New English Translation
24 She made[a] linen garments[b] then sold[c] them,
and traded[d] belts to the merchants;[e]
25 her clothing[f] was[g] strong[h] and splendid;
and she laughed[i] at the time[j] to come.
26 She has opened[k] her mouth[l] with wisdom,
with loving instruction[m] on her tongue.
- Proverbs 31:24 tn The verb (עָשְׂתָה, ʿasetah) is the perfect form of a dynamic root and should be understood as past tense or perfective.
- Proverbs 31:24 tn The first word of the fifteenth line begins with ס (samek), the fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.sn The poet did not think it strange or unworthy for a woman of this stature to be a businesswoman engaged in an honest trade. In fact, weaving of fine linens was a common trade for women in the ancient world.
- Proverbs 31:24 tn The verb וַתִּמְכֹּר (vattimkor) is a preterite and therefore is past tense. The preterite normally portrays a sequential action in the past.
- Proverbs 31:24 tn The verb (נָתְנָה, natenah) is the perfect form of a dynamic root and should be understood as past tense or perfective.
- Proverbs 31:24 tn Heb “to the Canaanites.” These are the Phoenician traders that survived the wars and continued to do business down to the exile.
- Proverbs 31:25 sn The idea of clothing and being clothed is a favorite figure in Hebrew. It makes a comparison between wearing clothes and having strength and honor. Just as clothes immediately indicate something of the nature and circumstances of the person, so do these virtues.
- Proverbs 31:25 tn Or “strength and splendor have been her clothing.” This is a verbless clause so it takes its time frame from the context. It may be a comment on the goods she traded to the merchants. Or it may be a word picture about her character, in which case “dignity” may be a better rendering than “splendor.”
- Proverbs 31:25 tn The first word of the sixteenth line begins with ע (ʿayin), the sixteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
- Proverbs 31:25 tn The verb וַתִּשְׂחַק (vattiskhaq) is a preterite and therefore is past tense.sn Here “laugh” is either a metonymy of adjunct or effect. The point is that she is confident for the future because of all her industry and planning.
- Proverbs 31:25 tn Heb “day.” This word is a metonymy of subject meaning any events that take place on the day or in the time to come.
- Proverbs 31:26 tn The Hebrew verb (פָּתְחָה, patekhah) is the perfect form of a dynamic verb and should be understood as past tense or perfective. Most of the Hebrew perfect verbs in this description of the wife have been translated as simple past tense because in this portrait her actions are examples that typify her character whether she did then often or rarely. For example, although this woman bought a field (vs 16), that does not mean that she regularly traded in real estate or even that she bought more than one field in her lifetime. However it would be outside the character developed in this portrait to think that she only once said something wise. The Hebrew verbal construction is not specifically modal (“would open her mouth with wisdom”). However the word picture of opening the mouth is one that pictures the start of an activity that continues. For example in Ps 109:2, when the Psalmist complains that the wicked have opened (Hebrew perfect of פָּתַח, patakh) their mouth with deceit, he does not mean that they told only one lie. The opened mouth pictures talking, in contrast to the closed mouth which pictures silence (cf. Isa 53:7).
- Proverbs 31:26 tn The first word of the seventeenth line begins with פ (pe), the seventeenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.sn The words “mouth” (“opened her mouth”) and “tongue” (“on her tongue”) here are also metonymies of cause, referring to her speaking.
- Proverbs 31:26 tn The Hebrew phrase תּוֹרַת־חֶסֶד (torat khesed) is open to different interpretations. (1) The word “law” could here refer to “teaching” as it does frequently in the book of Proverbs, and the word “love,” which means “loyal, covenant love,” could have the emphasis on faithfulness, yielding the idea of “faithful teaching” to parallel “wisdom” (cf. NIV). (2) The word “love” should probably have more of the emphasis on its basic meaning of “loyal love, lovingkindness.” It also would be an attributive genitive, but its force would be that of “loving instruction” or “teaching with kindness.”