Proverbs 31:10-31

Proverbs 31:10-31
Ordinary B43


10 A capableA wifeB who can find?C

Notes on verse 10a

A “capable” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.
B “wife” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
C “find” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.

    She is far moreD preciousE than jewels.F

Notes on verse 10b

D “far more” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.
E “precious” = meker. 3x in OT. From makar (to sell – could be commerce/trade, a daughter to be married, someone into slavery; figuratively, to surrender). This is merchandise or price. It can refer to the general worth of something.
F “jewels” = peninim. 6x in OT. From the same as pinnah (an angle, corner, cornerstone, tower, bulwark, pinnacle; figuratively, a chieftan); from pen (corner, angle, street, wall). This is a jewel or coral. Sometimes, it is translated pearl or ruby. It is often used to describe the value of wisdom.

11 The heartG of her husbandH trustsI in her,
    and he will have no lack ofJ gain.K

Notes on verse 11

G “heart” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
H “husband” = baal. From baal (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is lord, owner, ally, master, or archer.
I “trusts” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
J “have…lack of” = chaser. This is to lack, abate, have need of, bereave, fail.
K “gain” = shalal. From shalal (to plunder, loot, capture). This is spoil, prey, or plunder.

12 She doesL him good,M and not harm,N
    all the daysO of her life.P

Notes on verse 12

L “does” = gamal. This is how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite. It can also mean to wean or the work that goes into something ripening.
M “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
N “harm” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
O “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
P “life” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.

13 She seeksQ woolR and flax,S

Notes on verse 13a

Q “seeks” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.
R “wool” = tsemer. 16x in OT. This is wool, shaggy thing.
S “flax” = peshet. 16x in OT. From the same as pash (extremity, stupidity); from pesha (transgression, rebellion, or sin; a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one); from pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is flax or linen.

    and worksT with willingU hands.V

Notes on verse 13b

T “works” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
U “willing” = chephets. From chaphets (properly, inclined towards or bending to; figuratively, to desire, delight in, or be pleased with). This is a delight, care, or pleasure. It is what you desire or what is acceptable. It can also be used concretely for a precious thing or something that one is thinking about.
V “hands” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.

14 She isW like the shipsX of the merchant,Y
   she bringsZ her foodAA from far away.BB

Notes on verse 14

W “is” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
X “ships” = oniyyah. From the same as oni (ships, a fleet); probably from anah (to meet, happen, approach). This is ships or sailors.
Y “merchant” = sachar. To travel, go around. So, it is to travel like a peddler, to trade, to be a merchant. It can also mean to palpitate.
Z “brings” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
AA “food” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
BB “far away” = merchaq. Related to “far more” in v10. 17x in OT. From rachaq (see note D above). This is distance, far off place, afar.

15 She risesCC while it is still nightDD
    and providesEE foodFF for her householdGG
    and tasksHH for her servant-girls.II

Notes on verse 15

CC “rises” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
DD “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
EE “provides” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
FF “food” = tereph. From taraph (to tear or pluck off into pieces, to rend or catch; to supply with food). This is something that is ton – spoil, prey, food, or some other fragment.
GG “household” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
HH “tasks” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
II “servant girls” = naarah. From naar (child or a servant; a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence); perhaps from naar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a girl or young lady ranging anywhere in age from infancy to adolescence.

16 She considersJJ a fieldKK and buysLL it;
    with the fruitMM of her hands she plantsNN a vineyard.OO

Notes on verse 16

JJ “considers” = zamam. 13x in OT. This is to devise, plot, imagine, intend, scheme, think evil. It is usually used in an evil sense.
KK “field” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
LL “buys” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
MM “fruit” = peri. From parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is fruit or reward.
NN “plants” = nata. To fix or fasten, establish or plant. This is planting in a literal or figurative sense.
OO “vineyard” = kerem. This is a vineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage.

17 She girdsPP herselfQQ with strength,RR
    and makes her armsSS strong.TT

Notes on verse 17

PP “girds” = chagar. This is to gird, bind, or arm. Generally, it is using a belt to gather up one’s garment so that it’s easier to run or move quickly.
QQ “herself” = mothen. This is the waist, slender, or small of back. It can also refer to the loins when in plural.
RR “strength” = oz. From azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; it means to be stout literally or figuratively. A Late Hebrew word). This is strength in the sense of force, majesty, praise, material and physical strength, the abstract notion of security. It can also speak of social or political power.
SS “arms” = zeroa. Perhaps from zara (to sow, scatter seed, conceive). This is the arm, shoulder, or foreleg of an animal. It is figuratively used for power, force, might, or help.
TT “makes…strong” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.

18 She perceivesUU that her merchandiseVV is profitable.WW
    Her lampXX does not go outYY at night.

Notes on verse 18

UU “perceives” = taam. 11x in OT. This is to taste, sense, or figuratively to perceive.
VV “merchandise” = sachar. Related to “merchant” in v14. 4x in OT. From sachar (see note Y above). This is merchandise or profit. It can also refer to the market or trading.
WW “profitable” = tob. Same as “good” in v12. See note M above.
XX “lamp” = ner. This is to glisten. It is used for a lamp, candle, or light in a literal or figurative sense.
YY “go out” = kabah. This is to quench or extinguish. It could refer to a fire or to anger.

19 She putsZZ her handsAAA to the distaff,BBB
    and her handsCCC holdDDD the spindle.EEE

Notes on verse 19

ZZ “puts” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
AAA “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
BBB “distaff” = kishor. 1x in OT. From kasher (to succeed, be suitable, be direct). This is the thin that directs – in this case a distaff of spindle.
CCC “hands” = kaph. Same as “hands” in v13. See note V above.
DDD “hold” = tamak. This is to sustain, support, maintain, grasp. Figuratively, it can be to help or uphold.
EEE “spindle” = pelek. 10x in OT. This is a spindle or a district.

20 She opensFFF her handGGG to the poor,HHH
    and reaches outIII her handsJJJ to the needy.KKK

Notes on verse 20

FFF “opens” = paras. This is to spread or stretch out, extend, break up, chop to pieces, disperse, display.
GGG “hand” = kaph. Same as “hands” in v13. See note V above.
HHH “poor” = ani. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is humble, lowly, poor, or afflicted.
III “reaches out” = shalach. Same as “puts” in v19. See note ZZ above.
JJJ “hands” = yad. Same as “hands” in v19. See note AAA above.
KKK “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.

21 She is not afraidLLL for her household when it snows,MMM
    for all her household are clothedNNN in crimson.OOO

Notes on verse 21

LLL “is…afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
MMM “snows” = sheleg. 19x in OT. Perhaps from shalag (to snow, to be white). This is snow or snowy.
NNN “clothed” = labash. This is to wrap around, which implies clothing oneself or someone else. This is wrapping around in a literal or figurative way.
OOO “crimson” = shani. This is crimson or scarlet. It can also refer to the insect that the red dye is made from (coccus ilicis), the color of that dye, or things dyed with it (like thread).

22 She makesPPP herself coverings;QQQ
    her clothingRRR is fine linenSSS and purple.TTT

Notes on verse 22

PPP “makes” = asah. Same as “works” in v13. See note T above.
QQQ “coverings” = marbad. 2x in OT – both times in Proverbs. From rabad (to spread over). This is some kind of covering – perhaps a tapestry or other spread.
RRR “clothing” = lebush. Related to “clothed” in v21. From labash (see note NNN above). This is clothing literally or figuratively. It can be used as a euphemism for a wife.
SSS “fine linen” = shesh. This refers to byssus flax, a bleached fabric – white linen. It can also figuratively refer to marble.
TTTT “purple” = argaman. This is purple or red-purple. It can refer to the color or something dyed in that color.

23 Her husband is knownUUU in the city gates,VVV
    taking his seatWWW among the eldersXXX of the land.YYY

Notes on verse 23

UUU “is known” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
VVV “gates” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
WWW “taking his seat” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XXX “elders” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder.
YYY “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

24 She makes linen garmentsZZZ and sellsAAAA them;
    she suppliesBBBB the merchantCCCC with sashes.DDDD

Notes on verse 24

ZZZ “linen garments” = sadin. 4x in OT. This is something of linen that wraps around like clothing, an undergarment, or a sheet.
AAAA “sells” = makar. Related to “precious” in v10. See note E above.
BBBB “supplies” = natan. Same as “provides” in v15. See note EE above.
CCCC “merchant” = knaaniy. From Kanaan (Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled; perhaps meaning lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt); from kana (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaanite, which in some instances would imply a peddler or sometimes used in place of Ishmaelite. See
DDDD “sashes” = chagor. Related to “girds” in v17. 2x in OT. From chagar (see note PP above). This is belted or in some ways girded about.

25 Strength and dignityEEEE are her clothing,
    and she laughsFFFF at the timeGGGG to come.HHHH

Notes on verse 25

EEEE “dignity” = hadar. From hadar (to honor or adorn; majestic, respected, glorious; to favor or honor; to be proud). This is ornament, splendor, beauty, dignity, majesty, magnificence, and glory.
FFFF “laughs” = sachaq. This is to laugh, celebrate, joke, mock, scorn. This is laughing, whether for joy or scorn. It can imply plays or holding a contest.
GGGG “time” = yom. Literally, “day.”
HHHH “come” = acharon. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is end, last, coming behind, to loiter, later. It can also refer to the west.

26 She opensIIII her mouthJJJJ with wisdom,KKKK

Notes on verse 26a

IIII “opens” = pathach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.
JJJJ “mouth” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
KKKK “wisdom” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.

    and the teachingLLLL of kindnessMMMM is on her tongue.NNNN

Notes on verse 26b

LLLL “teaching” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
MMMM “kindness” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
NNNN “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.

27 She looks well toOOOO the waysPPPP of her household,
    and does not eatQQQQ the breadRRRR of idleness.SSSS

Notes on verse 27

OOOO “looks well to” = tsaphah. This is to keep watch or spy – to look out. Properly, it refers to leaning forward to look out. It implies observing or awaiting.
PPPP “ways” = halikah. 6x in OT. From halak (to go, come, walk; to walk literally and figuratively; of people and animals; how we walk according to God’s way or against it; the walk of life). This is a way, walking, traveler, caravan.
QQQQ “eat” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
RRRR “bread” = lechem. Same as “food” in v14. See note AA above.
SSSS “idleness” = atshuth. 1x in OT. From atsel (to delay, be slack, be idle). This is sluggishness or idleness.

28 Her childrenTTTT rise up and call her happy;UUUU
    her husband too, and he praisesVVVV her:

Notes on verse 28

TTTT “children” = ben. Related to “household” in v15. Perhaps from banah (see note GG above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
UUUU “call…happy” = ashar. 16x in OT. To go straight, advance, proceed, direct, guide, be level, be honest, be blessed or happy.
VVVV “praises” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.

29 “ManyWWWW womenXXXX have doneYYYY excellently,ZZZZ
    but you surpassAAAAA them all.”

Notes on verse 29

WWWW “many” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
XXXX “women” = bat. Related to “household” in v15 & “children” in v28. From ben (see note TTTT above). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
YYYY “done” = asah. Same as “works” in v13. See note T above.
ZZZZ “excellently” = chayil. Same as “capable” in v10. See note A above.
AAAAA “surpass” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.

30 CharmBBBBB is deceitful,CCCCC and beauty is vain,DDDDD

Notes on verse 30a

BBBBB “charm” = chen. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is grace, favor, kindness, beauty, precious.
CCCCC “deceitful” = sheqer. Related to shaqar () This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
DDDDD “vain” = hebel. This is emptiness, vapor, breath. It can refer to something that is fleeting or futile, worthless or a delusion. Something that is passing and so does not satisfy. This is related to the root for the name “Abel.”

    but a womanEEEEE who fearsFFFFF the LordGGGGG is to be praised.

Notes on verse 30b

EEEEE “woman” = ishshah. Same as “wife” in v10. See note B above.
FFFFF “fears” = yare. Related to “is…afraid” in v21. From the same as yare (see note LLL above). This is fearful or morally reverent.
GGGGG “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “is” in v14. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note W above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

31 GiveHHHHH her a share in the fruit of her hands,IIIII
    and let her worksJJJJJ praise her in the city gates.

Notes on verse 31

HHHHH “give” = natan. Same as “provides” in v15. See note EE above.
IIIII “hands” = yad. Same as “hands” in v19. See note AAA above.
JJJJJ “works” = maaseh. Related to “works” in v13. From asah (see note T above). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.

Image credit: “Esther” at the Dormition Church in Jerusalem by Rabod Commandeur. Photo by Deror avi, 2009.

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