At last, we come to the final chapter of Proverbs and arrive at the end, chapter 31, the Virtuous Woman. I’m not going to write much about this, beyond mentioning that it is a bit of scripture that has sometimes harmed women in the West, in the sense of being presented in the wrong heart, as in conveying feelings of inadequacy and judgement. The last thing women in the world need is more impossible standards no one could ever live up to, more feelings of condemnation, more doubts and fears.
It is actually an idealistic, romanticized, love song. Long ago Jewish men used to sing it to the women in their house, a song of praise and honor and admiration. Some still do, I have heard it and was beautiful, a tradition of blessing.
Something I like to ponder about Proverbs 31, it begins with, “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” Some people who track biblical lineage far better than I, have suggested these may actually be the words of Bathsheba, as remembered by her son. Not sure about that, but I do love a good biblical treasure hunt and the secrets just waiting to be revealed.
“Eshet chayil” is actually translated as, “a woman of valor,” be it an idealized allegory for wisdom or a literal love song speaking life over one’s own wife.