8. Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.
8. Galaad civitas operantium iniquitatem, astuta a sanguine (ad verbum ita est, vel,retenta a sanguine; alii vertunt, supplantata a sanguine; alii, inquinata a sanguine.)
I shall first speak of the subject, and then something shall be added in its place of the words. The Prophet here notices, no doubt, something special against Gilead, which through the imperfection of history is now to us obscure. But in the first place, we must remember, that Gilead was one of the cities of refuge; and the Levites possessed these cities, which were destined for fugitives. If any one killed a man by chance, that the relatives might not take revenge, the Lord provided that he should flee to one of these cities appointed for his safety. He was there safe among the Levites: and the Levites received him under their protection, the matter being previously tried; for a legal hearing of the cause must have preceded as to whether he who had killed a man was innocent. We must then first remember that this city was occupied by the Levites and the priests; and they ought to have been examples to all others; for as Christ calls his disciples the light of the world, so the Lord had chosen the priests for this purpose, that they might carry a torch before all the people. Since then the highest sanctity ought to have shone forth in the priests, it was quite monstrous that they were like robbers, and that the holy city, which was as it were the sanctuary of God, became a den of thieves.
It was then for this reason that the Prophet especially inveighs against the city Gilead, and says Gilead is a city of the workers of iniquity, and is covered with blood. But if Gilead was so corrupt, what must have been the case with the other cities? It is then the same as if the Prophet had said, "Where shall I begin? If I reprove the people indiscriminately, the priests will then think that they are spared, because they are innocent; yea, that they are wholly without blame: nay," he says, "the priests are the most abandoned, they are even the ringleaders of robbers. Since then so great corruptions prevail among the order of priests, in whom the highest sanctity ought to have shone forth, how great must be the licentiousness of the people in all kinds of wickedness? And then what must be said of other cities, since Gilead is so bad, which God has consecrated for a peculiar purpose, that it might be a sort of sanctuary? Since then Gilead is a den of robbers, what must be the other cities?" We now comprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
"Polluted with blood,"Mdm hbwqe, okube medam: bqe, okob, in Hebrew, means "to deceive," and also, "to hold" or "retain." bqe, okob, is the sole of the foot; hence bqe, okob, signifies "to supplant." And there is no doubt but that "to deceive" is its meaning metaphorically. I will now come to the meaning of the Prophet; he says that the city was Mdm hbwqe, okube, medan; some say, "deceptive in blood," because they did not openly kill men, but by lying in wait for them; and hence they elicit this sense. But I approve more of what they hold who say, that the city was "full of blood;" not that such is the strict sense of the Hebrew word; but we may properly render it, "occupied by blood." Why so? Because bqe, okob, as I have said, means sometimes to hold, to stay, and to hinder. We may then properly and fitly say, that Gilead was "occupied" or "possessed by blood." But here follows a clearer and a fuller explanation of this sentence --