Elevate site, usually found on the top of a mountain or hill; most high places were Canaanite places of pagan worship.
HEATHEN WORSHIP AT THE HIGH PLACE: The average high place would have an altar (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chron 14:3), a carved wooden pole that depicted the female goddess of fertility (Asherah), a stone pillar symbolizing the male deity (2 Kings 3:2), other idols (2 Kings 12:31; 13:32; 16:32-33). At these places of worship the people sacrificed animals (at some high places children were sacrificed according to Jer 7:31), burned incense to their gods, prayed, ate sacrificial meals, and were involved with male or female cultic prostitutes (2 Kings 17:8-12; 21:3-7; Hos 4:11-14). Although most high places were part of the worship of Baal, the Ammonite god Molech and the Moabite god Chemosh were also worshiped at similar high places (1 Kings 11:5-8; 2 Kings 23:10). Scripture speaks negatively about these heathen places of worship; still they played a central role in the lives of most of the people who lived in Palestine before the land was defeated by Joshua. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of high places at Megiddo, Gezer, and numerous other sites.
GOD’S HATRED OF THE HIGH PLACES: When the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, they wee ordered to destroy the high places of the people who lived in the land (Exod 23:24; 34:13; Num 33:52; Deut 7:5; 12:3) lest the Israelites be tempted to worship the Canaanite false gods and accept their immoral behavior. The Israelites were to worship God at the tabernacle at Shiloh (Josh 18:1; 1 Sam 1:3).
An exception to this practice existed in the years between the destruction of Shiloh by the Philistines and the construction of the temple in Jerusalem by Solomon. During this short period Samuel worshipped inside a city (possibly Ramah) at a high place dedicated to the worship of the God of Israel (1 Sam 9:12-25), and a group of prophets of God worshiped at the “hill of God” (1 Sam 10:5, probably Gibeah or Gibeon). David and Solomon worshiped the God of Israel at the high place at Gibeon where the tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering were located (1 Chron 16:1-4, 37-40; 21:29; 2 Chron 1:3-4, 13).
FALSE WORSHIP AT HIGH PLACES IN JUDAH: After the temple was constructed, the people were to worship God at this place He had chosen (Deut 12:1-14), but Solomon build high places for the gods of his foreign wives and even worshiped there himself (1 Kings 11:1-8). Because of the seriousness of this sin, God divided the nation by removing 10 tribes from the kingdom of his son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:9-13, 29-38). Following this, even new king that ruled in the Southern Kingdom of Judah and in the Northern Kingdom of Israel was evaluated in the books of Kings and Chronicles according to what they did with the high places where false gods were worshiped.
FASLE WORSHIPED AT HIGH PLACES IN ISRAEL: Where Jeroboam created the new kingdom of Israel after the death of Solomon, he put two golden calves at high places at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-32). An unnamed man of God came to Bethel and pronounced God’s curse on this high place (1 Kings 13:1-3), but the following kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel followed in the ways of Jeroboam and did not removed the high places where the false gods were worshiped.
The Israelite prophets also condemned the high places of Moab (Isa 15:2; 16:12), Judah (Jer 31; 17:1-3; 19:3-5; 32:35), and Israel (Ezek 6:3,6;20:29-31; Hos 10:8; Amos 7:9) because they were places of sin where false gods were worshiped.