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Desolation, Abomination of

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(βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14, as a translation of שַׁקּוּוֹ מְשֹׁמֵם ), especially in Daniel 9:27, "and for the overspreading (כָּנָ, wing) of abominations he shall make it desolate"' (so the A.V. vaguely and inaccurately renders). Here an especial difficulty in the interpretation of the phrase is created by the ambiguity of the term כָּנָ, which is usually regarded as equivalent to the πτερύγιον, or winglet ("pinnacle") of the Temple (Matthew 4:5; Matthew 4:9). (See PINNACLE). "We believe," says Havernick, "that of all the meanings of כָּנָ that are sufficiently supported, none so commends itself as that of border, properly of a garment, e.g. 1 Samuel 15:27; Numbers 15:36; Ezra 5:3; Zechariah 8:23; Haggi 2:12; then secondarily of places, regions of the earth, hence הָאֶרֶוֹ כְּנָפוֹת, the ends, limits, uttermost parts of the earth, Job 37:3; Job 38:13; Isaiah 11:12; Ezekiel 7:2. (Sept. πτέρυγες τῆς γῆς, the extremity of the earth.)... According to this, כָּנָ would denote here extremitas regionis, the utmost point or part of a district or of a place, and עִלאּכְּנִ שׁקּוּצַים, on the utmost height of abomination, i.e. on the highest place where abomination could be committed. But the highest point in Jerusalem was the Temple, and it must be this which is thus designated here. We admit that this meaning would be obscure before the fulfillment of the prediction; but this we hold to be only a characteristic feature of such predictions... As respects the form מְשֹׁמֵם, most interpreters take it as nomen participiale for destruction;' but this is against the usage of the form elsewhere in Daniel (Daniel 11:31), and the meaning is brought out much more vividly and poetically by our construction. On the summit of abomination is a destroyer,' probably collectively for destroyers' in general.... . According to this explanation, there can be no doubt that the Sept, has already rightly given the meaning of the passage when it translates καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ ἱερὸν βδέλυγμα τῶν ἐρημώσεων ἔσται, and so the Syr. Ambros. Somewhat different from this is Theodotion, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτοις (these two words aire wanting in the Vatican Codex) ἐπὶ τὸ ἱερὸν βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως (Cod. Vat. τῶν ἐρημώσεων ), and so Jacob of Edessa (ap. Bugati, p. 151), except that he seems to have read καὶ ἐρήμωσις . The Peshito gives on the wings of abhorrence,' and this Ephraem refers to the Roman eagles. The Vulg., Et erit in templo abominatio desolationis: Ven. Gr., καπὶ πτέρυγος βδελύγματα ἐρημοῦν᾿᾿ (Commentatar ib. Dan. in loc.). Some codices read יהיה שיקווֹ ובהיכל, and in the temple of Jehovah an abomination (see Kennicott, Bib. Heb. in loc.; De Rossi, Var. Lectt. 4:147).

This agrees with the reading of the Sept. and Jerome, as also of the Memphitic and Sahidic versions, and with the citation of the evangelists. It may be a mere correction; but there is a curious fact urged by Michaelis which seems to give it some weight. Josephus, in recording the destruction of the Arx Antonia, says that the Jews thus made the Temple building a square, not considering that it was written in the prophecies that the city and Temple should be taken when the Temple was made four-square (War, 6:5, 4). To what prediction the historian here refers has always appeared obscure, and his whole statement has been perplexing. But Michaelis argues that if the reading of Daniel 9:27 was in his day that given above, the difficulty is solved; for we have only to suppose he read the last word שֶׁיָּקוֹוֹ, she-yakots', in which case the meaning would be "and in the Temple shall he who cuts off (from קצוֹ ) be a desolator" (Orient. u. exegeto Bibliothek, 2:194). If we may take Josephus as a representative of the common opinions of his countrymen. they must have regarded these predictions as finding their fulfillment not merely in the acts of Antiochus Epiphanes, but also in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (Ant. 10:7). As against the opinion that שַׁקּוּוֹ is to be understood of idolatrous objects carried by heathens into the Temple, it has been objected that this word designates idols only as adopted by the Jews. But this is wholly unfounded, as 1 Kings 11:5; 2 Kings 23:13, and other passages abundantly show. Indeed, the word is always used objectively, to designate that which is an abomination, not in, but to the parties spoken of. (See ABOMINATION).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Desolation, Abomination of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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