Original Research

Proverbs 31:10–31: A contextual reading

Ilze Jansen
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a1976 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.1976 | © 2020 Ilze Jansen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 January 2019 | Published: 18 March 2020

About the author(s)

Ilze Jansen, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

A contextual reading of Proverbs 31:10–31 indicates that the periscope was and is still being used to judge women and their conduct, not only personally but also professionally. The placing of Proverbs within the wisdom genre, as well as considering the possible author(s) of the Book of Proverbs, gives readers a better understanding of the community, culture and society in which it originated. Proverbs invites the reader to converse in what is truly meaningful in life. The purpose of the article is to render Proverbs 31:10–31 more accessible to its readers and to involve the reader within the context in which the pericope came to life. The woman in Proverbs 31:10–31 does not truly exist. The Wisdom Literature reflects her as an ideal paradigmatic figure. Women should be inspired by her qualities and values, as well as be encouraged to emulate these desirable attributes. The woman of Proverbs 31:10–31 should be viewed as a role model that other women can look up to. Women, especially in South Africa, represent diverse groups that include different races, class and cultures. This should not prevent women from working together to transform the lives of all women. Working together as a ‘sisterhood’ can assist women in reaching shared goals, instead of working against each other or against men. She is a personification of the woman, wisdom theology, encouraging what women should strive for. This woman portrays the way in which women should live while they are pursuing a relationship with God.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article brings theological discourse into discussion with gender studies, hermeneutic studies, dogmatic and ethical studies as well as practical theology. It also explores the relationship between the ‘noble woman’ of Proverbs 31:10–31 and the women of today. It impacts the Old Testament’s theological concepts of women, especially the ‘noble woman’ as praised in Proverbs 31:10–31.


Keywords

Proverbs 31:10–31; feminism; liberation; noble; woman

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