So in this study I'm going to take about a verse a week and really dig deep into what each one says about The Virtuous Woman and explore how that might translate in our times. I'm not a Bible expert or theologian, I've never been to Bible school or taken any kind of Bible lesson, I've never studied nor do I know Hebrew - I'm just a wife/mom from NJ reading the Bible and relying on God's Holy Spirit to open my eyes and give me wisdom (and point me in the right direction as far as tools and resources for my study).
Though I'm studying Proverbs 31:10-31, I want to also throw in the verse 1 as it shows who wrote the verses and for who.
31:1: "The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him."
So apparently there's some debate over who King Lemuel actually is because he is never mentioned any other time in the Bible. Some people believe he is a King of a town called Massa (and some of your versions will actually call him that. See Amplified Version), while other people believe he was actually King Solomon, and Lemuel was just a family name for him. Lemuel, in Hebrew, means "devoted to God", and so the thought is that since David and Bathsheba's first child was taken away from them by God, then the second child that God gave them would be thought of as "devoted to God" (http://www.livingbiblestudies.org/study/JT48/071.html). This makes sense to me (wife/mom from NJ) and so from here on out I will think of these verses as being taught to King Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba.
Which also got me to thinking… this is a mother teaching her son what kind of wife he should be searching for. I've always looked at the Proverbs 31 (P31) woman from my own perspective as a wife. But knowing that this was taught from a mother to her son gets me to seeing it from a different perspective. I should be teaching this to my sons as well! This is not just an example of who their mother (me!) wants to be, but it is an example of who they should look for in a godly wife. And for my daughters, who they should aspire to be as a godly wife. This lesson was so one dimensional to me before I realized that a mother was teaching this to her son. Now it really has shifted my study and way of thinking - the P31 woman is a study not only for me, but for my children to! Wow! I've learned so much and we're only on the first verse! I'm so excited!!
Proverbs 31:10a - "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?"
The Jewish Orthodox Bible's translation "Who can find an aishes chayil."
The English translations virtuous and capable don't seem to do justice to the Hebrew words Aishes Chayil. An Aishes Chayil is a warrior. When I looked up the word Chayil in several concordances, it was used over and over again to describe army, strength, soldiers, wealth, and valor! This woman is no weakling! She is a strong and mighty warrior who takes charge in the role that God has ordained for her (note: she doesn't take charge of her husband! In the Navy you can be a commander of your seamen, but a captain is the ultimate head of that ship!). When I think of a soldier or warrior, I generally tend to vision a strong, silent type with great integrity and morals. So that's how I now see the Aishes Chayil, or the P31 woman, a woman who "quietly performing the duties of life, with strength and steadiness of character"(http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=69&contentID=9029&commInfo=98&topic=The%20Excellent%20Woman%20of%20Proverbs%2031).
It now amazes me how so many people have interpreted a Christian wife to be this quiet, meek person who acted more like a puppet than a real person. Girls are now taught that being strong means getting OUT of the house and working and showing yourself independent. But God's word shows another picture entirely. The woman HE created was an Aishes Chayil, a Woman Warrior! A strong woman of valor! This completely changes the way I even look at myself and my role at home. It takes a strong woman of valor to stay home and tend to her household. What that actually looks like in this generation, we will explore in the next few weeks. I'm so excited to discover more of this "new" P31 woman I feel I am discovering all over again. But what of her worth? Well, we'll have to wait for next week to see what God's word says about that!
For now, I pray that I, and all you Aishes Chayils out there, would become the strong woman God has created us to be (after all, we are created in the image of the greatest man who ever lived! Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer and God!).
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