Posted by: Ety W. | October 2, 2008

Prov. 31:22 – Takes Care With Her Appearance

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This is part 14 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
To start at the beginning, click here.

She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.  Prov. 31:22

I have read this verse many times, but never actually studied it.  Because of that, I was surprised.  I had always assumed that “coverings” referred to the Excellent Woman’s garments.  In doing my word studies for this verse, I discovered that it does not.

Makes – Strong’s 6213 – עשׂה – asah =  to do, fashion, accomplish, make

Coverings – Strong’s 4765 – מרבד – marbad = [from the verb rabad (Strong’s 7234) meaning to spread], spread (as in bedspread), coverlet.

If we refer back to the previous verse,

She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.  Prov. 31:21

then we might say that the coverings for her bed are part of her preparedness for winter.

The verb “makes” doesn’t give us any clue as to how they are made.  Although the King James Version translates marbad as “coverings of tapestry” both here and in Prov. 7:16, the Hebrew word itself doesn’t necessarily imply this.  It is interesting to note that a derivative of this word is used to describe God’s own works of creation as well as the miracles He performed on Israel’s behalf.  From that we catch the idea of the creative process involved.

Culturally, we can assume that the cloth for the coverings was woven and then sewn.  We have already seen the Proverbs 31 Woman as a handspinner, but besides the added “tapestry” in the King James translation, no weaving terms are used in the passage.  We don’t know if she wove the cloth herself, or had someone else do it.

The second half addresses coverings of a different kind.

Clothing – Strong’s 3830 – לבשׁ  or  לבוּשׁ – lebush’ = clothing, garment, apparel, raiment

Fine linen – Strong’s 8336 – שׁשׁי  or שׁשׁ – shesh or shaysh = something bleached white, linen, fine linen,  marble, silk.  Translated only once (Prov. 31:22) as “silk” in the KJV.

Purple – Strong’s 713 – ארגּמן – ‘argaman = purple,  red-purple (either the color or the dyed goods).  Due to it’s cost, it is associated with royalty or the favor of royalty, nobility, the priests, and the temple.

In Proverbs 31, the word “clothing” is used both literally (here) and symbolically (verse 25).  According to Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament,1 the word lebush’ implies more than just articles of clothing.  It also assumes that clothing reveal something about the wearer: rank, status, or circumstance.  We all understand this intuitively. In spite of the fact that we are taught from an early age, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” we all know that our appearance does indeed make an impression on others.  In that sense, our appearance becomes a social tool.

We live in a day and age where casualness has gone to an extreme.  We are casual in our manners, in our attitudes, and in how we dress.  This is unfortunate considering the emphasis on “self esteem” which is being taught in our schools.  Our personal grooming habits and choice of clothing announce to others how we really esteem ourselves.  A slovenly or inappropriate appearance may demand to be accepted on the basis of “this is me, like it or lump it”, but it still leaves that person subject to a negative impression on others and the consequences which stem from it.

True self respect takes care of oneself and one’s appearance. It takes the time to be neat, clean, and appropriately dressed.  Why?  Because true self respect is not based on demanding acceptance from others, rather it is based on the knowledge that

….. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14a

The truth of this verse should set us free from needing to prove ourselves to the world, and empower us to get on with more purposeful living.

As Christian women, we need to understand something else.  We need understand that we are representatives of Christ: to our families, our neighbors, our communities, and beyond.  Because of this we should not be dressing so as to call attention to ourselves and our bodies, but we should dress so as to glorify the one whom we represent.

The Proverbs 31 Woman was not haughty with her wealth, but generous.  She understood both her place as well as her responsibility to society. She took care with her appearance.  But the real impression she made was not one of stylish dress, rather, this is what is said about her

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.  Prov.  31:25

1Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Laird, Archer, & Waltke, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980) Vol I, p.469


Responses

  1. […] Well groomed – v 22 […]

  2. Deep helpful study. Thank you

  3. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Hi! I absolutely LOVED this article! May I have permission to use it for my modesty blog?

    • By all means Via. And I hope you’ll bless me with a link back to the original source. 🙂

      • Of course! Thank you so much!

      • http://viadressedanew.blogspot.com/ Here’s the blog post! If you want me to change the way I credited you, please let me know ASAP!

  5. Well done, Via! Looks like it’s going to be a lovely blog.


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