The Proverbial Woman: Home is Where the Heart Is

31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value

This verse is represented by the Hebrew letter Bet (pronounced "bate") and the pictorial symbol represents a house.

There are two words in this verse which both begin with bet.  The first is the word 'ba'al' and in translation it is 'husband' 'master'.  Here is a point where many feminists begin to twist and turn in their seats...The idea of husband as 'master' of woman is abhorrent.

I have to share this bit of Jewish history with you.  While it's very popular in this day and age for women to become rather riled at the idea of 'submitting' to a husband, and the word master might well be found offensive, in Jewish culture a woman was not just so much chattel to her husband.  She was a partner and an asset, a helpmeet, as we learned last lesson.  While it is true that a woman came into a marriage via a bridal price, it was not for mere monetary reasons.  The bridal price was to remind the husband that his bride had value.  It cost him something to wed her.  He literally had to 'earn' her. Think back to Jacob who had to work 14 years for Rachel and take her sister Leah as his first wife in the process!  It most definitely is not a picture of a man merely buying a woman!   As well, when the bride went to her husband, she took with her a dowry.  This dowry often was household goods, but it sometimes included jewelry, silk and tapestries, livestock and money, as well.  This was for her own added security, to both provide for her needs now and something for her future needs until her household was established. 

Men were protectors of women in that time, something I think many women sadly miss in these modern times.  A father generally was not going to live long enough to protect his daughter for the full length of her life.  A brother might take her into his home but his wife would necessarily be head of household and at best a sister would be something of a housekeeper or servant with little say.  A husband was the ideal, someone young and vigorous and who would give her sons to take over should the husband pass away. In a world in which many enemies existed and men of other cultures found women fit only for slavery and physical purposes, to be protected by a man was seen as necessary.

But a husband was not just a means of protection.  In submitting herself to an authority other than her own, a woman learned to submit herself to God and his ultimate spiritual authority.  It's not always easy to submit to the authoriy of another, especially if you are intelligent and determined and capable of right thinking.  It's hard!  But it is a necessary discipline we all must learn. And in the learning, we gain far more than we must give up in submitting.

So you see, the letter bet, with a pictorial representation of house represents shelter for the woman: God, her husband's protection and the physical structure of the house which would be hers as a married woman.

The second word in this verse which begins with  bet is the word batach (bah tawk) which means 'trust' and in this particular translation reads as 'full confidence'.  In some interpretations it is said that 'her husband's heart trusts in her' and this is closer to the true meaning of batach.  It is a deep seated, heart felt trust, born of love and knowing that his wife is a good woman, true in body and mind. He must also know that she is trustworthy with his physical goods.  I mean his finances and property holdings.  I've shared about my transgressions with our finances and how hurt John was with me.  I broke trust with him on that issue and he felt betrayed.  It is to his credit that he is a forgiving man. 

A good wife is also a protector of her husband through prayer.  As a wife, I often pray for God to shield my husband's eyes, his ears and his mouth.  I ask that he be protected in his work.  I pray for him to find the honor and respect due him in his public life.  And I ask that he be wise and aware of weaknesses.  I am fortunate that I can turn to John and tell him of an inward struggle and he will cover me with prayer.  I am also fortunate that he trusts in me enough to tell me when he has a struggle and allows me to pray for him over that matter.  So you see, we are protected and protector in kind.  I am his helpmeet.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  What can be of greater value than a loving environment, a safe harbor, a place where a man is  respected and honored?  Where character is built up and not destroyed?  Where one is protected from the harm the world might do?  What is of greater value than a home? Only one thing on earth is greater than these and that is the wife, the heart of the home.  Here is what this man gained when he married his bride and allowed her to become protector of his heart. 


Lana said...

Wow! Wise words. I used to think that I had to be in charge. I was very sick with horrible allergies. The doctors office used end point testing where a number was actually assigned to each allergen. The higher the number the worse the allergy. Mine were mostly 5 and 6 and if I remember correctly the scale went up to 6. After I God changed my heart on submission I went back to the doctor for my regular 6 month testing and my numbers had all dropped to 2 and 3. It was hugely affecting my health and I did not even realize it.

DebbieG said...

Submission was a "bad word" for me for years as was "obey". I refused to say the word "obey" as part of our wedding vows because I did not know the true meaning behind it all those years ago. Our wonderful preacher tried to explain it to me at the time but due to my upbringing and some childhood trauma, I found the thought of obeying a man terrifying. Now I understand and I am so thankful for the protection of my husband. Be blessed!

Anonymous said...

I never found it hard to be submissive in some ways. We were taught that my father was the head of our household..not perfect but still the head. Our mother was protected by him and we were too. I think that how our families showed us a family or husband and wife acted make it harder or easier to understand how this works. Those who had fathers that did now show them the love they deserved also have a hard time seeing God as a father to them. They had no example of a loving father.
Now I might know what submission is and it feels natural because of how I saw things growing up...does not mean I am perfect for sure. Because of other childhood and personality things I do not act right many many times. I keep trying though. I know better. It helps so much to read the Bible and a few other favorite books written by Christian ladies that lift me up every time I read them. Each author has her own way of teaching and illustrating life and I come away calm and comfortable in my own skin again. The Bible shows us many women and their natures and struggles and through it all how they persevered and lived.
I go on a blog written by a lady in Europe and she says over there they do not emphasize the Proverb 31 women much at all and that it seems America does it a lot. I was surprised that she brought this up. I like to study the women of the Bible. There are so many articles and even books about the life and thoughts about the Proverbs 31 women. There are so many facets to the story isn't there. Now through you I am learning even more about her and the times too. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so much of what you've learned, Terri. These posts are not only a wealth of information, they are wonderful guideposts for Christian women today. Mindy

Sparkiedoll said...

Watching news from the UK. I am praying for you and yours ( and everyone) to be safe xxxxx

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