The Words of Lemuel, 1-9
31:1 The words of King Lemuel,
an oracle that his mother taught him:
31:2 O my son, O son of my womb,
O son of my vows,
31:3 Do not give your strength to women,
nor your ways to that which ruins kings.
31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to crave strong drink,
31:5 lest they drink and forget what is decreed,
and remove from all the poor their legal rights.
31:6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those who are bitterly distressed;
31:7 let them drink and forget their poverty,
and remember their misery no more.
31:8 Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak,
for the legal rights of all the dying.
31:9 Open your mouth, judge in righteousness,
and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
The Wife of Noble Character, 10-31
31:10 Who can find a wife of noble character?
For her value is far more than rubies.
31:11 The heart of her husband has confidence in her,
and he has no lack of gain.
31:12 She brings him good and not evil
all the days of her life.
31:13 She obtains wool and flax,
and she is pleased to work with her hands.
31:14 She is like the merchant ships;
she brings her food from afar.
31:15 She also gets up while it is still night,
and provides food for her household and a portion to her female servants.
31:16 She considers a field and buys it;
from her own income she plants a vineyard.
This passage ‘depicts a wife and mother whose support for the family extends well beyond ordinary domestic chores (cf. e.g., verses 16 and 24: “She considers a field and buys it … she plants a vineyard… . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen,” NASB).’ (Knight, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)
31:17 She begins her work vigorously,
and she strengthens her arms.
31:18 She knows that her merchandise is good,
and her lamp does not go out in the night.
31:19 Her hands take hold of the distaff,
and her hands grasp the spindle.
31:20 She extends her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hand to the needy.
31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
for all of her household are clothed with scarlet.
31:22 She makes for herself coverlets;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
31:23 Her husband is well-known in the city gate
when he sits with the elders of the land.
31:24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
31:25 She is clothed with strength and honor,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
31:27 She watches over the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed,
her husband also praises her:
31:29 “Many daughters have done valiantly,
but you surpass them all!”
31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised.
31:31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.
Without, it seems giving full support, Christine Roy Yoder notes: ‘Most women regard the “woman of substance” as a mixed blessing. Aspects of her depiction reinforce the values and customs of a patriarchal culture. The poet objectifies her, describing her as something to be found and purchased. She has a “price” higher than that of other expensive items, perhaps a reference to the value of her dowry or a bride-price paid by the groom to the bride’s family (Prov 31:10). And she is desirable for the “loot”—the imported delicacies, real estate, money, and status—she brings her husband (Prov 31:11–12). Moreover, she embodies not one woman but the desired aspects of many. The idealized portrait assumes, among other things, that the woman is heterosexual, married, and a mother. It is no wonder, then, that while some women say they know a “woman of substance,” far more consider her a “superwoman”—another unrealistic and dehumanizing depiction of women created to entice and promote the values of men.’ (Women’s Bible Commentary)