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In the NLT, the two forms of the same word are translated as "Bamoth-baal":

[Num 22:41 NLT] (41) The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-baal. From there he could see some of the people of Israel spread out below him.

Partial entry in interlinear

The Greek has:

Brenton(i) 41 And it was morning; and Balac took Balaam, and brought him up to the pillar of Baal, [τὴν στήλην τοῦ Βααλ]), and shewed him thence a part of the people.

It seems to be mostly translated as "the high places of Baal" but it seems to me that it refers to a stepped temple/ziggurat.

Please see this related article in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

And I'm curious how the etymology leads to the different readings as "high places" and "bamoth" and "Ba'al".

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  • In Numbers 22:41 : "Bamot" (בָּמ֣וֹת) = "[the] heights" ; this term is also found in Numbers 21:20 "And-from-[the] heights" (Vu-Mi-Bamot, וּמִבָּמ֗וֹת) – חִידָה Dec 21 '20 at 20:13
  • Thanks. How might it be etymologically related to "Ba'al"? – Ruminator Dec 21 '20 at 20:16
  • "Bamot" (בָּמ֣וֹת) is the plural form of "Bamah" (בָּמָֽה) = "[the] High place" on which burnt offerings were sacrificed. - referenced in [1 Samuel 9:12] - "Bamot" does not always reference the Ba'al worship. * Yisraelites also used locations called "Ha-Bamah" ( הַבָּמָ֖ה ) = "The-High place" for their own burnt offerings (without the presence of idols) - referenced in [1 Samuel 9:25]. – חִידָה Dec 21 '20 at 20:44
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    While the etymology is interesting, wouldn't it, in the context of the ancient world, refer to a ziggurat? – Ruminator Dec 21 '20 at 20:46
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In Numbers 22:41 : "Bamot" (בָּמ֣וֹת) = "[the] heights" is a term also found in Numbers 21:20 "And-from-[the] heights" (Umi-Bamot, וּמִבָּמ֗וֹת). "Bamot" (בָּמ֣וֹת) is the plural form of "Bamah" (בָּמָֽה) = "[the] High place" on which burnt offerings were sacrificed. - referenced in [1 Samuel 9:12]

  • "Bamot" (בָּמ֣וֹת) does not always reference the Ba'al worship. * Yisraelites also used locations called "Ha-Bamah" ( הַבָּמָ֖ה ) = "The-High place" for their own burnt offerings (without the presence of idols) - referenced in [1 Samuel 9:25].

Ha-Bamah (הַבָּמָ֖ה) for Yisraelites would not have been a Ziggurat - since Ziggurat requires cut stones for its altar, which are banned for burnt offerings (on a singular high place) in [Deuteronomy 27:5-6]: [5] "And there, you shall build an altar to YHVH, your God, an altar of stones. You shall not wield any iron upon them." ( וּבָנִ֤יתָ שָּׁם֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ מִזְבַּ֣ח אֲבָנִ֔ים לֹֽא־תָנִ֥יף עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם בַּרְזֶֽל )

[6] "You shall build the altar of YHVH, your God, out of whole stones. And on it, you shall offer up burnt offerings to YHVH, your God." ( אֲבָנִ֤ים שְׁלֵמוֹת֙ תִּבְנֶ֔ה אֶת־מִזְבַּ֖ח יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ וְהַֽעֲלִ֤יתָ עָלָיו֙ עוֹלֹ֔ת לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ )

However - "Bamot Ba'al" ( בָּמ֣וֹת בָּ֑עַל ) alludes to plural platforms / "heights" (בָּמ֣וֹת) not just a single platform / "height"(בָּמָֽה) referenced in Numbers 22:41. Ziggurat structures were constructed of 7 stages "high places" (for multiple altars made with cut stones) like the 7 altars made by Balaq (בָּלָ֔ק) in Numbers 23:1-2.

Numbers / Bamidbar 23:1 : Seven Altars for Seven Stages of a Ziggurat.

Balaam said to Balaq, "Build me [seven altars] here, and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams." (וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בִּלְעָם֙ אֶל־בָּלָ֔ק בְּנֵה־לִ֥י בָזֶ֖ה שִׁבְעָ֣ה מִזְבְּחֹ֑ת וְהָכֵ֥ן לִי֙ בָּזֶ֔ה שִׁבְעָ֥ה פָרִ֖ים וְשִׁבְעָ֥ה אֵילִֽים)
  • It is possible the first set of Seven Altars (Shib'ah Mizbechot, שִׁבְעָ֣ה מִזְבְּחֹ֑ת) at "Bamot Ba'al" ( בָּמ֣וֹת בָּ֑עַל ) reference 7-Stages of a Ziggurat located in/near Qiryat Chuzot (קִרְיַ֥ת חֻצֽוֹת) "[the] city of streets".
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    Can you please explain why two versions of the word appear consecutively, or what the interlinear got wrong? Also, why the plural, "heights"? Thanks. – Ruminator Dec 21 '20 at 21:28
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    Baal was the primary god of the Phoenicians. The high places were also used by other nations to worship their god. The Law of Moses forbid worship/sacrifices at the high places. – Perry Webb Dec 22 '20 at 10:30

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