Three Hebrew words connote abomination: תּוֹעֵבָה (toʿevah), שֶׁקֶץ (shekeẓ, sheqeẓ) or שִׁקּוּץ (shikkuẓ, shiqquẓ), and פִּגּוּל (piggul); toʿevah is the most important of this group. It appears in the Bible 116 times as a noun and 23 times as a verb and has a wide variety of applications, ranging from food prohibitions (Deut. 14:3), idolatrous practices (Deut. 12:31; 13:15), and magic (Deut. 18:12) to sex offenses (Lev. 18:22 ff.) and ethical wrongs (Deut. 25:14–16; Prov. 6:16–19). Common to all these usages is the notion of irregularity, that which offends the accepted order, ritual, or moral. It is incorrect to arrange the toʿevah passages according to an evolutionary scheme and thereby hope to demonstrate that the term took on ethical connotations only in post-Exilic times. For in Proverbs, where the setting is exclusively ethical and universal but never ritual or national, toʿevah occurs mainly in the oldest, i.e., pre-Exilic, passages of the book (18 times in ch. 10–29; 3 in the remaining chapter). Moreover, Ezekiel, who has no peer in ferreting out cultic sins, uses toʿevah as a generic term for all aberrations detestable to God, including purely ethical offenses (e.g., 18:12, 13, 24). Indeed, there is evidence that toʿevah originated not in the cult, and certainly not in prophecy, but in wisdom literature. This is shown not only by its clustering in the oldest levels of Proverbs but also in its earliest biblical occurrence where the expression toʿavat Miẓrayim (Gen. 43:32; 46:34; Ex. 8:22, ascribed to the J source) refers to specific contraventions of ancient Egyptian norms. Furthermore, Egyptian has a precise equivalent to toʿevah, and it occurs in similar contexts, e.g., "Thus arose the abomination of the swine for Horus' sake" (for a Canaanite-Phoenician parallel, note tʿbt ʿštrt – Tabnit of Sidon (third century B.C.E.) – in Pritchard, Texts, 505). Thus the sapiential
Humbert, in: ZAW, 72 (1960), 217–37.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.