Ezekiel 20:29
Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.
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(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.

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). Ezekiel 20:29Israel committed these sins in Canaan also, and to this day has not given them up; therefore God will not allow the idolatrous generation to inquire of Him. - Ezekiel 20:27. Therefore speak to the house of Israel, O son of man, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Still further have your fathers blasphemed me in this, with the faithlessness which they have shown toward me. Ezekiel 20:28. When I had brought them into the land, which I had lifted my hand to give them, then they looked out every high hill and every thickly covered tree, and offered their sacrifices there, and gave their irritating gifts there, and presented the fragrance of their pleasant odour there, and poured out their drink-offerings there. Ezekiel 20:29. And I said to them, What height is that to which ye go? And its name is called Height to this day. Ezekiel 20:30. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, What? Do ye defile yourselves in the way of your fathers; and go whoring after their abominations; Ezekiel 20:31. And defile yourselves in all your idols to this day, by lifting up your gifts, and causing your sons to pass through the fire; and should I let myself be inquired of by you? As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will not let myself be inquired of by you. - The לכן in Ezekiel 20:27 is resumed in Ezekiel 20:30; and there the answer given by God to the elders, who had come to inquire of Him, is first communicated, after an express declaration of the fact that Israel had continued its idolatry in the most daring manner, even after its entrance into Canaan. But the form in which this is done - עוד זאת, "still further in this" - is to be understood as intimating that the conduct of the fathers of the existing generation, and therefore not merely of those who grew up in the wilderness, but also of those who had lived in Canaan, has already been described in general terms in the preceding verses, and that what follows simply adds another novel feature. But this can only be the case if Ezekiel 20:23-26 are taken in the sense given above. זאת is an accusative; and גּדּף is construed with the accusative both of the person and thing. The more precise definition of זאת is not given in בּמעלם בּי ni nev at the end of the verse, but in the idolatry depicted in Ezekiel 20:28. מעל refers to the faithlessness involved in the breach of the covenant and in idolatry. This is the general description; whilst the idolatry mentioned in Ezekiel 20:28 constituted one particular feature, in which the faithlessness appeared in the form of blasphemy. For the fact itself, namely, the worship on high places, which was practised on every hand, see Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 16:24-25; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10.

In the enumeration of the offerings, there is something striking in the position in which כּעס קרבּנם stands, namely, between the slaughtered sacrifices (זבחים) and the increase- and drink-offerings; and this is no doubt the reason why the clause 'ויּתּנוּ שׁם וגו is omitted from the Cod. Vat. and Alex. of the lxx; and even Hitzig proposes to strike it out. But Theodoret found this reading in the Alex. Version; and Hitzig is wrong in affirming that קרבּן is used in connection with sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings. The meat-offerings are not expressly named, for ריה ניחוח does not signify meat-offerings, but is used in the law for the odour of all the offerings, both slaughtered sacrifices and meat-offerings, even though in Ezekiel 16:19 it is applied to the odour of the bloodless offerings alone. And in the same way does קרבּן embrace all the offerings, even the slain offerings, in Ezekiel 40:43, in harmony with Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 2:1, and other passages. That it is used in this general signification here, is evident from the introduction of the word כּעס, irritation or provocation of their gifts, i.e., their gifts which provoked irritation on the part of God, because they were offered to idols. As this sentence applies to all the sacrifices (bloody and bloodless), so also does the clause which follows, 'ויּשׂימוּ שׁם וגו, refer to all the offerings which were burned upon the altar, without regard to the material employed. Consequently Ezekiel mentions only slain offerings and drink-offerings, and, by the two clauses inserted between, describes the offering of the slaughtered sacrifices as a gift of irritation to God, and of pleasant fragrance to the idolatrous worshippers who presented them. He does not mention the meat-offerings separately, because they generally formed an accompaniment to the slain offerings, and therefore were included in these. But although God had called the people to account for this worship on high places, they had not relinquished it even "to this day." This is no doubt the meaning of. Ezekiel 20:29, which has been interpreted in very different ways. The context shows, in the most conclusive manner, that הבּמה is to be taken collectively, and that the use of the singular is to be explained from the antithesis to the one divinely appointed Holy Place in the temple, and not, as Kimchi and Hvernick suppose, from any allusion to one particular bâmâh of peculiar distinction, viz., "the great high place at Gibeon." The question מה is not expressive of contempt (Hitzig), but "is founded upon the assumption that they would have to give an account of their doings; and merely asks, What kind of heights are those to which you are going? Who has directed you to go thither with your worship?" (Kliefoth). There is no need to refute the trivial fancy of J. D. Michaelis, which has been repeated by Hitzig, namely, that Ezekiel has taken בּמה as a derivative from בא and מה. Again, the question does not presuppose a word addressed by God to Israel, which Ezekiel only has handed down to us; but is simply a rhetorical mode of presenting the condemnation by God of the worship of the high places, to which both the law and the earlier prophets had given utterance. The next clause, "and their name was called Height" (high place), is not to be regarded as containing merely a historical notice of the name given to these idolatrous places of worship; but the giving of the name is a proof of the continued existence of the thing; so that the words affirm, that notwithstanding the condemnation on the part of God, Israel had retained these high places, - had not abolished them to this day. - Ezekiel 20:30 and Ezekiel 20:31 facilitate the transition from the first part of this word of God to the second. What has already been said in vv. 5-29 concerning the idolatry of the people, from the time of its election onwards, is here expressly applied to the existing generation, and carries with it the declaration to them, that inasmuch as they are defiling themselves by idolatry, as their fathers did, Jehovah cannot permit Himself to be inquired of by them. The thought is couched in the form of a question, to express astonishment that those who denied the Lord, and dishonoured Him by their idolatry, should nevertheless imagine that they could obtain revelations from Him. The lifting up (שׂאת, from נשׂא) of gifts signifies the offering of sacrifices upon the altars of the high places. For Ezekiel 20:31, compare Ezekiel 20:3. - With this declaration God assigns the reason for the refusal to listen to idolaters, which had already been given in Ezekiel 20:3. But it does not rest with this refusal. God now proceeds to disclose to them the thoughts of their own hearts, and announces to them that He will refine them by severe judgments, and bring them thereby to repentance of their sins, that He may then gather them out of the dispersion, and make them partakers of the promised salvation as a people willingly serving Him. - In this way do Ezekiel 20:32-44 cast a prophetic glance over the whole of the future history of Israel.

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