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“So why did you have me born? I wish no one had ever laid eyes on me!" (Job 10:19, MSG version)

The first sentence sounds different to me, "have someone born", never heard it used this way. I think this is a causative structure (have+something+done), such as "I had the car mended."

However, as a non-native speaker, I could not have made a sentence like this,I would probably say "Why did you give birth to me?"

But for some reason, “why did you have me born?" sounds more emmotional than "Why did you give birth to me?" Is there really a big difference between the two sentences?

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    Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation of the Christian Bible has many turns of phrase that one could call “distinctive”, or “idiosyncratic”… or just plain “weird”. This is one of them. You’re right that “have me born” is causative (versus “give birth to me”, which is specifically the action of the mother), and you’re equally right to observe that you’ve never heard is used that way! Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 11:52
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    Why did you have me born? is peculiar phrasing that could probably only naturally be addressed to a deity (or some kind of mad scientist), because it means Why did you cause me to be born? Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 11:53
  • @FumbleFingers Even "Why did you cause me to be born" feels different, because unlike with "Why did you have me born", my mind goes to a dirty place. :) Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 10:59
  • "Why did you have me?" is common English speech for the question, but "Why did you have me born" is not common, and it sounds weird because "have born" is a strange auxiliary (helper) verb construction for the act of giving birth. But since he's asking God, it makes sense to say "have me born" (or "cause me to be born") as others explain in the answers.
    – user8356
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 16:28
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    To add to @user8356 's answer, "Why did you have me?" is commonly the sort of question an anguished teen might ask, emotionally, "You hate me! You never let me go out! Why did you even have me??". There's no suggestion the parents had a definite purpose or plan. "Why did you have me born", implies a lot more purpose, and plan, and not necessarily addressed to the direct parent. A parent might just carelessly have a child. God probably doesn't. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 17:26

5 Answers 5

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The questions are different.

Job is talking to God. God didn't "give birth to Job", but you might say that God caused Job to be born.

The person who gave birth to Job would have been his mother, Bosorrha. A mother (or father) does not "have someone born".

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    This is absolutely correct - 'have' implies the involvement of a third party, since in English to 'have something done' means to get someone to do it for you. If I repaired my car I'd say 'I fixed my car' If I took it to a mechanic i'd say 'I had my car fixed.' Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 16:35
  • @BubbleRobble Do you mean exclusive involvement? If it can be inclusive of the speaker, I would think that a mother or father could involve midwives as the third parties, e.g. "I had you born with the help of Rose". To involve a place like a hospital, a father might correctly say "I had you born at Saint Louis Hospital" after ordering a chauffeur to take the mother there.
    – JoL
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 23:19
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    @JoL again, there “had” sounds like the father somehow predestined it to happen. He could say “I had your mother taken to hospital”, but that’s the end of his involvement. I don’t think either of those sentences are correct.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 9:59
  • Maybe in some dystopian future, parents will "have children born/created/cloned/produced" by putting in an order on their app for next day delivery from the Machine. The expression would work in that (hopefully fictitious) context if we accept a loose definition of being born.
    – Carl
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 11:42
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From just reading the question I didn't surmise that this referred to something biblical. Still, I thought that the two sentences are different.

"Why did you give birth to me?" can only be directed at the mother

"Why did you have me born?" can be directed at four parties: [a] the mother, [b] the father, [c] the parents or, as it was in the case of Job, [d] an outside entity who manipulated people and schemed events in order to cause the birth of the asker.

My point is that even without religious background, purely "technically", or by grammar alone, these sentences are different.

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    Very nicely explained!
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 12:05
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James K's answer is correct.
The others not so much.

Job was born to his mother.
She "gave him birth".
But, God arranged for Job to be born.

A problem is that you are quoting a version that is not a strict translation but a paraphrase - it emphasizes simplicity of reading at the expense of accuracy.

Essentially all other versions put it more clearly.


From: Bible Hub

  • New International Version
    “Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me.”

  • New Living Translation
    “Why, then, did you deliver me from my mother’s womb? Why didn’t you let me die at birth?”

  • English Standard Version
    “Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me

  • Berean Standard Bible
    Why then did You bring me from the womb? Oh, that I had died, and no eye had seen me!

  • King James Bible
    Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

  • New King James Version
    ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Oh, that I had perished and no eye had seen me!

  • New American Standard Bible
    “Why then did You bring me out of the womb? If only I had died and no eye had seen me!”

  • NASB 1995
    ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me’

  • NASB 1977
    ‘Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me!

  • Amplified Bible
    ‘Why then did You bring me out of the womb? Would that I had perished and no eye had seen me!

  • Christian Standard Bible
    “Why did you bring me out of the womb? I should have died and never been seen.

  • Holman Christian Standard Bible
    “Why did You bring me out of the womb? I should have died and never been seen.”

  • American Standard Version
    Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me.

  • Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    And why have you brought me out from the womb? I might have died and an eye would not have seen me

  • Brenton Septuagint Translation
    Why then didst thou bring me out of the womb? and why did I not die, and no eye see me,

  • Contemporary English Version
    Why did you let me be born? I would rather have died before birth

  • Douay-Rheims Bible
    Why didst thou bring me forth out of the womb: O that I had been consumed that eye might not see me!

  • Good News Translation
    Why, God, did you let me be born? I should have died before anyone saw me.

  • International Standard Version So why did you bring me out from the womb? I wish I had died, before anyone had seen me,

  • JPS Tanakh 1917
    Wherefore then hast Thou brought me forth out of the womb? Would that I had perished, and no eye had seen me!

  • Literal Standard Version
    And why from the womb Have You brought me forth? I expire, and the eye does not see me.

  • New American Bible
    Why then did you bring me forth from the womb? I should have died and no eye have seen me.

  • NET Bible
    "Why then did you bring me out from the womb? I should have died and no eye would have seen me!”

  • New Revised Standard Version
    “Why did you bring me forth from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,”

  • New Heart English Bible
    "'Why, then, have you brought me forth out of the womb? I wish I had given up the spirit, and no eye had seen me.

  • World English Bible
    "'Why, then, have you brought me forth out of the womb? I wish I had given up the spirit, and no eye had seen me.

  • Young's Literal Translation
    And why from the womb Hast Thou brought me forth? I expire, and the eye doth not see me.

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That sentence does sound odd, because it’s trying to translate the grammar of a different language very literally. If I had to guess, the translators wanted to preserve the verb form of the original (“me” as the direct object of an active present perfect interrogative verb). Compare the Literal Standard Version:

And why from the womb have You brought me forth? I expire, and the eye does not see me.

The Message uses an extremely unusual turn of phrase, different from any other translation of the same verse. Nearly all of the modern translations there say either “Why did You let me be born,” which is the most natural way to say it in English, or “Why did you bring me out of/from the womb,” which is very formal in English but closer to the literal meaning of the original.

The translators then decided to try to make this into something shorter and less formal, but attempted not to change the meaning at all (for example, by changing the present perfect to past tense or the active verb to passive, as in “Why did you let me be born?”). What they came up with doesn’t sound natural in English.

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  • If I had to guess, the Literal Standard Version is preserving the word order in the original (in the original Hebrew "from the womb" comes before "you have brought me out")
    – Esther
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 21:38
  • @Esther That too, but in this case the modifying phrase could be moved in English without changing the meaning. The Message seems to be preserving the tense and mood of the verb rather than the word order.
    – Davislor
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 21:44
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    @Esther The LSV is attempting to do something very different than the other translations: translate the exact wording as literally as possible. I cited it as a good rendition of the original Hebrew verb form.
    – Davislor
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 21:46
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The question, "Why did you have me born?" could be gender agnostic. It could be addressed to anyone, generally speaking, and not necessarily the female who birthed the question asker.

The question, "Why did you give birth to me?" is specifically directed at the maternal figure that literally carried the question asker in the womb.

That's how I take them to be different.

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