Matthew 24:15
When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) The abomination of desolation.—The words, as they stand in Daniel 12:11, seem to refer to the desecration of the sanctuary by the mad attempt of Antiochus Epiphanes to stop the “daily sacrifice,” and to substitute an idolatrous worship in its place (2 Maccabees 6:1-9). What analogous desecration our Lord’s words point to, is a question that has received very different answers. We may at once narrow the range of choice by remembering (1) that it is before the destruction of the Temple, and therefore cannot be the presence of the plundering troops, or of the eagles of the legions in it; (2) that the “abomination” stands in the “Holy Place,” and therefore it cannot be identified with the appearance of the Roman eagles in the lines of the besieging legions under Cestius, A.D. 68. The answer is probably to be found in the faction-fights, the murders and outrages, the profane consecration of usurping priests, which the Jewish historian describes so fully (Jos. Wars, iv. 6, §§ 6-8). The Zealots had got possession of the Temple at an early stage in the siege, and profaned it by these and other like outrages; they made the Holy Place (in the very words of the historian) “a garrison and stronghold” of their tyrannous and lawless rule; while the better priests looked on from afar and wept tears of horror. The mysterious prediction of 2Thessalonians 2:4 may point, in the first instance, to some kindred “abomination.”

The words “spoken of by Daniel the prophet” have been urged as absolutely decisive of the questions that have been raised as to the authorship of the book that bears the name of that prophet. This is not the place to discuss those questions, but it is well in all cases not to put upon words a strain which they will scarcely bear. It has been urged, with some degree of reasonableness, that a reference of this kind was necessarily made to the book as commonly received and known, and that critical questions of this kind, as in reference to David as the writer of the Psalms, or Moses as the author of the books commonly ascribed to him, lay altogether outside the scope of our Lord’s teaching. The questions themselves had not been then raised, and were not present to the thoughts either of the hearers or the readers of his prophetic warnings.

Whoso readeth, let him understand.—The words have been supposed by some commentators to have been a marginal note in the first written report of the discourse, calling attention to this special prediction on account of its practical bearing on the action of the disciples of Christ at the time. There appears, however, to be no sufficient reason why they should not be received as part of the discourse itself, bidding one who read the words of Daniel to ponder over their meaning till he learnt to recognise their fulfilment in the events that should pass before his eyes.

Matthew 24:15. When ye shall see, &c. — The preceding verses foretold the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, the circumstances which were to be the forerunners and attendants of that great event: we now proceed to those verses which respect what happened during the siege, and after it. Never was a prophecy more punctually fulfilled: and it will tend to confirm our faith in the gospel to trace the particulars. The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel — Daniel’s expression is, The abomination that maketh desolate. By which term is intended the desolating Roman armies with their standards. To every legion was a golden eagle with expanded wings, grasping a thunderbolt. These eagles, with the standards of the cohorts, ten in each legion, were objects of worship among the Romans, and therefore were an abomination to the Jews. We learn from Josephus, that after the city was taken, the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and there sacrificed to them. See the note on Daniel 9:27. Stand in the holy place — Or, as it is in Mark, standing where it ought not — That is, when ye shall see these armies encamped in the territory near Jerusalem: for, as the city was called the holy city, several furlongs of land round about it were accounted holy, particularly the mount on which our Lord now sat, and on which afterward the Romans placed their ensigns: whoso readeth, let him understand — As if he had said, Let him who reads that remarkable prophecy of Daniel’s, pause seriously upon it, and weigh well its meaning, for it contains one of the most eminent predictions which can anywhere be found of the time, purposes, and consequences of any appearing; or, the sense may be, Let him understand that the end of the city and sanctuary, with the ceasing of the sacrifice and oblation there predicted, is come, and of consequence, the end of the age mentioned in the preceding verse. This interpretration of the clause supposes it to be uttered by our Lord as a part of his discourse, in which light it is considered by most commentators. But, “after the strictest examination,” says Dr. Campbell, (following Bengelius,) “I cannot help concluding, that they are not the words of our Lord, and consequently make no part of this memorable discourse, but the words of the evangelist, calling the attention of his readers to a very important warning and precept of his Master, which he was then writing, (namely, that immediately following,) and of which many of them would live to see the utility, when the completion of these predictions should begin to take place.” The doctor, therefore, renders the words, Reader, attend! Let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains — Let them flee as fast as they can from the fortified cities and populous towns into the wilderness, where they will be secure. This important advice the Christians remembered and wisely followed, and were preserved. It is remarkable, that after the Romans, under Cestius Gallus, made their first advance toward Jerusalem, they suddenly withdrew again, in a most unexpected and impolitic manner. “This conduct of the Roman general,” says Macknight, “so contrary to all the rules of prudence, was doubtless brought to pass by the providence of God, who interposed in this manner for the deliverance of the disciples of his Son.” For, at this juncture, the Christians, considering it as a signal to retire, left Jerusalem, and removed to Pella and other places beyond the river Jordan, so that they all marvellously escaped the general ruin of their country, and we do not read anywhere that so much as one of them perished. Of such signal service was this caution of our Lord to his followers!24:4-28 The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.The abomination of desolation - This is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were all held in abomination by the Jews, Acts 10:28. The abomination of desolation means the Roman army, and is so explained by Luke 21:20. The Roman army is further called the "abomination" on account of the images of the emperor, and the eagles, carried in front of the legions, and regarded by the Romans with divine honors.

Spoken of by Daniel the prophet - Daniel 9:26-27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11, see the notes at those passages.

Standing in the holy place - Mark says, standing where it ought not," meaning the same thing. All Jerusalem was esteemed "holy," Matthew 4:5. The meaning of this is, when you see the Roman armies standing in the holy city or encamped around the temple, or the Roman ensigns or standards in the temple. Josephus relates that when the city was taken, the Romans brought their idols into the temple, and placed them over the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there, "Jewish Wars," b. 6 chapter 6, section 1.

Whoso readeth ... - This seems to be a remark made by the evangelist to direct the attention of the reader particularly to the meaning of the prophecy by Daniel.

CHAPTER 24

Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).

For the exposition, see on [1355]Mr 13:1-37.

Mark saith, Mark 13:14, standing where it ought not. Here are two questions:

1. What is here meant by

the abomination of desolation.

2. What text in Daniel our Lord refers to.

As to the latter, there are three places in Daniel which mention it: Daniel 9:27, for the overspreading of abominations, or, as it is in the margin, with the abominable armies he shall make it desolate. Daniel 11:31, They shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. Daniel 12:11, From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up. Mr. Calvin thinks that the text in Daniel here referred to is that of Daniel 12:11. Others say that it is that of Daniel 9:27, contending that those two other texts speak of Antiochus, which is the very reason given by others to the contrary. It is of no great consequence to us to know which verse our Saviour refers to. Be it which it would, it was spoken of by Daniel the prophet; by which quotation our Saviour doth both give his testimony to that book, as a part of holy writ, and also lets his disciples know, that what he told them was but what was prophesied of, and so must have its accomplishment, and that the Jewish worship was to cease. As to the second question, amidst the great variety of notions about it, I take theirs to be the best who understand the abomination of desolation to be meant of the Roman armies, which being made up of idolatrous soldiers, and having with them many abominable images are therefore called the abomination; those words, of desolation are added, because they were to make Jerusalem desolate; and so St. Luke, who hath not these words, possibly gives us in other words the best interpretation of them, Luke 21:20: And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. When, saith our Lord, you shall see the abominable armies stand in the holy place, that is, upon the holy ground, (as all Judea was), whoso readeth those prophecies of the prophet Daniel, let him understand, that as through the righteous judgment of God he once suffered the holy place to be polluted by the abominable armies of Antiochus, which he foretold, so he will again suffer the holy place to be polluted by the abominable armies of the Romans, who shall make the holy place desolate, which was prophesied by the prophet Daniel as well as the former. Therefore, saith our Saviour, when you see the Roman armies pitch their tents before Jerusalem, be you then assured God will give Jerusalem into their hands, and then all that I have foretold shall come to pass. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation,.... From signs, Christ proceeds to the immediate cause of the destruction of Jerusalem; which was, "the abomination of desolation", or the desolating abomination; or that abominable thing, which threatened and brought desolation upon the city, temple, and nation: by which is meant, not any statue placed in the temple by the Romans, or their order; not the golden eagle which Herod set upon the temple gate, for that was before Christ said these words; nor the image of Tiberius Caesar, which Pilate is said to bring into the temple; for this, if true, must be about this time; whereas Christ cannot be thought to refer to anything so near at hand; much less the statue of Adrian, set in the most holy place, which was an hundred and thirty years and upwards, after the destruction of the city and temple; nor the statue of Titus, who destroyed both, which does not appear: ever to be set up, or attempted; nor of Caligula, which, though ordered, was prevented being placed there: but the Roman army is designed; see Luke 21:20 which was the , "the wing", or "army of abominations making desolate", Daniel 9:27. Armies are called wings, Isaiah 8:8 and the Roman armies were desolating ones to the Jews, and to whom they were an abomination; not only because they consisted of Heathen men, and uncircumcised persons, but chiefly because of the images of their gods, which were upon their ensigns: for images and idols were always an abomination to them; so the "filthiness" which Hezekiah ordered to be carried out of the holy place, 2 Chronicles 29:5 is by the Targum called, "an abomination"; and this, by the Jewish writers (w), is said to be an idol, which Ahaz had placed upon the altar; and such was the abomination of desolation, which Antiochus caused to be set upon the altar:

"Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;'' (1 Maccabees 1:54)

And so the Talmudic writers, by the abomination that makes desolate, in Daniel 12:11 to which Christ here refers, understand an image, which they say (x) one Apostomus, a Grecian general, who burnt their law, set up in the temple. Now our Lord observes, that when they should see the Roman armies encompassing Jerusalem, with their ensigns flying, and these abominations on them, they might conclude its desolation was near at hand; and he does not so much mean his apostles, who would be most of them dead, or in other countries, when this would come to pass; but any of his disciples and followers, or any persons whatever, by whom should be seen this desolating abomination,

spoken of by Daniel the prophet: not in Daniel 11:31 which is spoken of the abomination in the times of Antiochus; but either in Daniel 12:11 or rather in Daniel 9:27 since this desolating abomination is that, which should follow the cutting off of the Messiah, and the ceasing of the daily sacrifice. It is to be observed, that Daniel is here called a prophet, contrary to what the Jewish writers say (y), who deny him to be one; though one of (z) no inconsiderable note among them affirms, that he attained to the end, , "of the prophetic border", or the ultimate degree of prophecy: when therefore this that Daniel, under a spirit of prophecy, spoke of should be seen,

standing in the holy place; near the walls, and round about the holy city Jerusalem, so called from the sanctuary and worship of God in it; and which, in process of time, stood in the midst of it, and in the holy temple, and destroyed both; then

whoso readeth, let him understand: that is, whoever then reads the prophecy of Daniel; will easily understand the meaning of it, and will see and know for certain, that now it is accomplished; and will consider how to escape the desolating judgment, unless he is given up to a judicial blindness and hardness of heart; which was the case of the greater part of the nation.

(w) R. David Kimchi, & R. Sol. ben Melech, in 2 Chronicles 29.5. (x) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 28. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 94. 1. & Megilla, fol. 3. 1. & Tzeror Ham, mor, fol. 46. 4. Zohar in Num. fol. 61. 1.((z) Jacchiades in Dan. i. 17.

{4} When ye therefore shall see the {f} abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

(4) The kingdom of Christ will not be abolished when the city of Jerusalem is utterly destroyed, but will be stretched out even to the end of the world.

(f) The abomination of desolation, that is to say, the one who all men detest and cannot abide, because of the foul and shameful filthiness of it: and he speaks of the idols that were set up in the temple, or as others think, he meant the marring of the doctrine in the Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 24:15. See Wieseler in the Götting. Vierteljahrschr. 1846, p. 183 ff.; Hengstenberg, Christol. III. p. 116 ff. More precise information regarding this τέλος.

οὖν] therefore, in consequence of what has just been stated in the καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος. According to Ebrard and Hoelemann, οὖν indicates a resuming of the previous subject (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 177; Winer, p. 414 [E.T. 555]): “Jesusad primam questionem revertitur, praemisso secundae quaestionis responso.” But even Ebrard himself admits that Jesus has not as yet made any direct reference to the disciples’ first question, Matthew 24:3, accordingly he cannot be supposed to recur to it with a mere οὖν. Wieseler also takes a similar view of οὖν. He thinks that it is used by way of resuming the thread of the conversation, which had been interrupted by the preliminary warning inserted at Matthew 24:4-14. But this conversation, which the disciples had introduced, and in which, moreover, Matthew 24:4-14 are by no means of the nature of a mere warning, has not been interrupted at all. According to Dorner, οὖν marks the transition from the eschatological principles contained in Matthew 24:4-14 to the applicatio eorum historica s. prophetica, which view is based, however, on the erroneous assumption that Matthew 24:4-14 do not possess the character of concrete eschatological prophecy. The predictions before us respecting the Messianic woes become more threatening till just at this point they reach a climax.

τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως] the abomination of desolation; the genitive denotes that in which the βδέλυγμα specifically consists and manifests itself as such, so that the idea, “the abominable desolation,” is expressed by the use of another substantive instead of the adjective, in order to bring out the characteristic attribute in question; comp. Sir 49:2; Hengstenberg: the abomination, which produces the desolation. But in Daniel also the ἐρήμωσις is the leading idea. The Greek expression in our passage is not exactly identical with the Septuagint[17] rendering of שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם, Daniel 9:27 (Matthew 9:31, Matthew 12:11). Comp. 1Ma 1:54; 1Ma 6:7. In this prediction it is not to Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (Origen, Luthardt, Klostermann, Ewald), that Jesus refers; nor, again, is it to the statue of Titus, which is supposed to have been erected on the site of the temple after its destruction (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus); nor to that of Caligula, which is said (but see Krebs, p. 53) to have been set up within the temple; nor even to the equestrian statue of Hadrian (all which Jerome considers possible), which references would imply a period too early in some instances, and too late in others. It is better, on the whole, not to seek for any more special reference (as also Elsner, Hug, Bleek, Pfleiderer have done, who see an allusion to the sacrilegious acts committed by the zealots in the temple, Joseph. Bell. iv. 6. 3), but to be satisfied with what the words themselves plainly intimate: the abominable desolation on the temple square, which was historically realized in the doings of the heathen conquerors during and after the capture of the temple, though, at the same time, no special stress is to be laid upon the heathen standards detested by the Jews (Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, de Wette, Ebrard, Wieseler, Lange), to which the words cannot refer. Fritzsche prefers to leave the ΒΔΈΛ. Τ. ἘΡ. without any explanation whatever, in consequence of the Ὁ ἈΝΑΓΙΝΏΣΚ. ΝΟΕΊΤΩ, by which, as he thinks, Jesus meant to indicate that the reader was to find out the prophet’s meaning for himself. The above general interpretation, however, is founded upon the text itself; nor are we warranted by Daniel 9:27 in supposing any reference of a very special kind to underlie what is said. The idea of a desecration of the temple by the Jews themselves (Hengstenberg), or of the corrupt state of the Jewish hierarchy (Weisse, Evangelienfr. p. 170 f.), is foreign to the whole connection.

τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δαν. τ. προφ.] what has been said (expressly mentioned) by Daniel, not: “which is an expression of the prophet Daniel” (Wieseler); for the important point was not the prophetic expression, but the thing itself indicated by the prophet. Comp. Matthew 12:31.

On ἑστός, see critical notes, and Kühner, I. p. 677.

ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ] in the holy place; i.e. not the town as invested by the Romans (so Hoelemann and many older expositors, after Luke 21:20), but the place of the temple which has been in question from the very first (Matthew 24:2), and which Daniel has in view in the passage referred to. The designation selected forms a tragic contrast to the ΒΔΈΛΥΓΜΑ; comp. Mark 13:14 : ὍΠΟΥ Οὐ ΔΕῖ. Others, and among them de Wette and Baumgarten-Crusius (comp. Weiss on Mark), understand the words as referring to Palestine, especially to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem (Schott, Wieseler), or to the Mount of Olives (Bengel), because it is supposed that it would have been too late to seek to escape after the temple had been captured, and so the flight of the Christians to Pella took place as soon as the war began. The ground here urged, besides being an attempt to make use of the special form of its historical fulfilment in order to correct the prophetic picture itself, as though this latter had been of the nature of a special prediction, is irrelevant, for this reason, that in Matthew 24:16 the words used are not “in Jerusalem,” but ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ; see on Matthew 24:16. Jesus means to say: When the abomination of desolation will have marred and defaced the symbol of the divine guardianship of the people, then everything is to be given up as lost, and safety sought only by fleeing from Judaea to places of greater security among the mountains.

Ὁ ἈΝΑΓΙΝΏΣΚΩΝ ΝΟΕΊΤΩ] let the reader understand! (Ephesians 3:4). Parenthetical observation by the evangelist, to impress upon his readers the precise point of time indicated by Jesus at which the flight is to take place upon the then impending (not already present, Hug, Bleek) catastrophe. Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Paulus, Fritzsche, Kaeuffer, Hengstenberg (Authent. d. Dan. p. 258 ff.), Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, ascribe the observation to Jesus, from whose lips, however, one would have expected, in the flow of living utterance, and according to His manner elsewhere, an expression similar to that in Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13:9, or at least ὁ ἀκούων νοείτω. We may add that our explanation is favoured by Mark 13:14, where τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δαν. τοῦ προφ. being spurious, it is consequently the reader, not of Daniel, but of the gospel, that is meant. Hoelemann incorrectly interprets: “he who has discernment, let him understand it” (alluding to Daniel 12:11); ἈΝΑΓΙΝΏΣΚ. is never used in the New Testament in any other sense than that of to read.

[17] In the Hebrew of the passage referred to in Daniel the words are not intended to be taken together (Hävernick, von Lengerke on Daniel 9:27, Hengstenberg, Christol. III. p. 103 f.). They are, moreover, very variously interpreted; von Lengerke (Hengstenberg), for example: “the destroyer comes over the pinnacles of abomination;” Ewald (Auberlen): “and that on account of the fearful height of abominations;” Wieseler: “and that because of the destructive bird of abomination” (referring to the eagle of Jupiter Olympius, to whom Epiphanes dedicated the temple at Jerusalem, 2Ma 6:2); Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. I. p. 309: “and that upon an offensive idol cover” (meaning the veil with which the altar of the idol was covered). My interpretation of the words in the original (וְעַל בִּנַף שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם) is this: the destroyer (comes) on the wing of abominations, and that until, etc. Comp. Keil. Ewald on Matthew, p. 412, takes כְּנַף as a paraphrase for τὸ ἱερόν. The Sept. rendering is probably from such passages as Psalm 57:2. For other explanations still, see Hengstenberg, Christol. III. p. 123 ff.; Bleek in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1860, p. 98 ff.Matthew 24:15-22. The end at last (Mark 13:14-20, Luke 21:20-24).—ὅταν οὖν, when therefore, referring partly to the preceding mention of the end, partly to the effect of the whole preceding statement: “This I have said to prevent premature alarm, not, however, as if the end will never come; it will, when therefore, etc.”; the sequel pointing out the sign of the end now near, and what to do when it appears.—τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως: this the awful portent; what? The phrase is taken from Daniel as expressly stated in following clause (τὸ ῥηθὲν, etc.), vide Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11. There and in 1Ma 1:54 it seems to refer to some outrage on Jewish religious feeling in connection with the temple (ᾠκοδόμησαν β. ἐρ. ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον are the words in 1Ma 1:54, similarly in Matthew 6:7). In a Jewish apocalypse, which this passage is by some supposed to form a part of, it might be expected to bear a similar meaning, a technical sense for a stereotyped expression. Not so on the lips of Jesus, who was not the slave of phrases but their master, using them freely. Then as employed by Him it must point to some broad, easily recognisable fact, which His followers could at once see and regard as a signal for flight; a fact not merely shocking religious feeling but threatening life, which He would have no disciple sacrifice in a cause with which they could have no sympathy. Then finally, true to the prophetic as distinct from the apocalyptic style, it must point to something revealing prophetic insight rather than a miraculous foresight of some very special circumstance connected with the end. This consideration shuts out the statue of Titus or Caligula or Hadrian (Jerome), the erection of a heathen altar, the atrocities perpetrated in the temple by the Zealots, etc. Luke gives the clue (Matthew 24:20). The horror is the Roman army, and the thing to be dreaded and fled from is not any religious outrage it may perpetrate, but the desolation it will inevitably bring. That is the emphatic word in the prophetic phrase.—ἐρημώσεως is genitive of apposition = the horror which consists in desolation of the land. The appearance of the Romans in Palestine would at once become known to all. And it would be the signal for flight, for it would mean the end near, inevitable and terrible.—ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, one naturally thinks of the temple or the holy city and its environs, but a “holy place” in the prophetic style might mean the holy land. And Jesus can hardly have meant that disciples were to wait till the fatal hour had come.—ὁ ἀναγινώσκων, etc.: this is most likely an interpolated remark of the evangelist bidding his readers note the correspondence between Christ’s warning word and the fact. In Christ’s own mouth it would imply too much stress laid on Daniel’s words as a guide, which indeed they are not. In Mark there is no reference to Daniel, therefore the reference there must be to the gospel (on this verse consult Weiss-Meyer).15. the abomination of desolation] i. e. “the abomination that maketh desolate,” “the act of sacrilege, which is a sign and a cause of desolation.” What special act of sacrilege is referred to cannot be determined for certain. The expression may refer (1) to the besieging army; cp. the parallel passage in Luke, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies.” Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., translates Daniel 9:27 in this sense: “Until the wing (or army) of abominations shall make desolate.” (2) The Roman eagles; the E.V. margin, Daniel 9:27, reads: “Upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator.” (3) The excesses of the Zealots. See Josephus, B.J. iv. 6. 3, “They (the Zealots) caused the fulfilment of the prophecies against their own country; for there was a certain ancient saying that the city would be taken at that time … for sedition would arise, and their own hands would pollute the Temple of God.”

in the holy place] i. e. within the Temple area.

whoso readeth, let him understand] These words are almost beyond a doubt an insertion of the Evangelist, and not part of our Lord’s discourse.Matthew 24:15. Τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, the abomination of desolation) The abomination of profanation was followed by the abomination of desolation. Such was the name given by the Jews to the Roman army, composed of all nations, the standards of which they held in abomination as idols, since the Romans attributed divinity to them. See Spizelii Collatio de vaticin. ang., p. 135.—Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου, Daniel the prophet) Cf. Hebrews 11:32-34[1041] with reference to Daniel’s being a prophet, although by many of the Jews he was not considered as one of the prophets. A slight cause may frequently produce an important error. In the Latin Bibles, the apocryphal writings were long ago mixed with the canonical books according to the connection of their subjects, and were distinguished from them in the index of books by certain marks, as one may see in MSS.; in process of time, this caution, feeble at best, having been neglected, they came to be considered canonical. On the other hand, since they who first collected the books of the Old Testament into one volume, did not possess the book of Daniel, that book, which was written both at a later period and also out of Palestine, was added to the Hagiographa; not inappropriately indeed, since the weeks predicted by Daniel began to be fulfilled in Ezra 4:24; yet from this circumstance, some persons thought that Daniel was not a prophet at all, as he was not placed with the prophets, and as they furthermore disliked the occupation of examining his prophetical periods. The Great Prophet, however, confirms his claim to the prophetical character.—ἙΣΤῺς, standing) It should be written thus (not ἐστὸς),[1042] even in the neuter: for ἙΣΤῺς is contracted from ἙΣΤΑῸς, whence also we find ἙΣΤῶΤΑ in Luke 5:2ἘΝΕΣΤῶΤΑ in Romans 8:38, etc. It must be referred to ΒΔΈΛΥΓΜΑ, the abomination—already firmly standing, and destined long to stand. An instance of Prosopopœia.—ἐν τόπῳ ἁγιῳ, on (or in) [1043] (or the) holy place) In Daniel 9:27, the LXX. have ἐπὶ τὸ ἱερόν, on the holy place (or the temple). The time of flight is joined in Luke 21:20 with the actual moment of the approach of the army; and Eusebius mentions (H. E. iii. 5), that at that very time the Divine warning to fly had been repeated. The holy place, therefore, does not here signify the temple, or the holy of holies, for it would have been too late to flee after that had been profaned, but a definite place without and near the Holy City; in short, that very place which our Lord (as He had often done) regarded as made holy by His presence, whilst He was uttering these words: cf. Acts 7:33. We learn certainly from Josephus, that the principal strength of the besieging army was upon the Mount of Olives: “They were commanded,” says he, “to encamp on the mount which is called the Mount of Olives, which lies over against the city on the east.”—Wars of the Jews. vi. 3. And that mount was considered holy also by the Jews, because the neighbouring temple could be looked into therefrom; and they had also a tradition that the Shechinah had stood there for three years and a half. They called it also הר המשיחה, the Mount of Unction. Very pertinent to this is Zechariah 14:4, where the very mention of the eastern quarter (plaga) appears to denote holiness. And therefore that place which St Matthew designates as “holy,” is described by St Mark as “where it ought not.” Both of which passages refer to that in Daniel 9:27; where the region of that mount is said to be כנף שקיצים,[1044] a quarter (plaga) otherwise holy, but then, on account of the idolatrous besiegers, abominable: because there the שקוץ שמם, the abomination that maketh desolate, Daniel 12:11; Daniel 11:31, was to stand. For כנף signifies also a quarter of the world, even without mention of the wind, as in Isaiah 11-12. Punishment generally begins in the more holy places, and thence spreads to other parts.—ὁ ἀναγιώσκων νοείτω, let him that readeth understand) St Mark has the same parenthesis in ch. Matthew 13:14, although in many copies that clause from Daniel is not to be found there. Both Evangelists, writing before the siege of the city, warned their readers to observe the accurate advice of the Lord concerning the place and the rapidity of flight. In Daniel 12:10, the LXX. have ΟἹ ΝΟΉΜΟΝΕς ΣΥΝΉΣΟΥΣΙ, the wise will understand: and the Hebrew has המשכלים יבינו, the wise will understand.—Ὁ ἈΝΑΓΙΝΏΣΚΩΝ, he that readeth) does not mean the public reader of Daniel (for at the commencement of the siege, the public lessons in the Law were taken from Leviticus, and none from Daniel were associated with them or with any others), but any reader either of Daniel or of the Evangelist, especially when the siege was approaching. All ought to understand: and, since they were commanded to pray that their flight might not take place on the Sabbath day, why should the Sabbath reader be warned more than others?

[1041] “The Prophets, who—stopped the mouths of lions:” with which compare Daniel 6:22.—ED.

[1042] Lachm. and Tisch. read ἐστὸς, with B corrected later (and D corrected?) LΔ. The rough Alexandrine forms have been retained in the best editions of the LXX., edited from the Vatican MS. They ought to have been also retained in the New Testament: and they would have been, had the latter been edited from the oldest MSS. instead of from those inferior ones used by the originators of the Textus Receptus.—ED.

[1043] Vercellensis of the old ‘Itala,’ or Latin Version before Jerome’s, probably made in Africa, in the second century: the Gospels.

[1044] E. V. “The overspreading of abominations.” Otherwise, pinnacle of.—(I. B.)Verse 15. - In this second strain of the prophecy contained in vers. 15-22, our Lord confines himself almost entirely to the fate of Jerusalem. Therefore. The illative particle carries us back to the signs given in the previous section (vers. 5-14). By saying when ye shall see, he implies that some of his hearers shall behold this mysterious sign, and have the opportunity of profiting by the knowledge thereof. The abomination of desolation (τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως). The term is from the Septuagint Version (with which Theodotion's agrees) of Daniel 12:11; in Daniel 9:27 we find βδέλυγμα τῶν ἐρημώσεων, where the Hebrew gives, Upon the wing [or, 'pinnacle'] of abominations shall come the desolater." Also in Daniel 11:31 we have the simple βδέλυγμα. What is meant by the term in our text is a matter of unsettled dispute. The prophecy in Daniel 11:31 has been generally referred to the doings of Antiochus Epiphanes (see 1 Macc. 1:54), and the present is considered to relate to something analogous. "Abomination" in the Old Testament is generally connected with idolatry or sacrilege; "of desolation" is equivalent to "that causes desolation." Among the many explanation; of this passage which have been offered, two only seem worthy of consideration.

(1) The desolating abomination is referred to the Roman armies encamped around Jerusalem (Luke 21:20), of which the symbol was the legionaries' eagles, regarded with reverence by the soldiers. But in opposition to this view it may be said, if the holy place, without the article, signifies the Holy Land, then the presence of the Latin forces would be no new sign to the Jewish people, as they had been familiar with such a sight for many years. If the temple itself is meant, it is plain that it would be too late to fly from that doomed city when the Roman eagles were already in the hallowed courts.

(2) The alternative interpretation, which has seemed to many more probable, explains it of the sanguinary deeds of the Zealots, who, after the war had been carried on for some years, seized the temple, put a stop to the daily sacrifice, deluged the sacred courts with blood, and were guilty of most hideous crimes and excesses, which, as Josephus testifies, were the immediate cause of the city's, ruin (see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 4:03, 7, etc.; 5:1, 2; 6:3; 5:9, 4; 6:2; and Wordsworth's note on this ver. 15). The presence and acts of these ruffians were to be the signal for the escape of the Christians. I must confess that neither of these explanations satisfies me. The primal fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy is found in the erection of the statue of Jupiter in the temple by the order of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the pollution of the altar by the sacrifice of swine thereon. Our Lord would seem to refer to something analogous which should give the Christians a signal for escape before the complete investiture of the city. The deeds of Zealots and assassins, however atrocious, could not with any propriety be described as "abomination that maketh desolate standing in the holy place." The term, according to scriptural analogy, must refer to some sacrilege and pollution connected with idolatry, of which certainly the Zealots were not guilty. The Fathers, recognizing this, have seen the fulfilment in the erection of images of the Roman emperors in the temple or its precincts. But we have no account of any such act preceding the final siege. Pilate's attempted introduction of the Roman ensigns was defeated by the threatening attitude of the people (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 18:03. 1), and the actual setting up of these ensigns in the sanctuary, and the erection of the statue of Titus, were subsequent to the capture of the city and temple ('Bell. Jud.,' 6:06. 1). Our Lord is plainly referring to something that transpired before the conclusion of the siege, otherwise we might recognize an allusion to the insurrection of Bar-cochebas, which ended in the destruction of the partially rebuilt city, the abolition of its old name, the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the site of the holy place, and the placing of a statue of the emperor upon the altar, A.D. 135. What the "abomination" was cannot now be accurately determined, though its character may be divined from what has been said, and it was probably some anticipation of the antichrist who is to appear before the final consummation, who "exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 8). Spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in three passages (Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11), all obscure and difficult, and not necessarily referring to the same events. Christ takes it for granted that his auditors understand the allusion. Stand [standing] in the holy place. Those who take "the abomination" to be the Roman army, explain this clause to mean "posted on the holy soil." But τόπος ἅγιος, with or without the article, is never used but in reference to the temple and its adjuncts (comp. Acts 6:13; Acts 21:28; and in the Septuagint, Leviticus 10:13; Isaiah 60:13; 2 Macc. 8:17, etc.). Whatever the sign may be, it is to be seen within the temple. (Whoso readeth, let him understand.) There are three ways of regarding this parenthetical clause.

(1) Alford takes it as "an eeclesiastical note, which, like the doxology in ch. 6:13, has found its way into the text" This is a mere conjecture which has nothing to support it.

(2) Others consider it to be a remark of St. Matthew, intended to call special attention to the warning; but such an observation is entirely without precedent in the synoptic Gospels, and it is found also in the parallel passage of St. Mark. It is scarcely probable that both these evangelists would have given the identical caution, if it arose from their own motion in respect of those who should read their words before the siege.

(3) It seems more natural to take the clause as uttered by Christ himself with a silent reference to the words of the angel to Daniel, "Know therefore and understand" (Daniel 9:25; comp. 12:10). The Lord would point emphatically to the prophecy of Daniel, and his own interpretation thereof (2 Timothy 2:7). He seems also to imply that the application is not at once obvious, and needs spiritual insight to discern it. (How, in the face of this declaration of the Son of God, any believer can deny Daniel's claim to be a prophet and the utterer of authentic predictions, is a curious case of mental obfuscation or invincible prejudice.) Abomination of desolation (βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως)

The cognate verb, βδελύσσομαι, means to feel a nausea or loathing for food: hence used of disgust generally. In a moral sense it denotes an object of moral or religious repugnance. See 2 Chronicles 15:8; Jeremiah 13:27; Ezekiel 11:21; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31. It is used as equivalent to idol in 1 Kings 11:17; Deuteronomy 7:26; 2 Kings 23:13. It denotes anything in which estrangement from God manifests itself; as the eating of unclean beasts, Leviticus 11:11; Deuteronomy 14:3; and, generally, all forms of heathenism. This moral sense must be emphasized in the New Testament use of the word. Compare Luke 16:15; Revelation 17:4, Revelation 17:5; Revelation 21:27. It does not denote mere physical or aesthetic disgust. The reference here is probably to the occupation of the temple precincts by the idolatrous Romans under Titus, with their standards and ensigns. Josephus says that, after the burning of the temple the Romans brought their ensigns and set them over against the eastern gate, and there they offered sacrifices to them, and declared Titus, with acclamations, to be emperor.

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