In Judaism, the Proverbs 31 woman is often taught as an allegory for the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), Wisdom, Torah, Shekinah (Divine Presence), Shabbat, and the Soul. At first glance this may seem odd, but we must remember that most Jewish rabbis, teachers, and sages can read, write, and speak Hebrew fluently. This knowledge allows them to see many things in the original text that isn’t obvious in English (or any other language for that matter). We will focus on two of these allegories in particular: Wisdom and the Holy Spirit.
“Wisdom” is the primary character in the Book of Proverbs, and is personified as a woman. If this is a foreign concept to you, I suggest stopping right now to read through this wisdom book. It will become apparent that Proverbs often depicts two women, one righteous and one wicked, to contrast two types of people. These are the good and evil inclinations that every person possesses. King Solomon personifies good and evil in order to teach his son (and us) discernment. YHWH and Solomon instruct us to choose to follow our good inclination (or our spirit, rather than the flesh).
In Hebrew, the Spirit of God or any spirit for that matter is always written in the feminine form. At first, it may seem strange or even blasphemous to refer to God in the feminine. But your Bible does so over and over again in reference to His Spirit in the original language. This is not goddess worship; rather, this is simply what the Bible teaches. God is neither a man nor a woman, yet He has attributes of both genders. This is why it takes a male and a female to properly display His image.
The Holy Spirit of YHWH displays the feminine attributes of YHWH. And the Bible tells us these attributes are manifested in seven characteristics. This is not to be confused with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is the result of this seven branched tree, not the foundation. We can use a biblical motif to describe these 7 facets. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness, YHWH told Moses to construct a menorah (lampstand) with seven branches. The menorah was to be made of ONE piece of beaten gold. The menorah would illuminate the Holy Place that leads into the Holy of Holies. There is only ONE central branch with three branches on either side. The six outer branches are only out workings of the main central branch. The Bible often uses the symbolism of this magnificent menorah to describe God’s Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).
Like the seven branches on the ONE golden Menorah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Yeshua (Jesus), and John all write about the Holy Spirit having seven attributes (branches). If you wish to learn about the seven spirits of God in depth, I suggest finding a Creation Gospel trainer and exploring this fascinating topic. Here are some of the verses that attest to the seven.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Is. 11:2)
He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it…Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts…”For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel–these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.” (Zec. 4:2, 6, 10)
Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; (Rev 4:5 see also Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 5:6)
While there is much to learn about these “seven” spirits, we must stay on topic. Wisdom is not only the first of the seven manifestations of God’s Spirit, but is also personified as a woman in the Bible. It is for this reason that the Jewish Sages reading the Proverbs 31 text see the eshet chayil (Woman of Valor, Strength, Might) as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This may come as a relief to many women. Thank goodness! I was feeling pretty inadequate compared to this “perfect” woman.
The Holy Spirit shows us the way of wisdom which leads us into the fullness of all seven Spirits of God (Is. 11:2) and teaches us not only the proper role of women, but also our strength (chayil). If we allow God’s Spirit to have reign in our hearts and lives, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Do you remember how the woman is designed to be an ezer, a helper? Do you know of another “helper” in scripture?
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. (Ps. 54:4)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (Jn. 14:26)
The Holy Spirit operates as a type of helper in the life of a believer. Sometimes He is our aid, but sometimes He opposes us in order to ‘turn’ us in a different direction. This is the same function the woman plays (on a much smaller scale) in the life of her husband! Think about the following roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives and compare them to the role of woman.
- The Holy Spirit comforts and nurtures; so does a woman.
- He teaches and instructs; so does woman.
- He displays mercy and grace; so does a woman.
- He encourages; so does a woman.
- He leads and speaks; so does a woman.
- He’s the unseen One; so often this is also true of the woman (she’s behind the scenes working).
- He prepares and empowers; so does a woman.
- He intercedes, testifies, and reproofs; so does a woman.
If you want to know what your duties are as a woman and/or mother, all you have to do is find out the duties of the Holy Spirit; for you are a type or metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This is no different than our counterpart, the man. The metaphor is similar; a righteous man should represent or display the image of our Heavenly Father. A man can look at the actions and roles of YHWH to determine his proper course in life. YHWH is his role model, and the Holy Spirit is woman’s role model. BUT wait! We are not talking about two different gods here. They are ONE and the same. It’s ludicrous to think of YHWH having a control battle with His Spirit. Therefore, men and women should work together in harmony, each displaying a facet of the image of our perfect Elohim (God). One does not dominate the other. There is no power struggle. Male and female He created them in His image.
Atmosphere & Eshet Chayil
Like the Ruach HaKodesh, women set the tone for the atmosphere of the home, fellowship, workplace, school, etc. As women, when we are ruled by our emotions or mood, it affects all those around us. We are a true warrior of God, an eshet chayil, when we choose to crucify our flesh and walk according to the Holy Spirit instead of how we feel. Any time a woman is present, she will determine the spiritual climate of the “room” far more than a man will.
I was raised as the eldest daughter of four girls. I had no brothers growing up. As YHWH would have it, I now have two sons with no daughters. However, I have been blessed to have many nieces. When the whole family gets together, I am always fascinated by the dynamics between the boys and girls. The girls, younger and older, never fail to try and “control” what the boys do and don’t do when they play together. They really are bossy. While this bothers the boys and they sometimes refuse to play, they usually relent just to get the girls to shut-up. Moreover, they are far outnumbered when the family is together and I think they just want to keep the peace.
This little microcosm has taught me much. The sinful nature of females causes us to “force” situations to get our way. We can become bossy tyrants or voices of rage when we feel like we are not being heard. Even though we often know which way to go more so than men, our method of “pushing” them is all wrong. Much to men’s chagrin, we are usually right, and knowing the role of ezer kenegdo and eshet chayil only confirms this. But, where we fail is in our delivery. Far too often, we are ruled by our nephesh (flesh). This allows our evil inclination to flow forth instead of God’s Holy Spirit of Wisdom when “guiding” our mates. And we wonder why they don’t listen to us!
Women are just as powerful as men, but woman’s power lies mostly in her influence. I don’t think women realize how much they affect their own husband, children, homes, assemblies, and workplaces. If you find your home, assembly, or workplace to be a place of peace and sanctuary, look at yourself or the women that are present. They are usually directly responsible. Conversely, if you find your home, assembly, or workplace to be stressful and chaotic, look first at the women. They (or you) may be the culprit! Remember the two women mentioned in Proverbs? Women are capable of reflecting another image: one of rebellion, like the harlot. Women’s strength (chayil) can be used for good or evil. Choose Life!
Think about these things the next time you are compelled to guide your husband (or children). How would the Holy Spirit treat them? It wouldn’t be with degrading words, strife, or manipulation. The Spirit definitely brings correction, but it is done with gentleness, a feminine trait. How much better do people respond with a kind word instead of anger? Your everyday walk requires you to be a warrior. And your battle is most often with yourself! Women have a lot of obstacles to overcome. We deal with hormones that often seem uncontrollable, a world that sees us as second class citizens compared to men, and relationships that usually refuse to let us operate in our God designed function. What are we to do?
I hope that as we continue to peel back the layers of true biblical womanhood you will find great freedom and gratitude in the fact that the Creator chose you to be one of His ezer(s). Nobody said that being an eshet chayil was easy, but it is where you will find your greatest fulfillment. In later segments, we will also speak more on how both a man and a woman can walk out their redeemed roles.
In the meantime, when you find yourself feeling like the whole universe is against you, know that YHWH has a unique role and destiny just for you. If your battle is in functioning as your husband’s ezer and he continues to resist you, know that in the end you will be restored and laughing like the Proverbs 31 woman. If your battle is with tradition and dogma within the church, and they refuse to recognize your God given gifts as applicable to women, relax. YHWH is bringing things full circle — restoration is forth coming. If your battle is with complete oppression or subjugation, take heart for though this life is like a vapor, the world to come is everlasting. In the Kingdom, nobody will be able to prevent you from being who God created you to be.
An excellent wife (eshet chayil) is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. (Pr. 12:4)
Many daughters have done virtuously (chayil, valiantly, mightily), but thou excellest them all. (Pr. 31:29)
Still more to come on Ruth as an eshet chayil in Part VI.
 Christians might refer to this as the battle between the spirit and the flesh.
 In Hebrew, all things have either a masculine or feminine gender. There is no neuter or neutral gender like there is in English.
 Gen 1:27, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
 Read Exodus 25