A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A virtuous woman.—Literally, of power, i.e., of ability and character, like the wife described in Proverbs 31, or the “able” men of Exodus 18:21.Proverbs 12:4. A virtuous woman — אשׁת חיל, a woman of strength, or vigour, (namely, of minds) of diligence, or economy. Thus אישׁ חיל, is rendered, Ruth 1:2. A man of valour. “Solomon seems to intend by this appellation, a woman who has all the perfections of her sex; wisdom, modesty, prudence, virtue, and, above all, economy and good management; and by her who maketh ashamed, he means the contrary; and particularly a woman who dissipates her husband’s substance in expensive follies; in the same manner as he called a libertine a prodigal son, a son that causeth shame,” chap. 10:5: see Calmet.
maketh ashamed—that is, by misconduct.
rottenness—an incurable evil.A crown; a singular ornament and matter of his glorying and joy.
That maketh ashamed; that by her folly or wickedness bringeth shame to herself and to her husband. As rottenness in his bones; loathsome, and vexatious, and pernicious. Revelation 12:1; to a woman of purity and chastity, whose members are virgins, not defiled with the corruptions, errors, and superstition of the apostate church; to a woman of fortitude and courage, as the word (m) signifies, who resists sin, temptation, error, heresy, and idolatry, even unto blood; and whose true members love not their lives unto death, but freely lay them down in the cause of truth; such an one is an honour to Christ her husband;
but she that maketh ashamed; makes her husband ashamed, by her levity and wantonness, her negligence and slothfulness, so that he is ashamed to be seen with her, or to be known that he stands in such a relation to her; she
is as rottenness in his bones; a constant grief to his mind, a pressure upon his spirits, a wasting of his body, and a consumption of his estate; she is, as the Targum has it, "as a worm in wood", which rots and consumes it (n); so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions. Thus the apostate church of Rome, that professes to be the spouse of Christ, has made him ashamed of her; as being the Jezebel, that seduces his servants to fornication or idolatry; and whose doctrine and superstition eat, like a canker, the vitals of religion.
(m) "mulier virtutis", Montanus, Vatablus; "uxor strenua", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "mulier fortis", Pagninus, Gejerus. (n) Such as are called Cossi, Tabani, Teredines, Thrypes; Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 1. c. 33. & l. 16. c. 41.A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. A virtuous woman] Comp. Ruth 3:11, and for a full description of the character intended, ch. Proverbs 31:10-31.Verse 4. - A virtuous woman; one whose portrait is beautifully traced in ch. 31. The term is applied to Ruth (Ruth 3:11). The Vulgate renders, diligens; Septuagint, ἀνδρεία. The expression means one of power either in mind or body, or both. The same idea is contained in ἀρετὴ and virtus. Such a woman is not simply loving and modest and loyal, but is a crown to her husband; is an honour to him, adorns and beautifies his life, making, as it were, a joyous festival. So St. Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:19) calls his converts "a crown of glorying." The allusion is to the crown worn by the bridegroom at his marriage, or to the garlands worn at feasts (comp. Song of Solomon 3:11; Isaiah 61:10; Wisd. 2:8). The Son of Sirach has much praise for the virtuous woman: "Blessed is the man that hath a good (ἀγαθῆς) wife, for the number of his days shall be double. A virtuous (ἀνδρεία) woman rejoiceth her husband, and he shall fulfil the years of his life in peace" (Ecclus. 26:1, 2). She that maketh ashamed; "that doeth shamefully" (Proverbs 10:5; Proverbs 19:26); one who is a terrible contrast to the woman of strong character - weak, indolent, immodest, wasteful. Is as rottenness in his bones (Proverbs 14:30; Habakkuk 3:16). Such a wife poisons her husband's life, deprives him of strength and vigour; though she is made "bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh" (Genesis 2:23), far from being a helpmate for him, she saps his very existence. Septuagint, "As a worm in a tree, so an evil woman destroyeth a man." Here again Siracides has much to say, "A wicked woman abateth the courage, maketh an heavy countenance and a wounded heart: a woman that will not comfort her husband in distress maketh weak hands and feeble knees" (Ecclus. 25:23). Thus runs a Spanish maxim (Kelly, 'Proverbs of All Nations') -
"Him that has a good wife no evil in life
that may not be borne can befall;
Him that has a bad wife no good thing in life
that chance to, that good you may call."
And a fool becomes servant to the wise in heart.
Jerome well translates: qui conturbat domum suam, for עכר closely corresponds to the Lat. turbare; but with what reference is the troubling or disturbing here meant? The Syr. translates 29a doubly, and refers it once to deceit, and the second time to the contrary of avarice; the lxx, by ὁ μὴ συμπεριφερόμενος τῷ ἑαυτοῦ οἴκῳ, understands one who acts towards his own not unsociably, or without affability, and thus not tyrannically. But עכר שׁארו Proverbs 11:17, is he who does not grudge to his own body that which is necessary; עכר ישׂראל is applied to Elijah, 1 Kings 18:17, on account of whose prayer there was a want of rain; and at Proverbs 15:27 it is the covetous who is spoken of as עכר בּיתו. The proverb has, accordingly, in the man who "troubles his own house" (Luth.), a niggard and sordid person (Hitzig) in view, one who does not give to his own, particularly to his own servants, a sufficiency of food and of necessary recreation. Far from raising himself by his household arrangements, he shall only inherit wind (ינחל, not as the Syr. translates, ינחיל, in the general signification to inherit, to obtain, as Proverbs 3:35; Proverbs 28:10, etc.), i.e., he goes always farther and farther back (for he deprives his servants of all pleasure and love for their work in seeking the prosperity of his house), till in the end the reality of his possession dissolves into nothing. Such conduct is not only loveless, but also foolish; and a foolish person (vid., regarding אויל at Proverbs 1:7) has no influence as the master of a house, and generally is unable to maintain his independence: "and the servant is a fool to him who is wise of heart." Thus the lxx (cf. also the lxx of Proverbs 10:5), Syr., Targ., Jerome, Graec. Venet., Luth. construe the sentence. The explanation, et servus stulti cordato (sc. addicitur), i.e., even the domestics of the covetous fool are at last partakers in the wise beneficence (Fl.), places 29b in an unnecessary connection with 29a, omits the verb, which is here scarcely superfluous, and is not demanded by the accentuation (cf. e.g., Proverbs 19:22).
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