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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Proverbs 31

Verses 1-9

Proverbs 31:1-9 . Second Division. Sayings of Lemuel.— A manual of directions for kings. Proverbs 31:1. The title is uncertain. RV is not grammatically correct. Read mg. Massa ( mg.) , rendered “ oracle” in Proverbs 31:30, and here by RV, is the regular word for the oracles of the earlier prophets, but is strange in this connexion. There is a Mas’ a mentioned in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser IV along with Teima in N. Arabia. This was one of the traditional seats of wisdom, like Edom, and possibly the name was adopted in view of this. But “ of Massa,” both here and in Proverbs 30:1, is conjectural ( cf. Genesis 10:30; Genesis 25:14, and 1 Chronicles 1:30, also article in HDB).

Proverbs 31:3 . RV is incorrect; read mg.

Proverbs 31:8 . such as are left desolate: too free a paraphrase. Heb. is “ all the sons of change” ( cf. mg.), “ change” being unwarrantably interpreted as those who suffer a change of fortune. A slight emendation gives the sense “ those who suffer”

Verses 10-31

Third Division. The Virtuous Woman.

Proverbs 31:10-31 . This, the last division of the appendix, is in form an acrostic poem, each verse commencing with a letter of the Heb. alphabet in order. There are several more or less perfect specimens of such literary exercises in the OT— e.g. Psalms 111 f., Lamentations 1-4, and especially Psalms 119. Though some of the acrostics may, as their imperfect state suggests, have been early— e.g. Nahum 1:2-9— yet in general they belong to the latest period of OT literature.

The ideal mistress of the house is represented as a shrewd manager and business woman, trusted by her husband, praised by her children, obeyed by her servants, caring for the poor, and admired by the people. The only religious note is in Proverbs 31:30 b. LXX “ a woman of intelligence” is probably original. No doubt a scribe, such as the pious interpolator of Ec. missing the religious note, supplied the epithet. Neither is there any mention of such an intellectual partnership as we find in the case of some of the more famous wives of Rabbinical times— e.g. Beruria, the wife of R. Meir.

Proverbs 31:21 . clothed in scarlet is not apposite in view of the cold referred to in Proverbs 31:21 a. A transposition of Proverbs 31:21 b and Proverbs 31:22 a corrects this difficulty and makes excellent sense. In Proverbs 31:22 a read “ coverlets” for “ carpets of tapestry,” and cf. Proverbs 7:16.

( See also Supplement)

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Proverbs 31". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.