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Hosea 9:15

15. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.

15. Omne malum eorum in Gilgal, quia illic odium concepi contra eos: super malitia (vel, propter malitiam) operum ipsorum, e domo mea ejiciam eos: non pergam amare eos: omnes principes eorum sunt defectores (perfidi.) Est autem elegans paranomasia in verbo שרים et שוררים, qua etiam utitur Isaias primo capite.

 

He says first, that all their evil was in Gilgal; though they thought that they had the best pretence for offering there their sacrifices to God’s honour, because it had been from old times a sacred place. He had said before that they had multiplied to themselves altars to sin, and by these to give way to sins; he now repeats the same in other words, All their evil, he says, is in Gilgal; as though he said, “They indeed obtrude on me their sacrifices, which they offer in Gilgal, and think that they avail to excuse all their wickedness. I might, perhaps, forgive them, if they were given to plunder and cruelty, and were perfidious and fraudulent, provided pure worship had continued among them, and religion had not been so entirely adulterated; but as they have changed whatever I commanded in my law, and turned this celebrated place to be the seat of the basest impiety, so that it is become, as it were, a brothel, where religion is prostituted, it is hence evident, that the whole of their wickedness is in Gilgal.”

It is certain that the people were also addicted to other crimes; but the word כל, cal, all, is to be taken for what is chief or principal. The Prophet speaks comparatively, not simply; as though he had said, that this corruption of offering sacrifices at Gilgal was more abominable in the sight of God than adulteries, or plunder, or frauds, or unjust violence, or any crime that prevailed among them. Their whole evil then was at Gilgal. But why the Prophet speaks thus, I have lately explained; and that is because superstitious men put forth their own devices, when God reproves them, “O! we have still many exercises of religion.” They bring forward these by way of compensation. But the Lord shows that he is far more grievously offended with these superstitions, with which hypocrites cover themselves as with a shield, than with a life void of every appearance of religion: for “these,” he says, “I conceived a hatred against them, on account of the wickedness of their works.”

Here again the Prophet condemns what men think to be their special holiness. Who indeed can persuade hypocrites that their fictitious modes of worship are the greatest abominations? Nay, they even extol and imagine themselves to be like angels, and, as it were, cover all their wickedness with these disguises; as we see to be the case with the Papists who think, that when they obtrude on God their many masses and other devised forms, every sort of wickedness is redeemed. Since then hypocrites are thus wont to put on a disguise before God, and at the same time flatter themselves, the Prophet here declares that they are the more hated by God for this very wickedness, of daring to corrupt and adulterate his pure worship.

He then adds, I will eject them from my house When God threatens to eject Israel from his house, it is the same as though he said, “I will wholly cast you away;” as when one cuts off a withered branch from a tree, or a diseased member from the body. It is indeed certain that the Israelites were then like bastards; for they were not worthy of any account or station in the Church, inasmuch as they had a strange temple and profane sacrifices; but as circumcision, and the priesthood in name, still remained among them, they boasted themselves to be the children of Abraham, and a holy people; hence the Prophet denounces here such a destruction, that it might appear that they in vain gloried in these superior distinctions, for God would expunge them from his catalogue. We now understand the design of the Prophet: but we shall, to-morrow, notice the remaining portion.

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