Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 31:10
When seeking to know what our “role” as women entails we are often directed to Proverbs 31. Men are told, just as Solomon was, to seek this type of woman. While we can commonly agree on the desire for such a woman, we have a hard time defining just what kind of woman she was. According to the English dictionary, “virtuous” means having or showing high moral standards. Some of the synonyms are righteous, good, pure, saintly…etc. While all of these definitions are things that would be nice to have in a wife, this is not the Hebrew definition of the word “virtuous.” The definition of words are the driving force behind humanity and how we operate. By briefly looking at this word and how it has been defined we will see how abstract Greek thought has shaped our mind, and how even in the Hebrew culture these western definitions are being exercised to the detriment of our nation and its rebirth.
The definition of this word has shaped our minds into a Greco-Roman mold of a woman. Statues of goddesses that are to be seen and not heard, admired with no substance or input. The word “virtuous” is overused in Christendom to instruct young women on how to be virgins(which they should if they are not married), it also implies a demeanor of quiet and dainty appearance., but these definitions are merely interpretations based upon poor cultural context. While all of those things are great aspirations, they are not attainable because they are in the abstract, and abstract terms don't give instructions. It is only in the concrete definition of the Hebrew language that we are taught how to perform the admonitions in scripture.
The word virtuous in the Hebrew is Chayil. This word is spelled with a חיל. This word is used 243 times; translated in most lexicons as:
“army” 56 times, “man of valour” 37 times, “host” 29 times, “forces” 14 times, “valiant” 13 times, “strength” 12 times, “riches” 11 times, “wealth” 10 times, “power” nine times, “substance” eight times, “might” six times, “strong” five times, and translated miscellaneously 33 times.
The basic meaning of this word is “strength” and what often follows strength in ancient culture is “might” (army), and “riches.” A virtuous woman was not a weak woman, but a strong woman. The women of the Hebrew culture were strong and were known to be successful. It was slavery and oppression that made the strength of a Hebrewess to be negative. In America, the stigma that follows women of color is negative because it is against the male dominant western culture. While there is no validation for disrespect and feminist messages of, “not needing a man,” the opposite doesn't rectify the situation of our community. Western culture was a “lordship” culture, while in Hebrew culture the only master and king was Yah and anyone in that position was intended to be a reflection of him and not a tyrant.
If the entire chapter of Proverbs 31 is surveyed, you will see all of these attributes of a virtuous woman laid out. She owned her own; she made deals, she had wealth, and she worked hard. All of her accomplishments allowed her to be praised by her husband and her children. It didn't make her insubordinate. It didn't make her a man hater. It showed that in her role and with a proper understanding of her function (by everyone around her) she could be a great benefit to her husband and family. Below are two examples of verse that are translated with the word Chayil:
And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies, and Israel shall do valiantly.
But thou shalt remember YHWH thy Elohim: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, which he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
And Yahusha, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? Mark 5:30
Now that we see the virtuous woman as a strong woman we must edify ourselves on how to handle this type of “strength.” Being a strong woman doesn't put us over the man, but it makes the woman a fortress and a strong inner wall for her Ish (man) and their family. She should be impenetrable to the forces of Satan that seek to divide and take the life out of her home. She is his refuge, and she is the one which enables him to succeed and hold his head high in the gate (Proverbs 31:23). After discovering strength, we have to understand that our influence can build or be to the detriment of our homes. With strength comes power, and that power must be under control. The control of the power is not the man, but it is Yah and His Torah. Submitting to Yah makes a strong woman submissive. Submitting to Yah makes a strong woman meek and humble and of few words. Submitting to Yah gives a strong woman a guide to where and how to use her “strength.” A woman of Yah should concentrate her strength on building and generate wealth, resources, and legacy through obedience to Torah. A strong woman lives in the blessings of Yah, and HE will add great wealth as HE swore to the Patriarchs of this faith.
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1 Peter 3:4