Proverbs 31:27
She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Proverbs 31:27. She looketh well to her household — She diligently observes the management of her domestic business, and the whole carriage of her children and servants. Whereby he also intimates, that she spends not her time in gadding abroad to other people’s houses, and in idle discourses about the concerns of other persons, as the manner of many women is, but is wholly intent upon her own house and proper business; and eateth not the bread of idleness — That which is gotten by idleness, or without labour.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.Law of kindness - The words which come from the lips of the true wife are as a law giving guidance and instruction to those that hear them; but the law is not proclaimed in its sterner aspects, but as one in which "mercy tempers justice," and love, the fulfilling of the law, is seen to be the source from which it springs. 27. (Compare 1Ti 5:14; Tit 2:5). She adds to her example a wise management of those under her control. She looketh well to the ways of her household; she diligently observeth the management and progress of her domestic business, and the whole carriage and conversation of her children and servants; whereby also he intimates that she spends not her thee in gadding abroad to other houses, and idle discourses about the concerns of other persons, as the manner of many women is, but is wholly intent upon her own house and proper business.

Eateth not the bread of idleness; that which is got by idleness, or without labour. She looketh well to the ways of her household,.... The business of her house, her domestic affairs; that her children and servants have convenient food, and in due season; that they have proper clothing, and keep their garments close about them, and unspotted; that everyone does the business of his calling, her several officers, and private members; that a good decorum is kept, that all things are done decently and in order; that the rules of her lord and husband are observed; that the conversations of all in her house are according to the word of God, and becoming their character: she takes care of the sick and weak, comforts the feeble minded, and supports the infirm; she cannot bear them that are evil, whether in principle or practice; that are immoral in their lives, or unsound in their faith; but admonishes them according to the nature of their offences, and casts out the obstinate or incorrigible. The words may be rendered, "she looks well to the ways of her house" (d); that lead unto it, so Gersom; either her house below, the way or entrance into which is by faith in Christ, and a profession of it; and she takes care that none be admitted but such who have it: or the ways in it, the commands, ordinances, appointments, and constitutions of Christ, called the ways of Zion; and concerned she is that all in her family walk in them, and observe them: or her house above, which is eternal in the heavens; Christ's Father's house and, hers, in which are many mansions, and everlasting habitations; the way to this also is Christ, who is the true way to eternal life, the strait gate and narrow way that leads to it; without his imputed righteousness, and the regenerating grace of his Spirit, there is no entrance into it: besides this, there are lesser paths which agree and coincide; as the paths of faith, truth, and holiness, and the ways of Christ's commandments, which issue in it, and which the church and her true members are careful to look unto and observe. The Arabic version renders it, "the paths of her house are strait"; with which compare Matthew 7:13. Jarchi interprets these ways of the law, which teaches the good way, and to separate from transgression;

and eateth not the bread of idleness; of an idle woman, as Aben Ezra; or she being idle does not eat bread; she does not eat it without labour; it is "the bread of labour", of many labours she eats, as in Psalm 127:2; she labours for the meat which endures to everlasting life, John 6:27; the Gospel, that bread which strengthens man's heart, refreshes his spirit, is made of the finest of the wheat, contains the wholesome words of Christ, and by which men are nourished up unto everlasting life; and which particularly directs to Christ the true bread, the bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall never die, but live for ever; and on which true believers feed by faith; but though this is prepared for them, and is the gift of God to them, yet must be laboured for; it is not eaten without labour: believers read, hear, and pray, and diligently attend all ordinances for the sake of this food.

(d) "vias domus suae", Paginius, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "ambulationes domus suae", Cocceius.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. looketh well to] a happy rendering. Lit. keepeth watch upon, as in Proverbs 15:3. As Almighty God, from His lofty watch-tower in heaven, observes all the minutest details of the manifold work that is going on in the busy hive of earth, so does she from her exalted position in which He has placed her, as mistress of the family, and as responsible to Him, observe “the ways of her household.” Comp. “He that ruleth (let him do it) with diligence,” Romans 12:8.Verse 27. - TSADE. She looketh well to the ways of her house; the actions and habits of the household. She exercises careful surveillance over all that goes on in the family. Eateth not the bread of idleness; but rather bread won by active labour and conscientious diligence. She is of the opinion of the apostle who said "that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Septuagint, "The ways of her house are confined (στεγναὶ διατριβαὶ οἴκων αὐτῆς), and she eats not idle bread." The first of these clauses may mean that the proceedings of her household, being confined to a narrow circle, are readily supervised. But the meaning is very doubtful; and Schleusner renders, "continuae conversationes in aedibus ejus." St. Gregory applies our verse to the conscience, thus: "She considers the ways of her house, because she accurately examines all the thoughts of her conscience. She eateth not her bread in idleness, because that which she learned out of Holy Scripture by her understanding, she places before the eyes of the Judge by exhibiting it in her works" ('Moral.,' 35:47). But the poet goes on to describe her fruitful activity in the nearest sphere of her calling:

21 ל She is not afraid of the snow for her house;

        For her whole house is clothed in scarlet.

A fall of snow in the rainy season of winter is not rare in Palestine, the Hauran, and neighbouring countries, and is sometimes accompanied with freezing cold.

(Note: Vid., regarding a fall of snow in Jerusalem, the journal Saat auf Hoffnung Jahrg. 3, Heft 3; and in the Hauran Comm. to Job 38:22.)

She sees approaching the cold time of the year without any fear for her house, even though the season bring intense cold; for her whole house, i.e., the whole of the members of her family, are לבשׁ שׁנים. The connection is accusatival (Venet. ἐνδεδυμένος ἐρυθρά), as at 2 Samuel 15:32; Ezekiel 9:2-3. שׁני, from שׁנה, to shine, glance clear, or high red, and is with or without תולעת the name of the colour of the Kermes worm, crimson or scarlet, perhaps to be distinguished from ארגּמן, the red-purple shell colour, and תּכלת, the blue. שׁנים are clothing or material coloured with such שׁני (bright red) (vid., at Isaiah 1:18). The explanation of the word by dibapha is inadmissible, because the doubled colouring, wherever it is mentioned, always refers to the purple, particularly that of Tyre (dibapha Tyria), not to the scarlet.

(Note: Vid., Blmner's Die gewerbliche Thtigkeit der Vlder des klassischen Alterthums (1869), p. 21f.)

But why does the poet name scarlet-coloured clothing? On account of the contrast to the white snow, says Hitzig, he clothes the family in crimson. But this contrast would be a meaningless freak. Rather it is to be supposed that there is ascribed to the red material a power of retaining the heat, as there is to the white that of keeping off the heat; but evidence for this are wanting. Therefore Rosenmller, Vaihinger, and Bttcher approve of the translation duplicibus (Jerome, Luther) [ equals with double clothing], because they read, with the lxx, שׁנים.

(Note: The lxx reads together שנים מרבדים, δισσὰς χλαίνας, and brings into Proverbs 31:21 (her husband remains without care for the members of the family if it does not snow χιονίζη, as it is to be read for χρονίζη) and 22 the husband, who appears to the translator too much kept in the background.)

But, with right, the Syr., Targ. abide by זהוריתא, scarlet. The scarlet clothing is of wool, which as such preserves warmth, and, as high-coloured, appears at the same time dignified (2 Samuel 1:24).

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