The Hebrew term giv·ʽahʹ and the Greek term bou·nosʹ refer to a natural elevation of earth’s surface, lower than a mountain. Rounded hills are especially noticeable in Judea, though they are also found in other parts of Palestine.
On occasion hills served as burial places and places for concealment. (Jos 24:33; 1Sa 23:19; 26:1) Homes and towns were frequently built on them, as was the house of Abinadab where the Ark was kept for some 70 years.—1Sa 7:1, 2.
In highlighting the greatness of the Almighty, the prophet Isaiah shows that Jehovah can, in effect, ‘weigh the hills in the scales.’ (Isa 40:12) The mountains and hills are described as “eternal” and “indefinitely lasting,” but even greater permanence than this is ascribed to God’s loving-kindness and covenant of peace.—Isa 54:10; Ge 49:26; De 33:15.
Before undertaking a journey, Eastern rulers would often send out men to prepare the way before them by removing stones, filling up depressions, smoothing out rough places, and, at times, even leveling hills. In a figurative sense, the hills were leveled in making possible the unhindered return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem in 537 B.C.E. This was also prophetic of the preparatory work done by John the Baptizer before the appearance of the Messiah.—Isa 40:4; Lu 3:1-6.
It was often on hills that the Israelites, in imitation of the Canaanites, carried on idolatrous worship. (De 12:2; 1Ki 14:23; 2Ki 17:9, 10; Isa 65:7; Jer 2:20; 17:1-3; Eze 6:13; 20:28; Ho 4:13) This explains the prophetic response to the appeal for Israel to return to Jehovah: “Here we are! We have come to you, for you, O Jehovah, are our God. Truly the hills as well as the turmoil on the mountains belong to falsehood.”—Jer 3:22, 23.
Most appropriately, therefore, both Isaiah and Micah foretold that “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” would become firmly established above the top of the mountains and would be lifted up above the hills. (Isa 2:2; Mic 4:1) In sharp contrast with this, those not doing Jehovah’s will at the time of his executional work will “say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall over us!’”—Ho 10:8; Lu 23:30; compare Isa 2:19; Re 6:16, 17.