Pt. 6: Abomination
Gen. James Green
T HE WORD “abominable” is found in Lev. 7:21, all the way to Rev. 21:8; the word “abomination” is found in Gen. 43:32—Rev. 21:27; The word “abominations” is found in Lev. 18:26—Rev. 17:5. SO, THIS WORD MUST BE CONSIDERED WHEN CONNECTED TO SEX-SINS. Let us take time to examine the words “abomination” and “abominations.”
Lev. 18:22 is our anti-same-sex text: “You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (KJV). Remember our study on man/male/mankind? The older KJV Bible uses “mankind;” the newer ones use the correct word— “male,” which strictly means “of the male gender.” Mankind can mean both male and female, so, the newer KJVs have been updated to use “male.” This is important because lying with a “male” can include infant males to adult males. Pedophilia can be implied here as “ABOMINATION.”
I have already done word studies on these two words, but for the sake of this study, here we go.
JOHN BOSWELL starts on page 100 of his “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality,” by defining the Hebrew word toevah (Strong’s H8441). He cites for us Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 (KJV). He says, “The only place in the Old Testament where homosexual acts per se are mentioned is Lev. 18:22, 20:13,” here translated “abomination.” His footnote #29 states, “The connotations of this word, alien to both the Hebrew/Greek originals…” He tries to CONVINCE his readers that this word “…does not usually signify something intrinsically evil, like rape or theft, but something which is ritually unclean for Jews, like eating pork or engaging in intercourse during menstruation, both of which are prohibited in these same chapters.”
Well now, let us be clear: he thinks the word “abomination” can be used for pork eating and sex during a woman’s cycle, but it CANNOT be used for same-sex sex. Why? The different versions use it.
He is right about the ritually unclean texts, but he fails to include the “A” word for same-sex sex.
Certainly there were degrees of “abominations,” but, why has he failed to mention that the DEATH penalty was (is) attached to same-sex sex (20:13)? No one was killed for eating pork!
[Boswell must understand this more than he admits, because] he also pointed out that toevah ha-goyim (e.g., “the uncleanness of the Gentiles,” e.g. 2 Kgs. 16:3) refers to the “A” word. Same-sex abominations were also “the uncleanness of the Gentiles”—this was why God destroyed many nations.
He goes on to cite 1 Kgs. 14:24—where condemnations of temple prostitution involving idolatry, toevah, is employed:
“There were sodomites (male cult prostitutes) in the land. They did all the abominations of the nations whom the Lord cast out before the Israelites.” Boswell gives a short study that “…while in prohibitions of prostitution in general a different word, ‘zimah’ [or zimmah] appears” (e.g., Lev. 19:29= “Do not profane your daughter by causing her [not him!] to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and become full of wickedness,” Amp. Bible). Since he only mentioned the female, let me direct your full attention to where “sodomites” are mentioned: 1 Kgs. 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kgs. 23:7. Look at Deut. 23:17, “There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters (female) of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute (a sodomite) of the sons (male) of Israel.” Verse 18 is revealing: “You shall not bring the hire of a harlot (female) or the price of a DOG (a sodomite) into the house of the Lord your God, in payment for a vow; for both (male/female) of these—the gift and the giver—are an abomination to the Lord your God.”
Boswell tries to convince us that only a cult prostitute (sodomite) is condemned, not the non-practicing prostitutes. But it was the sex act that the Bible condemns.
BOSWELL WRITES: “Lev. 18 is specifically designed to distinguish the Jews from the pagans among whom they had been living, or would live…” True. But he fails to mention that God DESTROYED many pagan nations for their idolatries/sex-sins, which meant that GOD WAS WROTH WITH ALL THEIR (PAGAN) ABOMINATIONS. Naturally He wanted to spare His own people from the same fate. There should be no distinguishing between the Jews and pagans, it was the SEX ACTS that God hated, AND STILL HATES.
Note God’s opening words: “You shall not do as was done in the land of Egypt in which you dwelt” (Lev. 18:3). Let me point out for you just what the Lord God was referring to: “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt; there they played the harlot in their youth; there their bosoms were pressed, and there their virgin breast were handled” (Ezek. 23:2, 3). Could we imply a type of pedophile behavior on the part of the Egyptians?
Ezekiel goes on to report, “Neither has she left her harlotries since the days of Egypt…for in her youth, men (males) lay with her and handled her GIRLISH bosom, and they poured out their SINFUL desire upon her” (v. 8). Verse 10 says, “These uncovered her nakedness and shame…” Read the entire chapter. So, Israel did what the pagans did (even allowed pedophilia upon them!)
I think Boswell knew better than to think that God was only concerned with “ritual uncleanness.” GET SERIOUS. While ancient Israel did have ritualistic concerns/imperatives/prohibitions placed upon her, she also had same-sex prohibitions—called ABOMINATIONS—placed against her…which are carried into the New Testament covenant (New Israel) people.
“Intrinsic” is a word Boswell uses only when it DOES NOT apply to HIS IDOL—Homosexuality. He goes so far as to doubt Lev. 20:13: “If a man lies with a male (correct word) as if he were a woman, both men (males) have committed an offense—perverse, unnatural, abhorrent and detestable; they shall surely be PUT TO DEATH…” In foot note 32, p. 101, he writes:
“The argument that the invocation of the death penalty for the acts in question significant of their unique enormity is UNCONVINCING.” He commits about 1/3 of the page to defending HIS IDOL—homosexuality.
But to be fair, homosexuality was not the only abomination that had the death penalty. Boswell makes this known but he doubts the homo death penalty.
Does this death penalty continue in the New Testament? Oh, yes! Paul finishes up Romans one with, “...though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things (e.g., homo/lesbian acts) DESERVE TO DIE!!” (v. 32). Paul says that even the pagan knows that God condemns such EVIL and ABOMINABLE practices.
I think that verse 32 has two messages:
1) the idea that death is the working out of sin itself, and
2) punishment visited upon the sinful party.
What Paul is saying, and I stand upon this, is that the pagans (let alone the “Christians”) know the declaration of God’s righteous sentence; reason and conscience teach them that THOSE WHO DO SUCH SINFUL THINGS HAVE THE MARK OF DEATH UPON THEM. Most pagan societies know that homosexuality was/is wrong.
Let’s not forget what Paul said at the end of v. 32, “…not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32, KJV). The RSV reads, “…they not only do them but approve those who practice them.”
The final clause of this verse suggests that in Paul’s view (which was God’s), encouraging others to commit homo/lesbian et al sins is worse than doing them one’s self. This is exactly the SIN that today’s Church is guilty of. Many may not practice sex-sins themselves, but they sure do support the whole GLBTQ movement. God does not approve of any—ANY—sex sin, period. Take note of just how many denominations/organizations that call themselves “Christian” manifest such sympathy and/or applaud those who commit sex-sins. THIS IS NOT “LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR.”
Denial of Homosexuality
ACCORDING to Boswell, “Neither ‘pollution of idols,’ nor ‘fornication’ was, or could be, interpreted as referring to homosexuality” (p. 103). He delves into a Greek/Hebrew word game right after that (FALSE!) statement. He states, “Although there is some ambiguity about the Greek word πορνεία, here translated ‘fornication,’ it is clearly distinct from the term βδέλυγμα, under which the Lev. proscriptions of homosexuality are comprised. Homosexuality is nearly always distinguished from ‘fornication’ in patriotic literature, although sometimes subsumed under ‘adultery.’” While half of what he writes is true, IT IS COMPLETELY FALSE THAT “FORNICATION” DOES NOT INCLUDE HOMOSEXUALITY. If he were defending God’s Word, his reasoning would be the opposite.
In footnote 42, p. 103, he claims “In Latin the same distinction was maintained, ‘fornicatio’ referred only to heterosexual indulgence.” But he has to admit that some theologians (prominent ones too!) did subsume homo behavior under “fornication.” Boswell will not admit that “fornication,” in the Bible, can be a synonym for “homosexuality” (but this word is new, so we’ll use “sodomy”).
Boswell’s defense of his idol—homosexuality, causes him and his book to be shunned by both heteros and homos. Even the homo scholars disagree with him.
BOSWELL SUPPORTS his (false) position by appealing to the vocabulary, the context, and the cultural setting. Toevah, he argues, is the key. The term is translated “abomination” by many Bible versions; “detestable” by others etc.. Prof. J.B. DeYoung, Th.M., Th.D., writes: “Throughout the Old Testament, writers reserve the Hebrew word and the Greek translation ‘bdelygma’ for ethnic contamination, idolatry, or temple prostitution, whereas they use a different word, ‘zimmah,’ for example, to express prostitution in general (e.g., Lev. 19:29). Boswell claims that the specific design of the context of Lev. 18:20 is to “distinguish the Jews from the pagans…” This I have shown by his own words. DeYoung continues, “Boswell would put homosexuality in the same category as the act of boiling a goat in its mother’s milk (see Ex. 23:19).”
The term toevah or to’eba occurs 117 times, and its cognate ta’ab about 22 times. About 2/3 of these words (verb) appear to be general, not ritualistic or ceremonial; they have an ethical sense, like “detest” or “exclude” (see ref. Ps. 5:6; 14:1; 119:163; Amos 5:10; Micah 3:9), but they also have a physical sense, like “abhor,” or “loath.”
THE NOUN occurs mostly in Ezek. (42 times), Prov. (21), and Deut. (17). Most in Prov. have a general ethical sense. The term, at times, can be used as a synonym for “idol.” But isn’t SEX an “idol”? Isn’t homosexuality et al an “idol?” Of course.
Our study out of Lev. 18 shows toevah 6 times…vs. 26, 27, 29, and 30, refer to all the preceding ABOMINATIONS, including homosexuality (sodomy/male, v. 22). Other SINS mentioned are incest (vv. 6-18), sex during a woman’s cycle/period (v. 19), adultery (v. 20), child sacrifice to idols (v. 21), homosexuality (v. 22), and bestiality (v. 23). Specifically, our Hebrew/Greek toevah refers ONLY to sexual sins in Lev., including the sexual nature of idolatry (which included the murdering of children).
We turn to cpt. 20 where the term appears in v. 13 in ref. to (male) sodomy. The sins of impurities are the sacrifice of children to idols (vv. 2-5); spiritism/harlotry (vv. 6, 27); cursing father/mother (v. 9); adultery (v. 10); incest (vv. 11, 12, 14, 17, 19-21); again, sodomy (v. 13 with death penalty); bestiality (vv. 15, 16); menstruation sex (v. 18); and defilement from unclean animals (v. 25).
SCHOLARS (EXCLUDING BOSWELL) POINT OUT THAT IN CPT. 18 AND 20, THE ONLY SPECIFIC SIN SINGLED OUT AS TOEVAH IS HOMOSEXUALITY. DeYoung writes, “Significant is the fact that to’eba is not used to designate Jewish distinctions regarding unclean animals” (Homosexuality, p. 49).
SO, WE PLAINLY SEE, and it is all too apparent, that scholars like Boswell (there are many others too) try to convince us that toevah is only related to Israel’s distinctive ritual purity. But what are we to do with universal sins such as pedophilia, incest, adultery, bestiality, child sacrifice (which is still going on as I write), idolatry, and all the forms/acts of homosexuality?
God’s Word PROHIBITS ALL THESE SINS in the Old Testament and New Testament. I’ll repeat it again: sex-sins/idolatries are universally OUTLAWED!!
LET US GLANCE at the prophet Ezekiel’s terms used to describe Sodom’s iniquity (cpt. 16).
A. zonah (21 times)= “play the harlot, whoredoms, fornication,” the LXX translates with cognates of porneia and diatheke;
B. To’eba (10 times)= “abominations;” the LXX has anomia and anomema;
C. zimmah (3 times)= “lewdness;” the LXX has cognates of asebeia.
The English word “homosexuality” of course was not used, it had not been coined. But to say that “ABOMINATION” was not among Ezekiel’s terms is to deny the concept–even though it is clearly there! It is very present in the word “Sodom.”
Ancient JerUSAlem /
HAVE YOU wondered why JerUSAlem’s sin was WORSE than Sodom’s? Here are a few reasons (and these reasons are current right now with the [so-called] people of God):
1. Ezek.16:43=forgotten days of youth (ingratitude);
2. committed same abominations (idolatry, harlotry, v. 47);
3. acted more corruptly than the sodomites (vv. 47, 48, 51);
4. Jerusalem was more wicked (vv. 51, 52);
5. became reproach of her enemies (v. 57).
These could rightly describe America’s Church today.
Let’s compare to’eba to bdelygma and anomia.
In Boswell’s “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality,” he tells us that the Greek LXX (Old Testament Greek) draws a fine distinction regarding toevah by using the translation anomia (for violations of law or justice, and bdelygma for violations of ritual purity as monotheistic worship).
The following is taken from Prof. De Young’s “Homosexuality”:
The evidence does not substantiate his distinction. Some references cited (Deut. 7:25-26; Isa. 44:19) do use the term bdelygma to refer to idols or idolatry, male shrine prostitutes (3 Kings 14:24 [1 Kings 14:24]), and child sacrifice and idolatry (4 Kings 16:3 [2 Kings 16:3]). Yet, in Jeremiah 16:18 both Greek terms occur, with anomia rendering to’eba and bdelygma rendering siqqus. To explain this reversal, Boswell claims that to’eba is the “more general and serious” term. This assertion begs the question: “Why on this occasion does the Hebrew term take on a different significance?” The logical conclusion is that the terms are synonymous, as the NIV recognizes, translating the terms as “vile images” and ‘’detestable idols” respectively.
In Ezekiel 7:20, the LXX renders both to’eba and siqqus by the one word bdelygma in a context of idols. In Ezekiel 16:36, anomia renders to’eba in reference to idols in a context of Israel’s spiritual harlotry (“detestable idols”). Finally, Boswell draws attention to the juxtaposition of Ezekiel 8:6 and 8:9, but here anomia renders to’eba in a context of idolatry (vv. 5, 10-18) within the very temple precincts in Jerusalem. The distinction claimed for anomia is unsubstantiated.
Boswell claims that Paul uses anomia (or a cognate) for sin or injustice in general (“lawlessness”) and bdelygma for violations of Jewish ritual or idolatry. Hence we should expect anomia in the Epistles to be addressed to audiences largely Gentile. Yet, in Romans 2:12, the Mosaic Law is probably in view by contrast to “without Law” (anomos, twice), and Romans 4:7 is a quote of Psalm 32:1 and probably represents David’s, not Paul’s, use. In Hebrews 1:9 anomia, contrasting righteousness, occurs in a quote of Psalm 45:7.
Boswell does not cite Romans 6:19, where Paul twice associates anomia with akatharsia: “slaves to impurity and to lawlessness.” He also omits Titus 2:14, where Paul links it to katharizo: “redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people.” If Boswell considers Hebrews to be Pauline, as he apparently does, he omits 8:12 and 10:17. In these quotations of Jeremiah 31:34, anomia is parallel to hamartia. This is a very Jewish writing, with a Jewish audience, and the context is the New Covenant made with Israel--yet anomia occurs.
Paul uses anomia nine times. Elsewhere it occurs six times in Matthew and 1 John. It refers to those Jews who were depending on works (Matt. 7:23), the “weeds” to be gathered at the end of the age (13:41), the inner being of the Pharisees (23:28; “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”), and the lawlessness of the last days (24:12). Finally, it occurs in 1 John 3:4 twice: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”
The cognate anomos occurs ten times. Christ was numbered with the lawless (Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37--quoting Isa. 53:12) and was nailed to the cross by the hands of the lawless (Acts 2:23); the Gentiles are lawless without the Law of Moses (1 Cor. 9:21--four times); the lawless one is yet to be revealed (2 Thess. 2:8); law is made for the lawless (1 Tim. 1:9); and Lot was tormented by lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:8).
This last reference is particularly significant. A Jewish author, Peter, is describing Lot’s experience in Sodom (cf. w. 6-10), using anomos to describe the works of Sodom. The only work singled out as causing the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19) was the attempted homosexual attack on the visitors.
These twenty-seven uses of anomia and its cognates might all stress universal sin or injustice, but for some of these texts that is a doubtful understanding, especially among the Old Testament quotes. The reference in 2 Peter directly contradicts Boswell’s identification of homosexuality as a violation of a Jewish ritual alone.
When one considers the usage of bdelygma, the position of Boswell is even less convincing. The term and its cognates occur nine times; Boswell cites only Paul’s two uses (Rom. 2:22; Titus 1:16--both in reference to Jews). It also occurs of the “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14), a truly Jewish concept. In Luke 16:15, it occurs in a more universal sense (“That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God”), especially in comparison with Matthew 23:28. In Revelation 17:4-5, the reference is to the great harlot who has a cup “full of abominations [bdelygma] and of the unclean things [akatharta] of her immorality;” she is the “mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” We can hardly limit this last occurrence to Jewish impurities! Finally, 21:27 refers to the New Jerusalem: “Nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying” shall exist there. Instead, the “abominable” will go to the lake of fire (21:8). Again, we cannot limit this usage to Jewish ritualistic uncleanness. It is unwarranted to say that “this division is maintained in the New Testament.” Paul does not appear to be wholly supportive, and why Boswell equated Paul’s usage with the total witness of the New Testament is not clear. At times the distinction seems to hold, but the Jewish writers of the Bible viewed life holistically. They did not compartmentalize behavior into sacred and secular. The Jews viewed violations of their ritual, especially relating to monotheism, as violations of law and justice. They viewed ceremonial violations as less serious. Violations of moral precepts had the most serious consequences.
Boswell cites only a few Old Testament references, leaving one to ask how thoroughly he has explored his contention that the LXX makes a special distinction in to’eba by using anomia for violations to law or justice (intrinsic wrong) and bdelygma for offenses of ritual impurity or monotheistic worship.
A survey of the use of anomia in the LXX shows that this translation uses it broadly. It occurs in later books, especially the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, occurring but twelve times in the Pentateuch. It renders twenty-four Hebrew terms, the most frequent being ‘awen and especially ‘awon.
Forty-nine uses of anomia occur in Ezekiel. Only the Psalms surpass this number, with about eighty occurrences. In Ezekiel 16 the word occurs seven times, and its frequency is also high in chapters 8 (seven times), 18 (six times), and 33 (eight times). It translates ten Hebrew terms in Ezekiel.
The term to’eba occurs about 115 times and is the source of anomia only in Jeremiah 16:18 and Ezekiel (25 times). In Ezekiel 16 to’eba is the source of anomia seven times (16:2, 36, 43, 47, 51 [twice], 58); no other Hebrew term occurs as the source for anomia in this chapter.
This survey reveals that the use of anomia for to’eba is limited. Yet, Boswell must come to terms with the word’s high frequency in passages relating to Jewish ritual. Indeed, references in Jeremiah 16:18 and Ezekiel 16, where anomia translates to’eba, point both to ritual in the sense of idols, idolatry, and “abominations” and to the practices of Sodom (16:47). The cognate anomos translates to’eba only once, where it describes again the deeds of Sodom (16:50; cf. 2 Peter 2:8)!
In the LXX, Leviticus most frequently uses anomia (five times, never with to’eba as its source). Various rituals are in view, including confession of sin on the Day of Atonement (16:21), harlotry (19:29), iniquity for eating holy gifts (22:16), and violations of the sabbatical year (26:43). The only use where an “intrinsic wrong” is apparent occurs for incestuous bigamy or polygamy (20:14); here it renders zimmah.
This pattern confirms the use of anomia to translate to’eba. The text equates lawlessness with acting contrary to ritual. In addition, the text, including 2 Peter 2:8 in the New Testament, designates Sodom’s sins as lawless. The term may refer to specific acts or a general condition. There may be direct connection with the law; more often it refers to sin. It is oriented to the command of God. The text assumes rebellion against God’s standard.
On the other hand, Boswell maintains that bdelygma is the ritualistic term. It occurs about 109 times to render any of seven Hebrew terms. It appears most frequently in Leviticus (fifteen times), Deuteronomy (nineteen times), Proverbs (eleven times), Jeremiah (nine times), and Ezekiel (twenty-one times). It renders to’eba and ta’ab sixty-nine times, by far the most prevalent use. It occurs in Leviticus 18:22, 26, 27, and 29 and 20:13. In Ezekiel 16 it does not occur in the LXX, but it does occur as an addition in Codex Alexandrinus at verse 22.
Comparing the usage of the two Greek terms, the “less-cultic” anomia renders to’eba in Ezekiel 16 more frequently than the “cultic” bdelygma (seven times compared to none in the LXX, except for Codex Alexandrinus). Yet, this chapter highlights Jerusalem’s special perversity in spiritual harlotry.
In broader perspective, the “less-cultic” term occurs more frequently in Ezekiel than the “cultic” term (forty-nine occurrences to twenty-one). To’eba occurs in Ezekiel as the source of anomia twenty-five times and as the source of bdelygma thirteen times.
It appears that no one supports Boswell’s distinction based on the two terms--at least to the degree that he desires. (End Quote)