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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Abomination

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A. Noun.

Tô‛êbah (תּוֹעֵבָה, Strong's #8441), “abomination; loathsome, detestable thing.” Cognates of this word appear only in Phoenician and Targumic Aramaic. The word appears 117 times and in all periods.

First, tô‛êbah defines something or someone as essentially unique in the sense of being “dangerous,” “sinister,” and “repulsive” to another individual. This meaning appears in Gen. 43:32 (the first occurrence): “… The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” To the Egyptians, eating bread with foreigners was repulsive because of their cultural or social differences (cf. Gen. 46:34; Ps. 88:8). Another clear illustration of this essential clash of disposition appears in Prov. 29:27: “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.” When used with reference to God, this nuance of the word describes people, things, acts, relationships, and characteristics that are “detestable” to Him because they are contrary to His nature. Things related to death and idolatry are loathsome to God: “Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing” (Deut. 14:3). People with habits loathsome to God are themselves detestable to Him: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deut. 22:5). Directly opposed to tô‛êbah are such reactions as “delight” and “loveth” (Prov. 15:8-9). 

Second, tô‛êbah is used in some contexts to describe pagan practices and objects: “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire; thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house …” (Deut. 7:25-26). In other contexts, tô‛êbah describes the repeated failures to observe divine regulations: “Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; … because of all thine abominations” (Ezek. 5:7, 9). tô‛êbah may represent the pagan cultic practices themselves, as in Deut. 12:31, or the people who perpetrate such practices: “For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deut. 18:12). If Israelites are guilty of such idolatry, however, their fate will be worse than exile: death by stoning (Deut. 17:2-5).Third, tô‛êbah is used in the sphere of jurisprudence and of family or tribal relationships. Certain acts or characteristics are destructive of societal and familial harmony; both such things and the people who do them are described by tô‛êbah : “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: … a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, … and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). God says, “The scorner is an abomination to men” (Prov. 24:9) because he spreads his bitterness among God’s people, disrupting unity and harmony.

B. Verb.

Tâ‛ab (תָּעַב , Strong's #8581), “to abhor, treat as abhorrent, cause to be an abomination, act abominably.” This verb occurs 21 times, and the first occurrence is in Deut. 7:26: “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house.…”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Abomination'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/a/abomination.html. 1940.

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