“When you see Jerusalem
By army camps,
That its desolation
Has come near.”
Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς). Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army. Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14. Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening. Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening. Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple. In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising. During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier. Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?
Said to the Pharisees.
‘You are those
Who justify yourselves
In the sight
What is prized
By human beings
Is an abomination
In the sight
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν· ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Once again, this is a unique statement of Luke, not found in the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus reproved the Pharisees. He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that they tried to justify themselves (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς) in the sight of other men (ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων). However, God knows their hearts (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν). What is prized or exalted by humans (ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν) is an abomination or cursed in the sight of God (βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ). Once again, Jesus continued with his diatribe against the Pharisees. The value system of the Pharisees was not in sync with the value system of God. They wanted to look good before their fellow men, so as to be praised. However, whatever humans praise, God does not. Do you love human praise?
“When you see
The desolating sacrilege
Standing in the holy place,
As was spoken of
By the prophet Daniel,
Let the reader understand!”
Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,
There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:14, and in Luke, chapter 21:20, but only Matthew specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel. Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening. Matthew explicitly named the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple. In 175 BCE, the prince coming to destroy the high priest Onias III was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising. During this time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological about the end times as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly 2 centuries earlier.
Their fathers’ nakedness.
They violate women
In their menstrual period.
One commits abomination
With his neighbor’s wife.
Another lewdly defiles
Another in you,
Defiles his sister,
His father’s daughter.
They take bribes
To shed blood.
You take both
With accrued increase.
You make gain
Of your neighbors
You have forgotten me.’
Says Yahweh God.”
There was a lot of violence and lewd brutal sexual behavior in Jerusalem. They uncovered their fathers’ nakedness. They violated women in their menstrual period. They performed some sort of abomination with their neighbor’s wife. They defiled their daughters-in-law. They even defiled their sisters, the daughter’s of their father. Besides all this lewd behavior, they took bribes to kill other people. They also took both advance and accrued interest. They exploited their neighbors with extortion. Perhaps, most grievous of all was that they had forgotten Yahweh, their God.
“Whoever slaughters an ox is
Like one who kills a human being.
Whoever sacrifices a lamb is
Like one who breaks a dog’s neck.
Whoever presents a cereal offering is
Like one who offers swine’s blood.
Whoever makes a memorial offering
Of frankincense is
Like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways.
They take delight in their abominations.
I also will choose to mock them.
I will bring upon them
What they fear.
When I called,
No one answered.
When I spoke
They did not listen.
But they did
What was evil in my sight.
What did not please me.”
Yahweh seems to rebuke those who sacrifice animals, saying that killing oxen is like killing humans. If they sacrificed lambs, they are sacrificing dogs. A grain offering was compared to unclean pig’s blood. The use of the frankincense was compared to worshiping idols. They have chosen their own ways that are an abomination to Yahweh. He would continue to mock and punish them because no one answered when he called. No one listened when he spoke. They continued to do evil and not please God.
“‘Set forth your case!’
‘Bring your proofs!’
Says the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them!
What is to happen?
Tell us the former things!
What are they?
Thus we may consider them.
Thus we may know their outcome.
Declare to us the things to come!
Tell us what is to come hereafter!
Thus we may know that you are gods!
Thus we may be afraid.
Thus we may be terrified.
You are indeed nothing!
Your work is nothing at all!
Whoever chooses you
Is an abomination.”
Yahweh challenges the people with other gods to respond. He wanted them to present their case or proof for their gods. Could their gods tell people about past things or future things? Can they do some good or harm? Can they make people afraid or terrified? Instead, Yahweh maintains that these gods are nothing and their work is nothing at all. Thus anyone who chooses these gods is an abomination, pure and simple.
“But the idol made with hands is accursed.
So too the one who made it. Having made it,
The perishable thing was named a god.
Equally hateful to God
Are the ungodly man
With their ungodliness.
What was done
Will be punished together
With the one who did it.
Therefore there will be a visitation
Also upon the heathen idols.
Though part of what God created,
They became an abomination.
They became snares for human souls.
They became a trap to the feet of the foolish.”
Now here is a stinging rebuke of idols and their makers. Both the ungodly idol and the ungodly ones (ὁ ἀσεβῶν) who made it were accursed by God. They were making, calling, and naming these idols gods (θεὸς ὠνομάσθη). They and their idols both would be punished together. Although they are a good part of God’s creation (ἐν κτίσματι Θεοῦ), these idols (εἰδώλοις) have become an abomination or a scandal since they set snares and traps for foolish human souls (σκάνδαλα ψυχαῖς ἀνθρώπων).
“The fear of others lays a snare.
But one who trusts in Yahweh is secure.
Many seek the favor of a ruler.
But it is from Yahweh that one gets justice.
The unjust are an abomination to the righteous.
But the upright are an abomination to the wicked.”
We should trust in Yahweh. Do not fear others. Many seek the favor of a ruler or king, but justice comes from Yahweh. The unjust are an abomination to the righteous and vice versa. So never the twain shall meet.
“Whoever augments his wealth by exorbitant interest
Gathers it for another who is kind to the poor.
When one will not listen to the law
Even one’s prayers are an abomination.
Those who mislead the upright into evil ways
Will fall into the pits of their own making.
But the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.”
If you augment your wealth with high interest rates, the law of retribution will get you, so that someone else will end up with your money. They will give it to the poor people so that your profit will be in vain. When you do not listen to the law, your very prayer will be an abomination. If you mislead the upright into evil ways, you will fall into the pits that you made for others. However, the blameless will have a good inheritance for their family.
“Whoever plans to do evil
Will be called a mischief-maker.
The devising of folly is sin.
The scoffer is an abomination to all.
If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.”
Mischief-makers are those who plan to do evil. The very planning of folly is a sin. The scoffer or the mocker cynic is an abomination to all people. If you faint during hard times, your strength is obviously small.