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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Abomination of Desolation

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ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION . A term found only in Mark 13:14 and its parallel Matthew 24:15 . It is obviously derived, as St. Matthew indicates, from Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; cf. Daniel 9:27 . In these passages the most natural reference is to the desecration of the Temple under Antiochus Epihanes, when an altar to Olympian Zeus was erected on the altar of burnt sacrifices. As interpreted in the revision by St. Luke ( Luke 21:20 ), the reference in the Gospel is to the encompassing of Jerusalem by the Roman army. It is very difficult, however, to adjust this interpretation to the expression of Mk. ‘standing where he ought not,’ and that of Mt. ‘standing in the holy place.’ Other interpretations would be: (1) the threatened erection of the statue of Caligula in the Temple; or (2) the desecration of the Temple area by the Zealots, who during the siege made it a fortress; or (3) the desecration of the Temple by the presence of Titus after its capture by that general. While it is impossible to reach any final choice between these different interpretations, it seems probable that the reference of Mark 13:14 is prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, because of its insistence that the appearance of the ‘abomination of desolation’ (or the ‘abomination that makes desolate’) is to be taken as a warning for those who are in Judæa to flee to the mountains. It would seem to follow, therefore, that the reference is to some event, portending the fall of Jerusalem, which might also be interpreted by the Christians as a premonition of the Parousia ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 ). It would seem natural to see this event in the coming of the Romans ( Luke 21:20 ), or in the seizure of the Temple by the Zealots under John of Giscala, before the city was completely invested by the Romans. A measure of probability is given to the latter conjecture by the tradition (Eusebius, HE iii. v. 3) that the Jewish Christians, because of a Divine oracle, fled from Jerusalem during the early course of the siege.

Shailer Mathews.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Abomination of Desolation'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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