Hosea 8:12

12. I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.

12. Scripsi ei pretiosa legis meae, sicut alienum reputata sunt (quasi aliquid extraneum reputatum fuit.)


The Prophet shows here briefly, how we ought to judge of divine worship, and thus intends to cut off the handle from all devices, by which men usually deceive themselves, and form disguises, when at any time they are reproved. For he sets the law of God, and the rule it prescribes, in opposition to all the inventions of men. Men think God unjust, except he receives as good and legitimate whatever they imagine to be so; but God, as it is said in another place, prefers obedience to all sacrifices. Hence the Prophet now declares, that all the superstitions, which then prevailed among the people of Israel, were condemned before God; for they obeyed not the law, but had spurious and perverted modes of worship, which they had invented for themselves. We then see the connection of what the Prophet says: he had said in the last verse, that they had multiplied altars for the purpose of sinning; but so great, as I have said, was the obstinacy of the people, that they would by no means bear this to be told to them; he then adds in the person of God, that his law had been given them, and that they had departed from it.

We hence see, that there is no need of using many words in contending with the superstitious, who daringly devise various kinds of worship, and wholly different from what God commands; for they are to be distinctly pressed with this one thing, that obedience is of more account with God than sacrifices, and further, that there is a certain rule contained in the law, and that God not only bids us to worship him, but also teaches us the way, from which it is not lawful to depart. Since, then, the will of God is known and made plain, why should we now dispute with men, who close their eyes and wilfully turn aside, and deign not to pay any regard to God? I have written then, the Lord says: and to give this truth more weight, he introduces God as the speaker. It would have indeed been enough to say, "God has delivered to you his law, why should you not seek knowledge from this law, rather than from your own carnal judgment? Why do you wish thus licentiously to wander, as if no restraint has been put upon you?" But it is a more emphatical way of speaking, when God himself says, I have written my law, but they have counted it as something foreign; that is, as if it did not belong to them.

But he says, that he had written to Israel. He does not simply mention writing, but says, that the treasure had been deposited among the people of Israel; and the worse the people were, because they acknowledged not that so great an honor had been conferred on them, for this was their peculiar inheritance. I have written then my law, "and I have not written it indiscriminately for all, but have written it for my elect people; but they have counted it as something extraneous." For the word may be rendered in either way.

He adds, The great things, or, the precious, or, the honorable things of my law. Had he said, "I have written to you my law," the legislator himself was doubtless worthy, to whom all ought to submit with the greatest reverence, and to form their whole life according to his will; but the Lord here extols his own law by a splendid eulogy, and this he does to repress the wickedness of men, who obscure its dignity and excellency: I have written, he says, the great things of my law. "How much soever they may despise my law, I have yet set forth in it a wisdom which ought to be admired by the whole world; I have in it brought to light the secrets of heavenly wisdom. Since then it is so, what excuse can there be for the Israelites for despising my law?" He says, that they counted it as something foreign, when yet they had been brought up under its teaching, and the Lord had called them to himself from their very infancy. Since then they ought to have acknowledged the law of God as a banner, under which the Lord preserved them, he here reproaches them for having counted it as something extraneous. It then follows --