point to Romans 1 as another passage that speaks against this act.

Deuteronomy 22:5 - “A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God."

Proverbs 12:22 - "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight."

God speaks only the truth. If we want to become more like God, we cannot engage in lies. After all, Satan is known as the Father of Lies.

Daniel 11:31 - "Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate."

This Daniel passage talks about the abomination of desolation. This first occurs with the person of Antiochus Epiphanes IV. He desecrates the temple by putting a statue of Zeus in it and sacrificing in a pig on the altar. But some theologians have speculated that another abomination of desolation will appear in the Last Days.

Proverbs 17:15 - "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord."

Even if we do not actively engage in something sinful, if we call evil good and good evil we commit an abomination. Passivity counts as a sin. In fact, Adam had committed it first when he allowed for Eve to eat the fruit in the Garden.

Proverbs 16:5 - "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished."

Matthew 24:15 - “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),"

Proverbs 11:20 - "Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight."

Proverbs 28:9 - "If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination."

Proverbs 20:10 - "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord."

Daniel 12:11 - "And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days."

Deuteronomy 23:18 -"You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God."

Daniel 9:27 - "And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."

Proverbs 11:1 - "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight."

Proverbs 15:26 - "The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure."

As you can see, the Bible has a great deal to say about abominations. Whether it refers to an act of abomination, or to the abomination of desolation. Notice the severity of the passages. We need to take this concept seriously as Christians. One of the verses even talks about turning a blind eye to the law and how that's abominable. We have to make sure to read all of Scripture, even the hard to swallow parts. We cannot have the love of God without knowing that wrath exists too. Otherwise, grace would be cheap and meaningless for believers.

Image Credit: pxhere

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