Reference to the ‘abomination of desolation’ occurs in Daniel 8:13; 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and Mark 13:14. In the two New Testament texts, the reader is advised to refer to Daniel’s reference to the ‘abomination’, in order to understand its meaning. Due to this advice, many people believe that the ‘abomination of desolation’ has the same meaning in all four passages. However, there is evidence that the two references to the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel do not have the same meaning, and that the two New Testament references are directing the reader to one, not both, of the passages in Daniel.

In Daniel 8 the ‘abomination of desolation’ occurs in a vision of a ram and a goat fighting. The text indicates that the ram represents the Persian empire (Daniel 8:20), and the goat represents the Greek empire (Daniel 8:21). For this reason, early Jewish expositors (including Josephus), understood the ram to be the Persian empire, the goat to be the empire of Alexander the great, the four horns (Daniel 8:8) the generals who succeeded Alexander’s empire, and the little horn (Daniel 8:9) to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  The 2,300 ‘evenings and mornings’ (Daniel 8:14) were understood as literal days during the reign of Epiphanes. Early Christian expositiors followed this same interpretation.  Hippolytus (200), Aphrahat (c. 350), Ephraem (306-373), Jerome (340-420), and Polychronius (c. 430), all understood the little horn to be Antiochus Epiphanes, the abomination of desolation to be the desecration by Epiphanes, and the temple as the literal temple in Jerusalem duing that time.  Throughout the following centuries, this remained a common interpretation, and it is typically followed by modern critical scholars (see UBS Handbook on the Book of Daniel, Forms of the Old Testament Literature: Daniel, and College Press NIV Commentary: Esther & Daniel).

The ‘abomination of desolation’ appears in the context of the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (2nd century BCE), and is therefore not likely to be the same ‘abomination of desolation’ of which Jesus speaks in the New Testament, since Jesus was referring to an ‘abomination of desolation’ which was still future.

In Daniel 9, the ‘abomination of desolation’ occurs in the context of the ’70 weeks prophecy’ (Daniel 9:24ff.), which specifically mentions the Messiah (Daniel 9:26). This indicates that the prophecy is more likely to be that referred to by Jesus in the New Testament. Reference to the destruction of Jerusalem by an invading army (Daniel 9:26-27), also indicates that this is the same passage to which Jesus was making reference in the ‘Olivet Prophecy’ of Matthew 24 and Mark 13, where he also warned of the destruction of Jerusalem. Interestingly, a 2nd century CE Jewish exposition (Seder Olam Rabbah), interprets the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel 9 as the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.

The 70 weeks prophecy is not mentioned explicitly by any of the gospel writers when describing  the birth of Christ, and it is not clear even from Matthew’s gospel whether or not the wise men from the east were prompted by their knowledge of this prophecy.  However, both Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 use a Greek phrase for ‘the abomination of desolation’ which is identical to the same phrase used for the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the ancient Greek translation of Daniel 9:26. These three passages all use the phrase ‘βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως’, whereas the phrase for the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel 8:13 is different, ‘ἁμαρτία ἐρημώσεως’. This confirms that Jesus was referring to the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel 9:26, and was referring therefore to the future destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, the ‘abomination of desolation’. This is confirmed by reference to Luke, where he uses the phrase ‘Jerusalem surrounded by armies’ instead of the phrase ‘abomination of desolation’ (Luke 21:20).

Modern commentaries such as the New International Commentary of the New Testament typically understand the ‘abomination of desolation’ referred to by Jesus as a reference to the Roman armies of 70 CE, without necessarily connecting the description of the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel 9. This interpretation of the ‘abomination of desolation’ referred to by Jesus was held by Christian expositors from a very early date, and remained the majority interpretation for centuries, as the following list shows.

190    Tertullian
c. 194    Clement
c. 230    Origen
306    Lactantius
330    Eusebius
373    Athanasius
385 (d.)    Gregory of Nyssa
401    Sulpicius Severus
407 (d.)    John Chrysostom
340-420    Jerome
354-430    Augustine
438-533    Remigius
730    Bede
776-856    Rabanus
1070    Theophylact
1556    John Jewel
1652    George Herbert
1655    John Tillinghast
1656    George Fox
1662    Edward Bagshaw
1674    Increase Mather
1677    John Crowne
1640-1704    Benjamin Keach
1748    John Gill
1785    Ralph Churton
1802    Nehemiah Nisbett
1805    John Jortin
1808    Joseph Towers
1816    George Wilkins
1823    Bielby Porteus
1828    Edward Irving
1829    Alexander Campbell
1830    Alfred Addis
1838    W Chauncy
1838    H Clissold
1840    G Hare
1840    Daniel Smith
1843    WM Marsh
1849    O’Malley
1850    Brown of Edinburgh
1850    John Wilson
1852    Samuel Turner
1856    DD Buck
1856    Horace Hastings
1857    John Puckle
1857    James Aitken Wylie
1860    John Cumming
1861    Hollis Read
1863    William Newcombe
1869    Benjamin Franklin
1877    Richard Greene
1882    Bourchier Savile
1883    JJ Cleveland
1883    Henry Coleridge
1886    Homersham Cox
1887    Robert Smith
1902    Lyman Fisher
1918    EP Cachemaille
1918    G Lancaster
1918    Oscar Joseph
1918    William Manley
1953    Wilbert Sunderwith

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  • jon

    Thanks Jonathan, that is very helpful and confirms my own rather inexpert deduction.

  • Jonathan

    You’re welcome Jon, I’m glad you found it useful.

  • Eric Ngala

    I am doing a paper on this and I find it very useful, maybe if possible are you able to send me more in formation on this subject dreaded by many students?
    Eric

  • Jonathan

    What additional information would you need?

  • Justin Nowell

    The Abomination of Desolation being the 70 AD destruction of the Temple is a little hard for me to swallow for several reasons:

    1) Antiochus IV Epiphanes wanted to Hellenize the Jewish people. They resisted and Antiochus responded by attacking the city, slaughtering the men, selling the woman and children into slavery, and finally erecting a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificing a pig on the alter. Many Jewish people believed this to be the abomination. Interestingly enough though, Antiochus only reigned for 3.5 years before the Maccabees revolted and won Jewish independence. So we could say that the pig and statue of Zeus were the abomination.

    2) We know that this cannot be the abomination however because Jesus talks about the abomination as a sign of His return to earth (Matt. 24:15). The context of Jesus’ prochecy is key to the interpretation. Even though we have eliminated the Antiochus abomination option the 70 AD abomination option is also eliminated by Jesus’ prophecy! How could the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem be the abomination if Christ didn’t return that event or even soon after that event? Simple literal interpretation (and avoiding the different eschatological views of the end times) of the Bible leads us to believe that the abomination has not occured yet, and will not occur obviously until the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt.

    Also see Dan. 11:31-36, Dan 12:11-13

    So we could say that Antiochus and his abomination was a forshadowing of the future Antichrist and the final abomination (see Rev. 13). Come Lord Jesus…

  • Robert Thomas

    Justin Nowell, you are correct in spotting Jonathan’s error.

    In order to understand the Holy Bible correctly, It is important to use a simple literal interpretation, such as the author intended.

    Also, Jonathan uses the new “modern” term 70 CE instead of the historically accepted 70 AD.

  • Jonathan Burke

    Christ does not speak of the abomination of desolation as a sign of his return. On the contrary, he makes it clear that this is the start of the times of the Gentiles, and he says his return only takes place after the times of the Gentiles.

    Robert, you haven’t actually addressed what I wrote. The Greek phrase Christ uses is the exact same Greek phrase used in Daniel 9, which speak of the destruction of the temple. I don’t know how much more literal the interpretation could be.

    As for your reference to my use of ‘CE’, it isn’t actually relevant to anything. You could say that ‘CE’ is ‘modern’ (even though it has been used for over 200 years), but so what? It’s a perfectly acceptable notation.

  • PreparetomeetthyGod

    Sorry but the abomination Christ was referring to the book of Daniel is of ROME. The desolation in Daniel 8:13 occurs long AFTER A.D 70!

    The little horn in Daniel 8:9 is not Antiochus Epiphanes but a Roman emperor. Isaac Newton understood Dan 8 to be about the rise and fall of EMPIRES, meaning that after the fall of Greece & her four divisions followed ROME as the little horn.

    The desolation in Daniel 8:13 is by papal Rome desolating the Sanctuary or Temple in 1 Corinthins 3:16 which is the CHURCH.

    Notice the Hebrew word used in Daniel 8:13 for Sanctuary is QODESH which is God’s Sanctaury in Heaven & not the one in Jerusalem.

    Daniel 8 is about the gospel in the Gentile world after the Jews rejected it after hrist confirmed a covenant with them for 7 years in Dan 9:27

  • tq

    A future event, considering Antiochus Epiphanies nor Rome made
    a 7 year treaty with Israel.

  • Paula

    Could the abomination that causes desolation discussed in Dan 12:11 in the disussion of the end times be refering to the same type of abomination that caused desolation that God spoke of in Jeremiah 44:22 where the people were worshiping the queen of heaven. We Christains need to make sure we only worship God/Christ (the creator) and keep totally away from worshiping any human (the creation) no matter how good he or she may have been. This includes the human mother of Christ. The worshiping of Mary is becoming more and more common in the so called Christain faith. Could Jesus be talking about (Mathew 24:15) setting up somthing that would futher the worshiping of the queen of heaven in the holy place.

    Just my simplistic thoughts on the “abomination that causes desolation”.

  • Robert

    In The Book of Daniel, The abomination of desolation that Jesus speaks about, is when the Antichrist sits in the temple saying he is the messiah

  • michael m

    Paula has made an interesting observation.The Rome Madonna or their ‘Mary’ does seem to be a prominent and important name in the allworldreligions ecumenical movement. Most religions appear to have a similar female figure they venerate under different names .
    The abomination yet to come , I speculate , might also be a performance of a Mass in the rebuilt Temple , by a Pope , attended by representitives of all world religions- but not bible believing christians ?
    For the unaqainted , in the mass it is purported that the celebrant , priest or pope , following a set ritual and prescribed formula , causes a piece of bread to become actual christ and is worshipped as very God – though to common sense it looks tastes feels just as it really is – BREAD .
    One of the hyms is , ‘ Oh bread of heaven beneath this veil though dost my very God conceal …..’
    There are other hyms attesting to central belief of catholic Rome.

  • Last Hour

    The abomination of desolation is an item placed at the holy site of solomons temple. It is tied to the antichrist religion of last days and any one with google earth can go see what is sitting at the sight right now. You see the son of perdition will go into this “place” during tribulation.

  • Michael Yoder

    Justin is correct, in a way. However, we forget that the abomination of desolation was mention in another part of Daniel, the last chapter. It is by the angel in answer to Daniels question, much like the question the Disciples asked Christ, “when will this all happen.” In response the angel answers when the Daily is taken away AND when the abomination of desolation is SET UP. These are in reference to the count down of the times set forth earlier in this same chapter, 1260, 1335 and 1390.
    The first things one must do to understand this is to understand what is meant by The Daily and where is the Holy Place, Jesus mentions this in Matt. 24. To understand these things we have to have the mindset of Daniel at the time the prophecy was given. By doing this we come to understand that the only thing that occured daily for the Isrealite nation was the continual sacrifices. This is the only thing that makes sense and it was Jesus who took these away when he became the ultimate sacrifice for all humanity, sybolized by the renting or tearing of the vail in the temple at the exact time when the sacrifice fo the passover lamb was to be conducted. So the first part of the initiating of the count down is done. Part two is the SETTING UP of the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place.
    So, where is the Holy Place? There is much conjecture as to it’s location. Adventist say that the Holy Place is in Heaven, and this is quite true. When we read in Excodus the giving of the Ten Commandments, the ceremonial laws and the ordinances to Moses we also read that God gives him

  • Michael Yoder

    plans to construct the Tabernacle. And then admonishes him to make sure he builds according to the pattern that he was show. This is further illistrated in Revelation when John is shown the tabernacle and all it’s finery in Heaven. But does God have a Holy Place on Earth? And if so where would it be located? The answers, as with all things Biblical, is located in the Bible. Close study will show that The Garden in Eden was God’s Holy Place in the beginning. What occupies that area now? Go read the Book of Joshua and you will find out that the boundries ot the Israelite nation incompass the same area as the Garden in Eden. Get and AKJV bible, Look up all the verses that have HOLY PLACE in them, seperate out the ones that have place italizices from those that are not, then compare the discriptions of what is done in each. You will find that the Holy place is actually the outter court where the sacrifices are made. The Temple replaced the tabernacle yet the designations for it’s parts stayed the same. It no longer stands on God’s Holy Mount, as it is called, but if it were to be rebuilt it would be built in it’s exact configuration as before. This world is to become God’s Holy dwelling after it has been cleansed with fire, His royal city, the New Jerusalem, will reside in an area the will encompass the same area that Old Jerusalem now stands. Is this not a Holy Place. Knowing this now, where is the Abomination of Desolation to stand? Where once stood the Courtyard of the Congregation of the People of the Tabernacle. What stands there now as an affront to the lost people of God? The Dome of the Rock, built in 688 AD. People, the final prophetic time clock is ticking, and time is quickly running out. Turn from your sins, accept Christ as

  • Michael Yoder

    your savior. Learn of him, fear him, love him, keep his commandments out of love. Study his word daily, pray, pray, pray, not only for yourself, but for those around you, for loved ones, neighbors and enemies all. Judgment is coming, it will be fearful and awesome, but if you are truly in Christ you have nothing to fear.

  • Michael Kinsey

    This is abomination of desolation. Serve yourself, you enter into the great whore, live for bread alone, you build the beast, accept occult worship and the mark, you tempt God. Love,God, serve Him alone, live by His Word& then bread, do not tempt God is the Vision the Christ gave to His Church so the people do not perish.Obey as the Christ DID, and you will maintain spiritual life in the only 3 relationships that contain spiritual life, man to man, spirit to flesh in our duo nature, God to man. You will have the spiritual necessary to receive the Gift of Eternal Live.

  • Michael Kinsey

    There is a Holy Place, where the Holy Fire has been received in Jerusalem since the day of St Cryil of Jerusalem and the Sign of the Cross appeared over the city. this took place a 1.000 years before a Protestant even existed. Am I to say it is a shame, there were no authentic Christians before the Protestant revolutions? Many of these see the 3rd Jewish temple as a Holy Place, where the blood of bulls and goats is accepted as a payment for sin by the HOLY God. This creates a heavenly house divided against itself, as Eastern Christianity and Judaism are in direst conflict theologically and spiritually. The kaballa is occult.

  • kin

    Firstly, it is an abomination for an Idol to be placed in the holy place, in Jerusalem and in all Isreal. Secondly, it is an abomination in Israel for gentiles to be in the Holy place (The temple). These two things have always been the reason for desolation of Jerusalm and Israel as a whole.
    The third reason that caused desolation of Israel is their rejection and killing of the messiah and that is past since God has restored Israel back to their Land in 1948.

    Desolation comes from the word Desolate which means: devoid of inhabitants, deserted, forsake, abandon, uninhabited.

    Matt 23:37

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!
    38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
    39 For I say unto you, you shall not see me again, till you shall say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

    So Idol worship, Idol, killing of prophets, gentiles or gentile army in Jerusalem or Isreal is an abomination and do cause desolation.
    When ever Israel sins against God with Idol worship, and refuse to repent, they are always sold into the hands of the gentiles thereby desolating the Land.

    How the desolation (Desertion) always happened is that a gentile army comes and destroyed the city, temple, kill people and take a majority captive for a specific time period. The end result is that the City and the land is plundered. Sin followed by unrepentance is the cause and empty city through the agency of a gentile nation as a result of God’s judgement follows. But If a gentile nation comes to Israel without God’s sanction, it is an abomination. Ps 2 and Isaiah 54 show this. If it happens that a foreign nation invades Israel without God’s judgement, God will rise and deffend Israel.

    Now, the first goodnews is that the true church will not be here to witness this but the church now sees the closeness of this, even at the door. The appostate church will help to usher this in and has started already. This desolation will not be caused by Israels sin, but by the gentiles Taking a part of Jerusalem ( Judean-The West Bank) and desecrating the holy place by sending a peace keeping force to cub escalations. The presence of this army and the establisment of a one world religion will be the abomination. The man made religion, the yes we can religion, ChrisLam, the many ways to God religion with a false Messiah. Some one who in the secret works to be the messiah of Islam and works openly to destroy the Christian Messiah will imerge as a man-god figure to be worshiped. The incarnate of Muhammed.

    Look at the way the desolation will happen,

    Matt 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand
    16, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

    Jesus says to the Jews, to flee Judea which today is the West Bank. The west bank is the part of Jerusalem that is being contested. It has been in the hands of the Jews since the 1967 six day war. Obama must divide Jerusalem for peace but it is not the real peace.

    1Thes 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. Israel will be born into the kingdom of God and the gentile enemies that seek her destruction will be destroyed. Israel is the “man-child”.

    Can you see how acurate the bible is. God knew that Judea the eastern part of Jerusalem will be a bone of contention in the last days that is why he says that those in West Bank / Judea should withdraw and go to the mountains, those in other parts of Jerusalem should also leave and those living outside Jerusalem should not go into Judea. This is a curfew an order specifying a time during which certain regulations apply in a particular place. West Bank / Judea will be the place.

    Israels spiritual blindness will at this time of birth pang be removed for He says ” If you see, the abomination of desolation, standing in the Holy Place, —Let Him that READ UNDERSTAND–. The sign for Israel will be the gentiles taking the holy place as a nation they will then know that Jesus Christ is their Messiah and they will call for help by runing to the mountain of Israel. The first people who will geographically feel the impact of terror at the close of the age, will be the jews in the West Bank. But Yeshua says they should not have to fight but withdraw thereby DESOLATING the HOLY PLACE. So I beleive that this desolation will come by the people finally withdrawing from Judea/West Bank and going into the mountains, and others restricting from going into Jerusalem.
    But before these things start to happen, the true church must have been taken away. It will not happen as long as the church is still here. It will soon be taken away and that will triger the great tribulation to start.The beleivers in Israel will not see it happen.
    It will be by revelation to Israel before it can know what time it is and what is happening and how to respond.