all consulting of and treatment by physicians. Paul called the faithful Christian Luke “the beloved physician.”—Col. 4:14.
According to the Law, a person who had or was suspected of having a communicable disease was quarantined, that is, kept away from others or isolated for a time. Seven-day periods of quarantine were imposed in tests for leprosy in the case of persons, garments and other items, or houses. (Lev. 13:1-59; 14:38, 46) Also, a person was rendered unclean for seven days as a result of touching a human corpse. (Num. 19:11-13) Though the Scriptures do not say that the latter regulation was given for health reasons, some protection was thus afforded other individuals if the corpse was that of a person who had died of an infectious disease.
Dr. Short states: “Our word ‘quarantine’ has an interesting connexion with the Hebrew sanitary code. It was noticed in Italy in the fourteenth century that Jews escaped lightly when others died in epidemics of plague, and it was rightly concluded that this might be due to their laws of uncleanness after touching dead bodies. So the Jewish code was made compulsory on the whole community, and at a later date, a period of forty days of isolation, taken from that mentioned in the law of Moses (Lev. 12:1-4) became recognized as the proper time. The Italian for forty is quaranta, hence our word quarantine.” (The Bible and Modern Medicine, p. 44) Present-day arrangements for quarantining the sick vary from place to place, but God’s law given to the Israelites through Moses provided for their protection in this respect many centuries ago.
Judah and Jerusalem became spiritually sick because of their sinfulness. (Isa. 1:1, 4-6) Jerusalem’s religious leaders tried vainly to heal the breakdown of the people, falsely saying there was peace (Jer. 6:13, 14), but they were unable to avert the city’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. But Jehovah promised to effect the recuperation of Zion or Jerusalem (Jer. 30:12-17; 33:6-9), a healing realized with the return of the Jewish remnant to their homeland in 537 B.C.E.
Jesus Christ recognized the spiritually sick state of sinners and sought to turn them to Jehovah for spiritual healing. Hence, when criticized for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ailing do. I have come to call, not righteous persons, but sinners to repentance.”—Luke 5:29-32.
Treatment of spiritual sickness experienced by a member of the Christian congregation is considered at James 5:13-20. The context, which contrasts being sick with being in good spirits, shows that James was dealing, not with physical illness, but with spiritual sickness. Concerning remedial steps and their effectiveness, James wrote: “Is there anyone [spiritually] sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation [mature Christian men, such as the overseer and ministerial servants] to him, and let them pray over him [so he can hear the prayer and show he agrees by saying “Amen”], greasing him with oil [stimulating him with comforting, soothing instruction from God’s Word, to restore him to unity with the congregation (Ps. 133:1, 2; 141:5)] in the name of Jehovah [with faithfulness to God and according to His purpose]. And the prayer of faith [offered by the older men on behalf of the spiritually ailing person] will make the indisposed one [spiritually] well, and Jehovah will raise him up [as out of despondency and a feeling of being abandoned by God, Jehovah strengthening him to go in the way of truth and righteousness (Phil. 4:13)]. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him [by Jehovah (Ps. 32:5; 103:10-14), if the individual responds favorably to the prayers and the reproof, correction and exhortation from Jehovah’s Word given to him by the older men, he repentantly turning around and going in the right way (Ps. 119:9-16)].”
COPING WITH ILLNESS
Sickness is a calamity that may befall a person even if he is materially rich. (Eccl. 5:16, 17; compare Matthew 16:26.) Some individuals have delicious food in abundance but are unable to enjoy it because of some stomach or bowel disorder. (Eccl. 6:1, 2) Jesus Christ’s spiritual brothers were also spoken of as being physically sick at times. (Matt. 25:39, 40) Physical sickness was experienced by such Christians as Epaphroditus, Timothy and Trophimus (Phil. 2:25-30; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20), but the Bible reports no miraculous apostolic healing of these Christian men.
However, when one of God’s servants is physically ill, it is proper for him to pray to Jehovah for the fortitude needed to bear his malady, and for spiritual strength to maintain integrity during this period of weakness in the flesh. “Jehovah himself will sustain [such a person] upon a divan of illness.”—Ps. 41:1-3; see also 1 Kings 8:37-40.
Jehovah can remove sicknesses. (Ex. 15:26; 23:25; Deut. 7:15) Isaiah wrote of a time when “no resident will say: ‘I am sick’” (Isa. 33:24), and about spiritual healing of the blind, deaf, lame and speechless, these prophecies also giving promise of physical cure. (Isa. 35:5, 6) Jesus Christ, when on earth, accomplished both physical and spiritual healing of ailing ones by fulfilling the Messianic prophecy, “He himself took our sicknesses and carried our diseases,” (Matt. 8:14-17; Isa. 53:4) The basis for these cures was the sacrifice of his human life, which would be the climax of the course he had been following ever since God’s spirit came upon him at the Jordan River in 29 C.E. Christians thus have a basis for hope and abundant proof that through the resurrected Jesus Christ and by means of God’s kingdom obedient mankind will receive, not merely temporary treatment of disease, but permanent release from sin, disease and death traceable to Adam. For this all praise is due Jehovah, identified by David as the One “who is healing all your maladies.”—Ps. 103:1-3; Rev. 21:1-5.
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.