23. Make a chain; for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.
23. Fac cathenam: quia terra repleta est judicio sanguinum, et urbs repleta est violentia.
Interpreters refer the Prophet's being ordered to make a chain to the captivity; for we know that captives are accustomed to be bound with chains and fetters, or manacles. Hence they explain it that God threatens the people with exile. But the Spirit seems rather to allude to criminals, who plead their cause in chains. For the Jews had long reveled in their vices, and the absence of punishment had rendered them very audacious. Now the Prophet says, the time had come in which they were to be brought to the tribunal of God, and there to be dealt with most justly as criminals. Since, therefore, they bound criminals with chains, that they might plead their cause ignominiously -- criminals, I say, who were already, as it were, half condemned; hence the Prophet is ordered to make a chain, so that not only the people should be called upon to render all account of their wickedness, but should also be drawn, whether they wished it or not, to God's judgment-seat. And he explains himself when he says, since the land is full of the judgment of bloods. The Hebrews call judgment of bloods the material of death, when the cause is capital, and the criminal is so convicted that he cannot escape final punishment; so any capital conviction is called a judgment of blood. He says, therefore, the earth is full of a judgment of bloods, that is, is guilty of so many crimes, that it cannot escape the final vengeance. And afterwards he adds the city, which, in the general corruption of the land, ought to retain something of its purity; but he says, the city also is so full of violence, under which word are doubtless embraced all unjust oppressions -- rapines, pillage, unlawful gains, robberies, and whatever opposes justice and equity. The result is, that the people's impiety and wickedness had come to such a pitch, that they were no longer endurable by God; and hence God ascends his tribunal to exact punishment from them; and this is the chain of which he speaks. It follows --
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