Job 31:17
Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;
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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.Or have eaten my morsel myself alone - If I have not imparted what I had though ever so small, to others. This was in accordance with the Oriental laws of hospitality. It is regarded as a fixed law among the Arabians, that the guest shall always be helped first, and to that which is best; and no matter how needy the family may be, or how much distressed with hunger, the settled laws of hospitality demand that the stranger-guest shall have the first and best portion. Dr. Robinson, in his "Biblical Researches," gives an amusing instance of the extent to which this law is carried, and the sternness with which it is executed among the Arabs. In the journey from Suez to Mount Sinai, intending to furnish a supper for the Arabs in their employ, he and his fellow-travelers had bought a kid, and led it along to the place of their encampment. At night the kid was killed and roasted, and the Arabs were anticipating a savory supper.

But those of whom they had bought the kid, learned in some way that they were to encamp near, and naturally concluded that the kid was bought to be eaten, and followed them to the place of encampment, to the number of five or six persons. "Now the stern law of Arabian hospitality demands, that whenever a guest is present at a meal, whether there be much or little, the first and best portion must be laid before the stranger. In this instance the five or six guests attained their object, and had not only the selling of the kid, but also the eating of it, while our poor Arabs, whose mouths had long been watering with expectation, were forced to take up with the fragments." Vol. 1:118. There is often, indeed, much ostentation in the hospitality of the Orientals, but the law is stern and inflexible. "No sooner," says Shaw (Travels, vol. 1:p. 20), "was our food prepared, than one of the Arabs, having placed himself on the highest spot of ground in the neighborhood, called out thrice with a loud voice to all their brethren, the sons of the faithful, to come and partake of it; though none of them were in view, or perhaps within a hundred miles of them." The great law of hospitality Job says he had carefully observed, and had not withheld what he had from the poor and the fatherless.

17. Arabian rules of hospitality require the stranger to be helped first, and to the best. Eaten my morsel myself alone; without communicating part of my provisions or estate to the poor, as it follows.

The fatherless: this one kind of necessitous persons is put for all the rest.

Or have eaten my morsel myself alone,.... Though he had kept no doubt a plentiful table in the time of his prosperity suitable to his circumstances, yet had been no luxurious person, and therefore calls provisions a "morsel"; however, be it what it would, more or less, he did not eat it alone; what he had for himself the poor had a share of it with him, and the same he ate himself he gave to them:

and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof: meaning the poor fatherless: for as to the rich fatherless, it was no charity to feed them: this verse contradicts the charge exhibited against him, Job 22:7.

Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;
Verse 17. - Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof. With the widow, the fatherless is usually conjoined, as an equal object of compassion (see Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3; Ezekiel 22:7; Zechariah 7:10, etc.). Eliphaz had specially charged Job with oppression of the fatherless (Job 22:9), and his charge had been denied by Job (Job 29:12). He now claims to have always shared his bread with orphans, and made them partakers or his abundance. Job 31:1716 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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