What does “had in abomination” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Scriptures tell us in 1 Samuel 13:4: “And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.”

“Had” can be used in the sense of place, so being “had in abomination” means “consigned to the category of abomination [disgust, hatred].” In other words, the Israelites had “fallen into disfavor” with the Philistines. With King Saul’s troops—namely, his son Jonathan and the men under him (verse 2)—attacking a garrison or fort of the Philistines (verse 3), the Philistines are now antagonized and seek retaliation. Hateful and disgusted, they actually fight with the Jews in verse 5.

Again, “had” may indicate position rather than possession.

Try 2 Samuel 6:22: “And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.” Whereas Israel was “had in abomination” with the Philistines, King David was “had in honour” with the women who rejoiced in the LORD with him. These two are opposites.

Or, Psalm 89:7: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” To be “had in reverence,” of course, means the LORD God is feared or greatly respected. He is in the position of reverence.

Also, Ezekiel 23:32: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much.” As Samaria (Northern Kingdom, Israel) was judged because of her sins, now Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom, Judah) will also be given over to the consequences of her transgressions. The station had is that of mockery or ridicule, placed into the group worthy of laughter or teasing. Habitual disobedience to the LORD has destroyed these societies, so the ensuing problems make the sinners liable to being made fun of.

In Acts 5:34, we read of Rabbi Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court): “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;….” Gamaliel occupied the place of authority and respect, a high-ranking leader of Judaism (whom Jews recognize even today). He was—and is—“had in reputation.”

One last example will suffice. Let us go to Acts 10:31: “And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.” According to the Abrahamic Covenant, Roman/Gentile centurion Cornelius blessed Israel (see verses 2,22), so he himself would be blessed of God (Genesis 12:1-3). Therefore, the Lord sent the Apostle Peter to Cornelius. Cornelius’ offerings of material goods to Israel were in God’s mind, “had in remembrance in the sight of God,” and that allowed him to receive further light and even salvation from the God of Israel.

Also see:
» What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?
» Why did God give Israel King Saul if Saul turned out to be evil?
» Can you define “paramours?”