The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)
28:24 - "Anyone who robs father or mother and says, "there is not crime," is partner to a thug.
29:3 - "A child who loves wisdom makes a parent glad, but to keep company with prostitutes is to squander one's substance."
30:11 - "There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers."
30:15-23 - "The leech has two daughters; 'Give, give,' they cry. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, 'Enough': Sheol, the barren womb, the earth ever thirsty for water, and the fire that never says, 'Enough.' The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a girl. This is the way of an adulteress: she eats, and wipes her mouth, and says, 'I have done no wrong.' Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up; a slave when he becomes king, a fool when glutted with food, an unloved women when she gets a husband, and a maid when she succeeds her mistress."
Proverbs 31 - The Teachings of King Lemuel's Mother. This is an oracle that his mother taught him. No, my son, do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. Rulers should not drink strong wine 'lest they forget what they have decreed and pervert the law. Give strong drink to those in bitter distress and for those who wish to forget their poverty. Speak out for those who cannot speak, and defend the rights of the poor and the needy.
"A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson. She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates."
Why does the leech specifically have daughters and not just children? Why is a barren womb never satisfied? Is it because the women bemoans her lack of ability to have children? I really don't think that's really her fault since it’s everyone else who deems her life only worth something if she can bear sons. Do you think that women who never bear sons are considered barren during this time? Notice how he doesn't understand the relationship between a MAN and a GIRL, not a man and a women or a boy and girl. This implies an age gap in relationships which creates a power difference. Or is he confused because this is not normal? Though I cannot imagine that being the case since marrying young (virginal) girls has been a primary part of many cultures (past and present).
Once again we meet the adulteress. Oh, adulteress, you are always right at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. How devious you must be that young men require a constant reminder of your pitfalls. Still, how is the man involved with the adulteress never mentioned? Why doesn't he also wipe his mouth and say he has done no crime? Why is he NEVER thought about unless he is being pitied as a victim?
I also do not really understand how the earth cannot bear an unloved woman who gets a husband or a mistress being succeeded by a maid. Why is the women getting married a problem? Isn't it good that she is getting married? Or is it bad because the husband supposedly does not love her and this is a problem for him? Because we must always pity the man in these situations, so his situation is the key and the woman’s is an afterthought (or she is the actual perpetrator of the man’s less than awesome life). That is the only reason I can think that this would be a bad thing. I guess it is assumed that this poor man was practically forced to marry this completely unlovable woman and she becomes his tormentor. Though he can just go out and get some concubines and mistresses to make up for his now shitty wife, so I’m not exactly sure why this would hurt the man. It’s not like today where men can only marry one woman so having a crappy wife would actually be kind of a poor situation. But these men could have as many wives as they wished so where is the issue?
And I think maids usually succeed their mistresses because someone else wishes them to (be it the husband, God or the mistresses themselves), not because the maid really had a great desire to oust her mistress. Anyone remember Hagar? Or Bilhah and Zilpah? You could even count Esther in this, since she was a concubine who replaced the queen at the king’s wishes. So how exactly can the earth not bear it when it seems these types of successions are actually part of God’s plan? Did God not make the Earth strong enough to bear his own bidding? So I guess this also means that God actually can make a rock big enough so even he cannot lift it? Or when the king’s mother mentions “Earth” does she really just mean society? No, that metaphor doesn’t work much either because the husbands (and even wives) are also commanding the maids to take their mistress’ place. And these people are not punished for doing this so I don’t think that this was seen as some sort of “sin” within the community. So what the hell is the king’s mother mean? :\
Also, don’t forget, kings (as with most men) must not give their power to women, which I guess also implies that a man should not rely on a woman for advice on what he should do. Following advice from a woman would be akin to giving her some of your power, as would telling them the secrets to your power. Anyone remember the downfall of Samson?
And now we finally come to the big revealing passage on a woman’s role in the family. Was it as revealing as I was led to believe? She seems to do work: She gathers wool and flax, she travels far to bring food (like fishers), she buys land for fields and helps farm, she orders the serving girls around, she aids the poor and needy, she makes clothes and she goes to market. Because of all this work she “rises while it is still night” and “her lamp does not go out when it is night.” (I take this as implying that she is pretty much the sole person awake, while the rest of her family sleeps and rests) A family woman is constantly having to work to keep her house running. She does not rest or sleep but it is still expected that she “looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” A wife’s life is full of responsibilities and necessary chores, but a CAPABLE and GODLY wife does all this with a smile on her face and constant pep in her step. It would seem that she may not have a bad day, or be tired and become cross at some annoyance. A capable and godly wife does her husband good all his days while he takes his place with the elders.
Responsibilities are good and the wife (in the Bible) seems to be a key player in the stability of a home (even if she does seem to be confined basically to the home and the property). And I’ll grant it that this may seem like a lot to me because I think of the family as two parents and their children with no outside help. In this scenario the wife would more than likely have help from other women family members, other wives or concubines and also the serving girls. Yet the wife is still expected to work all day and all night and never rest. On top of this, she must be HAPPY that she is working this hard without a break because it is helping her family and serving the family Is the greatest joy a wife can have. Which I call bullshit on. I would think that even though family was important that these women would love the chance to be officials in their city (maybe sit with the elders like their husband does) or love to take a holiday and just spend some time chillaxing with their friends. Oh, wait, maybe the men consider their monthly tent exiles and birthing cleansing time to be a woman’s holiday. Because I know that being ousted from my community because I am unclean would make a great start to my holiday.
But this still rings true today, right? Women who are not happy and chipper are not good women. If we are having a bad day a million and one people will tell you to smile, not even knowing why you are so upset. That happen to anyone here? I know I’ve been told by strangers (usually men) to smile on more than one occasion, even when these people couldn’t possibly know how my day has gone. Or people assume I’m a horrible bitch or think I’m being rude to them just because I don’t have a huge shit eating grin on my face. I got used to putting on a smile around people after working a few years in retail because so many people would assume I was a rude person if I wasn’t happy smiley all the time. Didn’t seem like my male coworkers had to work quite as hard to be so happy, but I guess they may have not had to put up with all the shit that I as a girl gamer had to put up with working at a videogame store. But still, people do not like unhappy women. Not women who are being actively rude or bitchy but just women who are not smiling and full of pep. It’s weird. I know I’m not the only one who notices this since I have heard many women talk about the “Smile!” comments before. Anyone else here have any experience with this?
So I dunno, it’s still good to know that women were an integral part of family work and their responsibilities were more than just do the dishes and sweep the floors. But it is a bit disheartening that the Bible adds the “Smile!” bit to it. Must have been tough to keep a smile on your face while you worked your fingers to the bone. Working even while the rest of your family slept. Women’s work is a pretty big double edged sword.
Whew, I didn’t think I’d make it through the swamp of sexism that was Proverbs (which is still amazing because I never suspected that Proverbs was so steeped in sexism) but here we are. Onwards to new books and new adventures. What surprises will the Bible bring to us next? Man, I just can’t wait! :D