9. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.
9. Et sicut expectant latrones hominum, societas sacerdotum (vel, factio;) in via trucidant consensu, quia cogitationem (aut, scelus) perficiunt.
The Prophet pursues more at large what he had briefly touched; for he does, not now confine himself to the common people, but directs his accusation against the sacerdotal order. |See,| he says, |the priests conspire among themselves like robbers, that they may slay wretched men, who may meet them in the way.| It is indeed certain that the Prophet speaks not here of open murders; for it is not credible that the priests had proceeded into so great a licentiousness, that Gilead had become a slaughter-house. But the Prophets, we know, are thus wont to speak, whenever they upbraid men with being sanguinary and cruel; they compare them to robbers, and that justly. Hence he says, The faction of the priests kill men in the way, as if they were robbers conspiring together. And then he shows that the priests were so void of every thing like the fear of God, that they perpetrated every kind of cruelty as if they were wholly given to robberies. This is the meaning.
The word skmh, shicame, is no doubt taken by the Prophet for |consent.| What is meant by skm, shicam, is properly the |shoulder;| but it is metaphorically changed into the sense which I have mentioned; as it is in the Zephaniah 3 They shall serve the Lord skm 'chd, shicam ached, with one shoulder;' that is, |with one consent.| So also in this place, the priests conspire together skmh, shicame, with consent.| For they who think that the name of a place is intended are much mistaken.
Now in the last clause of the verse it is made evident why the Prophet had said that the priests were like robbers, because,' he says, they do the thought,' or wickedness.' The verb to zmm, zamem signifies |to think,| as it has been already said: hence zmh, zame is |thought| in general; but is often taken by the Hebrews in a bad sense, for a |bad design,| or |wicked trick:| They do then their conceived wickedness We hence learn that they were not open robbers, and publicly infamous in the sight of men, but that they were robbers before God, because the city was full of wicked devices, which were there concocted; and since they executed their schemes, it is justly said of them by the Prophet, that they imitated the licentiousness of robbers. Let us now go on --