As always, thank you...
I know that this verse has been the foundation of many women's ministries, books, articles, and so forth. Much ink has been spilled on the meaning of this passage. It has been used to show women how they should serve their husbands, care for their families, keep their house, etc. Unfortunately it has also been used to guilt my wife (and women generally I assume) into an unrealistic model of behavior. So when my wife asked me to look into the meaning of the passage it was not a passing interest to her, she really wanted to know if it was something all women are supposed to do to be good wives or if there was another meaning.
So this has been in the back of my mind recently. I admit I never looked closely at the passage until today after a student of mine remarked that Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet. Then the meaning all of a sudden became clear. Let me show you what I mean.
Proverbs 31:10 - Aleph is an ox symbolizing premiere strength. So the wife who is described is the first and the best, but alas she is impossible to find.
Proverbs 31:11 - Bet is home or dwelling. So she dwells with her husband all the days of his life.
Proverbs 31:12 - Gimel is the first letter of 'gamal' which means benefit. So she works for his benefit.
Proverbs 31:13 - Daleth is a door that goes back and forth. So she goes back and forth searching for work because she enjoys it.
Proverbs 31:14 - Hey means behold. See she comes from from far away.
Proverbs 31:15 - Vav means to attach. And she provides for her household.
Proverbs 31:16 - Zayin is a plow or a sword. So she buys a field and plants it.
Proverbs 31:17 - Chet is a fence for protection. So she is fortified with strength.
Proverbs 31:18 - Teth is to surround. She is surrounded with light at all times.
Proverbs 31:19 - Yod is the arm and hand. She reaches with her arms to work.
Proverbs 31:20 - Kaf is the palm. So she gives to the outstretched palm of the poor.
Proverbs 31:21 - Lamed is a staff for saving or disciple. So she rescues her family from the weather.
Proverbs 31:22 - Mem is water or in the midst. She is washed clean and covered with fine clothes.
Proverbs 31:23 - Nun means life or continuation. Her husband continues to teach God laws (life).
Proverbs 31:24 - Samech is to engineer or weave. So she produces clothing.
Proverbs 31:25 - Ayin is an eye. She sees her salvation and is not afraid of the future.
Proverbs 31:26 - Peh is mouth. So she only opens her mouth to speak in wisdom and kindness.
Proverbs 31:27 - Tsade - Is associated with righteousness. So she guides her household in the path they should go.
Proverbs 31:28 - Qof is what is hidden or behind. So her family sends praises after her.
Proverbs 31:29 - Resh is the head. She is the first among women ahead of the rest.
Proverbs 31:30 - Sheen is to separate. So she has separated herself from vanity to fear the LORD.
Proverbs 31:31 - Tav is a mark. When she reaches her destination her reward and praise are given.
It should be obvious by now that this is a perfect woman. It should also be obvious that no one woman could complete all of these things on her own. So you are probably wondering what this being an acrostic has to do with it's interpretation. It is because the Hebrew alphabet is a pattern in Scripture that shows us how we should live. So this is not talking about a single woman. The Aleph at the head of the Hebrew alphabet is an ox the letters are the instructions to the ox so that the ox reaches the destination mark (the Tav). So each letter is an instruction given on the way so that the mark is achieved. The Aleph to Tav also represents the Messiah. He is the husband and the groom, so the woman in this passage is a picture of His bride. His people. This is the Messiah's description of the perfect wife. So this is not a passage meant to guilt women into being perfect. It is who the Messiah is married to when His people walk in righteousness. My wife is relieved.
Have you had your mind blown today? http://www.myersroadbaptist.org/