Proverbs 31:14
She is like the merchants' ships; she brings her food from afar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) She bringeth her food from afar.—Looks for opportunities of buying cheaply at a distance from home, instead of paying a larger price on the spot.

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.The comparison points to the enlarged commerce of the Israelites consequent on their contact with the Phoenicians under David and Solomon; compare Proverbs 31:24. 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. By the sale of her homespun commodities she purchaseth the choicest goods which come from far countries. She is like the merchant ships,.... Not like a single one, but like a navy of them, that cross the seas, go to foreign parts, and come back laden with rich goods: so the church of Christ, and her true members, like ships of burden, trade to heaven, by prayer and other religious exercises, and return with the riches of grace and mercy, to help them in time of need; and though they have often difficult and dangerous passages, are tossed with tempests, and covered with billows; yet, Christ being their pilot, faith their sail, and hope their anchor, they weather the seas, ride out all storms, and come safe home with their merchandise;

she bringeth her food from afar: from a far country, from Egypt particularly, from whence corn for bread, as the word here used signifies, was fetched and carried in ships to divers parts of the world (p); to which the allusion may be: in a spiritual sense, it may mean that the church brings her food or bread from heaven, the good land afar off; where God her father, Christ her husband, and her friends the angels are; with whom she carries on a correspondence, and from hence she has her food for her family; not from below, on earth; not dust, the serpent's food; nor ashes, on which a deceitful heart feeds; nor husks, which swine eat; but the corn of heaven, angels' food, the hidden and heavenly manna; the bread of life, which comes down from heaven; the Gospel of the grace of God, the good news from a far country.

(p) Bacchylides spud Athenaei Deipnosoph. l. 2. c. 3. p. 39.

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. She is like the merchant’s ships] The principles of profitable exchange which regulate foreign trade are exemplified in the narrower sphere of her wise domestic economy. The reference to merchant-ships is interesting as pointing to an age when trade with foreign countries was common.Verse 14. - HE. She is like the merchants' ships. She is like them in that she extends her operations beyond her own immediate neighbourhood, and bringeth her food from afar, buying in the best markets and on advantageous terms, without regard to distance, and being always on the look out to make honest profit. Septuagint, "She is like a ship trading from a distance, and she herself gathereth her livelihood." The expressions in the text point to active commercial operations by sea as well as land, such as we know to have been undertaken by Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and others (1 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 22:48), and such as the Hebrews must have noticed in the Phoenician cities, Sidon and Tyre. 8 Open thy mouth for the dumb,

   For the right of all the children of leaving;

9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously,

   And do right to the poor and needy.

He is called dumb who suffers the infirmity of dumbness, as עוּר and פּסּח, Job 29:15, is he who suffers the infirmity of blindness or lameness, not here figuratively; at the same time, he who, on account of his youth, or on account of his ignorance, or from fear, cannot speak before the tribunal for himself (Fleischer). With ל the dat. commodi (lxx after Lagarde, μογιλάλῳ; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, ἀλάλῳ; the Venet. after Gebhardt, βωβῷ) אל, of the object aimed at, interchanges, as e.g., 1 Kings 19:3; 2 Kings 7:7, אל־נפשׁם, for the preservation of their life, or for the sake of their life, for it is seldom that it introduces the object so purely as here. And that an infin. such as חלוף should stand as a subst. occurs proportionally seldomer in Heb. (Isaiah 4:4; Psalm 22:7; cf. with ה of the artic., Numbers 4:12; Psalm 66:9) than it does in Arab. בּני חלוף in the same way as בּני־עני, 5b, belongs to the Arab. complexion of this proverb, but without its being necessary to refer to the Arab. in order to fix the meaning of these two words. Hitzig explains after khalf, to come after, which further means "to have the disadvantage," in which Zckler follows him; but this verb in Arab. does not mean ὑστερεῖν (ὑστερεῖσθαι), we must explain "sons of him that remains behind," i.e., such as come not forward, but remain behind ('an) others. Mhlau goes further, and explains, with Schultens and Vaihinger: those destitute of defence, after (Arab.) khalafahu he is ranked next to him, and has become his representative - a use of the word foreign to the Heb. Still less is the rendering of Gesenius justified, "children of inheritance" equals children left behind, after khallafa, to leave behind; and Luther, "for the cause of all who are left behind," by the phrase (Arab.) khallfany'an 'awnih, he has placed me behind his help, denied it to me, for the Kal of the verb cannot mean to abandon, to leave. And that בני חלוף means the opposers of the truth, or of the poor, or the litigious person, the quarrelsome, is perfectly inadmissible, since the Kal חלוף cannot be equivalent to (Arab.) khilaf, the inf. of the 3rd conj., and besides, the gen. after דּין always denotes those in whose favour, not those against whom it is passed; the latter is also valid against Ralbag's "sons of change," i.e., who say things different from what they think; and Ahron b. Josef's "sons of changing," viz., the truth into lies. We must abide by the meaning of the Heb. חלף, "to follow after, to change places, pass away." Accordingly, Fleischer understands by חלוף, the going away, the dying, viz., of parents, and translates: eorum qui parentibus orbati sunt. In another way Rashi reaches the same sense: orphans deprived of their helper. But the connection בני חלף requires that we make those who are intended themselves the subject of חלוף. Rightly Ewald, Bertheau, Kamphausen, compare Isaiah 2:18 (and Psalm 90:5., this with questionable right), and understand by the sons of disappearance those whose inherited lot, whose proper fate, is to disappear, to die, to perish (Symmachus: πάντων υἱῶν ἀποιχομένων; Jerome: omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt). It is not men in general as children of frailty that are meant (Kimchi, Meri, Immanuel, Euchel, and others), after which the Venet. τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ μεταβάλλειν (i.e., those who must exchange this life for another), but such as are on the brink of the abyss. צדק in שׁפט־צדק is not equivalent to בּצדק, but is the accus. of the object, as at Zechariah 8:16, decide justice, i.e., so that justice is the result of thy judicial act; cf. Knobel on Deuteronomy 1:16. ודּין is imper., do right to the miserable and the poor; cf. Psalm 54:3 with Jeremiah 22:16; Jeremiah 5:28. That is a king of a right sort, who directs his high function as a judge, so as to be an advocate [procurator] for the helpless of his people.

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