“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”
One single word in this verse has transformed my image of who we are, not only as wives, but as women.
Noble – Capable – Intelligent – Virtuous –
Good – Excellent – Worthy
Any of us would take it as a compliment if someone used these adjectives to describe us. Yet none of them fully capture the meaning of the Hebrew word. The word translated here as noble, virtuous, and excellent is chayil (khah-yil). Even today, people of the Jewish faith refer to this passage as “Eshet Chayil” or “A Woman of Valor.” A woman of valor, perhaps the most accurate, has become my favorite translation of this familiar passage.
A Woman of Valor
Old Testament authors used chayil most often in the context of war or battle. Traditionally, a man's role is to fight for and defend his country or his homeland. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Israelite men leaving their homes to go to battle. Over and over it describes them as chayil. In the same way, a Chayil Woman fights for and defends her home. She protects it from invading negative influences and organizes those under her so that it runs smoothly and calmly. A Chayil Woman is strong, mighty, and efficient. She is valiant and virtuous. But, and this is a very important point, she is all of these things alongside her husband, not in opposition to him.
Scripture contains a beautiful story of a Chayil Woman. Of the four times the Old Testament describes women with this word, only once does it refer to a specific woman. Her name is Ruth.
A complete look at Ruth’s story shows her to be a woman of wisdom. The application of wisdom in daily life is a trademark of a Chayil Woman; we look at it in further detail in “Seven Roles, One Woman.” Wise choices made Ruth’s life prosperous.
Worth more than Rubies
“Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
Does that amaze anyone else like it does me? We looked at Ruth and realized the impact wise choices made on her life. The very next thing we see is that a Chayil Woman is worth more than rubies, just like wisdom!
What is the significance of comparing a Chayil Woman to rubies? In our society, we think of diamonds as the most valuable gemstone. But, our society doesn’t recognize the value of a ruby – just like it doesn’t recognize the value of wisdom or the value of a good wife. According to a jeweler friend of mine, a ruby of gemstone quality can be worth more than a diamond of the same size. It is definitely rarer.
Wisdom and a Chayil Woman are both…
- Of inestimable value
- Extremely rare
- A source of life
- A blessing from the Lord
Like a flawless ruby, do you view yourself as being of inestimable value? If you don’t view yourself that way, will you begin to ask God to reveal the jewel He created you to be?
A Husband’s Response
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value” (Proverbs 31:11).
We find balance when the wife is a Chayil Woman and the husband recognizes and respects that in her. Then, a marriage can be built that is beautiful and worthy of being compared to the future marriage relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.
This article is based on one of the lessons in my Bible study book “Seven Roles, One Woman: You Expect Me to Do All That?” Learn more at Amazon.com.