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. 9 If my heart has been befooled about a woman,

And if I lay in wait at my neighbour's door:

10 Let my wife grind unto another,

And let others bow down over her.

11 For this is an infamous act,

And this is a crime to be brought before judges;

12 Yea, it is a fire that consumeth to the abyss,

And should root out all my increase.

As he has guarded himself against defiling virgin innocence by lascivious glances, so is he also conscious of having made no attempt to trespass upon the marriage relationship of his neighbour (רע as in the Decalogue, Exodus 20:17): his heart was not persuaded, or he did not allow his heart to be persuaded (נפתּה like πείθεσθαι), i.e., misled, on account of a woman (אשּׁה as אשׁת אישׁ, in post-bibl. usage, of another's wife), and he lay not in wait (according to the manner of adulterous lovers described at Job 24:15, which see) at his neighbour's door. We may here, with Wetzstein, compare the like-minded confession in a poem of Muhdi ibn-Muhammel: Arab. mâ nabb klb 'l-jâr mnâ ẇlâ ‛awâ, i.e., "The neighbour's dog never barked (נב, Beduin equivalent to נבח in the Syrian towns and villages) on our account (because we have gone by night with an evil design to his tent), and it never howled (being beaten by us, to make it cease its barking lest it should betray us)." In Job 31:10 follows the punishment which he wishes might overtake him in case he had acted thus: "may my wife grind to another," i.e., may she become his "maid behind the mill," Exodus 11:5, comp. Isaiah 47:2, who must allow herself to be used for everything; ἀλετρίς and a common low woman (comp. Plutarch, non posse suav. viv. c. 21, καὶ παχυσκελὴς ἀλετρὶς πρὸς μύλην κινουμένη) are almost one and the same. On the other hand, the Targ. (coeat cum alio), lxx (euphemistically ἀρέσαι ἑτέρῳ, not, as the Syr. Hexapl. shows, ἀλέσαι), and Jer. (scortum sit alterius), and in like manner Saad., Gecat., understand תּטחן directly of carnal surrender; and, in fact, according to the traditional opinion, b. Sota 10a: אין טחינה אלא לשׁון עבירה, i.e., "טחן everywhere in Scripture is intended of (carnal) trespass." With reference to Judges 16:21 and Lamentations 5:13 (where טחון, like Arab. ṭaḥûn, signifies the upper mill-stone, or in gen. the mill), this is certainly incorrect; the parallel, as well as Deuteronomy 28:30, favours this rendering of the word in the obscene sense of μύλλειν, molere, in this passage, which also is seen under the Arab. synon. of grinding, Arab. dahaka (trudere); according to which it would have to be interpreted: let her grind to another, i.e., serve him as it were as a nether mill-stone. The verb טחן, used elsewhere (in Talmud.) of the man, would here be transferred to the woman, like as it is used of the mill itself as that which grinds. This rendering is therefore not refuted by its being תּטחן and not תּטּחן. Moreover, the word thus understood is not unworthy of the poet, since he designedly makes Job seize the strongest expressions. Among moderns, תטחן is thus tropically explained by Ew., Umbr., Hahn, and a few others, but most expositors prefer the proper sense, in connection with which molat certainly, especially with respect to Job 31:9, is also equivalent to fiat pellex. It is hard to decide; nevertheless the preponderance of reasons seems to us to be on the side of the traditional tropical rendering, by the side of which Job 31:10 is not attached in progressive, but in synonymous parallelism: et super ea incurvent se alii, כּרע of the man, as in the phrase Arab. kr‛t 'l-mrât 'lâ 'l-rjl (curvat se mulier ad virum) of the acquiescence of the woman; אחרין is a poetical Aramaism, Ew. 177, a. The sin of adultery, in case he had committed it, ought to be punished by another taking possession of his own wife, for that (הוּא a neutral masc., Keri היא in accordance with the fem. of the following predicate, comp. Leviticus 18:17) is an infamous act, and that (היא referring back to זמּה, Keri הוּא in accordance with the masc. of the following predicate) is a crime for the judges. On this wavering between הוא and היא vid., Gesenius, Handwrterbuch, 1863, s. v. הוּא, S. 225. זמּה is the usual Thora-word for the shameless subtle encroachments of sensual desires (vid., Saalschtz, Mosaisches Recht, S. 791f.), and פּלילים עון (not עון), according to the usual view equivalent to crimen et crimen quidem judicum (however, on the form of connection intentionally avoided here, where the genitival relation might easily give an erroneous sense, vid., Ges. 116, rem.), signifies a crime which falls within the province of the penal code, for which in Job 31:28 it is less harshly עון פּלילי: a judicial, i.e., criminal offence. פּלילים is, moreover, not the plur. of פּלילי (Kimchi), but of פּליל, an arbitrator (root פל, findere, dirimere).

The confirmatory clause, Job 31:12, is co-ordinate with the preceding: for it (this criminal, adulterous enterprise) is a fire, a fire consuming him who allows the sparks of sinful desire to rise up within him (Proverbs 6:27.; Sir. 9:8), which devours even to the bottom of the abyss, not resting before it has dragged him whom it has seized down with it into the deepest depth of ruin, and as it were melted him away, and which ought to root out all my produce (all the fruit of my labour).

(Note: It is something characteristically Semitic to express the notion of destruction by the figure of burning up with fire [vid. supra, p. 449, note], and it is so much used in the present day as a natural inalienable form of thought, that in curses and imprecations everything, without distinction of the object, is to be burned; e.g., juhrik, may (God) burn up, or juhrak, ought to burn, bilâduh, his native country, bedenuh, his body, ‛ênuh, his eye, shawâribuh, his moustache (i.e., his honour), nefesuh, his breath, ‛omruh, his life, etc. - Wetzst.)

The function of ב is questionable. Ew. (217, f) explains it as local: in my whole revenue, i.e., throughout my whole domain. But it can also be Beth objecti, whether it be that the obj. is conceived as the means of the action (vid., on Job 16:4-5, Job 16:10; Job 20:20), or that, "corresponding to the Greek genitive, it does not express an entire full coincidence, but an action about and upon the object" (Ew. 217, S. 557). We take it as Beth obj. in the latter sense, after the analogy of the so-called pleonastic Arab. b (e.g., qaraa bi-suwari, he has practised the act of reading upon the Suras of the Koran); and which ought to undertake the act of outrooting upon my whole produce.

(Note: On this pleonastic Beth obj. (el-Bâ el-mezı̂de) vid., Samachschari's Mufassal, ed. Broch, pp. 125, 132 (according to which it serves "to give intensity and speciality"), and Beidhwi's observation on Sur. ii. 191. The most usual example for it is alqa bi-jedeihi ila et-tahlike, he has plunged his hands, i.e., himself, into ruin. The Bâ el-megâz (the metaphorical Beth obj.) is similar; it is used where the verb has not its most natural signification but a metaphorical one, e.g., ashada bidhikrihi, he has strengthened his memory: comp. De Sacy, Chrestomathie Arabe, i. 397.)

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