If you were raised religious, you might know “Eshet Chayil.” Maybe you don’t know it by that name, but you know it by its translation: “A Woman of Valor,” which can be found in Proverbs 31:10-31.
These beautiful words that describe this woman is one of the acrostic poems in the bible, which is a poem that uses all of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order to start each line. Some say the purpose behind doing this is to show that this is the entirety of the topic at hand.
Growing up, I was taught that this was a checklist. If I wanted to be a good woman, a good wife, a good mother – these are the standards that I would need to live up to – all or nothing. However, no one is perfect – and this poem describes the perfect woman.
While I strive for perfection, I know that I will always fall short of that lofty goal. But Eshet Chayil gives me the example of what to try to be: a woman who speaks with wisdom, cares for those less fortunate, good at business, and takes care of her family, among other things.
Somedays, I succeed – other days I fail. What I have to remember is that I have to be with people who will love me for me, and remind me that it’s okay to fail sometimes. I am lucky enough to have a partner who is man enough to know what is perfect, but understand I will never meet that goal and love me for all the marks that I do meet – while helping me strive to be better at the places I fail.
Eshet Chayil: A Woman of Valor
Who can find a woman of valor? Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.
Her husband puts his confidence in her, And lacks no good thing.
She is good to him, never bad, All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax, And sets her hand to them with a will.
She is like a merchant fleet, Bringing her food from afar.
She rises while it is still night, And supplies provisions for her household, The daily fare of her maids.
She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it; She plants a vineyard by her own labors.
She girds herself with strength, And performs her tasks with vigor.
She sees that her business thrives; Her lamp never goes out at night.
She sets her hand to the distaff; Her fingers work the spindle.
She gives generously to the poor; Her hands are stretched out to the needy.
She is not worried for her household because of snow, For her whole household is dressed in crimson.
She makes covers for herself; Her clothing is linen and purple.
Her husband is prominent in the gates, As he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes cloth and sells it, And offers a girdle to the merchant.
She is clothed with strength and splendor; She looks to the future cheerfully.
Her mouth is full of wisdom, Her tongue with kindly teaching.
She oversees the activities of her household And never eats the bread of idleness.
Her children declare her happy; Her husband praises her,
“Many women have done well, But you surpass them all.”
Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of the LORD That a woman is to be praised.
Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates.