Proverbs 31:24
She makes fine linen, and sells it; and delivers girdles to the merchant.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Fine linen - Not the same word as in Proverbs 31:22 note; it describes a made-up garment Isaiah 3:23.

Merchant - literally, "Canaanite," i. e., the Phoenician merchant.

24. fine linen—or, "linen shirts," or the material for them.

girdles—were often costly and highly valued (2Sa 18:11).

delivereth—or, "giveth as a present" or "to sell."

Curiously wrought of linen, and gold, or other precious materials, Jeremiah 13:1 Daniel 10:5, which in those parts were used both by men, 2 Samuel 20:8, and by women, Isaiah 3:24 Song of Solomon 7:1. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it,.... She not only seeks wool and flax, and spins it, but makes it up into fine linen, which she disposes of to advantage to herself and family. Kimchi says (y), the word signifies coverings for the night, as well as day he seems to design linen sheets: the Arabic version adds, and "sells it to the inhabitants of Bosra." This, in the mystic sense, may signify either the good works the church does, and which she proposes as a pattern and example to her members; or divine instruction, as others, the preaching of the Gospel, and the truths of it; which she sells, and others buy, though both without money and without price; for, as she freely receives, she freely gives: or the righteousness of Christ, which is called fine linen and white raiment; which, properly speaking, is made by Christ, and sold by him, or bought of him, as before, without money; see Revelation 19:8; yet this the church makes her own, by laying hold upon it by faith, and which she holds forth freely to others in the Gospel; which is therefore called "the ministration of righteousness", 2 Corinthians 3:9;

and delivereth girdles unto the merchant; to dispose of them for her; either to sell to others, to the Egyptian priests which wore them; or for their own use, to put their money in, girdles being used for that purpose; see Gill on Matthew 10:9. Or, "a girdle to the Canaanite" (z); the Canaanites or Phoenicians being generally merchants, the word is put for one. By these may be meant ministers of the word; for, as the priests of Rome are called the merchants of the earth and false teachers are said to make merchandise men, Revelation 18:3; so faithful ministers, who trade for the good of souls, and seek not theirs, but them, and not their own things, but Christ's, may be called merchants: and to these "the girdle of truth" is given; and these the church exhorts to gird their loins with it, as well as all her members, that they may be ready to every good work, and particularly prepared to preach the Gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:14.

(y) Sepher. Shorash. rad (z) "Chananaeo", V. L. Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus; "negotiatori Phoenicio", Schultens.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. fine linen] Rather, linen garments. The word, which is not the same as that rendered fine linen in Proverbs 31:22, denotes not the material but a made-up garment, σινδόνας LXX.; sindonem, Vulg. It is rendered sheets, A.V., but linen garments, R.V., in Jdg 14:12-13, where it is described in the note in this Series as “a wide flowing under-garment of linen, worn next the body.” See Isaiah 3:23.

girdles] These were often richly worked and very valuable. See 1 Samuel 18:4; 2 Samuel 18:11.

the merchant] Lit. the Canaanite (as in Job 41:6 [Heb. 40:30]; Isaiah 23:8), because the Canaanites were the great merchants of the time. See note in this Series on Zechariah 14:21.

This verse adds as it were the finishing stroke to the picture. While all home duties in every relation, to her husband, her children, her servants, and to the poor around her, are fully and faithfully discharged, she is yet able to increase her store by the sale of what the industry of herself and her maidens has produced. At the same time it throws an interesting light upon the state of society, in which the mistress of a large household and the wife of one who took his place “among the elders of the land’ did not think it unworthy of her to engage in honest trade.Verse 24. - SAMECH. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it. The word for "fine linen" is sadin, not the same as in ver. 22. but equivalent to σινδών, and denoting linen garments; Delitzsch calls it "body linen" (comp. Judges 14:12, 13; Isaiah 3:23). Delivereth girdles unto the merchant; literally, unto the Canaanite; i.e. the Phoenician merchant, a generic name for all traders (see Isaiah 23:8; Zechariah 14:21). Girdles were necessary articles of attire with the flowing robes of Eastern dress The common kind were made of leather, as is the use at the present day; but a more costly article was of linen curiously worked in gold and silver thread, and studded with jewels and gold (see 2 Samuel 18:11; Daniel 10:5). So Virgil (AEneid,' 9:359) speaks of "aurea bullis cingula." We read of Queen Parysatis having certain villages assigned her for girdle money, εἰς ζώνην δεδομέναι (Xen., 'Anab.,' 1:4, 9). Cicero alludes to the same custom in his Verrine oration (Proverbs 3:33): "Solere aiunt barbaros reges Persarum ac Syrorum plures uxores habere, his autem uxoribus civitates attribuere hocmodo: haec civitas mulieri iu redimiculum proebeat, haec in collum, haec in crines" (comp. Plato, 'Alcib. I.,' p. 123, B). Such rich and elaborately worked girdles the mistress could readily barter with Phoenician merchants, who would give in exchange purple (ver. 22) and other articles of use or luxury. On this passage St. Gregory thus moralizes: "What is signified by a garment of fine linen, but the subtle texture of holy preaching? In which men rest softly, because the mind of the faithful is refreshed therein by heavenly hope. Whence also the animals are shown to Peter in a linen sheet, because the souls of sinners mercifully gathered together are enclosed in the gentle quiet of faith. The Church therefore made and sold this fine garment, because she inparted in words that faith which she had woven by belief; and received from unbelievers a life of upright conversation. And she delivered a girdle to the Canaanite, because by the might of the righteousness she displayed, she constrained the lax doings of the Gentile world, in order that that might be maintained in their doings which is commanded. 'Let your loins be girded about'" ('Moral.,' 33:33). 18 ט She perceiveth that her gain is good;

        And her light goeth not out at night.

The perf. and fut. are related to each other as antecedent and consequent, so that 18a can also be rendered as an hypothetical antecedent. She comes to find (taste) how profitable her industry is by the experience resulting from the sale of its product: the corn, the grapes, and the wine are found to be good, and thus her gain (cf. Proverbs 3:14) is better, this opened new source of nourishment productive.

This spurs on her active industry to redoubled effort, and at times, when she is not fully occupied by the oversight of her fields and vineyard, she has another employment over which her light goes not out till far in the night. בּלּילה is, as at Lamentations 2:19, a needless Kerı̂ for the poetic בּלּיל (Isaiah 16:3). What other business it is to which she gives attention till in the night, is mentioned in the next verse.

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