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Proverbs 31:19-24

Context

31:19 Her hands 1  take hold 2  of the distaff,

and her hands grasp the spindle.

31:20 She extends 3  her hand 4  to the poor,

and reaches out her hand to the needy.

31:21 She is not 5  afraid of the snow 6  for her household,

for all of her household are clothed with scarlet. 7 

31:22 She makes for herself coverlets; 8 

her clothing is fine linen and purple. 9 

31:23 Her husband is well-known 10  in the city gate 11 

when he sits with the elders 12  of the land.

31:24 She makes linen garments 13  and sells them,

and supplies the merchants 14  with sashes.

1 tn The first word of the tenth line begins with י (yod) the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

sn The words for “hands” are often paired in poetry; the first (יָד, yad) means the hand and the forearm and usually indicates strength, and the second (כַּף, kaf) means the palm of the hand and usually indicates the more intricate activity.

2 tn The verb שִׁלַּח (shilakh), the Piel perfect of the verb “to send,” means in this stem “to thrust out; to stretch out.” It is a stronger word than is perhaps necessary. It is a word that is also used in military settings to describe the firmness and forthrightness of the activity (Judg 5:26).

3 sn The parallel expressions here underscore her care for the needy. The first part uses “she spreads her palm” and the second “she thrusts out her hand,” repeating some of the vocabulary introduced in the last verse.

4 tn The first word of the eleventh line begins with כּ (kaf), the eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

5 tn The first word of the twelfth line begins with ל (lamed), the twelfth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

6 sn “Snow” is a metonymy of adjunct; it refers to the cold weather when snow comes. The verse is saying that this time is not a concern for the wise woman because the family is well prepared.

7 tn For the MT’s “scarlet” the LXX and the Latin have “two” or “double” – the difference being essentially the vocalization of a plural as opposed to a dual. The word is taken in the versions with the word that follows (“covers”) to means “double garments.” The question to be asked is whether scarlet would keep one warm in winter or double garments. The latter is the easier reading and therefore suspect.

8 tn The first word of the thirteenth line begins with מ (mem), the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The word rendered “coverlets” appears in 7:16, where it has the idea of “covered.” K&D 17:335 suggests “pillows” or “mattresses” here. The Greek version has “lined overcoats” or “garments,” but brings over the last word of the previous verse to form this line and parallel the second half, which has clothing in view.

9 sn The “fine linen” refers to expensive clothing (e.g., Gen 41:42), as does the “purple” (e.g., Exod 26:7; 27:9, 18). Garments dyed with purple indicated wealth and high rank (e.g., Song 3:5). The rich man in Luke 16:19 was clothed in fine linen and purple as well. The difference is that the wise woman is charitable, but he is not.

10 tn The first word of the fourteenth line begins with נ (nun), the fourteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The form is the Niphal participle of יָדַע (yada’); it means that her husband is “known.” The point is that he is a prominent person, respected in the community.

11 tn Heb “gate”; the term “city” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

sn The “gate” was the area inside the entrance to the city, usually made with rooms at each side of the main street where there would be seats for the elders. This was the place of assembly for the elders who had judicial responsibilities.

12 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct with the preposition and a pronominal suffix that serves as the subject (subjective genitive) to form a temporal clause. The fact that he “sits with the elders” means he is one of the elders; he sits as a judge among the people.

13 tn The first word of the fifteenth line begins with ס (samek), the fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

sn The poet did not think it strange or unworthy for a woman of this stature to be a businesswoman engaged in an honest trade. In fact, weaving of fine linens was a common trade for women in the ancient world.

14 tn Heb “to the Canaanites.” These are the Phoenician traders that survived the wars and continued to do business down to the exile.



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