Ezekiel 20:29
Then I said to them, What is the high place whereunto you go? And the name whereof is called Bamah to this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) Is called Bamah.—Bamah itself means high place. Some have fancied that the word is derived from the two words “go” and “where,” and therefore that it contains a play upon the question in the first part of the verse; but this etymology must be considered fanciful.

20:27-32 The Jews persisted in rebellion after they settled in the land of Canaan. And these elders seem to have thought of uniting with the heathen. We make nothing by our profession if it be but a profession. There is nothing got by sinful compliances; and the carnal projects of hypocrites will stand them in no stead.Bamah - The Hebrew word for "high place." Another instance of the perversion of God's laws. When the Israelites first entered Canaan they were to set up the "tabernacle" on a "high place," and upon this and upon no other they were to worship Yahweh (1 Samuel 9:12 ff; 1 Kings 3:4). But the Israelites followed the custom of the country, and set up idol-worship on every high hill, and the word "high place" ("Bannah," plural "Bamoth") became a by-word (compare "Bamoth-Baal," Joshua 13:17). "Bamoth" occurs on the Moabitic stone, which records the erection of high places in honor of Chemosh. The name "Bamah" was thus a brand of the divine displeasure, and a memorial of the people's guilt.29. What is the high place whereunto ye go?—What is the meaning of this name? For My altar is not so called. What excellence do ye see in it, that ye go there, rather than to My temple, the only lawful place of sacrificing? The very name, "high place," convicts you of sinning, not from ignorance but perverse rebellion.

is called … unto this day—whereas this name ought to have been long since laid aside, along with the custom of sacrificing on high places which it represents, being borrowed from the heathen, who so called their places of sacrifice (the Greeks, for instance, called them by a cognate term, Bomoi), whereas I call mine Mizbeaach, "altar." The very name implies the place is not that sanctioned by Me, and therefore your sacrifices even to ME there (much more those you offer to idols) are only a "provocation" to Me (Eze 20:28; De 12:1-5). David and others, it is true, sacrificed to God on high places, but it was under exceptional circumstances, and before the altar was set up on Mount Moriah.

Then; when they were intent upon this horrid course of sin, God pleaded by his messengers, and prophets, and law, and some faithful priests, What mean you, that ye go to the high place? should you not go to the altar of God, and bring your sacrifices to the temple? Or what God better than Abraham’s do you expect there? What profit by attending upon those sacrifices offered daily? How often have you by such-like means poured contempt on God and his law!

Whereunto ye go; leaving my temple, and the service I prescribed, and in other places, unrequited, doing their supposed duties.

Bamah; high place: the very word tells them their wickedness, that they acted against the express will of God, and framed themselves to idolaters of the nation.

Unto this day; and this they did with obstinacy continue in to the days of Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:3. Thus far the narrative of their great wickednesses. Then I said unto them,.... By his prophets that he sent unto them:

what is the high place where, unto you go? what is the name of it? what is the use of it? to what end do you go there? is there not an altar built by my order and command to sacrifice upon is this high place better than that? does it answer a better end and purpose?

and the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day; or a high place. The Septuagint also leaves the word untranslated, and calls it Abama; and the Arabic version Abbana; so they called their altars after the Gentiles, by whom they are called nor were they ashamed of it, but persisted in so calling them, from the first use of them to the present time. These are often called, Bamah and Bamot in the books of Kings. Jarchi says it is a term of reproach, as if it was said, Bamah----in what is it to be accounted of?

Then I said to them, What is the high place to which ye go? And its name is called {o} Bamah to this day.

(o) Which signifies a high place, declaring that they vaunted themselves of their idolatry and were not ashamed of it, though God had commanded them expressly that they should have no altar lifted on high by stairs, Ex 20:26.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. The word bamah, “high-place,” has no certain etymology, though often used and at an early period, e.g. in David’s elegy on Saul (2 Samuel 1:19), and in Moabite (Mesha’s inscrip.). The prophet here introduces a punning and contemptuous derivation of the word. Jehovah asks “what (mah) is the high place whereunto ye go (ba),” and the prophet seems to consider the word composed of these two syllables. Some have supposed that “go” has the sense of “go in,” and that the allusion is to the immoralities practised on the high places (Amos 2:7; Hosea 4:13-14). This idea does not seem expressed in the words; neither is there much probability in the conjecture that the words are borrowed by Ezek. from some older prophet (Ew.).

The prophet’s view of the generation of the exodus differs from that of earlier prophets, e.g. Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 2:2. The generation in the wilderness was probably not a homogeneous one, and the narratives which we possess represent its conduct as various at different times. Two views might be taken of it, and Ezek. as his manner is takes the severer view.Verse 29. - What is the high place, etc.? Bamah, in the plural Bamoth, was the Hebrew for "high place." At first it was applied to the hill on which some local sanctuary stood (1 Samuel 9:12; 1 Kings 3:4), but was gradually extended, after the building of the temple as the one appointed sanctuary, to other places which were looked upon as sacred, and which became the scenes of an idolatrous and forbidden worship. Ezekiel emphasizes his scorn by a conjectural derivation of the word, as if derived from the two words ba ("go") and mah ("whither"); or, perhaps, What comes? (comp. Exodus 16:15 for a parallel derivation of the word marones). Taking the words in their ordinary sense, they seem to express only a slight degree of contempt. "What, then, is the place to which you go?" - what is the "whither" to which it leads? But I incline (with Ewald and Smend) to see in the word "go into" the meaning which it has in Genesis 16:2 and Genesis 19:31, and elsewhere, as a euphemism for sexual union. So later the word "Bamah" becomes a witness that those who worship in the high place go there (as in ver. 30) to commit whoredom literally and spiritually. Its name showed that it was what I have called "a chapel of prostitution" (ch. 16:24, 25). Behaviour of Israel in the Desert

Ezekiel 20:10. And I led them out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the desert; Ezekiel 20:11. And gave them my statutes, and my rights I made known to them, which man is to do that he may live through them. Ezekiel 20:12. I also gave them my Sabbaths, that they might be for a sign between me and them, that they might now that I Jehovah sanctify them. Ezekiel 20:13. But the house of Israel was rebellious against me in the desert: they did not walk in my statutes, and my rights they rejected, which man is to do, that he may live through them, and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned: Then I thought to pour out my wrath upon them in the desert to destroy them. Ezekiel 20:14. But I did it for my name's sake, that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations, before whose eyes I had led them out. Ezekiel 20:15. I also lifted my hand to them in the desert, not to bring them into the land which I had given (them), which floweth with milk and honey; it is an ornament of all lands, Ezekiel 20:16. Because they rejected my rights, did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths, for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20:17. But my eye looked with pity upon them, so that I did not destroy them, and make an end of them in the desert. - God gave laws at Sinai to the people whom He had brought out of Egypt, through which they were to be sanctified as His own people, that they might live before God. On Ezekiel 20:11 compare Deuteronomy 30:16 and Deuteronomy 30:19. Ezekiel 20:12 is taken almost word for word from Exodus 31:13, where God concludes the directions for His worship by urging upon the people in the most solemn manner the observance of His Sabbaths, and thereby pronounces the keeping of the Sabbath the kernel of all divine worship. And as in that passage we are to understand by the Sabbaths the actual weekly Sabbaths, and not the institutions of worship as a whole, so here we must retain the literal signification of the word. It is only of the Sabbath recurring every week, and not of all the fasts, that it could be said it was a sign between Jehovah and Israel. It was a sign, not as a token, that they who observed it were Israelites, as Hitzig supposes, but to know (that they might know) that Jehovah was sanctifying them, namely, by the Sabbath rest - as a refreshing and elevation of the mind, in which Israel was to have a foretaste of that blessed resting from all works to which the people of God was ultimately to attain (see the comm. on Exodus 20:11). It is from this deeper signification of the Sabbath that the prominence given to the Sabbaths here is to be explained, and not from the outward circumstance that in exile, when the sacrificial worship was necessarily suspended, the keeping of the Sabbath as the only bond which united the Israelites, so far as the worship of God was concerned (Hitzig). Historical examples of the rebellion of Israel against the commandments of God in the desert are given in ex. EZechariah 32:1-6 and Numbers 25:1-3; and of the desecration of the Sabbath, in ex. EZechariah 16:27 and Numbers 15:32. For the threat referred to in Ezekiel 20:13, compare Exodus 32:10; Numbers 14:11-12. - Ezekiel 20:15 and Ezekiel 20:16 are not a repetition of Ezekiel 20:13 (Hitzig); nor do they introduce a limitation of Ezekiel 20:14 (Kliefoth). They simply relate what else God did to put bounds to the rebellion after He had revoked the decree to cut Israel off, at the intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:11-19). He lifted His hand to the oath (Numbers 14:21.), that the generation which had come out of Egypt should not come into the land of Canaan, but should die in the wilderness. Therewith He looked with pity upon the people, so that He did not make an end of them by following up the threat with a promise that the children should enter the land. עשׂה כלה, as in Ezekiel 11:13.

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