XIX.21 How the laws should be relative to ethos and manners

Only sin­gu­lar ins­ti­tu­tions thus conflate things that are natu­rally sepa­ra­ted : laws, ethos, and man­ners ; but even sepa­ra­ted, they never­the­less have consi­de­ra­ble rela­tion­ships bet­ween them.

Solon was asked whe­ther the laws he had given to the Athenians were the best. “I have given them,” he replied, “the best of those they could tole­rate” : an excel­lent reply that should be heard by all legis­la­tors. When divine wis­dom says to the Jewish peo­ple : “I have given you pre­cepts which are not good,”1 that means that their good­ness was only rela­tive, which era­ses all the dif­fi­culties that can be rai­sed about the laws of Moses.

[Ezekiel 20:25.]