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Proverbs 31:10-31 – The ABCs of a Good Wife

Summary

Appreciate your good wife (or husband)!

Analysis

One need only glance at a Hebrew Bible to see that these verses follow the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (see Introductory Issues). It remains good Jewish tradition for a husband to recite these words to his wife on the evening of the Sabbath; how could it help but benefit a marriage when a husband says to his wife each week, "There are lots of fine women in the world, but you're the greatest!" (paraphrasing v. 29). Note some of the characteristics of this woman: her value cannot be measured (v. 10); she is totally trustworthy, supportive of her husband (vv. 11-12), and industrious (vv. 13-15). She is a business woman who deals in buying and selling real estate. She operates a vineyard (v. 16) and makes and sells linen garments (v. 24). She is concerned for the poor and needy (v. 20) and, of course, for her own family (vv. 21-22, 27). She has a good sense of humor and knows how to speak properly (vv. 25-26). She honors the Lord and is deserving of the praise of her children, her husband, and the community (vv. 28-31).

Proverbs 31:10-31

Ode to a Capable Wife


10 A capable wife who can find?
   She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
   and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
   and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
   she brings her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
   and provides food for her household
   and tasks for her servant-girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
   and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
   Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
   and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
   and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
   for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22 She makes herself coverings;
   her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the city gates,
   taking his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
   she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
   and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
   and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy;
   her husband too, and he praises her:
29 ‘Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all.’
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the city gates.

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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