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Scriptures such as the Book of Deuteronomy thus banned high places and the later prophets associated these local altars with idolatry , sexual immorality, and even human sacrifice. In the late sixth century B.
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The Books of Kings characterizes rulers as righteous or evil, depending on their attitude first toward idolatry in general, and second toward the high places in particular. Eventually, the Jerusalem Temple, itself a highly institutionalized high place, would be the only authorized place of sacrifice in the Jewish tradition.
Archaeologists have found numerous raised areas in or near towns that were undoubtedly high places, some with religious artifacts such as altars, inscriptions, and images of deities. Although Israelite and Canaanite high places are now history, in the contemporary world, high places—both institutional and personal—are sought out by many people seeking spiritual insight and direct communication with God. Many have reported deep insights and profound life-changing experiences in such environs.
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- High Places, Altars and the Bamah - Biblical Archaeology Society.
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From mankind's earliest times, mountains and hilltops were sacred places where humans stood suspended between the heavens and the earth. The earliest biblical descriptions of the sites later called "high places" are found in the Book of Genesis. Abraham first built an altar under the "great tree of Moreh" at Shechem and then moved on to Bethel , where he constructed a hilltop altar Gen Here, Jacob would later have his famous dream of "Jacob's ladder" Gen.
Jacob himself also reportedly established both an altar and a sacred pillar at Bethel, which would eventually become a national shrine when the northern Kingdom of Israel seceded from the united kingdom established by David and Solomon. Abraham established another altar under "the great trees of Mamre at Hebron.
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- High Places, Altars and the Bamah.
- HIGH PLACE (Hebrew, "bamah"; plural, "bamot"):.
Traditionally, this is understood to be the same high place where the Temple of Jerusalem was eventually built 2 Chronicles Prior to the coming of the patriarchs , high places may already have been used by the Canaanites , who, like the Hebrews, viewed mountaintops as having spiritual significance because of their presumed physical proximity to the home of the gods. High places would continue to play a major role in Israelite worship for centuries. Moses met God at the top of Mount Sinai also called Horeb , and the prophet Elijah , several hundred years later, journeyed to the same mountain for his own encounter with the Almighty.
It was here that Joshua re-confirmed the covenant of circumcision for Israelite men, and the site would later become one of the high places visited regularly by the prophet Samuel 1 Samuel , as well as a place of idolatrous Canaanite worship Judges The Book of Joshua describes a major high place altar that was established by the Israelite tribes who settled among the Ammonites and Moabites.
Believing this shrine to be a threat to the centrality of the Tabernacle which housed the Ark of the Covenant , the other tribes nearly went to war with their brothers over this, until the transjordan Israelites promised not to offer sacrifices there but only to use it only as a "witness. Samuel shared a sacrificial meal with the future king Saul at a high place in the district of Zuph, where Samuel apparently presided I Sam.
Saul himself temporarily joined a band of prophets coming down from the high place at Gibeah with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps. King Solomon, before building the Temple of Jerusalem, "went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. Bands of Israelite prophets attended various high places from the time of Samuel through period of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. Elijah even battled the prophets of Baal for control of the high place at Mount Carmel and to demonstrate Yahweh's superior power as a rain god.
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High places were equally important in Canaanite and neighboring religions. When the prophet Balaam was hired by the Moabite king Balak to curse the Israelites who threatened his territory, Balak took Balaam to a succession of high places, where the prophet famously blessed Balak's enemies instead of cursing them. King Solomon later established idolatrous high places for his Moabite and Ammonite wives outside of Jerusalem , earning him, according to the author of the Books of Kings , Yahweh's rejection.
And Kemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel. Ancient Canaanite literature indeed indicates that Baal was associated with mountains, being a god of the skies and storms.
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The prophet Jeremiah indicates that Molech worship was practiced by Israelites in his time, and he accuses them of engaging in human sacrifice to this deity, who may be identified with Baal. Prophetic accusations of Israelite sexual corruption associated with the high places are often linked to these deities.
Note also the idea of "high places" in a valley, indicating that the term could also relate to raised altars at low elevations, as well as to hilltop shrines. The Levite priesthood gradually replaced the prophetic bands as officiators at the high places scattered throughout Israel and Judah. These local priests competed with the central sanctuary at Jerusalem for the benefits associated with their sacrificial office. The Book of Deuteronomy , however, stipulates that God would name only one place where sacrifice was authorized, implying that this would be the Temple of Jerusalem itself.
Under King Josiah late seventh century B. Josiah destroyed many of the high places and slaughtered those priests who sacrificed to gods other than Yahweh 2 Kings The Book of Kings mentions that Josiah even dared to destroy the ancient altar and high place at Bethel , just a few miles north of Jerusalem, to which northern pilgrims were likely to go.
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Although other high places survived, Jerusalem would henceforth be the only high place of the Jewish tradition. The high place at Mount Gerizim, near Shechem , would emerge as the central shrine of the northern worshipers of Yahweh, who became known as Samaritans. Gerizim was the site of a major temple for several centuries and is still a sacred place among the small Samaritan community in Israel and Palestine today. Meanwhile, Moabite , Ammonite , and Edomite high places continued as places of worship well into the Christian era.