Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lexical Crimes: Does the Word “Abomination” only refer to ritual wrongs?

I was recently shown this below clip from a documentary entitled, For the Bible Tells Me So:

There’s a lake of ink that could be spilled in reviewing the specific arguments made in this clip, but in this series I’ve narrowed my focus to the specific claim made at 1:40-2:00 by Laurence C. Keene. I’m frankly astonished the reverend is able to gaze shamelessly into a camera and make the following statement in regards to Leviticus 18:22:
"When the term abomination is used in the Hebrew Bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong. It never is used to refer to something innately immoral.”
 Is the Hebrew word “abomination” in Leviticus 18:22 “always used to address a ritual wrong,” and is it true that it is “never used to refer to something innately immoral”? The answer is no. Dr. Keene has apparently never looked the term up in a concordance. The term translated “abomination” in Leviticus 18:22 is towebah (תּוֹעֵבָה).  By way of example, consider how this same word is used in Proverbs 6:16-19 (NASB):
There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination (תֹּועֲבַ֥ת) to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers
None of the sins in this list smack of ritual associations. They are all innately immoral. The term towebah had the elasticity to circumscribe sins which are not ritually associated. To say it never does is incorrect.


  1. Also if that is the case what about the rest of the sins in previous verses such as 1-16 that deal with Incest or that which deals with fornication/adultery in verse 20, or even Bestiality in verse 23? are these not considered abominations as well? they clearly are as seeing in verse 24 we read " ‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled.

  2. A fluid, informative and a very good post indeed. I always read and comment positively on education related articles. Just to let you know that I am now following your blog. Thanks, Steve
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