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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 7442 shrine
7442 shrine

7442 shrine

A local sanctuary, often dedicated to pagan worship. Before the building of the temple the Israelites worshipped at several divinely sanctioned shrines; afterwards, worship at a central sanctuary was required. True worship of God required that pagan shrines be destroyed. It was Israel’s failure to abandon these religious sites that led to syncretism and apostasy.

Common features of pagan shrines

A location on high ground under trees Eze 6:13 Mountains were considered the dwelling- places of the gods, whilst trees were associated with fertility. See also 2Ki 17:10; Isa 1:29 sacred trees; Jer 2:20; Eze 18:11 mountain shrines; Eze 20:28

Idols and sacred symbols Isa 44:13 See also 2Ki 10:26-27; 2Ki 17:29-31; 2Ch 34:3-4; Ac 19:24

A serving priesthood 2Ki 23:5,20

Sacrifice to the deity Jer 48:35 See also 1Ki 22:43; 2Ki 12:3; 2Ki 16:4 pp 2Ch 28:4; 2Ch 28:25

Shrine-prostitution Ge 38:21-22; Dt 23:17; 1Ki 14:24; 1Ki 15:12; Job 36:14

Pagan shrines were to be destroyed

On Israel’s entry into Canaan Dt 12:2-3 See also Ex 34:13-14; Nu 33:52; Dt 7:5

As a sign of religious reformation Jdg 6:25; 2Ki 23:8-20 See also 2Ki 10:25; 2Ch 14:3; 2Ch 17:6; 2Ki 18:4

Shrines in Israel for the worship of God

Worship at the high places 1Ki 3:2-3 Following Canaanite custom, Israel set up shrines on high ground possibly, against God’s instruction, at old Baal sites. Worship at these non-legitimate sites was condemned. See also 2Ch 33:17

Worship at sites sanctioned by God Ex 20:24 See also Jdg 6:22-24; 1Sa 9:12-14; 1Sa 10:5

Examples of shrines dedicated to God Bethel: Ge 12:8; Jdg 21:2 Shiloh: Jos 18:1; Jdg 21:19 Mizpah: Jdg 20:1; 1Sa 7:6 Gibeon: 1Ki 3:4-5; 1Ch 16:39-40; 2Ch 1:13

A central place of worship was later required 2Ki 18:22 pp Isa 36:7 Following the building of the temple, worship in various scattered shrines was condemned, probably because of associations with pagan worship. See also Dt 12:4-7 The central sanctuary was, initially, the place where the tabernacle was located. Eventually this was superseded by the temple; 2Sa 7:13 pp 1Ch 17:12

Israel’s failure to abandon worship at the shrines led to apostasy

Improper worship at shrines dedicated to God Jdg 17:5 See also Jdg 18:30-31; 1Ki 12:28-31; 1Ki 13:32; 2Ki 17:32-33; 2Ch 11:15; Am 4:4

The corruption of temple worship 2Ki 23:4-7; Eze 8:14-16

Shrines dedicated to false gods 1Ki 14:23-24; Eze 8:12 See also 1Ki 11:7-8; 2Ki 21:2-3 Child sacrifice was amongst the syncretistic practices adopted by Judah: Jer 7:31; Jer 19:5; Jer 32:35
Am 5:26; Ac 7:43

Israel’s spiritual adultery Eze 16:24-25 See also Jer 3:6; Eze 16:39; Eze 18:6; Hos 4:12-13

God’s judgment on false places of worship Eze 6:3-6 See also Lev 26:30-31; Hos 10:8

See also

6243adultery, spiritual
7374high places
8747false gods
8752false worship

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