Virtuous Woman – אשת חיל


“A virtuous Woman is a crown crown to her husband” (Prov 12:4)

In summary, the “virtuous” woman represents the multitudinous people taken by the Messiah in marriage as his queen. Those who will with Yashua as he reigns from Zion, from the throne of his father David.

Our subject is taken from proverbs 31. We do not have enough time to look at every verse in detail, that would require many evenings as we shall see. So we will have to suffice with a more thematic approach, just brushing the surface. My aim is to wet your appetite for further personal study.

Lets look together at the first verse – which can be better translated from the Hebrew:

“The words of king Lemuel; the burden wherewith his mother corrected him”

It is most likely that Lemuel is a pseudonym for Solomon, as we will see later. In which case, the following are words of reproof are from Bathsheba. And they were given some point after Solomon’s appointment as king. Given the prominence of Bathsheba I believe that this chapter was written after the falling asleep of David. And from the content of the reproof, during the early stages of Solomon’s demise, from which he recovered and was compelled by the spirit to recorded these words for our learning.

The word “burden” here, is used elsewhere to describe the consequences of ones actions. For example in Isaiah, the burden of Babylon, the burden of Moab, the burden of Damascus, the burden of Egypt and others, as well as the opening chapters of Habakkuk and Malachi.

Perhaps an poignant proverb,

Prov 10:1 A wise son maketh a glad father: … a foolish son is the burden of his mother

Bathsheba’s plea to him, focuses on two of his main weaknesses. Women, in verse three and wine, in verses four to nine. She opens with an emotional appeal, reminding him of the role that he should be trying to fulfil and the great responsibility that holds.

:2 What is my son? and what is the son of my womb? and what is the son of my vows?

What has my son become? … very cutting words for a son who loves his mother! These Hebrew words are charged with meaning and emotion.

This is not a normal son, the son here is bar בר not the normal word for son, ben בן. Ben בן from the root banah בנה meaning “to build”. The Hebrew word bar בר, is a very unusual word in scripture occurring only one other time. According to Gesenius it is probably derived from ether the word bara ברא or barah ברה, both having the root idea of cutting. Bara ברא is the word “created” in Gen 1:1, describing the creation of the Heavens and the Earth; cut out from the darkness that which already existed. The second word barah ברה, from which comes berit ברית, or the cutting of a covenant.

(As an aside, bar בר, is also a word for corn, with some interesting links to Joseph; especially in the context of a seed of promise)

Bathsheba deliberately chooses this word, to bring the mind of Solomon to the second psalm of David, her husband, who had likely fallen asleep by then. Please come with me to psalm 2. These words would have been well known to the family. A psalm describing the promised seed of David and his reign. “I will set up thy seed after thee”, and “I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever”, and “I will be his father, and he shall be my ben” (2 Sam 7:12, 13, 14). In Psalm two and verse seven we read:

:7 I will declare the decree: Yahweh hath said unto me, Thou art my ben; this day have I begotten thee.

This links Solomon to this chapter as a type of the Messiah. In verse 12, we have the only other occurrence of our word bar בר,

:12 Kiss the bar, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

So we have a covenant son, the son of the promise to our father Abraham, the singular seed, who becomes a multitudinous seed. A son who has been cut out of the Adamic race and set in the political heavens over the land of Israel. So too Solomon. He had been set in the political heavens, on the throne of his father David and his rein supposed to type the millennial reign of the Messiah.

In Bathsheba’s mind, this was what Solomon should be aiming to do, and he was not living up to it. Instead of the kings of the earth being “instructed” or corrected by Solomon, verse 10. Solomon himself needed the correction of Bathsheba, … same word.

She continues in proverbs 31, “what is the son of my womb?”, what has he become? Yahweh says in Isaiah 49,

Isa 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Naturally the a woman’s bond is very strong with her child, just as Yahweh loves Israel.

Bathsheba goes beyond even that, he is “the son of my vows”. What is this vow? The only other vow in scripture that concerns a mother and her son is Hannah’s vow concerning Samuel.

1 Sam 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Yahweh of Armies, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto Yahweh all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

Bathsheba here is associating herself with the feelings and thoughts of Hannah. From this it would seem that after loosing her first child, she prayed for a son that she may give him in Nazarite dedicate to Yahweh. Hence Solomon’s pseudonym “Lemuel”, approximately meaning … dedicated to El! For he had been dedicated by Bathsheba.

Under the nazarite vow, “wine and strong drink” should not be consumed (Num 6:2). Bathsheba appeals to Solomon in verses 4 to 9, again with allusions to the second psalm,

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his anointed

English: A glass of red wine.

By the intoxication of Babylonish doctrine, now freely shared from the cups of the Roman Catholic system and her harlot daughters, the kings of the earth are going mad (Apoc 17).

Jer 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad

We see this being fulfilled now with the worlds utterly illogical treatment of the people of Israel. This one subject often leaves, even the most intelligent of this world, without the most basic of reason … to the point of hilarity. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh”. And this, before the return of the Messiah! What will it be like after, in the time described in the second psalm?

Bathsheba is undoubtedly making a double reference to both the literal wine, and the allegorical Babylonish wine of false doctrine. Wine that Solomon’s wives served him. Wine that eventually drew him away from Yahweh.

Virtuous – Chayl חיל

In verse three our word “virtuous” is introduced:

:3 Give not thy strength, chayl חיל unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

The root idea, according to Gesenius, is to twist and turn, to writhe. The word is used to describe anything that is gotten by strife, a man’s wealth and his household.

Here Bathsheba is reminding Solomon, men should not strive for the attention of women, there lies the “destruction” of the Noahaic age (same word). People who were defined by there eating, drinking, and giving in marriage.

Instead, a man should “love Yahweh with all his focus” and his strife should be in the “ways” of Yahweh (Psa 1). He should be looking to join himself to a woman like himself, a woman of chayl חיל a true help, his counterpart.

We find this pattern in the book of Ruth. Boaz is first described as a man of chayl חיל in Ruth 2:1.

Ruth 2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of chayl חיל, of the family of Eli-melech; and his name was Boaz.

And also Ruth a women of chayl חיל.

Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a a women of chayl חיל

Both Solomon and Boaz are types pointing forward to Yashua and his bride. It is the responsibility of husband to first give the example, and then the responsibility of the bride to emulate him. This is an important principal to learn for both our natural relationships as husbands and wives, as well as how we relate to our spiritual husband, Yashua.

Prov 31:10 Who can find a woman of chayl חיל? for her price is far above pearls.

The word chayl חיל carries with it a lot of meaning, far beyond the superficial word “virtuous” that we have in our English text. It has three sister words

  • A solider – one who strives together alongside his fellows, willing to give his life protecting the families of the nation from brutal invaders.
  • Labour pains – the writhing in agony of a mother to be. She bears the pain at the prospect of holding her baby in her arms. Caring for it with self sacrificial love.

Both these words describe the self sacrificial character of the righteous ones. The two sides to El Shadday, “the powerful breast”, the protecting breast of the father and the nurturing breast of the mother.

In the third word we see the destiny of such a body of people, Sand.[picture?] Beaten and shaped by the waves of the sea. the allegorical promised seed of Abraham was shaped by Egyptian waves, oppressed and moulded by the agitation of the sea nations. Once formed, they were gathered together (Gen 41:49), raised from the dust (Psa 113:7,8), as an adamic body (Ezek 37, Gen 2:7). The righteous of this multitude shall be as the stars (Dan 12:3), entering the land (Deut 10:22), in order to give light to the earth (Gen 1:15). In the sand, we see the probationary period of the bride of Christ, the solomonic bride.

Back in verse 10 it says

Prov 31:10 Who can find a woman of chayl חיל?

The word “find”, matza’ מצא, is first used in Genesis 2.

Gen 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found (matza’ מצא) an help, as opposite him.
21 And Yahweh Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which Yahweh Elohim had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Just as one capable of empathy with the first Adam could not be found amongst the animals. So the spiritual bride was not found in the beast nations (Ezk 31:6), but had to be formed from the side of Yashua, the passover lamb who’s blood poured out giving life to the dust.

Back in Proverbs 31, we are told that the value of a women of chayl חיל is beyond “rubies”, it has been suggested that the Hebrew describes a pearl. A pearl (Paninim פנינים) is formed around a grain of sand Chol חול in response to agitation, multiple faces one on top of the other. She responds to the trials of life with a growth of character, learning from past experience.

Prov 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of Yahweh; neither be weary of his correction
:12 For whom Yahweh loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Yahweh knows what is best for us, and that may not always comply with our immediate wants and desires. The bride of Yashua understands this, trusting in her prospective husband and delights in the difficult as well as the easy times, knowing that “all things work together for good to those that love Yahweh”.

Please come with me back to proverbs 31. What greater commendation can we have than that given in verse 11.

Prov 31:11 The heart of her husband doth trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

The bride of Yashua exits, constituted of a generation called and taken from out of all generations (Exo 3:15). She is worthy of the trust of Yashua … if we are to be counted among her number, then we must be to!

Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto Yahweh, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

If we say we will do something, we must try our best to do it … regardless of our own personal loss.

Trust worthiness is first a trait of Yahweh, a trait that the bride emulates.

Prov 3:5 Trust in Yahweh with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding
:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Being trust worthy is not to be confused with trusting ourselves.

Prov 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in Yahweh shall be made fat.
:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

The opposite of trust in Yahweh is trust in self … a proud heart. If we are proud, then we are counted as fools!

The “virtuous” woman emulates her husband, her reasoning and actions conform with his will. She has the wisdom of her husband … knowing this, her husband trusts her.

Prov 31:12 She hath done him good and not evil all the days of her life

Numbers 17:23 - The rod of Aaron

Numbers 17:23 – The rod of Aaron (Photo credit: zeevveez)

The word “do” here is gamal גמל, it means to give or to give back to someone, in ether a good sense or a bad sense. The same word describes the budding of Ah’ron’s rod, the nutritional “giving” of the branch that produced almonds.

In Gen 50, the word is used in perhaps a more ironic way. Where the brethren of Joseph recall with remorse there “giving” to Joseph in all that they had done to him. A great contrast to how they should have treated a brother.

The word is also used of a mother weaning a child, when she has finished giving the child all it needs to become independent; as with Hannah and Samuel (1 Sam 1:23, 1 Kings 11:20, Isa 28:9). At the time, on average children were weaned till about three years of age. Twenty four months is the recommended minimum according to the Talmud.


Suckling babe

During this time of giving, the the suckling child not only receives from her milk great nutritional benefit and better protection from disease, but also much needed emotional support; calming and relaxing the child. While breastfeeding, mother and child experience releases of hormones which provide numerous health benefits to them both.

There is perhaps a lot for us to learn that the spirit chooses to equate this most tender nurturing of a child with the caring attitude of a wife towards her husband. What about us … in our natural relationships, do we love each other in this way? What about our national husband, do we love Yashua in this way? Do we love Yahweh our Elohim with all our Heart (our focus), with all our body’s (our actions), and do we do this with all our might?

Bathsheba continues in verse 13,

Prov 31:13 She hath sought wool and flax, And with delight she will work with her hands.

The word seeketh is darash דרש, it is used in psalm 119 and verse ten. Lets look at verse nine for context.

Psa 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought, darash דרש thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed art thou, Yahweh: teach me thy statutes.

The righteous ones diligently seek Yahweh and hide his words in there heart that they might not sin. How much time, brethren and sisters, do we put into seeking Yahweh?

Both wool and flax are mentioned as materials gathered together for the construction of the Tabernacle. The wool in the rams skins that became part of the tabernacle covering and the linen in the priestly garments.

English: Flax The seeds of flax are used to ma...

Flax The seeds of flax are used to make linseed oil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m unsure as to what the wool represents at the moment, perhaps we could discuss it afterwards. It’s first symbolic appearance seems to be in the garments provided in the garden from one skin. The covering skin of Yashua, that we share. This appears to be carried forward in the Tabernacle covering, one single large covering, albeit many skins. Perhaps the one passover lamb for the entire household. And therefore the baptismal garments of those who have “put on Christ”? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Flax on the other hand is easier,

Apoc 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Producing linen from the stem fibres of the flax plant requires much hard work and time. The crop is planted and harvested after about 100 days, uprooting the stems by hand. Just as the thoughts of Yahweh needs to be gathered together from many places of scripture. Once uprooted, the flax seeds are removed from the top of the stem and winnowed and crushed to produce a nutrient rich oil.

Notice she does all this “willingly” or with Joy as it says in the Hebrew with outstretched hands, taking our minds straight back to Psa 1.

Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of Yahweh; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

In the mean time, the flax stems are retted. This is done by laying out the bundles in the field a leaving them to rot for a month or more. Making it possible to separate the flax fibres from the rest of the stem. The thoughts of Yahweh are not easy to understand, often careful meditation over long periods of time allow the deeper riches to be separated out.

Prov 25:2 It is the glory of Elohim to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

Once retted, stems are crushed to separate the fibres from the chaff. Then beaten and combed till the fibres are as soft as hair. Once at this stage, the flax wool can then be spun into thread, as in verse 19. Perhaps this represents the drawing on and combining together of the now understood thoughts from throughout scripture, carefully combined into a single subject thread.

The concept of spinning seems to be limited to this chapter and the preparation of the tabernacle coverings in Exodus 35:25. Both are symbolic of the household of faith, then bride of Christ.

The last stage is weaving this new understanding into clothing, making it part of our character as in verse 22.

Prov 31:14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

The word for merchant has the root idea of going round, a continual going back and forth of the ships, bringing food from afar. In like manor, Ruth continually went to glean wheat in the field of Boaz, that she may feed Naomi.

Do we continually study the word of Yahweh, so that we have enough to feed our households, or do we do it only when we have time?

Prov 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

There is an interesting theme in the Hebrew word for riseth, qum קום. The first verse where it is used in conjunction with the word for night is Gen 19:33. This is the record of the conception of Moab, to Lot’s first born daughter after they made there father drunk in the night, lay down and arose.

What a remarked contrast Ruth is to her great grandmother. Instead, she arose from the land of Moab and travelled to the house of bread. further completing the contrast,

Ruth 3:14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up, qum קום before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.

In laying down in symbolic death with Boaz, covered with his garment, she also arose with him. Just as the righteous ones lay down there lives with there beloved, dedicating there lives to Yahweh and not there fleshly lusts. So to will they be raised up to stand with there Lord on the mount of olives.

Psa 113:7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
:8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

Back in Proverbs 31, the word “portion” is chuqqah חוקה.

Deut 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, chuqot חוקת, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
:2 That thou mightest fear Yahweh thy Elohim, to keep all his statutes, chuqot חוקת, and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as Yahweh Elohim of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
:4 Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim is one Yahweh:
:5 And thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim with all thine heart, and with all thy body, and with all thy might.

English: "Make them known unto thy childr...

“Make them known unto thy children and thy children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be apon thine heart:
:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down … and when thou risest up, qum קום!

This is exactly what the virtuous women did, what the bride of Yashua does and what Ruth did for her children, a women who grew up in Moab. And look at the result, David her great great grandson, a man after Yahweh’s own heart, because he had the commandments of Yahweh upon his heart, in accordance with this chapter.

Prov 31:17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

The girding here, is again another reference back to the girding priestly garments. The priestly work of teaching and instructing the household. And the strengthening of her arms

Deut 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

The word bind is cognate with the work qosher קשר. So the commandments of Yahweh should make right the ways of our hands and focus our vision.

Prov 31:18 She hath perceived when her merchandise is good, Her lamp is not extinguished in the night.

A diya - Indian oil lamp.

The lamp her is the lamp of the Menorah. She works by the light of the word of Yahweh. Brethren and sisters, are our works through the understanding of the scriptures?

Prov 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with a double garment.

Let us not forget that is is the responsibility of the household to feed and cloth those who need it. For those who have enough bread to feed, those who have the flax and linen to share it with there brethren and sisters who are lacking. That they two may manifest the character of Yahweh. None of us are perfect, we are all lacking in part and we need each others help, some times in our lives more than others.

Prov 31:22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
:23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
:24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Again, she does not just think of herself, she provides for others as well.

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

We need to be very careful about what we say, there are six things Yahweh hates one of which is a lying tongue (Prov 6:17).

Prov 28:23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

Flattery causes complacency and a hiding of our faults, loving rebuke is better in the long turn.

Prov 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
:19 The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment

Back in proverbs 31, we don’t have time to look at the last few verses in detail.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Do we have spare time brethren and sisters?

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

It says in proverbs 22 and verse 6,

Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The last few verses summarise the whole of the chapter and indeed the whole of the proverbs.

Prov 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth Yahweh, she shall be praised.
:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

We need not strive for acceptance of others, nor the outward beauty that this world strives to possess. By our actions and our character we are will be judged … seek Yahweh and all these things will be added unto you.

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