The Proverbial Woman: Verse 19 Casting Her Cares

Psalm 31:19  She puts her hand to the distaff and her hands hold the spindle.

The tenth letter of the alphabet is Yod (rhymes with "mode").  The pictograph for this letter looks much like an arm with a hand attached.  It is the smallest and most frequently occuring of all the letters.  One description said that it is the 'atom' of the consonants (which all of these letters we're studying are by the way) of the Hebrew alphabet.  It is referred to as the atom because all letters either begin or end with Yod.  It is also called the atom because it is considered the divine point of energy, representing the omnipresence of God because every letter contains this form within it.  Yod is considered the evidence of the presence of God in everything.

It is believed that this letter contains the portion referred to as the 'tittle'.  If even one portion is missing, it makes the entire Torah  invalid according to Jewish scribal law.   Jesus mentions the tittle in Matthew 5:18  and  in Luke 16:17 .  Although it is the smallest of letters, it is a reminder that God delights in using the weak and the small to accomplish great things.

Yod literally means 'hand' or 'arm'. 

She puts her hand to the distaff...For the first time in many verses it is a noun, 'hands', which begins with the letter we are studying and not the verb in the verse.  Our word here per is  'yad' .  It is a primitive root word which means 'an open hand' rather than a closed one.  It also means 'power and strength'. The word I have in my Bible is 'yadeha'.  I cannot find a translation of this word though I've tried and tried.  It appears to be a word that  corresponds to the position of her hands with the distaff.  One of the verses used to show how the word 'yad'  is used is Genesis 8:9 in which Noah reaches out his hand to allow the dove to light upon it after the dove returns to the ark.  That imagery best suits the verb in this verse which is 'shalach'(meaning to reach out). 

This picture shows the distaff (the longer stick with the woolen fibers wrapped about it and ribbon tying it in place) and the spindle, which is the smaller tool she is holding by a single thread.

The purpose of the distaff is to hold the wool that is being spun into threads for weaving.  A distaff can hold enough wool or flax to spin into thread all day long.  It's portable, so it can travel with you or be put away as needed.  It is always at the ready. One spinner described it as a 'third hand.'  Immediately I saw it as a 'helping hand'.

Our Proverbial Woman, who is always at the ready to take up the needs of her household, surely makes good use of that helping hand.  The distaff is always near, always ready to go right to work.  And isn't God always near to us, always ready to hear our prayers for help, or thanks or praise?  I believe this distaff represents that quality of being always ready to turn to God in prayer. 

...and her hands hold the spindleOddly the word used here for hands is not 'yod' but v'chapeiha... uses the word 'kaph', an ancient root word,  in it's place.  It relates to the palm of the hand. I am not sure that is really the meaning of the word it replaces from my Hebrew version.  I believe this word may have something to do with  the spindle.

The spindle spins.  That may be obvious to most of you but to me, someone who has never done spinning nor weaving, it was not.  The picture used to illustrate the two items shows that the woman here is holding the thread in her hand and the spindle acts as a weight.  She ties the new piece of fiber to be twisted onto thread attached to the spindle and then allows the weight of the spindle to drop from her hand while she holds onto the spinning thread, continually pulling out a little fiber at a time.  When the thread has reached a certain length she takes up the spindle, winds the thread about it and then allows the weight of it to drop again through her hand, twisting and spinning more fiber into thread.  This method of adding on threads of fiber is called 'casting on'.

I see this spindle representing her willingness to 'let go' of the cares she's carried to God in prayer.  She goes in prayer before God, casts on another care and lets it drop from her.  It is no longer hers to carry but God's to spin and craft into something useful and purposeful. 

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. 
I Peter 5:7  ...casting all your anxieties upon him, because he cares for you.

That imagery also allows me to see into her nature.  She does not worry continually over things.  She gives them to the Lord and allows him to carry them to conclusion.  She trusts him.  I cannot convey how big this is, that she has placed her trust in God.  It is not something we just do naturally but must learn to do over time.   


Living on Less Money Blog said...

Thank you, Terri! It's very interesting and you've put so much work into your study. I love learning the meaning behind words.

Lana said...

This is something longed for as a younger woman but I think is only attainable with long years of learning to trust our Savior. And what a blessing it is!

Veronika said...

Dear Terri,
Thank you for these series.
As about yadeha - this word means "her hands".

Veronika said...

V'chapeiha means - and her palms. Yad is used in modern Hebrew in the meaning of arm and hand. However, there is also a word "kaphot yadaim" meaning the palms of hands.

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