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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Song of a Valiant Woman: 2

Wolters opens with a discussion of the form of Prov. 31: 10-31. It is a perfect alphabetic acrostic, one which takes the form of a hymn of praise. He shows how a wisdom psalm and a hymn are not that different in form and suggests that it is false to differentiate between a text which is in praise of God and one in praise of a human.

He holds up for comparison Psalm 111, considered a hymn in praise of God, and its twin Psalm 112, a wisdom Psalm in praise of a righteous man. He then shows how Proverbs 31:10 - 31 in praise of a valiant woman is a mirror image of Ps. 112. Here are the three passages from the JPS 1917.

Prov. 31:10-31. A hymn of praise for the women who fears the Lord.
    10 A woman of valour who can find? for her price is far above rubies
    11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, and he hath no lack of gain.
    12 She doeth him good and not evil all the days of her life.
    13 She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
    14 She is like the merchant-ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
    15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth food to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
    16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard
    17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and maketh strong her arms.
    18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her lamp goeth not out by night.
    19 She layeth her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
    20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
    21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
    22 She maketh for herself coverlets; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
    23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
    24 She maketh linen garments and selleth them; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
    25 Strength and dignity are her clothing; and she laugheth at the time to come.
    26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and the law of kindness is on her tongue.
    27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her:
    29 'Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou excellest them all.'
    30 Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
    31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.
Psalm 112. A Wisdom psalm or hymn of praise for the man who fears the Lord.
    1 Hallelujah.
    Happy is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in His commandments.
    2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
    3 Wealth and riches are in his house; and his merit endureth for ever.
    4 Unto the upright He shineth as a light in the darkness, gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
    5 Well is it with the man that dealeth graciously and lendeth, that ordereth his affairs rightfully.
    6 For he shall never be moved; the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.
    7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is stedfast, trusting in the LORD.
    8 His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he gaze upon his adversaries.
    9 He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the needy; his righteousness endureth for ever;
    his horn shall be exalted in honour.
    10 The wicked shall see it, and be vexed; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away;
    the desire of the wicked shall perish.
Psalm 111. A hymn of praise of the Lord.
    1 Hallelujah.
    I will give thanks unto the LORD with my whole heart, in the council of the upright, and in the congregation.
    2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have delight therein.
    3 His work is glory and majesty; and His righteousness endureth for ever.
    4 He hath made a memorial for His wonderful works; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
    5 He hath given food unto them that fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant.
    6 He hath declared to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
    7 The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are sure.
    8 They are established for ever and ever, they are done in truth and uprightness.
    9 He hath sent redemption unto His people; He hath commanded His covenant for ever;
    Holy and awful is His name.
    10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do thereafter;
    His praise endureth for ever
Wolters points out the many parallels, including strength, wealth, compassion and liberality to the poor and a fearless attitude. There is also a concluding antithesis between the righteous and the wicked for the man, and between between deceptive beauty and fear of the Lord for the woman. The similarities are striking.



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