Job 31:16
If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;
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Job 31:16-17. If I have withheld the poor, &c. — If I have denied them what they desired of me, either in justice or from necessity; for he was under no obligation to grant their vain or inordinate desires. Or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail — With tedious expectation of my justice or charity. I durst neither deny nor delay my help, when they needed or required it. Or have eaten my morsel alone — Without communicating part of my provisions or property to the poor, as it follows; and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof — This one kind of necessitous persons is put for all the rest. Job is most large upon these heads of doing justice to the widows and fatherless, and relieving the poor, because Eliphaz had most particularly accused him in these respects.

31:16-23 Job's conscience gave testimony concerning his just and charitable behaviour toward the poor. He is most large upon this head, because in this matter he was particularly accused. He was tender of all, and hurtful to none. Notice the principles by which Job was restrained from being uncharitable and unmerciful. He stood in awe of the Lord, as certainly against him, if he should wrong the poor. Regard to worldly interests may restrain a man from actual crimes; but the grace of God alone can make him hate, dread, and shun sinful thoughts and desires.If I have withheld the poor from their desire - Job now turns to another class of virtues, regarded also as of great importance in the patriarchal ages, kindness to the poor and the afflicted; to the fatherless and the widow. He appeals to his former life on this subject; affirms that he had a good conscience in the recollection of his dealings with them, and impliedly declares that it could not have been for any deficiency in the exercise of these virtues that his calamities had come upon him. The meaning here is, that he had not denied to the poor their wish. If they had come and desired bread of him, he had not withheld it; see Job 22:7.

Or caused the eyes of the widow to fail - That is, I have not frustrated her hopes, or disappointed her expectations, when she has looked intently upon me, and desired my aid. The "failing of the eyes" refers to failing of the object of their expectation; or the expression means that she had not looked to him in vain; see Job 11:20.

16. fail—in the vain expectation of relief (Job 11:20). Withheld the poor from their desire, i.e. denied them what they desired of me, either in justice or from necessity; for he was not obliged to grant their vain or inordinate desires.

Caused the eyes of the widow to fail, to wit, with tedious expectation of my justice or charity. I durst neither deny nor delay my help when they required and needed it.

If I have withheld the poor from their desire,.... Their reasonable desires, and which it was in his power to grant; as when they desired a piece of bread, being hungry, or clothes to cover them, being naked; but not unreasonable desires, seeking and asking great things for themselves, or unlimited and unbounded ones, such as the two sons of Zebedee desired of Christ, Mark 10:35;

or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; through long waiting for, and expecting help and succour from him, and at last disappointed. Job did not use the widow in such a manner as to give her reason to hope for relief or counsel from him she came for, and make her wait long, and then send her away empty, as he was charged, Job 22:9; but he soon dispatched her, by granting her what she sued to him for.

If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow {m} to fail;

(m) By long waiting for her request.

16. eyes of the widow to fail] i. e. with looking in vain for help, Psalm 69:3.

Verse 16. - If I have withheld the poor from their desire. As Eliphaz had maintained (Job 22:6, 7), and as Job had already denied (Job 29:12, 16). The duty of relieving the poor, solemnly enjoined upon the people of Israel in the Law (Deuteronomy 15:7-11), was generally admitted by the civilized nations of antiquity. In Egypt it was especially insisted on. "The Egyptian's duties to mankind," says Dr. Birch, "were comprised in giving bread to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, oil to the wounded, and burial to the dead" ('Egypt from the Earliest Times,' p. 46). Or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail. "Thou hast sent widows away empty," was one of the accusations of Eliphaz (Job 22:9). "I caused the widow's heart," replied Job, "to sing for joy" (Job 29:13). The widow's weakness has always been felt to give her a special claim on man's benevolence (see Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:11, 14; Deuteronomy 24:19; Deuteronomy 26:12, 13; Psalm 146:9; Proverbs 15:25; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 7:6; Malachi 3:5; 1 Timothy 5:16; James 1:27). Job 31:1616 If I held back the poor from what they desired,

And caused the eyes of the widow to languish,

17 And ate my morsel alone

Without letting the fatherless eat thereof: -

18 No indeed, from my youth he grew up to me as to a father,

And from my mother's womb I guided her -

The whole strophe is the hypothetical antecedent of the imprecative conclusion, Job 31:22, which closes the following strophe. Since מנע דּבר ממּנוּ, cohibere aliquid ab aliquo (Job 22:7), is said as much in accordance with the usage of the language as מנעו מדּבר, cohibere aliquem ab aliquo (Numbers 24:11; Ecclesiastes 2:10), in the sense of denegare alicui aliquid, there is no reason for taking מחפץ דּלּים together as a genitival clause (a voto tenuium), as the accentuation requires it. On חפץ, vid., on Job 21:21; it signifies solicitude (what is ardently desired) and business, here the former: what is ever the interest and want of the poor (the reduced or those without means). From such like things he does not keep the poor back, i.e., does not refuse them; and the eyes of the widow he did not cause or allow to languish (כּלּה, to bring to an end, i.e., cause to languish, of the eyes, as Leviticus 26:16; 1 Samuel 2:33); he let not their longing for assistance be consumed of itself, let not the fountain of their tears become dry without effect. If he had done the opposite, if he had eaten his bread (פּת equals פּת לחם) alone, and not allowed the orphan to eat of it with him - but no, he had not acted thus; on the contrary (כּי as Psalm 130:4 and frequently), he (the parentless one) grew up to him (גּדלני equals גּדל לּי, Ges. 121, 4, according to Ew. 315, b, "by the interweaving of the dialects of the people into the ancient form of the declining language;" perhaps it is more correct to say it is by virtue of a poetic, forced, and rare brevity of expression) as to a father ( equals לאב כּמו), and from his mother's womb he guided her, the helpless and defenceless widow, like a faithful child leading its sick or aged mother. The hyperbolical expression מבּטן אמּי dates this sympathizing and active charity back to the very beginning of Job's life. He means to say that it is in-born to him, and he has exercised it ever since he was first able to do so. The brevity of the form גּדלני, brief to incorrectness, might be removed by the pointing גּדּלני (Olsh.): from my youth up he (the fatherless one) honoured me as a father; and גּדּלני (instead of כּבּדני would be explained by the consideration, that a veneration is meant that attributed a dignity which exceed his age to the נער who was not yet old enough to be a father. But גּדּל signifies "to cause to grow" in such a connection elsewhere (parall. רומם, to raise), wherefore lxx translates ἐξέτρεφον (גּדּלתּי); and גּדלני has similar examples of the construction of intransitives with the acc. instead of the dat. (especially Zechariah 7:5) in its favour: they became me great, i.e., became great in respect of me. Other ways of getting over the difficulty are hardly worth mentioning: the Syriac version reads כּאב (pain) and אנחות; Raschi makes Job 31:18, the idea of benevolence, the subj., and Job 31:18 (as מדּה, attribute) the obj. The suff. of אנחנּה Schlottm. refers to the female orphan; but Job refers again to the orphan in the following strophe, and the reference to the widow, more natural here on account of the gender, has nothing against it. The choice of the verb (comp. Job 38:32) also corresponds to such a reference, since the Hiph. has an intensified Kal-signification here.

(Note: זכר and הזכיר, to remember; זרע and הזריע, to sow, to cover with seed; חרשׁ and החרישׁ, both in the signification silere and fabricari; לעג and הלעיג, to mock, Job 21:3; משׁל and המשׁיל, dominari, Job 25:2; נטה and הטה, to extend, to bow; קנה ;w and הקנה (to obtain by purchase); קצר and הקציר, to reap, Job 24:6, are all similar. In Arab. the Kal nahaituhu signifies I put him aside by going on one side (nahw or nâhije), the Hiph. anhaituhu, I put him aside by bringing him to the side (comp. ינחם, Job 12:23).)

From earliest youth, so far back as he can remember, he was wont to behave like a father to the orphan, and like a child to the widow.

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