Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

1 The words of King Lemuel,
an oracle
Or of Lemuel, king of Massa, or of King Lemuel, a burden
b that his mother taught him:

2 What should I say, my son?
What, son of my womb? c
What, son of my vows?
3 Don’t spend your energy d on women
or your efforts on those who destroy kings. e
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel,
it is not for kings f to drink wine g
or for rulers to desire beer.
5 Otherwise, they
Lit he
will drink,
forget what is decreed, i
and pervert justice for all the oppressed.
Lit sons of affliction
6 Give beer to one who is dying
and wine to one whose life is bitter. l
7 Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty
and remember his trouble no more. m
8 Speak up
Lit Open your mouth
for those who have no voice,
Lit who are mute
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
Lit all the sons of passing away

9 Speak up,
Lit Open your mouth
judge righteously, s
and defend the cause of
Lit and justice for
the oppressed and needy. u

In Praise of a Capable Wife

10 Who can find a capable wife?
Or a wife of quality, or a wife of noble character
She is far more precious than jewels.
Vv. 10-31 form an acrostic
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will not lack anything good.
12 She rewards him with good, not evil,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from far away. y
15 She rises while it is still night z
and provides food for her household
and portions
Or tasks
for her female servants. ab
16 She evaluates a field and buys it;
she plants a vineyard with her earnings.
Or vineyard by her own labors
17 She draws on her strength
Lit She wraps strength around her like a belt

and reveals that her arms are strong. af
18 She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night. ag
19 She extends her hands to the spinning staff,
and her hands hold the spindle. ah
20 Her hands reach
Lit Her hand reaches
out to the poor,
and she extends her hands to the needy. aj
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all in her household are doubly clothed.
LXX, Vg; MT reads are dressed in scarlet

22 She makes her own bed coverings; al
her clothing is fine linen am and purple. an
23 Her husband is known at the city
gate(s): The center for community discussions, political meetings, and trying of court cases
where he sits among the elders of the land. ap
24 She makes and sells linen garments;
she delivers belts
Or sashes
to the merchants.
25 Strength ar and honor are her clothing, as
and she can laugh at the time to come. at
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction
Or and the teaching of kindness
is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household av
and is never idle.
Lit and does not eat the bread of idleness

28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
29 “Many women
Lit daughters
are capable,
but you surpass them all!” ay
30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, az
but a woman who
fear(s) God or the Lord/ the fear of the Lord: No single English word conveys every aspect of the word fear in this phrase. The meaning includes worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect to the covenant-keeping God of Israel.
fears the Lord will be praised.
31 Give her the reward of her labor,
Lit the fruit of her hands

and let her works praise her at the city gates.

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