|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:10-31 This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation. She is very careful to recommend herself to her husband's esteem and affection, to know his mind, and is willing that he rule over her. 1. She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. 2. She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She applies herself to the business proper for her, to women's business. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not. 3. She makes what she does turn to good account by prudent management. Many undo themselves by buying, without considering whether they can afford it. She provides well for her house. She lays up for hereafter. 4. She looks well to the ways of her household, that she may oblige all to do their duty to God and one another, as well as to her. 5. She is intent upon giving as upon getting, and does it freely and cheerfully. 6. She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world. 7. Above all, she fears the Lord. Beauty recommends none to God, nor is it any proof of wisdom and goodness, but it has deceived many a man who made his choice of a wife by it. But the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever. 8. She has firmness to bear up under crosses and disappointments. She shall reflect with comfort when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when young. She shall rejoice in a world to come. She is a great blessing to her relations. If the fruit be good, the tree must have our good word. But she leaves it to her own works to praise her. Every one ought to desire this honour that cometh from God; and according to this standard we all ought to regulate our judgments. This description let all women daily study, who desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful and honourable. This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellences here described.
Verse 13. - DALETH. She seeketh wool, and flax. She pays attention to these things, as materials for clothing and domestic uses. Wool has been used for clothing from the earliest times (see Leviticus 13:47; Job 31:20, etc.), and flax was largely cultivated for the manufacture of linen, the processes of drying, peeling, hackling, and spinning being well understood (see Joshua 2:6; Isaiah 19:9; Jeremiah 13:1, etc.). The prohibition about mixing wool and flax in a garment (Deuteronomy 22:11) was probably based on the idea that all mixtures made by the art of man are polluted, and that what is pure and simple, such as it is in its natural state, is alone proper for the use of the people of God. And worketh willingly with her hands; or, she worketh with her hands' pleasure; i.e. with willing hands. The rendering of the Revised Version margin, after Hitzig, "She worketh at the business of her hands," is feeble, and does not say much. What is meant is that she not only labours diligently herself, but finds pleasure in doing so, and this, not because she has none to help her, and is forced to do her own work (on the contrary, she is represented as rich, and at the head of a large household), but because she considers that labour is a duty for all, and that idleness is a transgression of a universal law. Septuagint, "Weaving (μηρυομένη) wool and flax; she makes it useful with her hands."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
She seeketh wool and flax,.... To get them, in order to spin them, and work them up into garments; she stays not till they are brought to her, and she is pressed to take them; but she seeks after them, which shows her willingness to work, as is after more fully expressed. It was usual in ancient times for great personages to do such works as these, both among the Grecians (z) and Romans: Lucretia with her maids were found spinning, when her husband Collatinus paid a visit to her from the camp (a): Tanaquills, or Caia Caecilia, the wife of King Tarquin, was an excellent spinster of wool (b); her wool, with a distaff and spindle, long remained in the temple of Sangus, or Sancus, as Varro (c) relates: and a garment made by her, wore by Servius Tullius, was reserved in the temple of Fortune; hence it became a custom for maidens to accompany newly married women with a distaff and spindle, with wool upon them (d), signifying what they were principally to attend unto; and maidens are advised to follow the example of Minerva, said to be the first that made a web (e); and, if they would have her favour, to learn to use the distaff, and to card and spin (f): so did the daughters of Minyas, in Ovid (g); and the nymphs, in Virgil (h). When Alexander the great advised the mother of Darius to use her nieces to such employments, the Persian ladies were in great concern, it being reckoned reproachful with them for such to move their hands to wool; on hearing which, Alexander himself went to her, and told her the clothes he wore were wrought by his sisters (i): and the daughters and granddaughters of Augustus Caesar employed themselves in the woollen manufacture by his order (k); and he himself usually wore no other garment than what was made at home, by his wife, sister, daughter, and granddaughter (l). The Jews have a saying (m), that there is no wisdom in a woman but in the distaff; suggesting, that it is her wisdom to mind her spinning, and the affairs of her household: at the Roman marriages, the word "thalassio" was often repeated (n), which signified a vessel in which spinning work was put; and this was done to put the bride in mind what her work was to be. Now as to the mystical sense of these words; as of wool outward garments, and of flax linen and inward garments, are made; by the one may be meant external, and by the other internal, acts of religion; both are to be done, and not the one without the other: outward acts of religion are, such as hearing the word, attendance on ordinances, and all good works, which make up a conversation garment that should be kept; and they should be done so as to be seen of men, but not for that reason: and internal acts of religion are, the fear of God, humility, faith, hope, love, and other graces, and the exercises of them, which make up the new man, to be put on as a garment; and these should go together; bodily exercise, without powerful godliness, profiteth little; and pretensions to spirituality and internal religion, without regard to the outward duties of religion, are all vain. Hence Ambrose, on the text, observes that one may say,
"It is enough to worship and serve God in my mind; what need have I to go to church, and visibly mingle with Christians? Such a man would have a linen, without a woollen garment, this woman knew not; she does not commend such works.''
She sought all opportunities of doing good works externally, as believers do; and sought after the kingdom of God, inward godliness, which lies in peace, righteousness, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Not that such garments are to be joined with Christs robe of righteousness, to make up a justifying one; a garment mingled with linen and woollen, in this sense, is not to come upon the saints, Leviticus 19:19;
and worketh willingly with her hands; or, "with the pleasure of her hands" (o); as if her hands took delight in working, as the church and all true believers do; who are made willing in the day of the Lord's power upon them, to serve him, as well as to be saved by him; in whose hearts he works, both to will and to do; and these do what they do cheerfully: these do the work of the Lord, not by the force of the law, nor through fear of punishment, but in love; not by constraint, but willingly, having no other constraint but the love of God and Christ; and not with mercenary selfish views, but with a view to his glory; and they find a pleasure and delight in all they do; Christ's ways are ways of pleasantness; his commandments are not grievous, his yoke is easy.
(z) Vid. Homer. Iliad 3. v. 125. & 6. v. 490, 491. & 22. v. 440. Odyss. l. v. 357. & 5. v. 62. (a) "Cujus, ante torumn calathi, lanaque mollis erat", Ovid. Fasti, l. 2. prope finem. (b) Valerius Maximus, l. 10. p. 348. (c) Apud Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48. (d) Plin. ibid. (e) Pomponius Subinus in Virgil. Cyrin, p. 1939. (f) "Pallade placata, lanam mollire puellae discant, et plenas exonerare colos", Ovid. Fast. l. 3. prope finem. (g) Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 1. v. 34, 35. (h) Georgic. l. 4. (i) Curt. Hist. l. 5. c. 2.((k) Sueton. in Vit. August. c. 64. (l) lbid. c. 73. (m) Vid. Buxtorf. Lex. Rabbin. col. 1742. (n) Varro apud Chartar. de Imag. Deorum, p. 88. (o) "cum voluptate altro neis manibus", so some in Vatablus, Tigurine version; so Cocceius, Michaelis, Piscator, Gejerus, Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13, 14. Ancient women of rank thus wrought with their hands; and such, indeed, were the customs of Western women a few centuries since. In the East also, the fabrics were articles of merchandise.
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