אֵֽשֶׁת־חַיִל Eshet Chayil -Virtuous Woman

אֵֽשֶׁת־חַיִל מִי יִמְצָא וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָֽהּ׃
Eshet chayil mi yimtza v'rachok mip'ninim michrah
A virtuous wife, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls.

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. Mishlei (Proverbs)12:4

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of  (YHWH) יְהוֹוָה.Mishlei (Proverbs)18:22

He that plans to marry ought to seek diligently for such a one, to have this principally in his eye, in all his enquires, and to take heed that he be not confused by beauty or gaiety or lustful desires, wealth or parentage or dressing well. For she may very well have all these attractions and yet not be a virtuous woman, at all, as these advantages are no certain recommendation of a good wife. - Matthew Henry

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.1 Timothy 2:9, 10,

The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of יְהוֹוָה be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5

Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of יְהוֹוָה of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in יְהוֹוָה, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement [not frightened by any fear] . 1 Peter 3:1-6

A Virtuous Woman's Role

בָּטַח בָּהּ לֵב בַּעְלָהּ וְשָׁלָל לֹא יֶחְסָֽר׃
Batach bah lev ba'lah v'shalal lo yechsar

Her husband's heart relies on her and he shall lack no fortune.
גְּמָלַתְהוּ טֹוב וְלֹא־רָע כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּֽיה׃
G'malathu tov v'lo ra kol y'mei chayeiha

She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life.
דָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּֽיהָ׃
Darshah tzemer ufishtim vata'as b'chefetz kapeiha

She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly.
הָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיֹּות סֹוחֵר מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבִיא לַחְמָֽהּ׃
Haitah ko'oniyot socher mimerchak tavi lachmah

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her bread from afar.
וַתָּקָם ׀ בְּעֹוד לַיְלָה וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ וְחֹק לְנַעֲרֹתֶֽיהָ׃
Vatakom b'od lailah vatiten teref l'vetah v'chok l'na'aroteiha

She arises while it is still night, and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidservants.
זָמְמָה דֶה וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ [נְטַע כ] (נָטְעָה ק) כָּֽרֶם׃
Zam'mah sadeh vatikachehu mip'ri chapeiha nat'ah karem

She plans for a field, and buys it. With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
חָֽגְרָה בְעֹוז מָתְנֶיהָ וַתְּאַמֵּץ זְרֹעֹותֶֽיהָ׃
Chagrah v'oz motneiha vat'ametz zro'oteiha

She girds her loins in strength, and makes her arms strong.
טָעֲמָה כִּי־טֹוב סַחְרָהּ לֹֽא־יִכְבֶּה [בַלַּיִל כ] (בַלַּיְלָה ק) נֵרָֽהּ׃
Ta'amah ki tov sachrah lo yichbeh balailah nerah

She knows that her merchandise is good. Her candle does not go out at night.
יָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישֹׁור וְכַפֶּיהָ תָּמְכוּ פָֽלֶךְ׃
Yadeha shilchah vakishor v'chapeiha tamchu felech

She sets her hands to the distaff, and holds the spindle in her hands.
כַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָׂה לֶעָנִי וְיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה לָֽאֶבְיֹֽון׃
Kapah parsah le'ani v'yadeiha shil'chah la'evyon

She extends her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
לֹא־תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג כִּי כָל־בֵּיתָהּ לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִֽים׃
Lo tira l'vetah mishaleg ki chol betah lavush shanim

She fears not for her household because of snow, because her whole household is warmly dressed.
מַרְבַדִּים עָֽשְׂתָה־לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָֽׁהּ׃
Marvadim astah lah shesh v'argaman l'vushah

She makes covers for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple.
נֹודָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ בְּשִׁבְתֹּו עִם־זִקְנֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃
Noda bash'arim ba'lah b'shivto im ziknei aretz

Her husband is known at the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
סָדִין עָשְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּר וַחֲגֹור נָתְנָה לַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽי׃
Sadin astah vatimkor vachagor natnah lak'na'ani

She makes a cloak and sells it, and she delivers aprons to the merchant.
עֹז־וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ וַתִּשְׂחַק לְיֹום אַחֲרֹֽון׃
Oz v'hadar l'vushah vatischak l'yom acharon

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
פיה פתחה בחכמה ותורת־חסד על־לשׁונה׃
Piha patchah v'chochma v'torat chesed al l'shonah

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the lesson of kindness is on her tongue.
פִּיהָ פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה וְתֹֽורַת־חֶסֶד עַל־לְשֹׁונָֽהּ׃
Tzofi'ah halichot betah v'lechem atzlut lo tochel

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
צֹופִיָּה הֲלִיכֹות בֵּיתָהּ וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת לֹא תֹאכֵֽל׃
Kamu vaneha vay'ash'ruha ba'lah vay'hal'lah

Her children rise and praise her, her husband lauds her.
רַבֹּות בָּנֹות עָשׂוּ חָיִל וְאַתְּ עָלִית עַל־כֻּלָּֽנָה׃
Rabot banot asu chayil v'at alit al kulanah

Many women have done worthily, but you surpass them all.
שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת־יְהוָה הִיא תִתְהַלָּֽל׃
Sheker hachen v'hevel hayofi ishah yir'at Hashem hi tit'halal

Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears יְהוֹוָה shall be praised.
תְּנוּ־לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִֽיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶֽׂיהָ׃
T'nu lah mip'ri yadeiha vihal'luha vash'arim ma'aseha

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
This passage is one of the thirteen alpabetical acrostic poems in Scripture (An acrostic (Greek: ákros "top"; stíchos "verse") is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message) .The virtuous wife is analogous to the Torah, serving a similar purpose of bringing us success both now and in the future.

Chayil - Valor/Virtue,encompasses many characteristics such as: self control, diplomacy, foresight, responsibility, patience, loyalty, industrious, kindliness, selflessness, and creative talent,as we see in these twenty-two verses.

In addition, the root of the word eishes, eish, which means fire. Thus, eishes chayil, is a woman who is charged with a fiery love of יְהוֹוָה YHWH, the ,תּורהtôrâh, law, her אישׁ 'ı̂ysh (husband), and her משׁפּחה mishpâchâh family.
In Shemos (Exodus)18:21 (Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able [chayil] men, such as fear יְהוֹוָה, men of truth, hating covetousness) the quality of valor is listed as the first desirable attribute, even before fear of יְהוֹוָה and truthfulness. Valor refers to energy of character, which is manifested by action. It thus includes all other desirable qualities.

The numerical equivalent (gematriah) of the word chayil is forty-eight, which corresponds to the forty-eight qualities that are essential in the law or Torah.

Mi Yimtza - Who Can Find?alludes to Bereishis (Genesis) 2:20, where the Torah teaches that there was a search to find a helpmate for Adam. First יְהוֹוָה said (2:18): "It is not good for man to be alone; I shall make for him a congruent helpmate." We then find an unsuccessful search amongst all of the creatures that יְהוֹוָהhad created, until the Scripture concludes: "there was not found an help meet for him"/ "there was not found a helper for him, as his counterpart. "/"And for the man he did not find a congruent helpmate. "
Why did the Creator have אדםaw-dawm' Adam search to find a wife? Why does Mishlei (Proverbs) here communicate that it is difficult to "find" a virtuous wife?

It would appear that אדםaw-dawm' Adam was being prepared for a אשּׁהish-shaw' wife. The Creator employed a process of having Adam go in a quest through the creatures that had been created to indicate the need for an appropriate mate. If חוּה chavvâh Eve had been offered as a אשּׁה ish-shaw' wife without sufficient introduction, Adam may have considered her an encumbrance or a rival. Every benefit is always appreciated more fully if it arrives after its need is felt.

This may be a reason why יְהוֹוָה seems to withhold from some people their finding of the “right one” for a long time. They should contemplate the need for a אשּׁה ish-shaw' wife and sincerely request יְהוֹוָה’s assistance in their quest.

As Mishlei (Proverbs) 18:22 sums up this matter: “He who finds a wife finds good, and he obtains favor from יְהוֹוָה!”

Her Value Is Far Greater than Rubies [Pearls, jewels] now makes the connection to the first part of the verse obvious. After a search, one realizes that a wife is far more valuable than all of the possible wealth in the world.

Generally there is a tendency to misjudge the value of the marriage relationship. One may feel if he had made enough money, he could buy most of the services that would be needed and manage without marriage. But יְהוֹוָה knows better. “It is not good for man to be alone!” A wife is the “good” helpmate, that is the greatest earthly find he will ever discover. Let him make the best of it and utilize the opportunity fully by appreciating הוֹוָה’s gift to him in fulfillment of the verse: ‘Rejoice with the wife of your youth” Mishlei (Proverbs)5:18. If you have the right attitude and you work on understanding and appreciating יְהוֹוָה’s ways, you will have cause to rejoice endlessly. However, one who rejects a pious and wise woman fails the test and loses the greatest wealth.

This verse obligates us to continuously pray to יְהוֹוָה for assistance in “finding.” Tehillim (Psalms) 32:6 teaches: "For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found/ Let every pious person pray to You at a time of finding.” The Gemara (from Aramaic גמרא gamar; literally, "[to] study" or "learning by tradition")(Berachos/brachot [blessings] 8a) explains: “At the time of finding a wife.” Thus, we must pray first to find the right partner and then continue to pray all of our lives that we should appreciate the incredible find that יְהוֹוָהhas provided for us.
Second, the Sages would ask one, soon after they were married, whether they had “found” a wife or whether they were “finding” a wife. This is explained as referring to either of these verses:

“One who found a wife has found goodness” - Mishlei (Proverbs)18:22
“I find more bitter than death a woman” - Koheles (Ecclesiastes)7:26

This is puzzling. What is the purpose of the question? The difference lies in the tense of the word “found” or “finding.” The verse in Mishlei (Proverbs) is worded in the past tense, whereas the verse in Koheles (Ecclesiastes) is worded in the present tense. This teaches us that our happiness is in our hands! If we decide to appreciate the great find that יְהוֹוָה has bestowed on us, we are fortunate. However, one who is still seeking for another will find trouble. We must open our eyes and rejoice in what we have been given!

Her husband trusts her wholeheartedly, and (as a result) he does not lack any treasure. 31:11

The word for trust (bitachon) is usually used in connection with trusting in יְהוֹוָה. Thus, we may wonder why this verse considers it appropriate for a husband to put his trust in his wife?
This issue becomes even more surprising when we study the initial instruction יְהוֹוָה gives man in regard to his relationship with his wife: “Therefore a man should forsake his father and his mother, and should cling (davak) to his wife, and they should become [as] one flesh” Bereshis (Genesis)2:24. The word “cling” is the same as that used in reference to “cling” to יְהוֹוָה Devarim (Deuteronomy) 10:20. A man is instructed to form a bond with his wife to the degree that they become as inseparable as if they were one person.

Thus, man’s reliance on his wife is a directive (mitzvah) of the Torah, which teaches them to form a union. Together, as one unit, they trust solely in יְהוֹוָהwho created them both and made them for each other.

The emphasis that he trusts her with his heart (the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her) indicates that it is not mere logical trust, but one that is deeply rooted in his emotions as well.

The Torah’s emphasis “They shall be as one flesh” and the Gemara’s expression “His wife is as his body” (Berachos 24a) indicate that a husband should consider his wife as actually apart of himself. Thus, his feelings towards her supersede, in a certain sense, even his relationship with his parents.
Why does the Torah describe marriage as “forsaking one’s parents” Bereishis (Genesis) 2:24, when the Torah itself teaches as one of the Ten Commandments the obligation to always honor one’s parents? The answer is that your spouse is like you, and your care for yourself in a fulfillment of honoring your parents, who desire your completion and achievements in perfecting yourself.

יְהוֹוָה’s gift of a mate is designed to provide countless benefits.

We are expected to consider the many benefits and to be as appreciative and excited as one who finds infinite treasure!
The word shalal (treasure) usually refers to spoils that are gained by a victor in battle or an unexpected gain. She fulfills his expectations and then much more than he was able to imagine.

She provides him with good and not bad, all the days of her life. 31:12 She is an asset to her husband. She will never intentionally bring harm his way. How do we imagine a person so virtuous as to never cause someone harm? Is she an "saint"? This refers us to the unique capacity inherent in a wife. The Torah reveals יְהוֹוָה’s miracle of a woman in her role as a “helper opposite him” (נגד neged) Bereishis (Genesis) 2:18. Only the Great Designer could fashion a help that serves also as an opposite. A man and his wife perfect each other through their differences. They were not made alike: “Women are a people to themselves”. Each has his/her own ways and attributes, and each is intended by יְהוֹוָהto serve as a test to the other. Each complements the other, so that each one can harmonize and develop his/her potential to the fullest in the service of יְהוֹוָה. Thus, even a contentious wife is a precious gift from Heaven, meant as a test in the service of יְהוֹוָה. When we understand the benefits intended by יְהוֹוָה even from the seeming bad that occurs in this world, we realize that it is not bad at all. A challenge is good, for it helps elevate and perfect a person when he approaches life with the attitudes taught by the Torah.

Let us endeavoured to be living examples, through our marriages.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from Elohim out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

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