“Then Pharoah called for Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Go sacrifice to your God in the land.’
“And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?’” (Exodus 8:25-26).
To what does “the abomination of the Egyptians” refer? (1) Some believe that it is sheep. It is stated that shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34, cf. 43:32). It is not clear that sheep, themselves, were an abomination to the Egyptians (Genesis 47:6, 17). Some believe that shepherds were abomination to the Egyptians “because of the potential damage large flocks and herds could do to Egyptian crop and farm land (William W. Grasham, Truth For Today Commentary, Genesis, Vol. 2, p. 521). Some have suggested that shepherds were abominable to the Egyptians due to “a common distrust of nomadic peoples by urban dwellers” (G.J. Wenham, The New Bible Commentary quoted by Ferreljenkins.blog). Perhaps, the more common explanation is that shepherds were abominable because of the eating and sacrificing of sheep and and other animals. Dennis Prager comments, “Rashi points out that sheep were Egyptian deities, and the twelfth-century commentators Ibn Ezra offers the explanation that ancient Egyptians, ‘like modern Hindus,’ did not eat meat” (Dennis Prager, The Rational Bible, Genesis, pg. 518).
(2) Some believe that it was cows. It is well known that the Egyptians worshipped the bull. The I.S.B.E. states, “The Egyptians, close neighbors of the Hebrews, in all eras from that of the Exodus onwards, worshipped living bulls at Memphis… and Heliopolis as the incarnations of Ptah and Ra, while one of the most elaborate rituals was connected with the life-size image of the Hathor-cow… while the sun was revered as the ‘valiant bull’ and the reigning Pharoah as ‘Bull of Bulls.’” (I.S.B.E., Vol. 1, pg. 543).
Something about their sacrifice was abominable to the Egyptians. This is true, whether the abomination was the offering of sheep, or cows, or goats, or all of the above
Application For Us
The sacrifices of God’s people are often contrary to the world’s values. James Burton Coffman comments, “Christians must sacrifice that which the world worships” (Coffman, Exodus, pg. 105).
Consider the following: (1) Christians are taught to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1-2 cf. Galatians 2:20). Many in the world have the mindset expressed in the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley – “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” (2) Christians are taught to live a sanctified life (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). Many in the world live by the code, “If it feels good, do it.” (3) Christians are taught to be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Many in the world think this is a waste. There are so many things to be acquired in this life. (4) Christians are taught to not forsake assembling (Hebrews 10:24-25). Many in the world say Sunday is my day off. It is mine to enjoy. (5) Christians are taught to bring up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Many in the world have little time for this. There are so many other things that must have priority (school work, sports, band, work, family time, sleep schedule, etc., etc., etc.).
Jesus told his disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).