Here’s a shout-out to all the women in my life on Mother’s Day, starting with my mother and grandmothers and aunts and my daughter and extending to my friends far and near:
“A woman of valor who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value.”
That’s Proverbs 31:10 in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text, which the Revised Standard Version translates “A good wife who can find? She is more precious than jewels.” A whole 21 verses at the end of this book of wisdom are devoted to praise of this “woman of valor” [eshet chayil]— words that King Lemuel learned from his mother.
The Hebrew word translated “valor” or “good” is chayil: it means capable; valiant; virtuous. The word is often used of warriors. It refers to their strength and valor on the battlefield. It reminds me of Deborah in the book of Judges, “a mother in Israel” who not only settles disputes and provides wisdom as a judge, but also leads Israel into battle. The Proverbs 31 woman is a trustworthy spouse, strong at home and at work. She is a hard-working administrator, a profitable merchant, and a capable craftsman. She is generous to the poor. She is strong and wise and conducts herself with dignity and kindness and humor. No wonder her value is “more precious than jewels,” or “beyond pearls.”
I like the comparison to gems. Diamonds begin as lowly carbon, but years of heat and pressure turn black grit to brilliant clarity. True pearls begin as grit as well; slowly the oyster bathes the irritant in smooth layers of nacre until it forms an iridescent globe. Like both of those jewels, a “women of valor” is forged as she deals with adversity. Her beauty comes from valor in the battlefield of life.
This describes so many women in my life, women who love and serve God and who have been a tremendous witness to me and to others. Thank you all (you know who you are). And may the Lord bless you richly this day and always!
… a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:30b-31)
© 2016 Sarah Christmyer