DISGUSTING THING, ALSO LOATHSOME THING
The Hebrew nouns sheʹqets (loathsome thing) and shiq·qutsʹ (disgusting thing) come from the root sha·qatsʹ, used in the sense of “loathe” (Le 11:11, 13) and, in the causative form, ‘make loathsome.’ (Le 11:43; 20:25) These Hebrew terms refer to that which is repugnant from the standpoint of Jehovah’s true worship. They are commonly rendered by such words as “abominate,” “abominable,” or “abomination” in many translations. This has resulted in the well-known expression “abomination of desolation.” (Da 11:31; 12:11, KJ) The Gospel writers Matthew and Mark used the Greek bdeʹlyg·ma to translate the Hebrew shiq·qutsʹ (plural, shiq·qu·tsimʹ). (Da 9:27; Mt 24:15; Mr 13:14) This Greek term basically implies that which causes disgust.
The Mosaic Law prohibited the eating of certain creatures, declaring them “unclean” for that purpose (as well as for sacrificing). Therefore, in these respects such a creature was to be viewed as a “loathsome thing” and any person eating one (or using it for sacrifice) would make himself “loathsome,” since he would thereby be showing contempt for God’s commands. (Le 7:21; 11:10-13, 20-23, 41, 42; 20:25; Isa 66:17) That the proscribed animals were not to be loathed in a general way, however, can be seen from other texts. For example, though “unclean” for food or sacrifice, the ass was regularly used by the Israelites for transportation and for bearing burdens (Ex 23:4, 5; Mt 21:2-5); King David had herds of camels, and camel hair was used for clothing (1Ch 27:30, 31; Mt 3:4); and the eagle was used as a fitting metaphor and simile to represent God’s protective care of Israel during the Exodus. (Ex 19:4; De 32:9-12) With the removal of the Law covenant, the injunction to view any of such creatures as “loathsome” for food ended.
Whereas the Hebrew sheʹqets is used exclusively with regard to “unclean” animals, the word shiq·qutsʹ is used principally with respect to idols and idolatrous practices. At the time of the Exodus, Jehovah instructed the Israelites to throw away “the disgusting things” and “the dungy idols of Egypt,” but individuals failed to obey, thereby profaning God’s name. (Eze 20:6-9) On its way to the Promised Land, Israel passed among pagan nations and saw “their disgusting things and their dungy idols, wood and stone, silver and gold.” They were commanded to “thoroughly loathe” such religious imagery as “something devoted to destruction,” refusing to bring it into their residences. (De 29:16-18; 7:26) The false gods and goddesses of these nations, including Milcom, or Molech, as well as Chemosh and Ashtoreth, were themselves ‘disgusting things.’ (1Ki 11:5, 7; 2Ki 23:13) When Israel practiced such idolatry, it too became repugnant in God’s eyes, and the later defilement of the temple with idolatrous objects brought God’s fury upon that nation, finally resulting in its desolation. (Jer 32:34, 35; Eze 7:20-22; Ho 9:10) By thus “ministering to wood and stone,” they were engaging in “immoral intercourse,” spiritual fornication, cutting themselves off from communication with God.
Only by vigorous and courageous action to rid the land of idolatry did certain kings bring periods of blessing to the nation. (2Ki 23:24; 2Ch 15:8-15) God made clear that only by a thorough cleansing of themselves from such practices could the Israelites assure their restoration from the coming captivity and enjoy reinstatement as his people. (Eze 11:17-21) In a similar prophecy, the references to David as being the king of this cleansed people and their “one shepherd” and “chieftain to time indefinite” clearly point to a greater fulfillment on the nation of spiritual Israel, the Christian congregation, under the anointed Heir to David’s throne, Christ Jesus.
At Nahum 3:6, the prophecy against Assyria’s capital, Nineveh, foretells the end of her political and international prostitutions and that Jehovah would “throw disgusting things [Heb., shiq·qu·tsimʹ]” on her. Such disgusting things evidently refer, not to idolatrous objects, but to things generally unclean or repulsive, as dirt and filth, thereby making the rapacious city despicable in the eyes of all. (Na 3:4-7) The bloodstained and disgusting things to be removed from the teeth of the Philistine (Zec 9:6, 7) likely relate to the pagan practice of eating sacrificial animals along with their blood.
While the Jewish people, and particularly their religious leaders in Jesus’ days on earth, were evidently scrupulous in avoiding anything connected with literal idols, they were, nevertheless, guilty of disgusting practices of self-idolatry, disobedience, hypocrisy, greed, and falsehood, and Jesus said that, like their forefathers, they had turned the temple into “a cave of robbers.” (Mt 23:1-15, 23-28; Lu 16:14, 15; compare Mt 21:13 and Jer 7:11, 30.) This bad condition and heart attitude led to their monumental act of rebellion in rejecting God’s own Son, and Jesus showed that this would bring certain destruction upon them.
‘Disgusting Things Leading to Desolation.’ Daniel’s prophecy foretold “disgusting things” associated with desolation. (Da 9:27) The popular view has generally followed early Jewish tradition in applying this expression to the profanation of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem in the year 168 B.C.E. by Syrian King Antiochus IV (Epiphanes). Attempting to stamp out the worship of Jehovah, Antiochus built an altar over the great altar of Jehovah and sacrificed upon this a pig to the Olympian Zeus (Jupiter). An expression like that of Daniel (associating disgusting things with desolation) appears in the Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees (1:54) as applying to this event.
But this was only the Jewish interpretation of matters, not an inspired revelation. Christ Jesus showed this view to be in error when he gave the warning to his disciples: “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.” (Mt 24:15, 16) These words show that “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” was not then past but future.
The pagan desecration of the temple altar by Antiochus, however disgusting in God’s sight, did not result in desolation
Additional prophecies of a disgusting thing. It should be noted, however, that Daniel 11:31-35 and 12:9, 11 connect a ‘disgusting thing causing desolation’ with “the time of the end.” It is reasonable that the development of this latter expression of ‘the disgusting thing causing desolation’ in the time of the end should follow the general pattern of that in the first century C.E., though not being restricted to the land of Israel.
Jerusalem’s desolation in 70 C.E. brought the end of the “holy place,” Jerusalem, “the holy city.” (Mt 27:53) However, the Scriptures direct our attention to a “heavenly Jerusalem,” the Messianic Kingdom, which is represented on earth by anointed Christians. (Heb 12:22) There are also others that falsely claim to represent that Kingdom, and Revelation chapter 17 shows that their religious field of operations will be desolated by the “ten horns” (kings) of a symbolic “wild beast.”
Disgusting Things of Babylon the Great. In the prophetic vision of Revelation 17, the symbolic immoral woman, Babylon the Great, is depicted. She is called “the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” She holds a golden cup ‘full of the disgusting things of her fornication with the kings of the earth.’ Though she curries the favor of the earthly kingdoms, sitting on top of a symbolic wild beast composed of such kingdoms, the time comes when this “beast” refuses to carry her, turns on her, and completely desolates her.