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The Biblical Role of Women Part VI

Role of Women Main Page 

Please see Part I, II, III, IV, and V for the best context.

Ruth

There is only one woman in the Bible that is specifically called an eshet chayil. That woman is Ruth, the Moabitess. If it has been a while since you’ve read the book of Ruth, please take the time right now to read its four short chapters. This will refresh your mind about the context of her extraordinary life.

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence (eshet chayil). (Ruth 3:11)

The book of Ruth may be a small book, but it has great significance for people of faith. There are many thematic nuggets we could explore within its few pages. The following list is only a sample.

  • Integrity & Kindness
  • Protection & Prosperity
  • Repentance & Redemption
  • The Feast Cycle (harvests)
  • Torah of Widows/Poor & Kinsmen Redeemer
  • Torah for Strangers/Sojourners (They also are in Covenant)
  • The Lineage of King David & Messiah Yeshua
  • Blessings over Children
  • Return from Exile & Restoration
  • Allusions to Wedding Feast of the Lamb

Ruth-Wordled-ESVWith all these rich themes, is it any wonder that the Book of Ruth is read during YHWH’s feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)? Creation Gospel students will recognize the significance immediately: Shavuot falls on the central (main) branch of the menorah. As such, it encompasses the whole. Shavuot stands as the “servant” to all the other moedim (feasts). A careful read of Ruth will demonstrate this fullness. We will try to stay focused only on those themes that directly link Ruth to an Eshet Chayil. With so many treasures in this book, that is going to be difficult!

What’s in a Name? רוּת

The meaning of Ruth (Rut) is usually referred to as a friend. But, the Hebrew root for Ruth is the word for shepherd or to tend a flock. It has the idea of a neighbor or companion, often an intimate companion.

If we stop and consider Ruth’s story, we can deduce that she was indeed a shepherdess of Israel. It is her lineage that birthed King David and Messiah Yeshua, both of whom were notable shepherds. When we think of the relationship that a shepherd has with their sheep, this notion becomes even more apparent. A (good) shepherd guards, feeds, and leads their flock. They are willing to seek out the “lost” and they will fight against dangerous predators. This sounds like the traits of an ezer or an eshet chayil, does it not?

Ruth is the only woman to receive the title eshet chayil by name in scripture. She received this designation BEFORE she was a mother and while she was a poor destitute widow, and a stranger (alien) in Israel. Ruth forsook her birth place and family to join with the God of Israel and His people. Once she made this commitment, she never wavered. Her diligence caught the attention of a wealthy relative — one that could change her and her mother-in-law’s life. That relative was Boaz. It was he that declared that Ruth was an eshet chayil.

RuthAndNaomiThe circumstances surrounding this encounter and proclamation however, are quite risqué. Naomi instructs Ruth in a secret seduction plan to attract Boaz. Both Ruth and Naomi were already aware that Boaz favored Ruth. This could be seen when Boaz told Ruth to only glean from his fields[1]. Naomi, the admitted bitter woman, wanted to secure the future of her beloved daughter-in-law. The favoritism that Boaz showed Ruth must have provoked Naomi’s heart to “push/guide”[2] Boaz to do the right thing—– offer them redemption.

ruth boaz2But Naomi’s plan was anything but orthodox. Ruth risked her reputation and future by approaching Boaz in the middle of the night. Her actions were a reversal of cultural norms. Ruth pursued Boaz. It is usually the man that pursues the woman, even in today’s world. Essentially, she got all dolled up and offered herself to Boaz in a secret proposal.

It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence –eshet chayil. (Ruth 3:8-11)

Boaz knew exactly what Ruth was asking of him. Perhaps he had already considered proposing to Ruth. However, what Naomi and Ruth did was courageous and Boaz knew it. This is why he calls her an eshet chayil. She was not only an upright woman in the eyes of the people and YHWH, but she was willingly to battle (in her own feminine way) for what she desired.

I believe Ruth’s brazenness only added fuel to the fire of Boaz’s growing fascination for her. He could clearly see her attentiveness in the care of her mother-in-law. It takes a special kind of woman to CHOOSE to care for a bitter person. He could also see her strong work ethic. She was driven and steadfast. These things revealed Ruth’s heart. And when Ruth came to Boaz in the night —— well, let’s just say that the depth of her passion was revealed. Boaz probably couldn’t wait to become her husband!

The very next day Boaz seeks out the one person who could thwart their plans — a kinsmen that was closer to Naomi by blood than he was. But when this other man discovers that he will not only have to redeem the land but also marry Ruth, he concedes to Boaz. I imagine that Boaz was rejoicing on the inside at this news.

ruth boazTake note of the process Boaz goes through to acquire Ruth. He scrupulously follows the Torah (instructions/law) of YHWH. In other words, unlike fallen Adam, Boaz puts YHWH before the woman. As much as he may desire her, he faithfully obeys the proper course of action. Boaz was functioning in his “redeemed” purpose. And by the looks of things, he had no problem with allowing Ruth to function in her purpose as ezer. He realized that he had found an eshet chayil!

An eshet chayil, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. (Pr. 31:10)

While all this is true, Ruth’s actions and intentions could be distorted very easily. Based on some carefully placed Hebrew idioms, there are those that have concluded that Ruth’s actions were anything but holy when she approached Boaz in the middle of the night. Was Ruth acting as a righteous woman or a harlot in this scene? There is a fine line to consider when it comes to discerning her role. Please ponder on the thoughts of Dr. Hollisa Alewine on this matter.

“Feet in Scripture are sometimes used as a euphemism for genitals. To lie with a man can also be used as a euphemism for intercourse. Spreading one’s skirt over a woman carries the same implication. Lest we think Ruth was inviting something improper, be assured that sometimes a foot is just a foot! The duality and ambiguity of the expressions is what is important because it inserts the question mark as to Ruth’s virtue. Boaz clearly vindicates her righteousness, and the people and elders at the gate affirm it.”[3]

The duality that Dr. Alewine brings up is an often overlooked theme in the Scriptures. There are many cases where the actions of a righteous person appear to be portraying the contrary. Generations before Boaz, Judah is placed in a similar situation with a woman from Canaan[4].

Ruth, Tamar, and Rahab

When Boaz was at the city gates before the elders claiming his right of redemption for Naomi and Ruth, the elders blessed Boaz’s obedience.

All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12)

The elders draw our attention back to Boaz’s forefather, Judah. What is so reflective about the people’s blessing is that Tamar, like Ruth, sought redemption from her kinsmen. But Judah refused to give her what was rightfully hers. If you will recall, Tamar had married two of Judah’s sons but they died before producing an heir. Judah promised his youngest son to Tamar when he came of age. However, when the time came, Judah didn’t keep his promise. Tamar ended up tricking or manipulating Judah to get him to do what he should have done all along: obey God’s Word.

tmarTamar accomplished her kinsmen redemption by deceiving Judah. She dressed up as a prostitute and seduced him. Later, when Judah learned she was pregnant, he wanted to have her burned alive. However, when she proved that Judah was the father of her growing womb —- he declared her more righteous than himself. As a result, Tamar secured the lineage of the Tribe of Judah. It is through the line of Tamar’s firstborn, Perez, that Boaz, Oved, Jesse, David, and eventually the Mashiach (Messiah) would come.

It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. (Gen. 38:27-30)

Thus far, we have uncovered two women in the ancestry of Mashiach (Messiah) that have questionable identities. And the book of Ruth points to both. This dichotomy between a harlot and a righteous woman runs deeper still. There is another harlot/righteous woman in Mashiach’s line: Rahab.

rahabRahab was an Amorite of the city of Jericho. She was an innkeeper and a supposed prostitute that had heard great stories about the God of Israel. When the Israeli spies came to her city, she placed her allegiance with them and YHWH by helping the spies escape safely. When the Israelites came back to take Jericho, she let down a scarlet cord from her window. The men of Israel recognized this sign and she and her family were spared. They joined Israel as sojourners. Later, Rahab marries an Israelite named Salmon, who became the father of Boaz[5].

Now we have found three women connected to the Book of Ruth and the Messiah that appeared to be doing the actions of a harlot. Yet, we know that in the end they are each really righteous. Since we have already explored this same dichotomy of a harlot and a righteous woman (wisdom) in the Book of Proverbs, a question arises.

What is YHWH teaching us in this duality? Dr. Alewine has this to say:

“Because the Revelation harlot is a woman, and perhaps because it is too easy to dismiss a troublesome woman with bad names or a bad reputation, we would do well to study the foundational roles of women in the Torah. Sometimes a troublesome woman who appears to be a harlot is a virtuous woman [eshet chayil] led by the Holy Spirit, she guides [ezer] men who stray back into the straight path.”[6] [brackets and bolding are mine]

Stay tuned. In Part VII, I hope that we can bring all these revelations together and make them applicable to our lives today.

 


 

 

[1] Read all of Ruth 2.

[2] I hope you didn’t miss that these are the actions of an ezer and an eshet chayil.

[3] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 162.

[4] This is speaking of Tamar. Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that she was from Canaan, the majority of scholars and commentators deduce that this was indeed the case. Judah himself married a Canaanite woman and had a Canaanite friend. This and the fact that Judah was most likely residing in Canaan, all point to Tamar’s Canaanite ancestry. (Gen. 38)

[5] Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. (Mt. 1:5)

[6] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 54.

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The Biblical Role of Women Part V

Role of Women Main Page

Please view Part I, II, III, and IV for context.

Proverbs 31

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

“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[1] 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[2]. 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[3].

menorah-7-branches-12-cm-tribus-design-orThe 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[4]. 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[5] 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.

Holy Spirit

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)

spiritofwisdomThe 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.

Actions

  • 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.



[1] Christians might refer to this as the battle between the spirit and the flesh.

[2] In Hebrew, all things have either a masculine or feminine gender. There is no neuter or neutral gender like there is in English.

[3] Gen 1:27,  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

[4] Read Exodus 25

[5] Please refer to Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s website: thecreationgospel.com

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The Biblical Role of Women Part IV

Role of Women Main Page 

Woman of Valor

Please refer to Part I, II, and III of this series for the best context.

On Mother’s Day one the most quoted passages during Sunday morning services is Proverbs 31. Each mother is commended for her role as a virtuous woman. Images of Mother Theresa and other conservative humanitarian women come to mind. Most women and especially men, envision the Proverbs 31 woman to be plain, prudish, and quite frankly — boring. Yet, both genders believe that this (boring) image of women is what God truly desires. So, we all sit in the pews extolling something that women believe they can never measure up to, and men only wish they found attractive. But no one dares to verbalize these inward thoughts. Instead, we all smile and nod and pray to God that He change our dreadful hearts.

I have some great news if you identify with my sentiments. Though the Proverbs 31 woman is often translated as the “Virtuous Woman”, that is not what the text says in Hebrew. In fact, as we investigate the original language about this “ideal” woman, you will find that she is anything but boring! Women will sigh in relief and gasp with delight in the fact that YHWH truly knows their heart. Men will rediscover that the woman YHWH made just for him is not only attractive, but exciting!

 

The Eshet Chayil

 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Pr. 31:10 KJV)

WOV2The Hebrew terms for virtuous woman are “eshet chayil”. While eshet does mean woman, chayil is often translated as virtuous, excellent, good, vigorous, worthy, capable, or valorous (valor) in this verse. Strong’s Bible definitions defines it this way: a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, power, might, host, wealth, virtue, valor, strength, and worth.

In nearly every one of its uses, chayil is coupled with men, particularly strong men of war. There is no room in this Hebrew term for plainness, meekness, or weakness. So why, when chayil is joined with women, do the translator’s choose to “soften the blow” with English words that hide the “strong force” of the Hebrew? What happened to all the power and might of chayil?

I submit to you that part of the reason is based in the fallen nature of Adam. Subtle (and not so subtle) misogyny has plagued the Body for far too long. The truth is that the word chayil empowers women beyond the status quo of many men’s comfort zones. I will admit however, that most of these men mean well and really believe they are in God’s will by mastering or ruling over women. They (and women) have been told and trained that this is their God given right for a very long time. My hope is to peel back the English language and centuries of church tradition to reveal the freeing reality of what YHWH and the Hebrew text really says about women.

Warrior

A chayil, in its simplest translation, is a warrior. The introduction of the Proverbs 31 woman is more accurate to the Hebrew text when it uses words like this: “Who can find a powerful, mighty, valiant woman”? This is the true “ideal” woman; but just in case you think I’m reaching, the succeeding verses (in Hebrew) reveal the same message.

Here are some examples of this courageous woman that are obscured by the English translation. In verse 11, her husband “has no lack of gain,” the word for gain is “shalal,” which usually means booty, spoil or plunder. This is the type of gain that a warrior brings back from a successful military battle. The valorous woman knows how to prosper her family spiritually and physically. Thus, she blesses her husband and children.

In verse 15, “she rises while it is still night and provides food for her household,” the word translated food is “teref”, the normal word for prey. Like a lioness hunting in the night, bringing back prey for her cubs, a woman provides for her family. The suggestion of fierceness or violence adds to the woman’s portrayal as a chayil. Verse 17 declares that “she girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong”. The Hebrew word for strong (arms) is “amatz”, meaning courage. Can you see the warrior imagery in each instance?

WOVVerse 25 is of special import to our study. The woman says, “strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come”. The last phrase is yom acharon. This literally says, “She laughs in the latter days”. I believe this is another prophetic text about role restorations we have been exploring. This warrior woman is prepared both physically and spiritually for the last days. For as we’ve seen in the previous articles, she is most likely laughing for joy at her complete restoration in her role as ezer.

The fact that the Proverbs 31 woman is brave, mighty, valorous, and powerful cannot be denied. Think of this the next time you read this passage or are subjected to another teaching about the meek, weak, and quiet woman. God designed woman to be an ezer. Do you recall what an ezer actually is? An ezer is a help, rescuer, savior, and protector. This sounds an awful lot like an eshet chayil, does it not? What does a warrior do but fight for and protect what is theirs? This is real biblical womanhood.

Real Roles

But lest you think that all these terms are some how condoning the emasculation of men or usurping their vital role, I must explain this further. Men and women were created equal, but different. Each gender has specific roles to play in God’s design. What I have been putting forth to you is a return to God’s original plan. What must be removed are tradition, dogma, and most importantly our fallen nature if we desire to live and walk out this restoration. Our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), has already paved the way for us to overcome our nephesh (flesh). He has freed us from this slavery. But too often, we are still wearing shackles in the form of tradition[1] and doctrine[2]. We must choose to break free from these manmade chains.

The man is created to work and serve the creation. His domain of work or service is primarily outside of the home. He is like the man in Proverbs 31 that sits at the city gates. He is there to guard the city, give counsel, and do business. But the woman is built with the same fierceness and power as the man. Her domain or service is primarily inside the home. Her service benefits her man and her children. But what she does and how she does it is identical to the man. The difference is in the object of their service. No one gender rules or exercises dominion over the other. They are equal and equally capable both inside and outside of the home.

I have some questions for the women out there that might help put these ideas into perspective. Every woman I’ve EVER met knows in her bones what her husband needs to be doing. In a subtle or not so subtle way, the woman is always pushing or influencing her husband in one direction or another. If she is a woman of faith, then hopefully she is pushing him toward godly obedience. The contrary would be that she is pushing him away from godly obedience in her own fallen nature of Chavah (Eve). So here are the questions.

  1. Do you have a compulsion to guide your husband (in nearly every issue of life)?
  2. Do you always offer your opinion on matters whether he requests it or not?
  3. Do you set limitations (boundaries) on what he does and doesn’t do? For example, do you tell him (as if he were a child) when he’s watched too much television, been working too much, needs to call his mother, needs to do household chores, not dressed appropriately, not reading the bible or praying enough, needs to seek YHWH instead of relying on his own strength, needs to discipline the children, needs to eat better or exercise, etc.?

Deep down every woman knows she was designed to bless her husband. While he may accuse her of being a control freak or a micro manager, the truth is that she can’t help her herself. She is an ezer; and as such, she is his counselor, protector, and guide. The problem for what seems like forever is that neither the woman nor the man have known WHY she’s the way she is. I hope that by now you can answer that age old question.

In Part V, we will look at the Proverbs 31 woman on a deeper spiritual level.

 


 

 

[1] Mar 7:13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

[2] Mar 7:6-8 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. (7) ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ (8) “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Categories: Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Women of Velour or Women of Valor?

I picked up my dear friend in St. Louis just before Thanksgiving. She had been travelling for over 15 hours from Hawaii and we hadn’t seen each other in over three years. We hugged as tears of joy welled in our eyes.

“Are you going to the Women of Velour Conference in January?” she asked me. We both began to roll with laughter!

Velour?” I exclaimed. “Well no, but I do plan on attending the Women of Valor conference.” I cackled.

It was obvious that her exhausted state had left her brain-mouth connection in less than perfect order. We got a great chuckle out of it nonetheless. But, her gaffe got my imagination going.

I could see a large conference room full of women all wearing colorful, long flowing velour dresses. The thought made me smile. “Do I have a velour skirt?” I wondered. “Do velour and valor have a connection other than similar spelling? No, not etymologically” I mused. I dismissed this whole inner discourse and drove my friend to Tennessee where I actually live.

As the time of the conference neared and my friend was long gone back to the paradise of Hawaii, the velour/valor blunder played back into my thoughts. It obviously drew out some snickers and smiles, but also a longing for my friend’s cheery face. You see, humor is one of her gifts and I marvel at even the unintentional quips the Father gives her.

So just for giggles I decided to entertain this valor/velour mystery. Sure, I could be grasping for straws and wasting my time. But something just kept bugging me about these two words.

Velour is a closely woven fabric with a thick soft feel. It typically has a side that catches the light and makes it appear shiny —— one reason why women tend to like it. Valor is really a special type of courage; the kind that enables one to go to war or battle.

Pondering these definitions once again stirred my imagination. How many of us actually identify much more with velour than valor? I mean isn’t that one reason for a conference such as Women of Valor —— we need to be encouraged in this narrow yet glorious journey we are all on?

But how many of us find ourselves feeling more like a heavy garment, catching light here and there as life twirls us about? Reading through Proverbs 31 and comparing ourselves to this woman of great virtue and valor makes most of us cringe just a little—— if we are honest. I, for one, do not measure up!

Perhaps that’s the point. The Sages likened the Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor) as a reference to the Shekinah (Divine presence), the Shabbat, the Torah, wisdom, and the soul. All these ideas are greater than I am, so that’s somewhat of a relief. I’ve also heard it taught that this woman is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.

When we take each of this woman’s attributes into account, it makes perfect sense that THE woman of valor is indeed – our woman – the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) within us. And no, I’m not calling God a woman, but He does have both masculine and feminine characteristics.

If we look Proverbs 31 up in the Hebrew text, we can see that each verse is arranged in an acrostic to form the entire Hebrew aleph-bet. This type of prose in the bible has always fascinated me. Like with Psalm 119 (another Hebrew aleph-bet acrostic), my mind always thinks of the poem that says, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”

The poem is entitled: How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Reading about the author’s life led me to the fact that she chose to study Hebrew in order to read the Tanakh (O.T.) in its original language. Since Hebrew letters are also numbers, aleph-bet acrostics seem to be (re)counting the way of love. Did Mrs. Browning see this connection as well?

Regardless, Proverbs 31 enumerates the many virtues of the ideal woman; just as David enumerates the majesty and grace of the Torah in Psalm 119. “Let me count the ways…” Perhaps we as women should not only view the Woman of Valor as the ideal role model, but also as a way to recount the awesome comforts the Holy Spirit brings into our lives. For without Him, we are reduced to simple women of velour.

A woman of velour has forgotten who she is. She can only reflect light when she is seen at certain angles. She is struggling to make it through each day and is quite frankly, worn-out. She needs fresh garments and that is what the Women of Valor conference is all about.

We need each other. We need to be encouraged and challenged. We have a great responsibility to pass a life-filled baton to our children. Like the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs, we have much to do and when we unite together, we will see many great miracles to Adonai’s glory!

In closing, there is one other example of a woman of valor that I would like to examine. Her name was Ruth and she was given a new garment/covering. As I once again read these beloved passages, this time I couldn’t help but imagine that Boaz’s skirt or covering was made of beautiful shiny velour. Maybe velour isn’t so bad after all.

Ruth 3:9-11  And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.  (10)  And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.  (11)  And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman [Eshet Chayil; Woman of Valor].

We might be women that occasionally wear velour, but through God’s Spirit we are being ever changed into Women of Valor. The covering of the Holy Spirit prepares us for every possible battle and recharges our hearts to press onward.

Women have a special place in the heart of God and in scripture. The Women of Valor conference is a unique opportunity for us to learn about how the Father is restoring us to serve Him in Spirit and Truth. Come and join us and be revived and equipped to fulfill the awesome role that is biblical womanhood.

I can’t wait to see all of Adonai’s women of faith arrayed for battle in velour or otherwise on January 11-13, 2013.

Categories: Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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