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Open your mouth, judge justly,
    defend the needy and the poor!

IX. Poem on the Woman of Worth[a]

10 Who can find[b] a woman of worth?(A)
    Far beyond jewels is her value.
11 Her husband trusts her judgment;
    he does not lack income.

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Footnotes

  1. 31:10–31 An acrostic poem of twenty-two lines; each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As with many other acrostic poems in the Bible, the unity of the poem is largely extrinsic, coming not from the narrative logic but from the familiar sequence of letters. The topic is the ideal woman described through her activity as a wife. Some have suggested that the traditional hymn extolling the great deeds of a warrior has been transposed to extol a heroic wife; the focus is on her exploits. She runs a household distinguished by abundant food and clothing for all within, by its trade (import of raw materials and export of finished products), and by the renown of its head, her husband, in the community. At v. 28, the voice is no longer that of the narrator but of her children and husband as they praise her. The purpose of the poem has been interpreted variously: an encomium to offset the sometimes negative portrayal of women in the book, or, more symbolically (and more likely), a portrait of a household ruled by Woman Wisdom and a disciple of Woman Wisdom, i.e., he now has a worthy wife and children, a great household, renown in the community.
  2. 31:10 Who can find…?: in 20:6 and Eccl 8:1 the question implies that finding such a person is well-nigh impossible.

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