So I’m pretty late to this party. I’ve seen a few bits about this written on twitter and in blogs for a while, but I’ve just got round to reading this amazing book (mentioned in my previous post) ‘A year of biblical womanhood.’
In it, the author aims to become the biblical ideal woman. She spent a year obeying what the bible says a woman should be (well…after a fashion) and then examined it. Its funny, provocative and challenging stuff and I totally recommend it!
But I have just got to the chapter that looks at the Proverbs 31 woman. Now, I know not all of you are bible readers, and I would imagine even less of you have it memorised, so here is Proverbs 31
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
So there’s what we should all be aiming for…and I’m sure you’re at least half way there right?! No?
No, me neither.
And after 2 weeks of beating herself up, trying to rise before dawn (v15), trying to make a purple dress (v 13, v22) and trying to work out to strengthen her guns (v17), the author of this book realised she wasn’t getting there either.
But during an email exchange with a Jewish lady, she discovered that the ‘wife of noble character’ is translated ‘Eshet Chayil’ and literally means Woman of Valour. Say it out loud, go on, WOMAN OF VALOUR!!
And the Proverb, rather than being something for women to beat themselves over the head with, rather than being a standard to measure themselves against, the Proverb is something learned off by heart by Jewish MEN and sung to the women at the Sabbath meals as a way of praising them, of thanking them for the blessing of love and creativity and energy that they bring.
Valour is about battle. It is about fighting and determination and passion. It is not some soppy sentimental idea, it’s about being kick ass!!!
When a Proverbs 31 woman looks more like that and less like some kind of Delia Smith/Mary Berry/Kim and Aggie hybrid, then I realise I KNOW women who fit this description. And I certainly know women who need to be celebrated as Women of Valour!
I know women who sacrifice their own desires daily to fight for their kids to have opportunities they never had.
I know women who are actively working to combat human trafficking, and prostitution because they believe people shouldn’t be bought and sold.
I know women who have fought tooth and nail for their marriages because they believe passionately in the promises and commitments they have made.
I know women who have been to hell and back at the hands of people who said they loved them, and have come out of those situations having displayed nothing but grace and dignity.
I know women who feed the hungry, clothe the poor and show hospitality to the homeless.
And I want to be one of those women. Ask me to rise before the dawn and I’ll be grumpy by lunchtime, I dont have it in me to be a domestic godess, although I’ll give it a go. But I want to be a Woman of Valour. I want to be a woman who kicks ass!! I want to be a woman who fulfills what God calls her to, and who He made her to be.
But also, this Proverb is a song of praise to women. It is, as I mentioned before, the way that Jewish men tell their women that they are thankful for them, and that they’ve noticed what they’re doing.
Let’s get involved. Let’s start telling the women in our lives that they are Women of Valour. I’m sure you know these women too…tell them! Men, it is especially important coming from you, but we women need to tell each other too.
Like I said, I’m a little late to this party, and I know lots of you have been telling each other thing for a while, but let’s keep doing it!!!