Proverbs 31 in the Bible focuses on women. It is in the Old Testament. Is it harsh and male dominant? What is God’s viewpoint?
Proverbs 31 is one of the Bible perspectives of women. Many God-seeking women look to these words of wisdom for inspiration on how to live their lives. Can we look to this passage to draw the ultimate picture for a woman’s calling?
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 3.13)
We are pursuing our study of Genesis 2:22, where God said it is not good that the man be alone. Then, He puts Adam to sleep, removes a part of his side, and builds a woman. This woman is to be a helpmeet by his side. Let’s resume what the Bible has already revealed about this woman and every woman worldwide, regardless of religion or creed. In the beginning, at Creation, there was neither religion nor racial identity. It is essential to understand the foundation.
Both Genesis 2 and Proverbs 31 are NOT the foundation. Genesis 1 is the departure for understanding both the male and female identity and roles.
If you’re reading this for the first time, I request you take a minute and go to the couple of following links for the basis of The Explanation. ALL men and ALL women are EQUAL before their Creator God. The male and female genders are DIFFERENT from each other. Please lock those two keys into your mind. Keep it simple. Twins are EQUAL, but one came out first. Whether you have a boy and girl, two boys or two girls, EACH individual twin will be DIFFERENT from the other. EQUAL and DIFFERENT are complementary ideas that you have to be comfortable with if you wish to have cohesion and not an opposition between men and women.
There are maybe as many definitions and opinions of feminism and women’s liberation as there are women. Women’s rights fight for the freedom to be appropriately treated sexually and otherwise. To obtain an education, own property, vote, earn a fair wage, live free from discrimination, violence, slavery, and many other rights. All of those attributes are commendable, worthwhile, and necessary. The Explanation has to step back and look at the overall picture from a different perspective; from a Godly point-of-view. What does His word say about womanhood? We live in a world and society that is questioning everything. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore. Nothing seems to be basic, sound, and foundational knowledge. That’s what The Explanation searches for, that’s why we look into God’s word to seek what He says, get His mix on feminism.
Let’s take a closer look at how God made the woman and the Biblical Hebrew construction of this word.
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made (H1129) he a woman, and brought her unto the: man.
בָּנָה bânâh baw-naw’; a primitive root; to build (literally and figuratively):
KJV – (begin to) build(-er), obtain children, make, repair, set (up), ⨯ surely.
Now I need you to follow the Biblical Hebrew and the relationship between words. Look at this next word and compare it with H1129 above.
בִּינָה bîynâh bee-naw’; from H995 (בִּין); understanding:
KJV – knowledge, meaning, ⨯ perfectly, understanding, wisdom.
בִּין bîyn bene; a primitive root; to separate mentally (or distinguish), i.e.(generally) understand:
KJV – attend, consider, be cunning, diligently, direct, discern, eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, have intelligence, know, look well to, mark, perceive, be prudent, regard, (can) skill(-full), teach, think, (cause, make to, get, give, have) understand(-ing), view, (deal) wise(-ly, man).
The only difference between H1129 (בָּנָה) and H998 (בִּינָה) is the presence of the yod (י) which, in this instance, is a vowel. Other than that, the letters are identical. Although Strong makes no relationship between these words, Sam Kneller is taking the liberty to make that connection. When you understand Biblical Hebrew, there is grammar, and also poetic comparisons that play a role in revealing comprehension.
When YHVH BUILT (בָּנָה – H1129 banah) the woman He built her with WISDOM (בִּינָה – H998 binah). She is an ezer, a help. We already discussed that when you need help you search for someone WISER than yourself to solve problems; you can’t figure out ALONE. The point is YHVH built a knowledgeable, understanding, intelligent, prudent skillful, eloquent, instructed, thinking woman.
Notice H995 (the root of H998) to separate mentally (or distinguish) I point this out, mainly because previously, in reference to the man, we saw preeminent. He has his responsibilities and obligations. The woman has a distinguished mentality. She is not less nor more important than the man. He and she are different but complementary.
All the characteristics in H998 and H995 are qualities that characterize women and that any wise man would cherish to have by his side.
Building with Wisdom. That’s what a woman is and does. The man ALONE, without the woman, was INcomplete. The woman ALONE, without the man, would’ve been INcomplete. Only together do they make a whole.
The woman is the binah-ezer, the wise-help
The principles of the woman of Proverbs 31 conforms to the binah-ezer, the wise-help God built for man. A wise, strong, and independently successful, fully family devoted, Godly woman.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. So starts the description in Proverbs 31:10. I suggest you follow along in your Bible or click on UnlockBibleMeaning.com and read the verses online. You’ll have a clear picture of the mix of qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman.
Fear of God
Verse 30 says, “beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Beauty depends on the eye of each of us. My philosophy is everyone is beautiful to someone. But the first requisite of a Proverbs 31 woman is the reverence of God. Trying to learn and do it His way. Of course, this applies to men as well, but here we’re focusing on the woman. Remember, binah-ezer = wise-help. Interestingly, a woman personifies wisdom. Pro. 1:20, “Wisdom cries without; she utters her voice in the streets.” 7. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
The virtuous woman starts here.
We shall see, she is extremely active. But they are never detrimental to her family relations. Her husband, children, and household have the priority. After the initial question about a virtuous woman, the very next section focuses on her husband, “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life” (11-12). We will discuss this more next week.
Verse 27, “She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.” Read verses 21, 23, 27, 28. Her children are well taken care of and lack for nothing, as is indicated.
Her Myriad Attributes
She is a woman displaying leadership (15, 26), vision (21, 25), reflection (16), entrepreneurship (16, 24) and strength (25) among others.
The woman knows and has developed her talents. She is skillful with hands (16, 19-20, 31) and is happy in her undertakings (13). There are specific tasks that are more apt and appropriate for women. Just as there are for men. It is not my intention to name them here. The point is, it is unrealistic to think, let alone impose a 50/50 requirement in equality of jobs. It is also out of place to state that there are positions of employment that cannot be fulfilled by women, as with men. Some women are better and more qualified to accomplish certain tasks and occupy certain positions than their masculine counterparts. We can say the same of men.
ALL women can fill big shoes.
The Proverbs 31 woman has her eyes open to the needs of others, beyond her family (15, 20). Women are particularly sensitive in this domain.
She is animated by a positive attitude (13, 18); this is probably the most encouraging quality of women. They are sympathetic, outgoing, and ready to show it in the right way. The Proverbs 31 woman is a busy-bee who uses her resources correctly and in the most complimentary way, is considered a hard worker by all who know her. Here’s a short video about women in Rwanda who particularly stand out as an example because of the hardships the country has experienced.
Down through history and today, there are many great women. Sure, they may not know who God is and fulfill the entire list of qualities in Proverbs 31. Think about it; how many men do? We all come up short in some ways, but this should not take away from female accomplishments. And especially the will to move forward physically, mentally, and spiritually. The binah-ezer, the wise-helper, never finishes growing and perfecting her art.
Every wise woman builds (H1129) her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands. (Pro. 14:1).
God built the woman to build. The virtuous woman is a wise-builder, the double meaning of the word banah (H1129).
For that, the Proverbs 31 woman is loved, praised, and recognized by her husband, her children, and indeed, the entire community. “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her, let her own works praise her in the gates,” (verses 28-31). The gates are where the wise elders gather to administer the city (23). Her accomplishments attest to her values and value (31). A wise woman is an asset to all.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.13 of the book Origin of Humankind.
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