Proverbs 11:16
A gracious woman retains honor: and strong men retain riches.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) A gracious woman retaineth honour . . .—Each sex has its own power. A woman by her attractiveness wins and retains favour, a man by his strength and riches.

Proverbs 11:16. A gracious woman — Hebrew, אשׁת חן, a woman of grace; one endued with the saving grace of God, and who, by humility, meekness, modesty, prudence, and other virtues, renders herself acceptable and amiable to God and men; retaineth honour — Holdeth fast her honour, or good reputation, with no less care and resolution than strong men do riches, as it follows.11:1 However men may make light of giving short weight or measure, and however common such crimes may be, they are an abomination to the Lord. 2. Considering how safe, and quiet, and easy the humble are, we see that with the lowly is wisdom. 3. An honest man's principles are fixed, therefore his way is plain. 4. Riches will stand men in no stead in the day of death. 5,6. The ways of wickedness are dangerous. And sin will be its own punishment. 7. When a godly man dies, all his fears vanish; but when a wicked man dies, his hopes vanish. 8. The righteous are often wonderfully kept from going into dangerous situations, and the ungodly go in their stead. 9. Hypocrites delude men into error and sin by artful objections against the truths of God's word. 10,11. Nations prosper when wicked men are cast down. 12. A man of understanding does not judge of others by their success. 13. A faithful man will not disclose what he is trusted with, unless the honour of God and the real good of society require it. 14. We shall often find it to our advantage to advise with others. 15. The welfare of our families, our own peace, and our ability to pay just debts, must not be brought into danger. But here especially let us consider the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in becoming Surety even for enemies. 16. A pious and discreet woman will keep esteem and respect, as strong men keep possession of wealth. 17. A cruel, froward, ill-natured man, is vexatious to those that are, and should be to him as his own flesh, and punishes himself. 18. He that makes it his business to do good, shall have a reward, as sure to him as eternal truth can make it. 19. True holiness is true happiness. The more violent a man is in sinful pursuits, the more he hastens his own destruction. 20. Nothing is more hateful to God, than hypocrisy and double dealing, which are here signified. God delights in such as aim and act with uprightness. 21. Joining together in sin shall not protect the sinners. 22. Beauty is abused by those who have not discretion or modesty with it. This is true of all bodily endowments. 23. The wicked desire mischief to others, but it shall return upon themselves. 24. A man may grow poor by not paying just debts, not relieving the poor, not allowing needful expenses. Let men be ever so saving of what they have, if God appoints, it comes to nothing. 25. Both in temporal and spiritual things, God commonly deals with his people according to the measure by which they deal with their brethren. 26. We must not hoard up the gifts of God's bounty, merely for our own advantage. 27. Seeking mischief is here set against seeking good; for those that are not doing good are doing hurt, even to themselves.Or, "The gracious woman wins and keeps honor, as (the conjunction may be so rendered) strong men win riches." 16. retaineth—or literally, "lay hold of as a support." Honor is to a feeble woman thus as valuable as riches to men. A gracious woman, Heb. a woman of grace and favour, i.e. one who by her meekness, and modesty, and prudence, and other virtues, renders herself acceptable and amiable to God and to men.

Retaineth honour, or holdeth fast her honour or good reputation, with no less care and resolution than strong men do riches, as it here follows.

And strong men retain riches; or, as strong men, &c.; for so this conjunction is oft used in this book, of which we have seen some, and may afterwards see more instances. A gracious woman retaineth honour,.... Or "a woman of grace" (s) one that has the grace of God in her heart, and is of a virtuous conversation, and by both amiable and lovely to others; as she receives honour or glory from them, which she deserves, so she retains the same. The Targum is,

"a gracious woman divides glory;''

that is, between herself and her husband; to which the Arabic version agrees, which renders it,

"a gracious woman raises up glory to her husband.''

Jarchi interprets it of the congregation of Israel; his note is,

"the congregation of Israel continually draws nigh to the glory of God and his law;''

and it may be applied to the true church of Christ, which seeks the glory of Christ, and retains the glory of Gospel doctrines, of Gospel ordinances, of Gospel discipline, and of Gospel conversation, when the harlot, the apostate church, has lost all honour of these things;

and strong men retain riches: some render it, "as strong men retain riches" (t); as they, when they have got them into their possession, keep them, it being in the power of their hands so to do, against all that would take them from them; so a gracious woman is as tenacious of her honour for chastity, modesty, wisdom, and conduct: or by those "strong men", or "terrible and violent" ones, as the word (u) signifies, may be meant the beast of Rome and his followers, cruel persecutors; whose principal care it is to amass the riches and wealth of others, which, when they have got, they hold fast.

(s) "mulier gratiae", Montanus, Baynus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "quae gratia praedita est", Tigurine version; "uxor gratia pollens", Schultens. (t) "ut", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens. (u) "violenti", Piscator, Schultens; "formidabiles", Gejerus.

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. retaineth] i.e. acquires and keeps. Comp. Proverbs 29:23. In Genesis 48:17 we read: Joseph held up (same Heb. word), i.e. took and kept hold of, and so raised, his father’s hand.

and]=as. We have a similar virtual comparison by juxtaposition of clauses in Proverbs 26:9; Proverbs 26:11.

strong] Rather violent, R.V., the reference being to such lawless action as is described in Proverbs 1:13.

The grace of true womanhood wins and retains honour not less securely than the violence of the freebooter holds fast his spoil.

The LXX. have for this proverb:

“A gracious woman brings glory to her husband,

But a throne of dishonour is a woman who hateth righteousness;”

and add:

“They who deal slothfully with riches become poor,

But the diligent stay themselves upon their wealth.”Verse 16. - A gracious woman; a woman full of grace. Septuagint, εὐχάριστος "agreeable," "charming." The author is thinking of personal attractions, which, he says, win favour; but we may apply his expression to moral exeellences also, which obtain higher recognition. Retaineth... retain; better, obtain...win, as in Proverbs 29:23. The two clauses are parallel in form, not in sense, and imply that beauty is more effective than strength, and honour is better than wealth. The Septuagint takes a narrow view: "A graceful woman bringeth glory to her husband." The last clause is rendered, "The manly (ἀνδρεῖοι) are supported by wealth." Between the two clauses the LXX. and the Syriac introduce the following paragraphs: "But a seat of dishonour is a woman that hateth righteousness. The indolent come to want wealth, but the manly," etc. Three proverbs follow relating to the nature of city and national life, and between them two against mockery and backbiting:

10 In the prosperity of the righteous the city rejoiceth;

     And if the wicked come to ruin, there is jubilation.

The בּ of בּטוּב denotes the ground but not the object, as elsewhere, but the cause of the rejoicing, like the ב 10b, and in the similar proverb, Proverbs 29:2, cf. Proverbs 28:12. If it goes well with the righteous, the city has cause for joy, because it is for the advantage of the community; and if the wicked (godless) come to an end, then there is jubilation (substantival clause for תּרן), for although they are honoured in their lifetime, yet men breathe freer when the city is delivered from the tyranny and oppression which they exercised, and from the evil example which they gave. Such proverbs, in which the city (civitas) represents the state, the πόλις the πολιτεία, may, as Ewald thinks, be of earlier date than the days of an Asa or Jehoshaphat; for "from the days of Moses and Joshua to the days of David and Solomon, Israel was a great nation, divided indeed into many branches and sections, but bound together by covenant, whose life did not at all revolve around one great city alone." We value such critical judgments according to great historical points of view, but confess not to understand why קריה must just be the chief city and may not be any city, and how on the whole a language which had not as yet framed the conception of the state (post-bibl. מדינה), when it would described the community individually and as a whole, could speak otherwise than of city and people.

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