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The Oracle of King Lemuel

31 The words of Lemuel, the king—an oracle
    that his mother taught him:
What, my son? And what, my son in my womb?
    And what, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to the women,
    and your ways to destroy kings.
It is not for the kings, O Lemuel;
    drinking wine is not for the kings,
    nor is strong drink for rulers.
Or else he will drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and he will pervert the rights[a] of all the afflicted.[b]
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress.[c]
He will drink and forget his poverty,
    and his misery he will not remember any more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights[d] of all the needy.[e]
Open your mouth, judge righteousness,
    and defend the poor and needy.

An Excellent Woman[f]

10 A woman[g] of excellence,[h] who will find?
    For her worth is far more than precious jewels.
11 The heart of her husband[i] trusts in her,
    and gain he will not lack.
12 She does him good, but not harm
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and she works with the diligence of her hands.[j]
14 She is like the ships of a merchant;
    from far off she brings her food;[k]
15 And she arises while it is still night,
    and gives food to her household,
    and tasks to her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it,
    from the fruit of her hand[l] she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds her waist in strength,
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good;
    her lamp does not go out in the night.
19 Her hands she puts onto the distaff,[m]
    and her palms hold a spindle.
20 Her palm she opens to the poor,
    and her hand she reaches out to the needy.
21 She does not fear for her house when it snows,
    for her entire household[n] is clothed in crimson.
22 She makes for herself coverings;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband[o] is known at the gates,
    in his seat among the elders of the land.
24 Linen garments she makes and sells,
    and she supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the future.[p]
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and instruction of kindness is upon her tongue.
27 She looks after the ways of her household,
    and the bread of idleness she will not eat.
28 Her children rise and consider her happy,
    her husband[q] also, and he praises her;
29 “Many daughters have done excellence,[r]
    but you surpass[s] all of them.”
30 Charm[t] is deceit and beauty[u] is vain;[v]
    but a woman who fears Yahweh shall be praised.
31 Give to her from the fruit of her hand,
    and may they praise her works in the city gates.


  1. Proverbs 31:5 Hebrew “right”
  2. Proverbs 31:5 Literally “sons of affliction”
  3. Proverbs 31:6 Literally “to bitterness of soul”
  4. Proverbs 31:8 Hebrew “right”
  5. Proverbs 31:8 Literally “the sons of the needy”
  6. Proverbs 31:10 Prov 31:10–31 is an acrostic poem
  7. Proverbs 31:10 Or “wife”
  8. Proverbs 31:10 Or “strength,” or “valor,” or “ability,” or “efficiency”
  9. Proverbs 31:11 Or “lord”
  10. Proverbs 31:13 Literally “her palms”
  11. Proverbs 31:14 Or “bread”
  12. Proverbs 31:16 Literally “her palm”
  13. Proverbs 31:19 A stick or spindle onto which wool or flax is wound in preparation for spinning
  14. Proverbs 31:21 Literally “all her house, household”
  15. Proverbs 31:23 Or “lord”
  16. Proverbs 31:25 Literally “to the day/time coming after”
  17. Proverbs 31:28 Or “lord”
  18. Proverbs 31:29 Or “strength,” or “valor,” or “ability,” or “efficiency”
  19. Proverbs 31:29 Literally “you ascend over”
  20. Proverbs 31:30 Hebrew “The charm”
  21. Proverbs 31:30 Hebrew “the beauty”
  22. Proverbs 31:30 Or “vapor,” or “emptiness,” or “breath”