Abomination of Desolation: Explained! Part 3
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
August 5, 2016

Last Updated :
August 5, 2016

Hebrew Word "Kanaph" Means Wing Wings Winged Feathered, Why Did KJV Translators Translate Hebrew "Kanaph" As "And For The Overspreading"?, "Overspreading" Is Not Used Anywhere Else In The Old Testament, In Hebrew "And For The Overspreading Of Abominations" Suggests "The Detestable, Unclean, Abominable Winged Or Feathered Idol", Jesus Clearly Referenced Daniel In Speaking Of Armies Which Would Destroy Jerusalem, Slow Death Behind A Roman Siege Wall, Great Destruction Until War Ended, Abomination Of Desolation Was A Roman Flag Called An "Aquila" That Had A Metal Eagle On Top Of The Pole, Importance Of The "Aquila" In Roman Military Life, "Aquila" Created Great Fear Because It Signaled The Coming Destruction Of Rome's Enemies, High Priest Caiaphas Said Jesus Must Die So Jerusalem Would Be Spared Roman Wrath, God Prohibited People From Eating Meat That Still Contained Blood, Eagle Was An Abomination To Eat Because It Consumed Animals Still With Blood, Aquila Was Also An Abomination To The Jews Because It Was A Molten Idol Which God Prohibited, Apostle Paul Mentions Bird-Shaped Roman Gods In Epistle To The Romans, Overspreading: Outstretched Wings Of The Aquilas?, Romans Instilled Fear And Horror With Their Aquilas, Eagle Was A Very Fitting Symbol For Rome Which Tore Apart And Devoured Its Enemies, Standing Where It Ought Not, Abominations Overspread Everywhere, Abomination Of Desolation Not Related To Our Modern Times, Nonsense And False Doctrines

In that same verse, the word "overspreading" is derived from the Hebrew word "kanaph". According to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon, out of the one hundred and eight times that "kanaph" is found in the Old Testament of the King James Version of the Bible, this Hebrew word is translated seventy-four times as "wing" or "wings", two times as "winged", and twice as "feathered". In other words, more than seventy-two per cent of the time that "kanaph" is used, it is used to describe something that has wings and is feathered. For example, it is used to describe the wings of both cherubs -- such as the two cherubs that were placed in Solomon's Temple -- as well as of regular birds. This is made evident by verses such as the following where the Hebrew "kanaph" is used:

"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself."
Exodus 19:4, KJV

"And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high. And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size. The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house."
1 Kings 6:23-27, KJV

"And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub. And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward."
2 Chronicles 3:10-13, KJV

"Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?"
Job 39:13, KJV

"And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind."
Psalms 18:10, KJV

"He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:"
Psalms 78:27, KJV

"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
Psalms 91:4, KJV

"Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:"
Psalms 148:10, KJV

"And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped."
Isaiah 10:14, KJV

"In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell."
Ezekiel 17:23, KJV

"And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood."
Ezekiel 39:17, KJV

So in all of the previous verses, the words "wing", "wings", "feathered" and "flying" are derived from the word "kanaph". This same Hebrew word is also used to a much lesser extent to refer to the skirt or border of a garment, or to the end, border or corner of something else. However, as you can see by our previous example verses, its primary definition is in fact the feathered wing of a cherub or bird. This definition of the word "kanaph" provides us with a major clue regarding exactly what the Abomination of Desolation -- or according to the Archangel Gabriel's actual words, Abominations -- really were.

Please take note of the fact that in the previous verse from the Book of Daniel, the phrase "and for the overspreading" is derived from this one Hebrew word "kanaph". In other words, in the original Hebrew text, there are no separate words for each of the other three words in the phrase. What I find very odd here, is that Daniel 9:27 is the only verse in the entire Old Testament where "kanaph" is translated in this manner. In fact, stranger still, this is the only verse in the entire Old Testament where the word "overspreading" is used at all.

This begs the question: If the primary meaning of "kanaph" is wings or feathered, why would the translators not only decide to not use this translation, but in fact translate it as an English word that is found nowhere else in the entire Old Testament? Is it possible that it was simply a translational oversight on their part? Should we consider that they didn't quite know what it meant so they just translated it the best they could? Or is it possible that they did grasp what this Hebrew word means, and decided that "overspreading" was a very appropriate translation, considering what these verses are discussing? As you will come to understand momentarily, there is an important reason why I am highlighting the odd way this verse has been translated.

Just as the English phrase "and for the overspreading" finds its origin in one Hebrew word, in the very same fashion, the phrase "of abominations" is derived from the one Hebrew word "shiqquwts". In other words, the entire phrase "and for the overspreading of abominations" is really translated from just two Hebrew words; that is "kanaph shiqquwts". Thus, based on the definitions that are provided by the BDBG Lexicon, what these two words suggest in a literal sense is "a detestable, unclean, abominable winged or feathered idol". Now, in order to obtain a clear idea of what Daniel is talking about in the verse, let's review what Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke:

"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled."
Luke 21:20-22, KJV

So while Daniel writes "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary", "with the arms of a flood", and "arms shall stand on his part", Jesus says "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." It is quite evident that Jesus is saying the same thing, because He is in fact referencing Daniel.

As we learned earlier, after subduing the rest of the Jewish country, General Titus' forces finally engulfed Jerusalem in a great siege wall. A common tactic in its day, a siege wall meant that no one could get in or out; and neither could any other thing, including food, water, military supplies, etc. The result was that people who were trapped within a siege wall slowly starved to death, turned on each other, died from different diseases, etc. According to historians Tacitus and Flavius Josephus, somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 Jews were trapped inside Jerusalem during that war.

According to the information I read in one source, this siege wall was so wide on top, that a Roman chariot could run along the course of the wall. Furthermore, being as the siege wall surrounded Jerusalem, it probably made the "overspreading of abominations" all that easier. The historical record also indicates that many thousands of Jews were crucified on the wall when they tried to escape from Jerusalem during the course of the siege. On a side note, I have wondered if the KJV translators chose the word "overspreading" because the Roman siege wall spread around Jerusalem, and perhaps was even higher than Jerusalem's own retaining walls, of which there were three. However, there is a better possibility regarding why they chose to use "overspreading", which I'll be discussing in just a little bit.

So again we see that there is clearly a direct association between these Roman armies which compass Jerusalem about and ultimately destroy it, and these Abominations of Desolation; that is, these winged or feathered detestable, unclean idols, which would even "stand in the holy place" as the Lord had warned. It was obviously very important for the Jews of First Century Jerusalem to fully grasp the meaning of this ancient prophecy, because as we have seen, that verse said "whoso readeth, let him understand".

The Prophet Daniel likewise tells us "and unto the end of the war desolations are determined" and "he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation [or end], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." In other words, Daniel is informing us that once the war has begun, there will be continuous great destruction in Jerusalem until it ends, and that the city will be left desolate, or uninhabited for the most part. As we have already clearly established, he is writing about the First Jewish-Roman War, which lasted from 66 AD to 73 AD.

For those of you who may be history buffs, particularly Roman history buffs, the mystery regarding the actual nature of the Abomination of Desolation may already be solved. After all, I have pretty much already told you what it was, but without saying so directly. However, for those of you who have not yet figured it out, and who may need a little more help, let us proceed to the conclusion of this matter.

The Romans had something in their possession which the Jews viewed as being filthy, unclean, abominable, detestable and idolatrous. We have seen that it would surround Jerusalem -- and in fact stand on the Temple Mount itself -- just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Furthermore, whatever this mysterious object was, it would also be quite visible to the Jews of that time period, and serve as a warning sign to get out of Jerusalem as quickly as possible.

From my personal study of the Scriptures, I am now convinced that these Abominations of Desolation were nothing less than than Roman standards. Referred to as "aquilas", they were in fact the military flags which were borne by Roman legions as they marched to war, and surrounded their enemies. This flag was mounted on a pole, on top of which was an eagle crafted out of silver or bronze. The Wikipedia website informs us of the great importance which was assigned to the "aquila" by the Roman military:

----- Begin Quote -----

"An aquila was the standard of a Roman legion formed in the shape of an eagle, which was carried by a special grade legionary known as an Aquilifer (aquila-bearer). One eagle standard was carried by each legion."

"The eagle standard was extremely important to the Roman military, beyond merely being a symbol of a legion. A lost standard was considered an extremely grave occurrence, and the Roman military often went to great lengths to both protect a standard and to recover it if lost."

----- End Quote -----

While Roman military men greatly honored and respected the "aquila", to anyone else -- such as the Jerusalemites of the First Century -- it was greatly feared. Being surrounded by Roman legions with their "aquilas" signified one thing, and only one thing: you were about to be destroyed! It is obvious then that the Jews of Jerusalem knew that their end was near. The end of that age, as had been prophesied by Jesus Himself, and in full agreement with Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy, was upon them. In fact, as I mention in other articles, forty years earlier, during the time of Jesus Christ, they already saw the handwriting on the wall. Thus, as Caiaphas the high priest stated:

"Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad."
John 11:47-52, KJV

The question we need to ask ourselves is why the Jews would view the Roman "aquila" as a filthy, detestable, unclean and abominable thing. Utilizing our tried and proven method of comparing Scripture with Scripture -- and thus allowing God's Word to speak for itself -- we find the answer in the pages of the Old Testament. For example, consider the following verses that are found in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:

"For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD."
Isaiah 66:16-17, KJV

As you can see, the Lord tells us by way of the Prophet that He is going to consume these particular people. In those two verses, the word "consumed" is derived from the Hebrew word "cuwph", which means to cease or to come to an end. In other words, the Lord is going to destroy them. Why will this be their awful fate? Because they have chosen to eat things God has declared to be unclean. This includes pork, the flesh of mice, and something else which the verse simply describes as "the abomination". But exactly what is this abomination? If we examine the Book of Leviticus, we discover that this can represent many different types of animals. However, we can understand one of the rules which the Lord applies when He classifies something as being unclean simply by reading what He said to Noah after the Flood waters had receded. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis we find the following verses:

"And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."
Genesis 9:2-4, KJV

What we see then, is that God has forbidden man to eat flesh which still contains the blood. It is considered unclean and an abomination to Him. As we all know, there are many beasts and birds which do eat flesh which still contains the blood in them. In fact, there are certain scavengers which even eat rotten, putrid flesh. As it turns out, in the verses below, the eagle is the very first fowl that is mentioned by God as being an abomination that should not be eaten:

"And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat."
Leviticus 11:13-19, KJV

Thus we see that the eagle was considered an abomination to the ancient Jews, because it is a scavenger which eats the flesh of other animals by tearing them apart, while it still contains the blood. Of course, there is another strong reason why the Jews would find the Roman "aquilas" to be abominable and detestable. It has to do with the simple fact that they were graven images. As we have seen, the Roman "aquilas" were molten images atop their standards, which the Roman military prized, respected, honored and protected. They treated it as a god, and Roman soldiers would even sacrifice their lives in order to recover one which had been stolen or lost.

We all already know what God thinks of idols, but here are some verses for your consideration. How ironic that Paul is writing to the Roman brethren regarding Roman idolatry in the very first verse below. Notice how Paul includes "and to birds" in his remarks. Surely he must have been thinking about the Roman "aquilas":

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, AND TO BIRDS, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."
Romans 1:22-23, KJV

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
Exodus 20:3-6, KJV

"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them."
Psalms 115:4-8, KJV

"The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them."
Psalms 135:15-18, KJV

"They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions."
Psalms 106:34-39, KJV

"They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble."
Isaiah 46:6-7, KJV

"For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good."
Jeremiah 10:3-5, KJV

"A drought is upon her [Babylon's] waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols."
Jeremiah 50:38, KJV

"Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars. In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD."
Ezekiel 6:2-7, KJV

"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD."
Ezekiel 14:2-8, KJV

By this time, in light of this preponderance of Scriptural evidence, I hope it is clear to you why the Angel Gabriel would refer to the Roman standards -- or "aquilas" -- as being "the abomination that maketh desolate" when he gave his message to Daniel. Perhaps you also now understand why I made such an issue out of the KJV translators translating "kanaph" as "overspreading", instead of as "wings", "wing", "winged" or "feathered". Just unlocking the full meaning of that one Hebrew word has revealed the truth to us.

However, at the same time, as I also said, having looked deeper into this matter, I now have a better idea regarding why the KJV translators may have chosen to use the word "overspreading" in the phrase "and for the overspreading Of abominations", instead of wings, feathers, etc. According to the Wikipedia website, the "aquila" was made of silver, or bronze, with outstretched wings. Thus, it may very well be that when the translators used "overspreading", they were referring to the fact that the "aquilas" had outstretched wings.

You may recall that while the Hebrew word "shamem" is often translated as "desolate" or "desolation", it can also mean to stun, cause horror, stupefy, appall, amaze or astonish. By proudly displaying their molten eagles on top of their poles which bore their military flags, the Roman military purposely instilled fear and horror in their subjects and their enemies, just as that Hebrew word also means. It was the ancient version of "shock and awe".

As I have said, the appearance of Roman legions with their standards meant only one thing: desolation, destruction and the end of life for the recipients of Rome's wrath. I find it very fitting that Rome would abandon all other animals, and select only the eagle; because just like the eagle, the leaders of Rome would use their military might to attack, mercilessly tear apart, and devour their enemies. So it is indeed very appropriate. You will also recall that the Lord Himself had said about forty years earlier "there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword" and "who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"

As we know, these molten eagles of the ancient Roman legions were placed on the very Temple grounds, where they were not supposed to be. As Jesus said "standing where it ought not". They were an abomination to the Jews. There were probably also flags which bore the images of eagles in some of the chariots of the upper-tier Roman leadership as well. If we consider the size of the siege wall which surrounded the city of Jerusalem for several years, I think it is possible that there were "aquilas" stationed on top of the wall as well. These no doubt caused the trapped Jews additional horror and dread, because they knew that their days were numbered. These abominations must have been overspread everywhere in some form.

To reiterate, personally, I am convinced by both historical evidence, as well as Scriptural evidence, that this is what Jesus meant when He used the well-known phrase "abomination of desolation" in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. In my view, contrary to what I long believed, and what many other Christians still believe, the Abomination of Desolation has absolutely nothing to do with our current times. It has no connection whatsoever to what modern Christians refer to as Endtime Prophecy, or to a speculated Third Temple being built on the summit of Mount Moriah in East Jerusalem. It has nothing to do with a modern idol, or with some kind of modern "image of the Beast".

In my view, such thinking is misguided Futurist nonsense, which I likewise embraced for far too many years, due to my ignorance of what the Scriptures really have to say about this issue. It is a false doctrine which has been promoted by Futurists for many years, decades in fact. Sadly, this is not the only false doctrine which is being promoted by these misguided people who wish to foist their warped theological perspective on the modern Body of Christ. In a number of my other articles, I will be exposing -- or have already done so -- some of the other modern doctrinal deceptions. Sadly, many of the members of the modern Church do not have a very strong foundation in God's Word, so they easily accept some of these erroneous doctrines.

Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

BBB Tools And Services

Please avail yourself of other areas of the Bill's Bible Basics website. There are many treasures for you to discover.