DISGUSTING THING; LOATHSOME THING
The Hebrew terms sha·qatsʹ (verb), sheʹqets and shiq·qutsʹ (nouns) 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.” (Dan 11:31; 12:11, AV) However, since these English words are falling out of popular usage in modern speech, more specific and more current terms bring greater clarity. The Gospel writers Matthew and Mark used the Greek bdeʹlyg·ma to translate the Hebrew shiq·qutsʹ (plural, shiq·qu·tsimʹ). (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14) Since this Greek term basically implies disgust, there is sound reason for translating the above-mentioned Hebrew terms into English by such words as “to loathe,” “loathsome,” “disgusting,” or “disgusting thing,” as is done in the New World Translation. Disgust differs somewhat from detestation in that it involves not only an intense dislike but also a sense of repugnance comparable to nausea.—See DETESTABLE THING.
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. (Lev. 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 by 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; Matt. 21:2-5); King David had herds of camels, and camel’s hair was used for clothing (1 Chron. 27:30, 31; Matt. 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; Deut. 32:9-12) With the removal of the Law covenant the injunction to view any of such creatures as “loathsome” for food ended.—Acts 10:9-15; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; see ANIMALS.
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. (Ezek. 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. (Deut. 29:16-18) The false gods and goddesses of these nations, including Milcom or Molech, Chemosh and Ashtoreth, were themselves ‘disgusting things.’ (1 Ki. 11:5, 7; 2 Ki. 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; Ezek. 7:20-22; Hos. 9:10) By thus “ministering to wood and stone” they were engaging in “immoral intercourse,” spiritual fornication, cutting themselves off from communication with God.—Ezek. 20:30-32; compare Jeremiah 13:27.
Only by vigorous and courageous action to rid the land of idolatry did certain kings bring periods of blessing to the nation. (2 Ki. 23:24; 2 Chron. 15:8-15) God made clear that only by a thorough cleansing of themselves from such nauseous practices could the Israelites assure their restoration from the coming captivity and enjoy reinstatement as his people. (Ezek. 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.—Ezek. 37:21-25; compare Luke 1:32; John 10:16.
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. (Nah. 3:4-7) The bloodstained and disgusting things to be removed from the teeth of the Philistine (Zech. 9:6, 7) likely relate to the pagan practice of eating sacrificial animals along with their blood.—Compare Ezekiel 33:25.
While the Jewish people, and particularly their religious leaders in Jesus’ day, 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.” (Matt. 23:1-15, 23-28; Luke 16:14, 15; compare Matthew 21:13 and Jeremiah 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.—Matt. 21:33-41; Luke 19:41-44.
‘DISGUSTING THING CAUSING DESOLATION’
Daniel’s prophecy foretold a ‘disgusting thing . . . causing desolation.’ (Dan. 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 (“disgusting thing . . . causing desolation”) appears in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees (1:57) 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.” (Matt. 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—for the temple or for the Jewish nation. But thirty-three years after Jesus’ death, Christians did “catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation . . . standing in a holy place.” (Matt. 24:15) In 66 C.E. pagan Roman armies surrounded the capital city of Jerusalem, now the center of Jewish revolt against Rome. Thus, the ‘causing of desolation’ by the disgusting thing was imminent and so this was the final signal for discerning Christians to ‘flee to the mountains.’ (Matt. 27:25; 24:15, 16; Luke 19:43, 44; 21:20-22) Following their flight, the desolation of the city and nation occurred, Jerusalem being destroyed in the year 70 C.E., and the last Jewish stronghold, Masada, falling to the Romans in 73 C.E.—Compare Daniel 9:25-27.
Additional prophecies of a disgusting thing causing desolation
It should be noted, however, that Daniel 11:31-35 and 12:9, 11 connect the ‘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 of Jesus’ day, though not being restricted to the Palestinian scene.
Jerusalem’s desolation in 70 C.E. brought the end of the “holy place” in the form of a literal temple. True, there had already come into existence a spiritual temple or house of God, as the apostles showed. (Eph. 2:20-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-10) Such spiritual house could not suffer desolation, however, since it was founded solidly on Jesus Christ. Desolation logically could come, though, upon a spiritual house making the claim of being founded on Jesus and being devoted to God, but doing so hypocritically and practicing false worship.
THE 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 also 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.—See BABYLON THE GREAT.