October 30, 2017: Verse of the day

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10 The introductory rhetorical question establishes the point that the wife of noble character is not easily found; but when she is, she is a treasure. Her description as “a wife of noble character” (ʾēšet-ḥayil) signifies that she possesses all the virtues, honor, and strength to do the things the poem will set forth. It is interesting to notice that this woman, like wisdom, is worth more than rubies (cf. 3:15; 8:11).[1]


An excellent wife will contribute to your success (v. 10)

‘An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.’ She is a strong woman who will strengthen you. The Hebrew word translated ‘excellent’ (or ‘virtuous’) is the same word translated ‘strength’ in verse 3. This word was also used of valiant warriors. The ‘weaker sex’ is not weak in every sense. Such a woman is a rare and valuable gift from God (18:22; 19:14). Just as God made Eve from the flesh of Adam, only God can create a woman like this for you. Just as the young man is exhorted to search for wisdom, so he should earnestly search out a woman like this, not settling for less.[2]


31:10 The question “who can find …?” is somewhat ambiguous. It could indicate impossibility; cf. Job 28:12, where another form of the question implies the answer “no one”—wisdom cannot be found because wisdom is with God. In Prov 18:22 the possibility of “finding a wife” is affirmed, but only as a gift of God. The verb means more than a casual finding, and, significantly, it indicates acquiring Wisdom in 1:28; 8:35; cf. Job 28:12–13. In the context of the acrostic poem the question may be indicating a paradox. On the one hand, finding a (good) wife is not possible for merely human effort since it is God’s doing, 18:22. But on the other, the present poem describes a wife who is married, and so was “found,” and is deservedly the object of her husband’s praise, vv 28–29. The value (מכר, literally “price,” a commercial term) of the woman is beyond that of precious jewels, usually translated as “corals” or “rubies”; cf. 3:15; 8:11; 20:15.[3]


31:10. The wife of noble character (ḥayil) is also mentioned in 12:4 (cf. “noble” in 31:29). Ruth was called “a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11). The word for noble character is translated “capable” in Exodus 18:21. The question who can find? (cf. Prov. 20:6) does not suggest that such women are nonexistent but that they should be admired because they, like noble men, are rare. Also they are more valuable than rubies (cf. a similar statement about wisdom in 8:11).[4]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 247). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (p. 176). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3] Murphy, R. E. (1998). Proverbs (Vol. 22, p. 246). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 972). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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