Ezekiel 6 – The High Places to be Destroyed & The High Places

It doesn’t appear that the people of Catalhoyuk built any High Places.  They worshiped Mother Goddess but it doesn’t seem like they were worshipping her like the Israelites did with Baal or Molech or Asherah or whoever.

Mother Goddess
Statuette of the Mother Goddess, terracotta, from Catalhoyuk, circa 5,750 BC Height 20 cm. The Goddess is seated on a throne, flanked by two sacred animals. She is represented as a woman in child-birth.

But they  knew that somebody besides themselves was in charge, so whether You introduced Yourself to them or not, You somehow let them know and that’s cool.

When I was reading about the High Places I saw a city that I thought was mentioned in Revelation or at least will be important like Jerusalem during the end times.  Yet, it’s considered to be a lost city so I want to check it out…

Ezekiel 6
The High Places to be Destroyed

1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,

3 And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.

During Hezekiah’s reforms all high places and pagan altars, similar to the one pictured in this photo, were destroyed.

“High places” – open-air sanctuaries of Canaanite origin, condemned throughout the Old Testament. 

4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.

“Altars” – made of burnt clay, about two feet high, usually inscribed with animal figures and idols or Canaanite gods.

“Idols” – the Hebrew for this word is a derisive term (lit. “dung pellets”), used usually by Ezekiel 38 times rather than 9 times elsewhere in the Old Testament.

5 And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.

6 In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.

7 And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

8 Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.

9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.

Mount Carmel and the shore of Carmel have more than 210 prehistoric known sites, spanning from 150,000 years ago. One of the major caves are in Nahal Maarot – known as the Carmel Caves. Another set of caves is in Oren valley and is covered in an additional web page.

10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.

11 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.

12 He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.

13 Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savor to all their idols.

In Petra there are numerous high places, most of them small and intimate, however, the High Place of Sacrifice on Jabal al-Madhbah seems to have been the most important centre for public worship.

14 So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD.

“Diblath” – Perhaps the Beth-diblathaim of Jer 48:22, a city in Moab; or Riblah, a city north of Damascus on the Orontes River (a few Hebrew manuscripts read “Riblah”).

The High Places

English Bible readers are often bewildered by the regular references to the “high places” of Israel. The Hebrew word for “high place” is bamah (lit.“height”). 

The term refers to local, open-air shrines that were frequently described as being located on a hill but could in reality have been found anywhere, including a city, gate or valley (Jer 7:31).

Some surmise that a shrine was called a “high place” because of its location; others suggest that the name refers to its construction.

Regardless, a bamah might have been either a shrine perched upon a hilltop, such as in Petra, or an elevated platform like the mound of unhewn stones uncovered at Megiddo.

High Place, Bamah: There are references to “high places” or bamot throughout the Bible. These may have been altars of stones, such as the one found at Megiddo. This huge round altar at Megiddo, almost 26 feet in diameter and 5 feet high, dates to the Early Bronze Age and was used well into the Late Bronze Age by the Canaanite population. A large quantity of animal bones were found on and near the altar indicate it usage was for sacrifice and worship. Archaeologists believe that this stone altar resembles the “high places” in the Bible, which were condemned by the religious reformers in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.

A typical high place consisted of a man-made platform or altar with associated buildings (1 Kgs 12:31; 2 Kgs 17:29).   It is likely that many high places were located in spots that had originally been sacred to the Canaanites, which the conquering Israelites were supposed to have destroyed (Num 33:52).

In Israel’s early history in Canaan, high places became venues for the offering of animal sacrifices and incense to Yahweh (1 Sam 9:12).

The rationale offered was that people “were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord” (1 Kgs 3:2).  It may be that Elijah chose Mount Carmel for his contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18) because the site was sacred to both Israelites and pagans.

Gibeon was known as “the most important high place” (1 Kgs 3:4) although the ark was transferred by David from there to Jerusalem, the tabernacle and bronze altar remained at Gibeon (2 Chr 1:3-5).

Also, Gibeon was the place at which the prophet Samuel celebrated festivals and where Solomon received a vision from the Lord.

Once worship of the Lord had been centralized in Jerusalem, however, high places came to pose a threat to the purity of Israel’s faith. When Israelites worshiped the Lord away from the temple and it’s priestly oversight, they were at risk of being influenced by local, pagan cults and traditions.

Prophets attacked high places for their syncretism: They were all too frequently locates at which the gods Molech, Chemosh, and Asherah were worshiped, indiscriminately, alongside the God of Israel (1 Kgs 11:7-8, 2 Kgs 23:13).

Standing stones (high places, bamah) are often found at the gate of Biblical cities.

High places were regarded as centers of apostasy because they competed with Jerusalem for Israel’s devotion (2 Kgs 17:9-11).

In the historical narratives kings are routinely evaluated by whether or not they demolished these sanctuaries.  Josiah’s reforms death a powerful blow to the high places (2 Kgs 23:15-20); even so, attachment to them survived.

These locations of temptation are cited specifically as a cause for God’s judgment upon Judah (Eze 6:3-7).

…Petra.