What does the word abomination stand for?


By BibleAsk Team

The term “abomination” holds significant weight in the Bible, conveying a sense of profound disgust, moral repugnance, and divine condemnation. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the word “abomination” is used to describe actions, behaviors, and practices that are detestable in the sight of God. This essay will explore the multifaceted meaning of the word “abomination” in the Bible, examining its theological implications, cultural context, and practical applications, with references from the Bible.

Introduction to the Concept of Abomination

The word “abomination” appears frequently in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, where it is used to denote actions or behaviors that are morally repugnant or offensive to God. In Hebrew, the word translated as “abomination” is “toevah,” which conveys a sense of deep loathing and moral outrage.

Old Testament Usage of Abomination

In the Old Testament, the term “abomination” is used to describe a wide range of sinful actions, behaviors, and practices that violate God’s moral standards and provoke His wrath:

  • Idolatry: Deuteronomy 7:25-26 warns against the worship of foreign gods and the use of their sacred objects, declaring, “You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”
  • Sexual Immorality: Leviticus 18:22-23 condemns homosexual behavior as an abomination in the sight of God, stating, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.”
  • Injustice: Proverbs 17:15 denounces the acquittal of the guilty and the condemnation of the innocent as an abomination before God, declaring, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”

Spiritual and Historical Context of Abomination

Understanding the concept of abomination in the Bible requires consideration of the cultural and historical context in which the Scriptures were written. In ancient Israelite society, certain practices and behaviors were considered taboo or morally reprehensible due to their association with pagan rituals, idolatry, and social injustice.

  • Canaanite Religion: Many of the practices labeled as abominations in the Old Testament were associated with the religious rites and rituals of the Canaanite peoples, who worshipped fertility gods and goddesses through rituals involving sexual immorality, child sacrifice, and idol worship.
  • Covenant Relationship: The concept of abomination also reflects the covenantal relationship between God and His chosen people, Israel. As the covenant God, Yahweh expected His people to uphold His moral standards and live in accordance with His commandments. Violations of these standards were viewed as betrayals of the covenant and provoked God’s righteous anger.

Theological Implications of Abomination

The concept of abomination in the Bible has profound theological implications for understanding God’s character, His moral standards, and His relationship with humanity:

  • Holiness of God: The condemnation of abominable practices underscores the holiness and righteousness of God, who cannot tolerate sin or moral impurity in His presence. Leviticus 11:44 declares, “For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
  • Divine Judgment: The designation of certain actions as abominations highlights the seriousness of sin and the inevitability of divine judgment for those who persist in rebellion against God’s commandments. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that are abominations to the Lord, including “a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
  • Call to Repentance: The condemnation of abominable practices serves as a call to repentance and moral renewal, inviting individuals and communities to turn away from sin and return to God’s ways. Ezekiel 18:30 proclaims, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.”

Practical Applications of Abomination

  1. While the concept of evil have enduring relevance for ethical decision-making and moral discernment to the modern man:
    • Ethical Standards: The designation of certain actions as evil provides a moral framework for evaluating behavior and discerning right from wrong. Christians are called to adhere to God’s moral standards and avoid practices that are contrary to His will.
    • Social Justice: The condemnation of social injustices as wicked underscores the importance of seeking justice, compassion, and equality in society. Isaiah 1:17 exhorts believers to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.”
    • Personal Holiness: The concept of evil challenges believers to cultivate personal holiness and spiritual integrity by God’s grace in every area of life. 2 Corinthians 7:1 urges believers to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

The New Testament Perspective on Abomination

In the New Testament, the concept of abomination is less prominent but still retains theological significance within the context of Christ’s teachings and the apostolic writings:

  • False Religion: Revelation 17:4-5 describes the religious system of Babylon as “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth,” highlighting the spiritual corruption and idolatry of false religion.
  • Spiritual Defilement: Revelation 21:27 portrays the new Jerusalem as a place where “there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” The final consummation of God’s kingdom involves the purification and sanctification of His people, removing all traces of sin and moral impurity.


In conclusion, the term “abomination” in the Bible conveys a sense of profound disgust, moral repugnance, and divine condemnation. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the word is used to describe actions, behaviors, and practices that are detestable in the sight of God. Understanding this concept requires consideration of its cultural context, theological implications, and practical applications for ethical decision-making and moral discernment.

The principles of this concept have enduring relevance for upholding God’s moral standards, seeking social justice, cultivating personal holiness, and discerning truth from falsehood in a fallen world. As believers, may we strive to live in accordance with God’s will, avoiding practices that are contrary to His nature and embracing righteousness, justice, and holiness in every area of life.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.