Old Testament

Proverbs 31
The Sayings of Lemuel
311The words of Lemuel, a king.
An oracle[] that his mother used, to teach him discipline:
2What are you doing,[] my son!
What are you doing, son from my womb!
What are you doing, son of my vows!
3Do not give your strength to women.
Do not give your ways to those who destroy kings.
4It is not for kings, Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
nor for rulers to crave beer.
5If he does, he will drink and forget what is decreed.
He will change the legal rights of all the oppressed.
6Give beer to someone who is perishing
and wine to one whose soul is bitter.
7He will drink and forget his poverty,
and he will no longer remember his trouble.
8Speak up for those who cannot speak.
Speak for the rights of all those who are defenseless.
9Speak up, judge fairly,
and defend the oppressed and needy.
The Strong Wife[]
10Who can find a wife with strong character?[]
Her value is greater than that of gems.
11Her husband's heart trusts her,
and he never lacks wealth.[]
12She does good for him and not evil
all the days of her life.
13She obtains wool and flax.
She eagerly works it with her hands.
14She is like merchant ships.
She brings her food from far away.
15She rises while it is still night.
She gives food[] to her household.
She gives their share to her female servants.
16She considers a field and acquires it.
From her own income,[] she plants a vineyard.
17She wraps strength around her waist like a belt,
and she makes her arms strong.
18She realizes that she makes a good profit.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She stretches out her hands for the distaff,
and the palms of her hands grasp the spindle.[]
20She opens the palm of her hand to the oppressed,
and she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21She does not fear for her household on account of snow,
because her entire household is clothed in scarlet clothing.[]
22She makes bedspreads for herself.
Fine linen and purple cloth are her clothing.
23Her husband is known at the city gates,
where he sits with the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them,
and she delivers belts to the merchants.
25Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she laughs at the days to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and kind instruction is on her tongue.
27She keeps a close eye on the conduct of her household,
and she does not eat bread that she did not work for.
28Her children rise up and bless her.
Her husband rises up and praises her:
29“Many daughters show strong character,
but you have surpassed all of them.”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is vapor that vanishes,
but a woman who fears the Lord should be praised.
31Give her credit for the fruit of her hands,
and let her accomplishments praise her in the city gates.


  • 31:1 The word translated an oracle may also be translated of Massa and placed with the preceding line.
  • 31:2 The Hebrew has only the single word What.
  • 31:10 This closing poem of the book is an alphabetic acrostic, which means successive verses begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This gives an impression of covering every aspect of the topic from A to Z.
  • 31:10 Literally a woman of strength. The Hebrew term for strength may refer to economic power, political power, military power, or strong character. Here the emphasis is on her economic contribution to the family, which is a reflection of her dedication to her family and her community.
  • 31:11 The Hebrew word translated wealth usually refers to loot or spoils of war, not to regular income. Perhaps it highlights her strenuous effort.
  • 31:15 The word translated food usually refers to prey torn by animals, not to food for humans.
  • 31:16 Literally the fruit of her hands
  • 31:19 Distaff and spindle are implements used in spinning thread or yarn.
  • 31:21 Or, with the ancient versions, double clothing