Proverbs xxxi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Lamuel. This name signifies, God with him; and is supposed to be one of the names of Solomon. (Challoner) — Grotius would explain it of Ezechias. But why should we abandon the tradition of both Jews and Christians? — Mother; Bethsabee, who it seems was inspired, unless she received these maxims from Nathan. Solomon always speaks of her with the utmost respect, as a prudent mother may have the greatest influence over the tender minds of her children, chap. i. 8., and xxiii. 25.

Ver. 2. Vows. She seems unable to express her concern for him when he first mounted the throne, and shewed her the greatest reverence, 3 Kings ii. 19.

Ver. 3. Women. This would destroy thy health, and tend to impoverish the kingdom. — Kings, by injustice and ambition. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Give. Septuagint, “Do all with counsel. By advice drink wine. Lords are inclined to anger; let them not drink wine.” (Haydock) — Solomon took this advice, Ecclesiastes ii. 3.

Ver. 5. Poor. Solon condemned to death, at Athens, the prince who should get drunk; and the Areopagites excluded from their assembly a judge who had dined in a tavern. (Laert. 1.; Athen. xiii. 2.)

Ver. 6. Drink. Hebrew shecar, particularly palm-wine. — Are sad. Hebrew, “perish,” being sentenced to die; (Mark xv. 23., and Amos ii. 8.) or, who grieve and mourn for one deceased. On such occasions no food was prepared in the house, but the friends supplied what was necessary, and went to eat and drink with the afflicted, Ecclesiastes vii. 3.

Ver. 7. More. Not that intoxication is permitted even to them.

Ver. 8. Pass through life, or the country. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Open thy mouth and judge righteously. Render justice to the poor and weak.” (Haydock) — Doctrine is best received by those who are more ready to hear than to speak. (Worthington)

Ver. 10. Who. The following verses are in alphabetical order. They contain a grand eulogy of Bethsabee, who repented, or of a perfect matron. (Calmet) — Such are rare, though they may be found. (Worthington) — Valiant; industrious. — Price. Formerly people bought their wives. (Calmet) — Is. Hebrew, “is far above rubies (Protestants; Haydock) or pearls,” Lamentations iv. 7.

Ver. 11. Spoils, taken in war. His wife will supply all necessaries, ver. 21.

Ver. 13. Hands, with skill and industry, (Calmet) or “willingness.” (Hebrew) (Menochius) — Ladies of the highest quality formerly employed themselves in this manner, like Penelope. Alexander, Augustus, and Charlemagne wore garments, which their sisters or wives had wrought. (Curt. 5.) (Suetonius 64.) (Eginhard.)

Ver. 14. Bread; all that is used for meat and drink. Septuagint, “riches.” Grabe, “livelihood:” Bion. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. Night, or early in the morning, as soon as the night was over; de nocte. Hebrew, “while it is yet night.” (Haydock) — Extreme vigilance is required of those who direct others. “The master must be first up, and last in bed.” (Cato v.)

Ver. 16. Considered. This conduct is suggested by prudence. (Calmet) — Cato (Rust. 2.) says, “Do not go only once round the field,” &c.

Ver. 17. Arm; working, and making others obey.

Ver. 18. Night, during a great part of which she will work.

Ver. 19. Strong things, “becoming” (Septuagint) her station. (Calmet) — Spindle. She purposes and begins well, trusting in God for perfection and a reward. (Worthington)

Ver. 21. Domestics. Hebrew, “house is clothed in purple,” which may be understood of the domestics, though it seems more probably to refer to her husband and children.

Ver. 22. Tapestry, for the beds and floor. — Linen, or cotton; byssus, Exodus xxv. 4.

Ver. 23. Gates. Chaldean, “provinces.” The rich were chosen for judges. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. The Chanaanite, the merchant; for Chanaanite, in Hebrew, signifies a merchant. (Challoner) — The PhÅ“nicians travelled into all countries. Traffic was not then deemed a discredit, even to kings. — Girdles were worn both by men and women, and were very costly, insomuch that (Calmet) the kings of Persia assigned cities to furnish their wives with them. (Athen. i. in Antylla.) — They who practise and teach the law may be said to buy and sell. (Worthington)

Ver. 25. Clothing: it is very beautiful, or wisdom and virtue surround her. — Day. She fears not death, (Calmet) or future distress of hunger, &c. (Jansenius)

Ver. 26. Tongue. She is ever bent on doing good. (Haydock) — Very different from many of her sex, who are taken up with vanity and complaints. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Idle, out of a sense of duty, and not through avarice.

Ver. 28. Her. They were best able to judge of her merit.

Ver. 30. Lord. Hitherto natural qualifications appear: but to these the Christian matron must add sincere piety: and thus Solomon completes the character of his mother, (Calmet) who had given him such excellent instructions, or of any accomplished woman. Outward beauty soon (Haydock) decays; but the fear of God is more deserving of praise. (Worthington)

Ver. 31. Gates, before all the judges (Haydock) and people. (Menochius) — Good works shall be rewarded at God’s tribunal, (Worthington) when the vain worldly beauty shall be covered with confusion. (Haydock) — This idea of a perfect woman is best verified in the Catholic Church, (St. Augustine; Ven. Bede) though the blessed Virgin [Mary], &c., may also be designated. (Worthington) — The use of the alphabet herein denotes, that we must begin with a moral good life, if we would penetrate the greater mysteries of the Scriptures. (St. Jerome) (Lam.[Lamentations?])

Bible Text & Cross-references:

1 The words of king Lamuel. The vision wherewith his mother instructed him.

2 What, O my beloved, what, O the beloved of my womb, what, O the beloved of my vows?

3 Give not thy substance to women, and thy riches to destroy kings.

4 Give not to kings, O Lamuel, give not wine to kings: because there is no secret where drunkenness reigneth:

5 And lest they drink and forget judgments, and pervert the cause of the children of the poor.

6 Give strong drink to them that are sad: and wine to them that are grieved in mind:

7 Let them drink, and forget their want, and remember their sorrow no more.

8 Open thy mouth for the dumb, and for the causes of all the children that pass.

9 Open thy mouth, decree that which is just, and do justice to the needy and poor.

10 Who shall find a valiant woman? far, and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her.

11 The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils.

12 She will render him good, and not evil all the days of her life.

13 She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands.

14 She is like the merchant’s ship, she bringeth her bread from afar.

15 And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens.

16 She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard.

17 She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm.

18 She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.

19 She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle.

20 She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor.

21 She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow: for all her domestics are clothed with double garments.

22 She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry: fine linen, and purple, is her covering.

23 Her husband is honourable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land.

24 She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Chanaanite.

25 Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day.

26 She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue.

27 She hath looked well on the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle.

28 Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.

29 Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all.

30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the 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.