Mark 13:14
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
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(14-23) But when ye shall see.—See Notes on Matthew 24:15-28.

Standing where it ought not.—St. Mark substitutes this for “in the holy place” of St. Matthew. Of the two, the former seems, in its enigmatic form, more likely to have been the phrase actually used; the latter to have been an explanation. The words “spoken of by Daniel the prophet” are omitted in many of the best MSS.

Mark 13:14-20. When ye shall see the abomination, &c. — Our Lord, having foretold both the more remote and more immediate signs of the end of the Jewish economy, proceeds to describe the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. The abomination which caused the desolation, whereof Daniel prophesied, (Daniel 9:27,) signifies the Roman armies, with their standards, whereon the images of their idols were painted; which armies were an abomination to the Jews, on account of their idolatry, and caused desolation wherever they came. Standing where it ought not — That is, in the territory of Jerusalem, generally termed holy ground. Let him that readeth understand — Let him who readeth Daniel’s prophecy (for these seem to be the words of our Lord, and not of the evangelist) understand, that the end of the city and sanctuary, with the ceasing of the sacrifice and oblation there predicted, is come. Then let them, that be in Judea flee to the mountains — By Judea, here, we are to understand all the southern parts of Palestine, both the plain and the hill-countries, which, at this time, went by the name of Judea. By the mountains, we are to understand the countries on the east side of Jordan, especially those which, in the time of the war, were under the government of the younger Agrippa, to whom Claudius gave Batanea and Trachonitis, the tetrarchy of Philip, and Abilene, the tetrarchy of Lysanias. All these countries remaining in their obedience to the Romans, the people who fled into them were safe. Besides, being mountainous countries, they seem to have been the very place of refuge pointed out to the Christians of those times by their Master. But see this whole paragraph explained at large in the notes on Matthew 24:15-22. Except the Lord had shortened those days — The destruction of the nation shall go on so fast in those days of vengeance, that, unless God had made them fewer in number than the sins of the nation deserved, not one Jew should remain alive. The truth is, so fierce and so obstinate were the quarrels which, during the siege, raged among the Jews, both within the walls of Jerusalem and abroad in the country, that the whole land became a scene of desolation and bloodshed; and had the siege continued much longer, the whole nation had been destroyed, according to what our Lord here declares. But for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen — That is, hath taken out of, or separated from, the world, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; he hath shortened the days — The elect, here, are such of the Jews as were already converted, or should be converted, to the faith of Christ; and particularly the Jews that should be brought in with the fulness of the Gentiles, as the apostle speaks. The elect are those Gentiles also who should be convinced and converted, as by all the other proofs of Christianity, so more especially by the argument arising from the preservation of the Jews. The meaning, therefore, is, that for the sake of those who should be converted to Christianity, and made true disciples of Christ in that and after ages, God had determined that the days of vengeance should be fewer in number than the iniquity of the nation deserved.

13:14-23 The Jews in rebelling against the Romans, and in persecuting the Christians, hastened their own ruin apace. Here we have a prediction of that ruin which came upon them within less than forty years after this. Such destruction and desolation, that the like cannot be found in any history. Promises of power to persevere, and cautions against falling away, well agree with each other. But the more we consider these things, the more we shall see abundant cause to flee without delay for refuge to Christ, and to renounce every earthly object, for the salvation of our souls.The brother shall betray ... - The brother shall give up in a treacherous manner his brother to be put to death, on account of his attachment to Jesus. Through fear, or from the hope of reward and from the hatred of the gospel, he will overcome all the natural ties of brotherhood. and give up his own kindred to be burnt or crucified. Perhaps nothing could more clearly show the dreadful evil of those times, as well as the natural opposition of the heart to the religion of Christ. 14. But when ye shall see—"Jerusalem compassed by armies"—by encamped armies; in other words, when ye shall see it besieged, and

the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not—that is, as explained in Matthew (Mt 24:15), "standing in the holy place."

(let him that readeth understand)—readeth that prophecy. That "the abomination of desolation" here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous, and so unclean pagan power, may be gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (Lu 21:20); and commentators are agreed on it. It is worthy of notice, as confirming this interpretation, that in 1 Maccabees 1:54—which, though aprocryphal Scripture, is authentic history—the expression of Daniel (Da 11:31; 12:11) is applied to the idolatrous profanation of the Jewish altar by Antiochus Epiphanes.

then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains—The ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, early in the fourth century, tells us that the Christians fled to Pella, at the northern extremity of Perea, being "prophetically directed"—perhaps by some prophetic intimation more explicit than this, which would be their chart—and that thus they escaped the predicted calamities by which the nation was overwhelmed.

Ver. 14-20. See Poole on "Matthew 24:15", and following verses to Matthew 24:22, where we have before opened all these passages. This sign doth manifestly relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, and can have no relation to the end of the world. In our notes on Matthew 24:13-51, we have showed what is meant by the abomination of desolation, and to what place in Daniel it refers. Luke expounds it, Luke 21:20, When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, the Roman armies, abominable for the idols that in them were worshipped. The sign was this, When you shall see the lion, and armies besieging Jerusalem, be assured God will soon deliver it into their hands, whatever vain hopes men may suggest of their holding out or driving them away. Let every one of you with all imaginable expedition shift for yourselves. God will surely deliver up the city, when that time comes. And before the taking of the city, he tells them, there shall be such affliction (by reason of their intestine factions and divisions) as never any people experienced. As to these things, see the notes on Matthew 24:15-22.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation,.... The Roman army encompassing Jerusalem, which was an abomination to the Jews, and an "impure sign" of their destruction, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; and a desolating one to their nation, city, and temple:

spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in Daniel 9:27. This clause is omitted in the Vulgate Latin, and was not found by Beza, in two of his copies, and is thought to be transcribed from Matthew:

standing where it ought not; round about the city, in the midst of it, and even in the temple: in one of Beza's exemplars it is added, "in the holy place", as in Matthew; and so it is read in the Ethiopic version:

let him that readeth understand; either the passage in Daniel, or the citation of it by the evangelist, when he shall see this come to pass: this seems to be rather the words of the evangelist, than of Christ; since this was not written (and so not to be read), but spoken by Christ; and since his usual phrase was, "he that hath ears, let him hear": though indeed the same exhortation is in Matthew, and may be understood of Christ, as it may refer to the written prophecy in Daniel, and indeed to the Gospel, which might be read before this event came to pass: See Gill on Matthew 24:15.

Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains; they that are in Jerusalem, or in any of the cities and towns of Judea, let them make their escape, as soon as possible, to the mountainous parts of the country; where they may be more safe from, the devastations of the Roman army; See Gill on Matthew 24:16.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, {e} standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

(e) When the heathen and profane people shall not only enter into the temple, and defile both it and the city, but also completely destroy it.

Mark 13:14-23. See on Matthew 24:15-26. Comp. Luke 21:20-24, who, however, has freely elements that are peculiar.

ὅπου οὐ δεῖ] thoughtful, but more indefinite designation of the sacred temple-area than in Matthew, where the more definite expression, as well as the reference by name (not merely suggested by the use of the set expression τὸ βδέλ. τ. ἐρημ.) to Daniel 9:27, betrays a later manipulation.

Mark 13:16. ὁ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν ὤν] he who is (has gone) into the field. See on Mark 2:1.

Mark 13:18. Mark has, with a view to his Gentile-Christian readers, passed over the μηδὲ σαββάτῳ, which was in the collection of Logia, in Matthew 24:20.

Mark 13:19. ἔσονταιθλίψις] “Tempori adscribitur res, quae in tempore fit; una et continua erit calamitas,” Wetstein.

οἵα οὐ γέγονε κ.τ.λ.] Comp. Plato, Rep. vi. p. 492 E: οὔτε γὰρ γίγνεται, οὔτε γέγονεν, οὔτʼ οὖν μὴ γένηται.

τοιαύτη] after οἵα. See Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 14; Kühner, II. p. 527.

κτίσεως ἧς ἔκτισ. ὁ Θεός] Comp. Mark 13:20 : διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς οὓς ἐξελέξατο, Herod, iii. 147: ἐντολάς τε, τὰςἐνετέλλετο, Philostr. V. Ap. iv. 13. 150: τῆς μήνιδος ἣν ἐμήνισας. The mode of expression has for its object “gravius eandem notionem bis iterari,” Lobeck, Paralip. p. 522. A contrast with the Jewish state as a human κτίσις (Lange) is fanciful. κτίσις, that which is created, see on Romans 8:19.

ὀποπλαν.] 1 Timothy 6:10.

Mark 13:23. In Matthew at this point the saying about the lightning and the carcase, which certainly belongs originally to this place, is added (Mark 13:27-28).

Mark 13:14-23. The Jewish catastrophe (Matthew 24:15-25, Luke 21:20-24).

14–23. Immediate Tokens of the Downfall of Jerusalem

14. But when ye shall see] Hitherto He had distinctly foretold the destruction of the Holy City, now He gives them tokens which should forewarn them of its approach, and tells them how they may secure their own safety.

the abomination of desolation] The reference here is to Daniel 9:27, “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,” or, as it is rendered in the margin, “and upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator.” The LXX. render it, “and upon the temple the abomination of desolations;” comp. 1Ma 1:54; 2Ma 6:2. Hengstenberg would translate it, “and over the top of abomination comes the desolation.”

i.  The verb from which the Greek word rendered “abomination” comes means to cause disgust by bad smell or otherwise. Hence it is translated by Tertullian “abominamentum.”

ii.  In the Septuagint it is specially applied to (a) idols, and (b) things pertaining to idols. Thus in 1 Kings 11:5 “Milcom” (= Molech) is called “the abomination of the Ammonites,” and in 1 Kings 11:7 “Chemosh” is called “the abomination of Moab.” Again Ahab is said (1 Kings 21:26) “to have done very abominably in following idols,” and Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3) to have made “his son to pass through the fire according to the abominations of the heathen.” Comp. also 2 Kings 21:2.

iii.  Thus the word passes into the New Testament, where it occurs 6 times. (a) Here; (b) in the parallel, Matthew 24:15; (c) Luke 16:15, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God;” and (d) Revelation 17:4, “having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations.” Comp. also Revelation 17:5; Revelation 21:27.

iv.  The key to the interpretation seems to be supplied by St Luke, who says (Luke 21:20), “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh,” and thus shews that it is to be explained in some connection with the Roman legions.

v.  Hence (a) Some would understand it to denote the vile abominations practised by the Romans on the place where the Temple stood. (b) Others, the Eagles, the standards of the Roman army, which were held in abomination by the Jews, both on account of the representations of the Emperor which they bore, and because the soldiers were known to offer sacrifice to them. The Roman Eagles, therefore, rising over the site of the Temple, “where they ought not,” and “compassing” the city (Luke 21:20), was the sign that the Holy Place had fallen under the dominion of the idolaters, (c) Others again would refer the words not only to the Roman Eagles, but to the outrages of lust and murder perpetrated by the “Zealots,” which drove every worshipper in horror from the sacred Courts. See Jos. Bell. Jud. IV. 3. 7. But even this was in consequence of the compassing of the city by the Imperial Legions.

let him that readeth] This of course is said parenthetically.

flee to the mountains] Compare the flight of Lot from the doomed “cities of the plain” to “the mountains, Genesis 19:17. In accordance with these warnings the Christian Jews fled from Jerusalem to the Peræan town of Pella, a distance of about 100 miles. “Somewhere on the slopes of Gilead, near the scene of Jacob’s first view of the land of his descendants, and of the capital of the exiled David, was Pella (identified with Tabathat Fakkil), so called by the Macedonian Greeks from the springing fountain, which likened it to the birthplace of their own Alexander.… From these heights Abner in his flight from the Philistines, and David in his flight from Absalom, and the Israelites on their way to Babylon, and the Christian Jews of Pella, caught the last glimpse of their familiar mountains.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 330.

Mark 13:14. Ὅπου οὐ δεῖ, where it ought not) Language adapted to His hearers’ modes of thought. The Jews’ mode of thinking was, that it ought not. And indeed it ought not, in so much as the place was the holy place; so, “speaking things which they ought not,” 1 Timothy 5:13. Comp. also Jeremiah 49:12. [It was from that place that the Romans invaded the city.—V. g.]

Verse 14. - But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not. In the Authorized Version, after the word "desolation," the words "spoken of by Daniel the prophet," are introduced, but without sufficient authority. They were probably interpolated from St. Matthew, where there is abundant authority for them; and thus their omission by St. Mark does not affect the argument drawn from them in favor of the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, against those, whether in earlier or in later times, who reject this book, or ascribe it to some mere recent authorship. The "abomination of desolation" is a Hebrew idiom, meaning "the abomination that maketh desolate." St. Luke (Luke 21:20) does not use the expression; it would have sounded strange to his Gentile readers. He says, "When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand." This reference to the Roman armies by St. Luke has led some commentators to suppose that "the abomination of desolation" meant the Roman eagles. But this was a sign from without; whereas "the abomination of desolation" was a sign from within, connected with the ceasing of the daily sacrifice of the temple. It is alluded to by the Prophet Daniel in three places, namely, Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11. We must seek for its explanation in something within the temple. "standing in the holy place" (Matthew 24:15) - some profanation of the temple, on account of which God's judgments would fall on Jerusalem. Now, Daniel's prophecy had already received one fulfillment ( B.C. 168), when we read (1 Macc. 1:54) that they set up "the abomination of desolation upon the altar." This was when Antiochus Epiphanes set up the statue of Jupiter on the great altar of burnt sacrifice. But that "abomination of desolation" was the forerunner of another and a worse profanation yet to come, which our Lord, no doubt, had in his mind when he called the attention of his disciples to these predictions by Daniel. There is a remarkable passage in Josephus ('Wars of the Jews,' 4:6), in which he refers to an ancient saying then current, that "Jerusalem would be taken, and the temple be destroyed, when it had been defiled by the hands of Jews themselves." Now, this literally took place. For while the Roman armies were investing Jerusalem, the Jews within the city were in fierce conflict amongst themselves. And it would seem most probable that our Lord had in his mind, in connection with Daniel's prophecy, more especially that at Daniel 9:27, the irruption of the army of Zealots and Assassins into the temple, filling the holy place with the dead bodies of their own fellow-citizens. The Jews had invited these marauders to defend them against the army of the Romans; and they, by their outrages against God, were the special cause of the desolation of Jerusalem. Thus, while St. Luke points to the sign from without, namely, the Roman forces surrounding the city, St. Matthew and St. Mark refer to the more terrible sign from within, the "abomination of desolation " - the abomination that would fill up the measure of their iniquities, and cause the avenging power of Rome to come down upon them and crush them. It was after these two signs - the sign from within and the sign from without - that Jerusalem was laid prostrate. Therefore our Lord proceeds to warn both Jews and Christians alike, that when they saw these signs they should flee unto the mountains - not to the mountains of Judaea, for these were already occupied by the Roman army (Josephus; lib. 3 cap. 12.), but those further off, beyond Judaea. We know from Eusebius (3:15) that the Christians fled to Pella, on the other side of the Jordan. The Jews, on the other hand, as they saw the Roman army approaching nearer, betook themselves to Jerusalem, as to an asylum, thinking that there they would be under the special protection of Jehovah; but there, alas, they were imprisoned and slain. Mark 13:14Abomination

See on Matthew 24:15.

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