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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Woman of Valor

I learned something really cool last week! You might or might not be familiar with a poem from Proverbs 31 about a "Virtuous Woman." In church circles, this chapter is often used as an example of  perfect Biblical womanhood. Sometimes, it even becomes a checklist to bang over women's heads, which can lead to a lot of guilt, shame, and inferiority. But I think this poem was meant to do the opposite. A woman clothed with strength and dignity... A woman who laughs without fear of the future...

Years ago I figured out a few things about this passage. 1) The woman was rich and had servants, so not many of us these days can hope to accomplish as much as she did. 2) The woman clearly does not have small children, so those struggling through that exciting yet exhausting stage of life need not expect to live up to her esteemed standards. 3) She was a business woman who had her own mind and made her own decisions, so in many ways she is an example for a more liberated woman than some Christian denominations advocate.

But last week I learned the coolest thing ever. I was reading a book examining Biblical womanhood, and the author examined a variety of Biblical traditions including Jewish, Catholic, Amish, etc... Jews do not translate the Hebrew term "eshet chayil" in Proverbs 31 as "virtuous woman," they translate it as "woman of valor." I love that! Don't you? And they understand that it is a poem in praise of the type of woman who should be honored, not a to-do list. Jewish husband's quote this poem in praise of their wives, they don't use it to show them how they're falling short. Jewish women use the term eshet chayil to celebrate each other's accomplishments. 

The author decided to pick up that habit, and I think I will too. As I googled "woman of valor" to find an image for this post, I realized that this idea is more popular and wide-spread than I had realized. And, of course, eshet chayil, goes perfectly with my Valiant Hearts series. So I encourage you all to be strong and courageous women, worthy of the title eshet chayil, and to honor other valorous women in your lives as well.

Are you a woman of valor? What valorous things have you done? If not, how could you move toward becoming a woman of valor?


  1. Wow that is so awesome! I have never heard of that before! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Thanks, Laura. I'm pretty excited about this discovery.

  2. Very interesting. I came across a blog post recently through a group I follow on a social media site written by a young lady who belongs to a women's 'living history' group and we had an interesting discussion about women's occupations in the Middle Ages.
    I recall she said something along the lines that Medieval noblewoman's role something was something akin that of a CEO what with managing the household, finances, servants etc.
    (Her blog you may find interesting, so I am including a link here

    Another literary acquaintance shared a quote (I believe from Dorothy L Sayers) that before the Industrial Revolution, when most goods were manufactured on a small, domestic level, women had more of a role in the 'business' so to speak. It seems that certain occupations, such as cloth production, were almost entirely dominated by women.
    So the notion of the woman of Proverbs making clothes for the family and running the household is a reflection of reality really....