Who Wrote the Content of Proverbs 31?
The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him: (Proverbs 31:1 NASB)
Proverbs 31:1 tells us that that this entire chapter of Proverbs is a group of sayings (an oracle or utterance) that King Lemuel’s mother had taught him. King Lemuel was taught by his mother, and that teaching became an entire chapter in the Bible. So, even though King Lemuel’s mother did not physically write Proverbs 31, her teaching was profound enough to be classified as scripture. Not only that, but this chapter of Proverbs is the teaching of a woman directed primarily towards men.
Verse 10 tells us the chapter was written to instruct men in proper behavior and to teach them how to choose an excellent wife. The Hebrew word used here for “excellent wife” is chayl and it can also be translated as strong, capable, valiant, and forceful.[i] These are qualities that women have been criticized for even when they are exhibited in a godly manner.
Jewish tradition and a number commentaries hold that King Lemuel and King Solomon were the same person making Bathsheba the original author of the Proverbs 31 teaching.[ii] Other scholars are doubtful whether King Lemuel and Solomon were the same persons. Proverbs 31 is divided into two sections (Prov. 31:1-9 and 10-31). The second part of the chapter is an acrostic poem in which each consecutive line begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.[iii] Even if the content of Proverbs 31 was not authored by Bathsheba it is still is an example of scripture authored by a woman.
-An excerpt from chapter 2 of the book UNSilenced.
© 2016 Alan Garrett, alsgarrett.net
[i] Brown, F., Driver, S., Briggs, C., Brown-Driver Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions, (Public domain www.e-sword.net). [ii] Nave, Orville J., Nave’s Topical Bible, 1979, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, public domain, www.e-sword.net, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, public domain, www.e-sword.net. [iii] Kroeger, Catherine C., & Evans, Mary J. The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002, 336.