“An EXCELLENT wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
“The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.”
To recap, we looked at this verse in Hebrew and brought out the definitions of words, from the Hebrew language, in order to grasp the full meaning of this translation. The key word was “Excellent” or in other translations “Virtuous”. What we discovered was that this excellence and virtue is likened unto the strength and power of an entire army, a FORCE of valor, virtue and strength. I challenged you to apply this your worldview of Biblical womanhood and humanity and then asked you if it changed the way you thought the Bible, or even this passage, talked about women. I also asked a rhetorical question that I’d like you to keep in mind throughout the rest of this study; “How often is a woman praised for her FORCEFULNESS, or STRENGTH?” (Please remember also that this FORCE is not related to violence except that reference to the powerful PRESENCE of an army, or in understanding that the common way to achieve Valor was through fighting ones enemies).
Today I’d like to look at the second half of the above citation, verse 11, and apply a Biblical worldview to the relationship that a husband has with his wife. We’re going to backwards today Greek thinkers, and Hebrew thinkers we are going forwards. Hebrew thought always starts at the beginning, Creation, followed by the very first reference to the topic that can be found. These references shape our WORLDVIEW.
Thus far our Biblical worldview of women has come from the Creation book, Genesis 1, where God created THEM in His image and likeness, male and female He created them, and then he gave THEM dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds, the beasts, etc. From this text there is no hierarchy of importance or power between the man and the woman. If we take the text literally, which I think is the author’s intention, then we have to see that male and female are both equally endowed with the Image and Likeness of God and that they are BOTH intended to exercise dominion and power over creation. In Genesis 2 this equality is expressed twofold as we saw when we analyzed the phrase “ezer kenegdo” to mean both a “helper suitable” and “powerful equal”. Both of these translations are appropriate and meant to convey the same ideas, though I think we lose several of those ideas in translation. In fact, there is more support for the translation “powerful equal” in a Hebrew mind than for a “helper suitable” based upon the use of these words elsewhere in scripture (for reference see the Introduction to the Proverbs 31 Woman). Finally, we have the exegesis of the beginning of Proverbs 31 itself where we see the use of strong language (above) to convey the idea of a woman that I believe is fitting with what we see in Genesis 1 & 2.
The next goal is, in our minds, to internalize the above passages so that they are always present in our thoughts, ready to become conscious when they are needed. While you are working on that, think about what you know of the entire book of Proverbs and even go read chapter 1 again. Ask yourself these questions,
“What is the book of Proverbs about?”
“What is the purpose of a Proverb?”
“Who wrote the Proverbs?”
“Who is the book of Proverbs written to?”
and “Why was it written?” You could take these questions on and on and it would only help you. The key to Hebrew thinking is asking questions, and reasoning important because it is the journey to the the answer that matters most, not necessarily the answer(s).
When you have written down your answers to those questions, and I hope you have more than one answer each 😀 go to Proverbs 31 and read the whole chapter again. Now ask yourself these questions and explore your answers by using scripture itself as much as possible. The goal here is to know what the TEXT says, not what you THINK it says.
“Why is the author writing about women?”
“What is the author’s view of women?” (be careful not to let your own view interfere with answering this question).
“What is the husbands gain?” (see verse 11, and don’t guess! Use the chapter itself to answer!)
“Why should the husband’s heart trust in this excellent woman?”
“What else does the husband do for his wife in this chapter?”
This kind of objective thinking is very difficult for us Western thinkers because we have been brought up to have very subjective ideas. We tend to define things by their connotation not their denotation. There is strength here, but also weakness. Can you tell what they are?
Spend some time today looking up the underlined words and truly exploring their meaning and context. Spend even more time answering these questions on your own, and journeying through the scriptures. I’m going to post the third part of Proverbs 31: A Woman’s Power today as well, but please do not continue on until you have spent time on the things above 😀 pun intended. These are the lessons for both today and tomorrow.