I’ve been reading a book called “A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master'” by Rachel Held Evans. I’m only about half way through, but it’s been very interesting! The author basically takes the commands and examples of womanhood in the Bible (Old Testament and New) completely literally, at times to the point of ridiculousness. In the process, she frequently discovers some interesting things about herself and what the point of the customs and and commands are.
Each month she focused on a different aspect of “Biblical womanhood”. The month she tried to BE the Proverbs 31 woman was particularly amusing. I think many western Christian women, like the author (and myself), tend to look at this woman as the “ultimate super godly woman”. It’s a goal we try to achieve but never feel that we can. The author, who has no idea how to sew or knit, fails miserably at trying to pull it all off. I’m sure I would, too!
In the process of writing the book, she met an Orthodox Jewish woman who is the wife of a Rabbi. This woman proves to be an excellent resource to understand the Jewish aspects of the Old Testament customs and commands. It turns out that while Orthodox Jews take the 631 commands in the Old Testament quite literally, they do not see Proverbs 31 as a list of commands. The verses are probably not actually talking about one actual woman at all. It is meant not to be a burden on women, but an encouragement. It’s not “Here’s all the stuff you need to pull off in order to be a godly woman.” Instead, it’s “Look at all the things you ladies do! It’s amazing!” The passage was not meant for women to memorize, but for HUSBANDS to memorize and recite to their wives every Sabbath! The “virtuous woman” is more accurately translated “Woman of valor”. When men or women see a woman doing something impressive, they would say to each other (in Hebrew) “Woman of valor!” Sort of a “Hey – great job! You’re being like the Proverbs 31 woman!” We’re not more godly if we bake our own bread, wake up before everyone else, sew clothes for everyone in the house, or engage in real estate transactions.
“The Proverbs 31 woman is a star not because of what she does but how she does it – with valor. So do your thing. If it’s refurbishing old furniture – do it with valor. If it’s keeping up with your two year old – do it with valor. If it’s fighting against human trafficking…leading a company…or getting other people to do your work for you – do it with valor. Take risks. Make mistakes. Get up the next morning. And surround yourselves with people who will cheer you on.” p. 95
Now, whenever I do something well or right or am prepared or take care of my family, I tell myself “woman of valor!” How much better to focus on the things we do right rather than the ways we think we fall short.
How are you a woman of valor today? How can you encourage someone else as she is a woman of valor?