Matthew 24:19

ESV And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!
NIV How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!
NASB But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
CSB Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days!
NLT How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.
KJV And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

What does Matthew 24:19 mean?

Jesus has warned His disciples of a moment when Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed. When the temple is desecrated by an abomination, Jesus has said, all in Jerusalem should run for their lives to the mountainous regions to hide. It will happen so quickly, Jesus has said, that someone on the rooftop of his house must not go back inside to get supplies and a person working in a field should not take the time to run in the wrong direction to get his cloak (Matthew 24:15–18).

The purpose of that imagery is to emphasize the level of danger that this moment will announce. Here, Christ adds an "alas" of sadness for women who are pregnant or nursing in those days. It is especially difficult to run quickly and hide in the mountains while pregnant or caring for an infant. Even worse, pregnant and nursing women are especially vulnerable when supplies of food are cut off during incidents such as war, siege, persecution, or famine.

In AD 66—70, a Jewish rebellion resulted in Roman retaliation. The end of that conflict included a siege of Jerusalem, trapping those who could not escape in time, and the eventual demolition of the temple. The temple was first desecrated by Romans stealing from it and, more seriously, by Jewish Zealots murdering priests in the temple. That has led some to believe Jesus was referring to AD 70 when making these predictions.

However, that does not fit the context of end times (Matthew 24:14) or the earth-shattering level of danger implied (Matthew 24:21–22). Roman defilement of the temple happened after the siege of Jerusalem, making it useless as a warning sign. More likely, similar events will occur again at the end of the age in another time of tribulation.
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