Job 31:18
(For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) For from my youth he.—The pronouns refer to the fatherless of Job 31:17 and to the widow of Job 31:16.

Job 31:18. For from my youth — As soon as I was capable of managing my own affairs, and doing good to others; he was brought up with me as with a father — Under my care and protection, with all the diligence and tenderness of a father. And I have guided her — The widow, mentioned Job 31:16; from my mother’s womb — From my tender years; ever since I was capable of discerning good from evil, I have made conscience of this duty.

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.For from my youth he was brought up with me - This verse is usually regarded as a parenthesis, though very various expositions have been given of it. Some have understood it as denying that he had in any way neglected the widow and the fatherless, and affirming that the orphan had always, even from his youth, found a father in him, and the widow a guide. Others, as our translators, suppose that it is a parenthesis thrown in to indicate his general course of life, although the imprecation which he makes on himself, if he had neglected the widow and the orphan, is found in Job 31:22. Luther reads the two previous verses as questions, and this as an answer to them, and so also do Rosenmuller and Noyes. Umbreit regards this verse as a parenthesis. This is probably to be considered as the correct interpretation, for this better agrees with the Hebrew than the other proposed. It implies a denial of having neglected the widow and the orphan, but the full expression of his abhorrence of a charge of having done so, is to be found in the strong language in Job 31:22. The unusual Hebrew word גדלני gâdalniy probably stands for עמי גדל gâdal ‛imy - "he was brought up with me." This form of the word does not occur elsewhere.

As with a father - That is, he always found in me one who treated him as a father. The meaning is, that he had always had under his care those who were orphans; that from his very youth they had been accustomed to look up to him as a father; and that they had never been disappointed in him. It is the language of one who seems to have been born to rank, and who had the means of benefiting others, and who had done it all his life. This accords also with the Oriental notions of kindness - requiring that it should be shown especially to the widow and the fatherless.

I have guided her - Margin, "That is, the widow." The meaning is, that he had been her counsellor and friend.

From my mother's womb - This cannot be literally true, but it means that he had done it from early life; or as we would say, he had always done it.

18. Parenthetical: asserting that he did the contrary to the things in Job 31:16, 17.

he—the orphan.

guided her—namely, the widow, by advice and protection. On this and "a father," see Job 29:16.

From my youth; as soon as I was capable of managing my own affairs, and of doing good to others.

He was brought up with me, in my family, or at least under my care and protection.

As with a father, i.e. with all the diligence and tenderness of a father.

I have guided her, i.e. the widow, mentioned Job 31:16, and commonly joined with the fatherless.

From my mother’s womb, i.e. from my tender years; ever since I was capable of discerning good and evil, I have made conscience of this duty; and this my continuance in well-doing is a good evidence of my sincerity therein.

For from my youth he was brought up with me as with a father,.... That is, the poor or the fatherless, one or both; as soon as he was at years of discretion, and was capable of observing the distressed circumstances of others, he had a tender and compassionate regard to the poor and fatherless, and acted the part of a father to them; was as affectionately concerned for them as if he had been their father, and took such care of them as if they were his children; see Job 29:16;

and I have guided her from my mother's womb; the widow, by his counsel and advice; an hyperbolical expression, signifying how early he was a succourer of such persons, by giving his friendly advice, or needful assistance; the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "from my youth mercy grew up with me", &c. a merciful disposition, a compassionate regard to the poor and fatherless; this was as it were connatural to him; for though there is no good disposition really in man, without the grace of God, of which Job might early partake, yet there is a show of it in some persons, in comparison of others; some have a natural tender disposition to the poor, when others are naturally cruel and hardhearted to them; and so Mr. Broughton renders the words to this sense,

"for from my youth this grew with me as a father, and from my mother did I tender it:''

but the first sense seems best.

(For from my youth he was brought up with me, {n} as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;)

(n) He nourished the fatherless, and maintained the widows cause.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. he was brought up with me] Rather, he (the fatherless) grew up with me. Job probably did not achieve his greatness, he was born to it. And possibly he inherited the traditions of a great and benevolent house. And thus even from his youth he took the place toward the poor of a patron and father.

Verse 18. - For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb; i.e. I have always, so long as I can remember, protected the orphan and done my best to help the widow. It has been my habit from my earliest years so to act. The language is exaggerated; but it had, no doubt, a basis of fact to rest upon. Job was brought up in these principles. Job 31:1816 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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