HIGH PLACES (Ileb. &moth), the name given in Scripture to certain places where illicit worship was performed by the people of Israel. The practice of erecting altars on elevated situations was common in ancient tithes, and originated in the belief that hill-tops were nearer heaven, and, therefore, the most favorable places for prayer and incense. The fathers of the•Jewish nation acted in this respect just like their neighbors. Abraham, we are told, built an altar ,to the Lord on a mountain near Bethel. The Mosaic law, however, true to its grand 'aim of secur ing national strength and purity by a vigorous system of isolation, prohibited the practice for the future, on the ground that the spots which the Israelites would be compelled to choose had been already polluted by idolatrous services. In spite of the vehemence with which the high places are again and again denounced in the Pentateuch, the prithibition seems to have been a long time in producing the desired effect—if, indeed, it ever really accomplished it. During the whole eventful period of the judges, it was not only practically obsolete, but we actually find that both Gideon and Alanoah built altars on high places by divine command (Judges, vi. 25, 26;
xiii. 16-23. It also occasions much surprise to read of the violations of the injunction —among, others by Samuel at Mizpch and Bethlehem, by Saul at Gilgal, by David, by Elijah on Mt; Carmel. The explanations given by the rabbis of these contradictions between the conduct of the prophets and kings of the Hebrew people, and the com mands of their great lawgiver, are too absurd for mention. Whatever may be the true explanation, it is quite certain that worship in high places was almost universal in Judea, both during and after the titne of Solomon. The results were such as might have Wen anticipated. The people erected altars not only to Jehovah but to Baal, and from worshiping in idolatrous places, proceeded to worship idols themselves. At a later period (see books of Kings and Chronicles) a series of vigorous efforts was made by tile more pious monarchs to suppress the practice, and after the time of Josiah, it seems to have beet! finally abandoned.