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                                                    The Persuasion of Form:

                                            A Rhetorical Analysis of Pr. 31:10-31


            Although in the past scholars have maintained that the structure of Pr. 31:10-31 seems
disjointed and somewhat haphazard,1 more recent scholarship has gravitated toward seeing
intentional structure in the pericope.2 A rhetorical analysis has revealed an intentional structure
that demonstrates the blessing that the Woman of Strength is to those who are associated with
her-especially her husband.3 In the first, third, and fifth stanzas of this five-stanza poem, the
Woman of Strength functions as a “garland of grace” or a “crown of beauty” upon her husband
(Pr. 4:9). Even the structure of the entire poem demonstrates how the wife “surrounds” her
husband. Since the original intended audience of the Book of Proverbs was probably young
men,4 the idea that the Sage Poet would demonstrate the blessing that this wife is to her husband

            1The following scholars saw the acrostic pattern as the cause of this supposed jagged
nature: Crawford H.Toy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Proverbs,
International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1899), 542; William McKane,
Proverbs, Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970), 665-66; and Roger N.
Whybray, The Book of Proverbs, Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge: University Press,
1972), 184.

2Murray Lichtenstein, “Chiasm and Symmetry,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44 (1982):
202-11; Thomas P. McCreesh, “Wisdom as Wife,” Revue Biblique 92 (1985): 25-46; Duane A.
Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, New American Commentary (Nashville:
Broadman & Holman, 1993), 247-48; and Thomas R. Hawkins, “The Meaning and Function of
Proverbs 31:10-31 in the Book of Proverbs” (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1995),

3McCreesh noted that the woman is so prominent in the poem that the role of every other
character is correspondingly reduced. He stated that “everyone is served, helped, and ministered
to by the wife.” McCreesh, “Wisdom as Wife,” 28. The rhetorical structure of Pr. 31:10-31
supports McCreesh’s assertion.

4Cf. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 248.


is feasible. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the rhetorical structure of Pr. 31:10-
31 is arranged in such a manner so as to highlight the husband of the Woman of Strength, thus
attempting to persuade young men to seek such a women for a life-long companion. The five-
stanza arrangement of this acrostic poem shows the husband to be present in the first, third, and
fifth stanzas--the beginning, the middle, and the end. Although the Woman of Strength is most
definitely the focal character in the poem, the structure of the poem seems meticulously arranged
so that the reader can see the blessing that she is to her husband, and to her family as well.
Various rhetorical and lexical devices also hearken back to Proverbs 1, 8, and 9 where Lady
Wisdom graces this biblical book thereby emphasizing that the Woman of Strength embodies a
great many qualities of wisdom.
            One of the preeminent scholars concerning Pr. 31:10-31, Al Wolters, gave the following

            1. Introduction (10-12)

            2. The Deeds of the Woman (13-27)

            3. Call to praise the Woman (28-31)5

Although Wolters approached the pericope as a heroic hymn, his outline has merit for any
approach to the text of Pr. 31:10-31. With further division of his second section, a rhetorical
analysis of this pericope has revealed basic agreement with Wolter’s outline.


            5Al Wolters, “Proverbs XXXI 10-31 as Heroic Hymn: A Form Critical Analysis,” Vetus
39 (1988): 449. Wolters gleaned from Gunkel that a heroic hymn has three basic
sections: (1) an introduction, which announces the praise to be given, (2) the body, or the
Hauptstück, which enumerates the praiseworthy deeds of the person being heroicized, and (3) the
concluding exhortation, in which the poet elicited the audience to join him or her in praise.


    Stanza 1  Blessing for the husband of the Woman of  Strength (10-12)

               Stanza 2  Description of the Activities of the Woman of Strength (13-20)

                        Stanza 3  Blessing for all associated with the Woman of Strength (21-25)

   Stanza 4  Description of the Activities of the Woman of Strength (26-27)

    Stanza 5  Blessing of Praise for the Woman of Strength (28-31)  Both the rhetorical  
                 structures and the themes present within this pericope justify this outline.6


Stanza 1 (Pr. 31:10-12)


After an introductory rhetorical question,7 verse 10 reveals that the worth of a Woman of
Strength is far above jewels.8 Due to the use of the rhetorical question, verse 10 has no clear,
parallel poetic structure; however, the verse has a prefatory function before the husband is
mentioned. When verse 10 is coupled with verses 11 and 12, which mention her husband, the idea
that the reader will seek an intimate relationship with such a woman, whomever she might be, is

Using b-alliteration,10 verse 11 specifies that the heart of this woman’s husband trusts


6For a similar structural arrangement, see Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs,
248. Garrett’s structure agrees with the above structure in that the husband in v. 23 is at the apex
of the arrangement; however, Garrett’s outer frame around vv. 21-25 seems forced at times.
Hawkins agreed with this assessment. See Hawkins, “Meaning and Function,” 56.

7That v. 10 contains a rhetorical question, cf. Otto Plöger, Sprüche Salomos, Biblischer
Kommentar Altes Testament (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1984), 376; and contra Antonio
Bonora, “La donna eccellente, la sapienza, il sapienza,” Rivista Biblica 36 (April-June 1988),
142. Although she might be difficult to find, Meinhold held that finding her is a possibility. Arndt
Meinhold, Die Sprüche, Zücher Bibelkommentare, vol. 2 (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 1991),

8Compare Pr. 3:15 and Pr. 8:11.

9Van Leeuwen asserted that v. 10 reiterates the love language of finding a wife that was so
prevalent in Proverbs 1-9. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, “Proverbs,” The New Interpreter’s Bible,
vol. 5 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997), 260.

10Cf. Hawkins, “Meaning and Function,” 46.


HFb)in her.11 This same root lexeme is present in Pr. 1:33 to denote that the one who listens to
Wisdom will dwell in security
(HFb). Through this overlapping semantic field, the husband of
the Woman of Strength (Pr. 31:11, 12, 23, and 28) and the one who hearkens to Wisdom both
share a common security. Common “A-class” assonance also marks verse 11.

Verse 12 also reflects the security that the husband has, and the verse reveals the leitmotif
of the pericope--she deals out to him good and not evil all the days of her life.12 One can easily
visualize a pleasant and peaceful scenario for the husband of such a wife, and the Sage Poet
forcefully communicates this truth throughout the remainder of the poem. Even though her worth
is more than jewels, her husband still benefits in a material fashion (Pr. 31:11b). She is worth
more than jewels to her husband, but he still does not go without wealth--he has no lack of gain.
This pecuniary persuasion is reminiscent of the riches received by the lovers of wisdom in Pr.

Three root lexemes provide connection between stanza 1 and stanza 5 in this pericope:
twx (vv. 10 and 30); lyH (vv. 10 and 29); and lfb (vv. 11, 23, and 28). These three lexemes
provide an ABC//C´B´A´ inclusio around poem.13

11The reference to the husband’s heart is not love language. The reference denotes the
confidence that the husband has in his wife. See Toy, Proverbs, 543. Conversely, Delitzsch noted
that the wife’s love for her husband is based on “deep moral grounds” and therefore has “power
and purity.” Franz Deltizsch, Biblical Commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon, vol. 2, trans. M.
G. Easton (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950), 328. Aside from whether or not v. 11 is love
language, Bonora agreed with this writer by noting that v. 11 could provide an allusion to Pr.
1:33. Bonora, “La donna eccellente,” 144.

12Contra Meinhold, Die Sprüche, vol. 2, 521, who held that v. 10 provides the theme of
the poem.

13Ibid., 522. Also, see Hawkins, “Meaning and Function,” 57.


A          B             C

Stanza 1 (v. 10) twx   (v. 10)lyH     (v. 11) lfb


Stanza 5 (v. 28)  lfb   (v. 29) lyH    (v. 30) twx


The lexeme lfb also provides connection with Stanza 3, which shares a common theme with the
first and fifth stanzas, and serves to demonstrate the prominence of the husband in this pericope.
            All verses in stanza 1 have odd syntax. This anastrophic feature is due to the acrostic
nature of the poem and often occurs in the first seven verses of the poem. However, poetic
parallelism is more prevalent beginning in verse 17 and following.14

Stanza 2 (Pr. 31:13-20)

            In these verses, the reader glimpses the amazing deeds of the Woman of Strength. Her
industriousness serves as the governing motif of this stanza. She displays diligent attributes in the
areas of domesticity (vv. 13, 14, 15, and 19), business dealings (vv. 16 and 18), physical prowess
(v. 17), and altruism (v. 20).15 The structural marker that denotes this stanza is the lexeme
The lexeme occurs in both verses 13 and 20, hence forming an inclusio around this stanza.
the only occurrences of
Jk in this poem are within this stanza in verses 13, 16, 19, and 20. This
repetition highlights both the artisan/working ability that the Woman of Strength possesses and
the giving spirit that she possesses as she extends her hand to the poor and needy (v. 20). This
extension of her hand in a spirit of generosity is similar to Lady Wisdom’s invitational nature in
Pr. 1:23-24. While the Woman of Strength extends her hands to the poor and needy, Lady
Wisdom stretches out her hand to the foolish (Pr. 1:24).
            Within this stanza itself, Bruce Waltke has noted the ABC//A´B´C´ lexeme structure in

14This study focuses upon structural and syntactical parallelism within the verses at hand;
however, for a substantive treatment on thematic parallelism in Pr. 31:10-31 in the Robert Alter
vein, see Hawkins, “Form and Meaning,” 36-37.

15Meinhold noted that vv. 13-18 begin with concrete actions and then turn to more
person-oriented actions. Meinhold, Die Sprüche, vol. 2, 523.


 verses 13-18.16 

A. Jk (v. 13)

B. rHs (v. 14)

C. hlyl (v. 15)

Jk (v. 16)

rHs (v. 18a)

hlyl (v. 18b)


While verse 17 is noticeably absent from the above structure, no doubt exists as to the fact that a
skilled poet organized these verses which highlight the industriousness of the Woman of Strength.
            This stanza ends with a chiastic quatrain that revolves around the synonymous terms
Jk. The quatrain is structured as follows.


Verse 19  Her-hands she-stretches-out to-the-distaff,


     and-her-palms they-grasp the-spindle.


Verse 20  Her-palm spreads-out to-the-poor,


     and-her-hands she-stretches-out to-the-needy.


The quatrain ends the stanza and serves to denote the midpoint of the poem.18 This poetic feature
hearkens back to the first appearance of Lady Wisdom in Pr. 1:20-33 which also has a chiastic
quatrain in the center of the pericope (Pr. 1:26-27).


            16Bruce Waltke, “Poetics of a Valiant Wife,” SBL--BHP section, Nov. 20, 1999.

17Also, the word Hlw occurs adjacent to dy in vv. 19 and 20. One of the few
commentators who noted this feature was Schökel. See Luis Alonso Schökel, Proverbios
(Madrid: Ediciones Cristiandad, 1984), 531.

18Bonora further supported the fact that v. 20 marks the midpoint of the poem because v.
20 is the eleventh verse of the twenty-two-verse acrostic. Bonora, “La donna eccellente,” 149.


Another structural feature of this chiastic quatrain is the abc//a´b´c´ poetic parallelism
present in both verses 19 and 20. With this beautiful structure, the Sage Poet ended his first
description of the Woman of Strength.

                                        c                      b                       a                      

    Verse 19        rOwyKiba    hHAl;.;wi      hAyd,yA 


j`l,pA       Ukm;TA      hAyP,kav;

        c          b         a

     Verse 20       ynifAl,        hWAr;PA     h.PAKa


NOyb;x,lA      hHAl;.wi    hAyd,yAv;


Few rhetorical devices are present in this stanza. “A-class” assonance, however, does occur in
verses 14a, 16b, 17a, 19, and 20.


Stanza 3 (Pr. 31:21-25)

In this stanza, the motif of blessing for those associated with the Woman of Strength is
most prominent. The members of her household are clothed and prepared for the threat of snow,
she makes clothing for herself and for people to purchase, and her husband is known in the gates.
All of these examples demonstrate how association with the Woman of Strength blesses a person.
            In a cloaking, structural fashion, the secondary motif of clothing wraps around the apex of
this stanza, and the apex is the husband of the Woman of Strength. Although no striking poetic
parallelism occurs in this stanza, the stanza has an overall chiastic structure with A and A´
elements that provide a Janus link to the preceding and subsequent stanzas. The structure is as


A  No
Fear of Snow (gl,w,# - metaphor for future) - 21a

B  Clothing (wbulA) - 21b

C  She makes / linen (htAW;fA / wwe) - 22

D Reputation of her husband - 23

Linen / she makes (NydisA / htAW;fA) - 24

Clothing (h.wAUbl;.+) - 25a

No Fear of the Future (NOrHExa-MOyl;) - 25b19

In addition to the above structure, “A-class” assonance occurs in verses 21, 22, 24, and 25,
thereby further reinforcing the way that the Woman of Strength “cloaks” her husband as a
benefactress. This inclusio of assonance envelopes verse 23.

The themes/motifs of this stanza are clothing and how those associated with the Woman
of Strength are blessed; however, both the A and A´ elements are more descriptive of the Woman
of Strength rather than informative of whom she blesses.20

Verse 21a provides a further description of the Woman, similar to stanza 2, thereby
creating a backward link. Verse 21b serves to explain verse 21a, thereby creating a forward link.
The Woman has no fear of the snow for her household (a description of the woman and a
backward link) because all of her household members are doubly clothed (a blessing for her
household).21 Since snow rarely occurred in ancient Israel, the snow could metaphorically
represent a future threat, and her family is doubly prepared to meet such a threat.22


19Although this structure was discovered independently, Garrett already has published this
basic structure. A few differences, however, do exist between this structure and Garrett’s. See
Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 248.


20Vv. 21 and 25 show that this woman is prepared to meet life’s vicissitudes. Derek
Kidner, The Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, The Tyndale Old Testament
Commentaries (London: Tyndale, 1964), 183.

21Note the clothing motif and the reason that she has no fear of the snow.

22Since snow was rare in Palestine, Bonora took this verse to mean the preciousness of the
clothes rather than the amount of the clothes. He did not mention the metaphoric interpretation of
snow. Bonora, “La donna eccellente,” 149. 



Verse 25b also functions in Janus fashion. Since the Woman of Strength is clothed with
strength and dignity, verse 25a echoes the clothing motif. Because she is so clothed, she laughs at
the future (v. 25b).23 Verse 25b provides a description of the Woman of Strength, thereby
providing a forward link to the next stanza, which also describes this woman. She can laugh at the
future because she is clothed with strength and dignity, thereby providing a backward link to the
clothing motif of stanza 3.24 This Janus linking demonstrates the inextricable nature of describing
the Woman of Strength and the blessing that she provides to those who associate with her.
            The apex of this stanza and the apex of this poem is verse 23, where the husband enjoys a
good public reputation. This verse alludes to the Sitz im Leben of justice being carried out in the
gates of the city in ancient Israel. As in verse 11, b-alliteration is present, thereby connecting
verses 11 and 23 (which regard the husband) rhetorically as well as lexically. Even though the
Woman of Strength is the predominant character within this pericope, the structure of this stanza,
and the structure of this pericope, draws attention to the husband.25 The Woman of Strength
clothes her husband, and the structure of this stanza emphasizes that the Woman’s action of

23Alden noted that this woman’s confidence does not come from wealth or investments.
Rather, her confidence comes from right living. Robert Alden, Proverbs: A Commentary on an
Ancient Book of Timeless Advice
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 222.

24Toy noted that the woman’s strength in v. 25 is social, while in v. 17 her strength is
physical. Toy, Proverbs, 547.

            25Garrett held that v. 23 establishes the central message of this pericope, which is that a
man needs this type of woman in order to be a success in life.  This statement is correct.  The
question remains, however, Is this type of woman a real person that a young man should look for,
or is she primarily a symbol for Wisdom? With her multiudinous expertise, the woman seems
superhuman. Could anyone, male or female, attain such a standard in life?



clothing” is one of the primary reasons that the husband has such a good public reputation.


Stanza 4 (Pr. 31:26-27)


This short, two-verse stanza provides the final descriptions of the Woman of Strength.
While stanza 2 describes her physical abilities, stanza 4 describes her mental and managerial
abilities. By means of a syntactical chiasm, verse 26 relates the wisdom with which this Woman
speaks and teaches.26

              A                                  B

    Verse 26  Her-mouth she-opens in-wisdom,


and-the-instruction of-lovingkindness (is) upon her-tongue.


Roy Zuck argued that this verse demonstrates that the Woman of Strength must be a real person
as opposed to the personification of Wisdom. He argued that Wisdom speaking with wisdom
makes no sense; therefore, the Woman of Strength must be a wise woman and not Wisdom
personified.27 If this argument is true, how could Wisdom dwell with prudence in Pr. 8:12 unless
prudence is another personification? Furthermore, how could sound wisdom belong to Wisdom
in Pr. 8:14a, or how could Wisdom either possess understanding or be understanding in Pr.
8:14b?28 Perhaps one should give the Sage Poet a little “poetic license.” By means of poetic
rhetoric, he has demonstrated the pervading nature of wisdom in all areas of life. The Woman,
regardless of her identity, both speaks and acts with Wisdom.


            26Cf. McCreesh, “Wisdom as Wife,” 35. On a different note, Garrett asserted that the
wife’s teaching ability makes possible the interpretation that she “sets her husband right” from
time to time. In making this statement, Garrett succumbed to his prevailing culture rather than
accounting for the historical culture. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 251.

27Roy B. Zuck, “Theology of the Wisdom Books,” in A Biblical Theology of the Old and
New Testament
, ed. Roy B. Zuck, Eugene H. Merrill, and Darrell L. Bock (Chicago: Moody
Press, 1991), 237. Zuck’s student, Hawkins, also followed this line of thought. See Hawkins,
“Meaning and Function,” 224-5.

28See textual note for verse 8:14b in BHS, 1285.



Verse 27 reemphasizes the diligent nature of the Woman of Strength in tending to her
household.29 The initial word in the verse,
hy.ApiOc, provides the tsadhe line of the acrostic and is
the only participle within the poem.30 Like verse 26, this verse contains a syntactical chiasm in its
poetic arrangement (i.e. verb,object//object,verb).

                      A                                     B

    Verse 27  She-watches-over the-ways (of) her-house,


              and-the-bread (of) sluggishness not she-eats.


This final verse of stanza 4 is a recapitulation and encapsulation of all prior descriptions of the
Woman of Strength.

Stanza 5 (Pr. 31:28-31)


The concluding stanza forms the ending element of the inclusio with stanza 1 by means of
the root lexemes
twx (vv. 10 and 30), lyH (vv. 10 and 29), and  lfb (vv. 11, 23, and 28).
The primary motif of stanza 5 is the blessing of praise, which the lexeme
llh (vv. 28, 30, and
31) provides. Forming an inclusio, this lexeme is the structural marker for this stanza. Also,
similar to
Jk in stanza 2, llh occurs only within this stanza.
            In verse 28, the children of the Woman of Strength rise to bless (
jrb) her, and her
husband praises (
llh)her. Praise and blessing function as synonyms in this verse. In verse 29,
either the husband alone or the husband with his children address the Woman of Strength.31
Although heretofore the Sage Poet employed only the third grammatical person, in stanza 5 he
McCreesh noted that v. 27 could function as a summary statement for the entirety of the
woman’s activities. McCreesh, ‘Wisdom as Wife,’ 35.


30For further information on hy.ApiOc, see Al Wolters, “S!ÔPIYYÂ (Prov 31:27) as Hymnic
Participle and Play on Sophia,” Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (December 1985): 577-87.

31Bonora held that both the husband and the children praised their bride and mother.
Bonora, “La donna eccellente,” 152.



allowed the husband to speak in praise of his wife. The praise itself appears in verse 29:  “Many
daughters have done nobly, but-you go-over upon all-of-them!”  The use of the second person
demonstrates that the verse is a direct address.32 Further, pleonasmus enriches and intensifies the
praise accorded the Woman.33

Verse 30 relates the sense of a third person address. While no grammatical indicators
demonstrate the third person, the hortatory tone of the verse conveys a larger audience.34 With
this verse, the Sage Poet enlarged the audience by proclaiming through the literary character of
the husband that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman fearing the Lord is to be
praised. Because this blessed husband probably would not look at his wife and make a negative
statement about personality and physical appearance, the content of this verse seems to indicate a
larger audience. If he made such a statement directly to his wife, one could construe that he is
implying his wife to be neither charming nor pretty. Courtesy in any dispensation dictates
otherwise, and Toy held that one need not understand that the husband despises beauty.35
In codaic fashion, juxtaposed with the prefatory fashion of verse 10, verse 31 is the
ultimate verse of both stanza 5 and the entire poem. With a large audience in mind, the husband of
the Woman of Strength, in the imperative mood, now calls on all who hear his words to give the
Woman her due and to let her works praise her in the gates. The construction
hAUll;hayvi in verse
31 is phonologically reminiscent of the common phrase
h.yA Ull;hA, which could indicate the hymnic

32This pericope has no ties to the prophetic tradition; therefore, a shift in person is a
noteworthy feature which can indicate a change in audience.

33lf is not needed in the text because the verb hlf carries the sense of going up.
Literally, v. 29b reads “but you go over/up upon all of them.”

34Contra Lichtenstein, who held that v. 30 contains the second person. Lichtenstein,
“Chiasm and Symmetry,” 206.

35Toy, Proverbs, 548.


nature of this pericope.36
A type of antanaclasis occurs in verse 31 with the lexeme
Ntn. In verse 15, the woman
gives (
Ntn)food to her household. In verse 24, she supplies (Ntn)belts to the tradespeople. In
verse 31, the audience is to give (
Ntn)the woman her just recompense.37 Though neither comic
nor ironic, this antanaclasis demonstrates the principle of retribution in that the Woman of
Strength is to receive what is due her.38 Of course, the family members of such a woman would be
exceedingly proud of their “wife” or “mother.”

A woman of such rapport deserves to be praised and justly recompensed. The ones whom
she has blessed could not offer too many accolades. With this thought of public praise, the Book
of Proverbs ends in the gates, the same place where the husband of the Woman of Strength enjoys
a splendid reputation (Pr. 31:23).39




The overall tone of stanzas 2 and 4 is areligious; however, verse 30 reveals that the
Woman of Strength has a strong religious/moral character as well. The Woman of Strength fears
the Lord, and she also functions in the practical realm to the benefit of her husband and family.
Although the Woman of Strength is the protagonist of this poem, the reader understands that she
is a great blessing to her husband.


            36Wolters, “S
!ÔPIYYÂ (Prov 31:27),” 579.

37For an alternate translation of UnT; in Pr. 31:31, see Wolters, “Heroic Hymn,” 449-50.

38The nature of this antanaclasis is that the Women of Strength changes from the active
agent of the verbal action (vv. 15 and 24) to the passive recipient of the verbal action (v 31).

39Cf. Thomas Hawkins, “The Wife of Noble Character in Proverbs 31:10-31,” Bibliotheca
153 (January-March 1996): 16; and Diane Bergant, Israel’s Wisdom Literature: A
Critical Reading
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 93.


            This rhetorical analysis has yielded several conclusions. First, the poem is arranged in a
five-stanza chiastic structure that highlights the husband of the Woman of Strength in stanzas 1, 3,
and 5 (respectively, beginning, middle, and end). An interpreter must account for this feature
when interpreting this poem.

Second, the leitmotif of the poem is found in verse 12: she deals out to him good and not
evil all the days of her life. The rest of the poem reflects this leitmotif.

Third, the pericope displays an intentional structure at work within the confines of the
acrostic. The acrostic feature of the poem denotes the totality of excellence that the Woman of
Strength possesses.

Fourth, stanzas 2, 3, and 5 have inclusios to denote their boundaries. The lexeme Jk
marks the boundaries of stanza 2, and the lexeme llh marks the boundaries of stanza 5.
Although stanza three does not have a repeated lexeme for a marking boundary, the stanza does
have a common thematic boundary. In verses 21 and 25, the Woman of Strength has no fear of
the snow and no fear of the future, respectively. In fact, the phrases
gl,w.Ami h.tAybel; xrAyti-xlo
(v. 21a) and NOrHEx MOyl; qHaW;Tiva (v. 25b) could form an inclusio of metaphoric synonymy.
            Fifth, stanza 4 is an anacephalaeosis for stanza 2. The brief, two-verse stanza 4 is a
recapitulative summary for the longer, eight-verse stanza 2.

Sixth, the chiastic quatrain in Pr. 31:19-20 marks both the end of stanza two and the
midpoint of the pericope. This feature links Pr. 31:10-31 with the first speech of Lady Wisdom in
Pr. 1:20-33, which also contains a chiastic quatrain in the center of the pericope.

Seventh, employing the beauty of form and shape within a clever acrostic, the Sage Poet
attempts to persuade readers to seek after such a woman by emphasizing the blessing that she is
to all who associate with her. The household of this woman can face future threats with
confidence (Pr. 31:21 and 25). Who would not want such security in life? With such a magnificent
wife and mother, what would a husband or family member fear? A man would be a
lbn” not to
seek such a woman as a life-long companion.

          © Copyright 2001       Pete F. Wilbanks            All Rights Reserved

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