Abomination of Desolation: Explained! Part 2

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
August 5, 2016

Last Updated :
August 5, 2016

Desolation In Greek: Make Something Desolate Ruin It Lay It Waste So It's Uninhabited, Babylon The Great Is Jerusalem, Jesus Warns Jewish Enemies The Temple Will Become Desolate, Jesus Warns His Followers To Flee Jerusalem When They Behold Abomination Of Desolation, Paul: Not Appointed Us To Wrath, Abomination In Hebrew: Something Abominable Detestable Filthy And Idolatrous, Roman Armies Defile Jewish Temple, Sanctuary Of Strength, Zealots And Sicarii Take Over Temple, Old And New Testament Verses Describe Same People And Events, Midst Of The Week, Three And A Half Years Expressed Different Ways, Desolate In Hebrew: To Make A Place Desolate Devastate Ravage Cause Ruin And Leave It Uninhabited, God's Fierce Judgments, Abomination Of Desolation Means The Same Thing In Hebrew And Greek, Aftermath Of Babylon The Great's Destruction, No More At All, Jerusalem: Utter Devastation By Titus And The Romans, "Overspreading Of Abominations", More Than One Abomination

In the three verses we examined earlier from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke where the word "desolation" is used, the original Greek word is "eremosis". This word itself is derived from another Greek word; that is, "eremoo". Thayer's Greek English Lexicon informs us that these two words mean to make something desolate, to ruin it, or to lay it waste, so that it is empty and uninhabited. There are four other verses found in the New Testament where the Greek word "eremoo" is used, and in all cases, it conveys the very same idea of being brought to ruin and falling, and left abandoned. The first two are the following:

"And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:"
Matthew 12:25, KJV

"But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth."
Luke 11:17, KJV

The other two verses where the Greek word "eremoo" are used are found in the Book of Revelation. Personally, I find this fact very interesting, because as I point out in my series "Who is Babylon the Great?", I have long believed that the mysterious city which John refers to as Babylon the Great is actually Jerusalem itself. So in my opinion, all of these prophetic verses regarding the destruction of Jerusalem fit together like a hand in a glove:

"And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire."
Revelation 17:16, KJV

"And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate."
Revelation 18:19, KJV

Directly related to the Greek words "eremosis" and "eremoo" is the word "eremos". As with the first two words, Thayer's Greek English Lexicon informs us that it means to be lonely, solitary, deserted or uninhabited. It can refer to a desert or a wilderness area, or even to an abandoned position. It can also refer to the state of a person being abandoned or neglected by others. For example, the verse below describes how the position which Judas held as an Apostle was left empty or uninhabited following his betrayal and suicide:

"For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take."
Acts 1:20, KJV

Regarding women being neglected by their husbands, consider this verse where the same Greek word "eremos" is used:

"For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband."
Galatians 4:27, KJV

However, for the purposes of our current discussion, the most important two verses where "eremos" is used are the following, both found in the Gospels, and both talking about the very same events which occurred in 70 AD:

"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Matthew 23:38, KJV

"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Luke 13:35, KJV

Following is a more complete copy of exactly what Jesus had to say to His unbelieving enemies. As you can see, He really blasted them with the truth regarding their miserable and murderous spiritual condition, before finally informing them that their house -- which seems to mean the Temple -- would be left unto them desolate:

"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 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. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Matthew 23:33-39, KJV

As should now be clear to you, the Jews' house -- the Temple -- was indeed "left unto [them] desolate" when General Titus and his Roman armies utterly destroyed the Temple compound and the city of Jerusalem itself right in the middle of the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War in 70 AD.

To reiterate my previous point, in those three verses which are found in the Gospels where the phrase "Abomination of Desolation" is used, Jesus appears to be saying that when the Apostles see something foul, detestable, unclean, idolatrous and worthy to be abhorred standing "in the holy place", they should view it as a warning signal of the coming destruction and desolation of the Temple Compound and Jerusalem, leaving it solitary and uninhabited. As two of those verses clearly state "whoso readeth, let him understand". Thus, if you are a Believer when that signal appears, it is time for you to get out of town and to flee to the hills to safety.

The reason why Jesus told the Apostles to flee from Jerusalem when they see the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place of the Temple where it ought not, is because they were His friends and His chosen, and they were not "appointed to wrath" -- that is, to the Wrath of God via the hand of the Roman legions, as the unbelieving Jews who betrayed Christ were -- as we see by the following verses:

"But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and WRATH UPON THIS PEOPLE."
Luke 21:23, KJV

"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the WRATH TO COME?"
Matthew 3:7, KJV

"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the WRATH TO COME?"
Luke 3:7, KJV

"For the WRATH OF GOD is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
Romans 1:18, KJV

In the previous verse, when Paul writes "men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness", he is apparently referring to the unbelieving Jews who viewed the Gospel of Christ as a heresy against Judaism, or Pharisaism. Thus, as Paul also said in the Book of Acts:

"But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:"
Acts 24:14, KJV

Following are some additional verses regarding "the wrath to come", which befell the hard-hearted, unbelieving, murderous Jews in 70 AD:

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be SAVED FROM WRATH through him."
Romans 5:8-9, KJV

"For which things' sake the WRATH OF GOD COMETH ON THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them."
Colossians 3:6-7, KJV

"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from THE WRATH TO COME."
1 Thessalonians 1:10, KJV

"For God hath NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"
1 Thessalonians 5:9, KJV

Having now thoroughly discussed how the words and phrases "abomination", "abominable", "desolation" and "desolate" are used in the New Testament, let us move on to the Books of the Old Testament. While we have not yet clearly identified what the Abomination of Desolation was, we have come to understand why it was called what it was called, and what it meant for the Apostles and Disciples of the late First Century. It was in fact their life line and green light to quickly flee from Jerusalem in order to escape God's Wrath, just as the Hebrews had to mark their doors with lamb's blood in order to avoid God's Wrath during the Old Testament period. The meaning and identity of the Abomination of Desolation will become even more evident as we continue to explore the Scriptures.

Turning to the Old Testament, in the Book of Daniel, the word "abomination" is derived from the Hebrew word "shiqquwts", or "shiqquts". Just like in the New Testament, the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon informs us that this word signifies a detestable, abominable thing, or an idol. Out of the twenty-eight times this Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament, it is translated as "abomination" a total of twenty times. In one verse it is translated as "abominable filth". Following are the two verses in the Book of Daniel where it is used:

"And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate."
Daniel 11:31, KJV

"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days."
Daniel 12:11, KJV

As you can see, these are the very same events that the Lord spoke about in the Gospels, and the very same events that we read about before in an earlier chapter of Daniel. Remember that the word "arms" in the previous verse is referring to military might, or armies. It is derived from the Hebrew word "z@rowa" or "z@roa". The word "pollute" is derived from the Hebrew word "chalal" which means to defile or to profane. The word "sanctuary" is of course referring to the Jewish Temple, and is derived from the Hebrew word "miqdash". It is referred to as "the sanctuary of strength" because the word "strength" is derived from the Hebrew word "ma`owz", which signifies a place or means of safety and protection; that is, a refuge or stronghold. Not only did the ancient Jews believe that God would protect them from their enemies inside the Temple, but during that particular time period, historical records also inform us that the Zealots and the Sicarii took over the Temple Compound -- turning it into a military stronghold -- locked down Jerusalem, and foolishly defied the Romans.

Anyway, to refresh your memory, and to show you the clear connection between all of these verses, here are two verses from the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel once again:

". . . and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease . . ."
Daniel 9:26-27, KJV

So it should be clear to you that all of these verses we have examined thus far in the Old and New Testaments are actually describing the same people -- General Titus and the Romans -- the same war -- the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War -- the same Jewish Temple in First Century Jerusalem, the same daily sacrifice and oblation being ceased, and the same Abomination of Desolation. All of these events were prophesied to occur sometime during the 70th week -- the last seven-year period -- of Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy. Some of them took place during the first three and a half years, while others occurred during the final three and a half years. That is why in Daniel the phrase "in the midst of the week" is used. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple Compound in the middle of the week marked a turning point in that first war.

In fact, let me point out that there are a number of other places in the Scriptures where this very same war and its outcome are mentioned and described to different degrees. One reason why it is difficult for some Christians to connect the Scriptural dots, is because this very same time period is described in various ways in different parts of God's Word. Following are all of the ones of which I am currently aware:
• forty-two months
• 1,260 days
• time and times and the dividing of time (3 1/2 years)
• time, times, and an half (3 1/2 years)
If you do the math yourself, you'll discover that forty-two months is the same as Revelation's and Daniel's 1,260 days, and equates to three and a half Jewish years. The reason for this is that a Jewish year consists of twelve thirty-day months, for a total of 360 days. That is why Daniel's 70th week is divided into two equal periods of that same length.

The Prophet Daniel also mentions a 1,290 day period, as well as a 1,335 day period. This latter time span is the same as 44.4 Jewish months at thirty days each, while the 1,290 days equals exactly forty-three Jewish months. Following are the specific verses where these time spans are mentioned in both Daniel and Revelation. I have added a few words in brackets in order to clarify what is being said:

"And he [the Beast] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
Daniel 7:25, KJV

"And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he [the Beast] shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished."
Daniel 12:7, KJV

"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days."
Daniel 12:11-12, KJV

"But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
Revelation 11:2-3, KJV

"And the woman [the First Century Church] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
Revelation 12:6, KJV

"And there was given unto him [the Beast] a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Revelation 13:5-7, KJV

While I have mentioned that the word "abomination" is used two times in the Book of Daniel, and that it means the very same thing as its New Testament Greek equivalent, let me add that while the word "abomination" is only used four times in the New Testament, it is used seventy-two times in the Old Testament. Furthermore, it is not always derived from the Hebrew word "shiqquwts" or "shiqquts". There are other words which are translated as "abomination" as well. These include "towebah", "pigguwl", "sheqets", "shaqats" and "ba'ash". The last one even means to stink, smell bad, or to become odious and abhorred by one's enemies. But regardless of which Hebrew word is used, they all generally mean the same thing -- that is, abominable, detestable, filthy, disgusting or a foul and idolatrous thing -- and they agree with how "abomination" is used in the New Testament as well. So insofar as the phrase "abomination of desolation" is concerned, we can safely say that the first part of the phrase means basically the same thing no matter where we look in the Scriptures.

So what about the latter half of the phrase? In the Book of Daniel where the phrase "abomination that maketh desolate" is used, the word "desolate" is derived from the Hebrew word "shamem". According to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon, this word has a variety of meanings. The ones which best fit with what we've discovered thus far include to be desolated or to be made desolate, to devastate, ravage, or to cause oneself desolation or ruin. As we learned earlier, its New Testament Greek equivalent means the very same thing. The word "shamem" is translated a total of forty-nine times as "desolate", three times as "destroy", five times as "waste" and seven times as "desolation". A few places outside of the Book of Daniel where "shamem" is also used include the following:

"I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate . . . And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it."
Leviticus 26:22, 31-32, KJV

"For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed."
Ezekiel 33:28-29, KJV

"And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Amos 7:9, KJV

"Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins."
Micah 6:13, KJV

"I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant."
Zephaniah 3:6, KJV

With this word "shamem", what we are witnessing in all of the previous verses -- and in many others which aren't even listed here, is a judgement so strong from the Lord, that a place is not only left destroyed, but it is left deserted, abandoned, empty, without inhabitant. It basically returns to being a wilderness area again for some period of time. That is how fiercely God's judgments fall on it and on its people. This word "shamem" can also mean to appall, stun, stupefy, amaze, astonish, or to show or cause horror, which is precisely what happens when the Lord's judgments do fall. A few other words in the Old Testament which are translated as "desolate" include "yasham", "charab", and "asham".

Other Hebrew words which are translated as "desolation" in the Old Testament include "show'ah", "chorbah", "sh@mamah", "shammah", "shod", "she'th" and "m@show'ah". In looking at the various definitions for each of these words in the BDBG Lexicon, we discover that generally, they can all be used to refer to a place which has been laid waste, to a place of ruin, devastation, destruction and desolation. It is a place without inhabitant, or at least with very few of them. Thus, clear across the Scriptures, we plainly see that the phrase "Abomination of Desolation" means the same thing. It was some detestable, filthy, idolatrous thing which was abhorred by the Jews, which would serve as a warning sign, and mark the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews' beloved Temple, leaving the place pretty much deserted.

You may recall that earlier in this series, while discussing the meaning of the word "desolate" in the New Testament, we also examined a few verses which describe the desolation of the mysterious, proud, sinful city which John the Beloved referred to as Babylon the Great. I briefly mentioned to you how I have long believed that Babylon the Great was just a coded name for the city of Jerusalem itself. Let me remind you again that this is a topic which I discuss more in depth in the article "Who is Babylon the Great?". At any rate, keeping in mind what the words "desolate" and "desolation" actually mean in the Holy Scriptures, consider now how the aftermath of Babylon the Great's destruction is described:

"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her . . . And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all . . . And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived."
Revelation 18:8, 14, 21-23, KJV

We are told six times that Babylon's destruction would be so complete, that she would be found no more at all. All of the things which made her so popular, so rich and so powerful, would all be gone. They would be found no more at all. She would become uninhabited. She would be desolate. She would be an empty, ruinous place of utter devastation once God's judgments fell upon her. In so many words, this is also what Jesus and the Prophets said would happen to Jerusalem during the completion of the 70th week of Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy. The Temple would be utterly destroyed, leaving not one stone upon another, and Jerusalem would be burned and brought to her knees by the armies of Rome, under the cruel command of General Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian.

At this point in our discussion, we are going to return to some of the verses which are found in the Book of Daniel. The reason why we are doing this, is because they contain some vital information which will assist us in finally discovering exactly what the Abomination of Desolation was. Those verses are the following:

". . . and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
Daniel 9:26-27, KJV

I began this series by sharing with you some of my former, misguided ideas regarding what I thought the Abomination of Desolation might have been. Not only was I wrong about the actual time frame, but I was wrong about something else as well. While I erroneously assumed that this detestable thing was one great, singular object, please notice carefully what the previous verses actually say: "and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate".

As you can see, the verse says "abominations" and not just "abomination". In other words, there appears to be more than one Abomination of Desolation. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the prophecy was not just referring to some kind of great idol or statue standing in a futuristic Third Temple, or at any other time in history for that matter. In this case, the word "abominations" finds its origin in the Hebrew word "shiqquwts" or "shiqquts". As we learned before, this implies that it was something that was viewed by both God and the Jews as being unclean, utterly detestable, and idolatrous. So what was it?

Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.

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