This is a very difficult verse, and is variously translated. Take the following instances: - For from his youth he (the male orphan) was brought up with me as a father. Yea, I have guided her (the female orphan) from her mother's womb - Heath.
Nam a pueris educavit me commiseratio; jam inde ab utero matris meae illa me deduxit - Houbigant.
"For commiseration educated me from my childhood;
And she brought me up even from my mother's womb."
This is agreeable to the Vulgate.
"Behold, from my youth calamity hath quickened me;
Even from my mother's womb have I distributed it."
This is Mr. Goods version, and is widely different from the above.
For mercy grewe up with me fro my youth,
And compassion fro my mother's wombe.
Ὁτι εκ νεοτητος μου εξετρεφον ὡς πατηρ, και εκ γαστρος μητρος μου ὡδηγησα - Septuagint. "For from my youth I nourished them as a father; and I was their guide from my mother's womb."
The Syriac. - "For from my childhood he educated me in distresses, and from the womb of my mother in groans." The Arabic is nearly the same.
The general meaning may be gathered from the above; but who can reconcile such discordant translations?
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.