Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day -- Proverbs 31

"Woman of Valor" by Susie Lubell

Mother's Day is one of those get-a-card, take-Mom-to-brunch days.  A Hallmark holiday, mostly.

But for those of us raised by good women, it offers an opportunity to reread Proverbs 31, verses 10 to 31.  In Christian Bibles, it is known as "The Virtuous Wife;" in the Hebrew, "A Woman of Valor."  Personally, I prefer the latter.

The verses spell out the activities of women several thousand years ago, but their theme -- devotion to honor and the good of a family -- resonates even today.  It is read often at women's funerals, as relatives and friends reflect on their loss.

Here is how the poem goes in what is probably the most widely read Bible today, the New King James Version, 1982.

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
She supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

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