The Woman in Proverbs 31:10-31
As an Image of Mary of Galilee

 10-When one finds a wealthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.

11-Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.

12-She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.[1]

13-She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.

14-Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.[2]

15-She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.

16-She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17-She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.

18-She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.[3]

19-She puts her hands to the distaff; and her fingers ply the spindle.

20-She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.

21-She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.

22-She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.

23-Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.

24-She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.

25-She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.[4]

26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.

27-She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.

28 Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:

29-"Many are the women of proven wealth, but you have excelled them all.

30-Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.[5]

31-Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

  This text written approximately five hundred years before Christ was born gives us a powerful portrait of the ideal woman, wife and mother. Her qualities could be summed up in the following points:

1. She is content with what she has and who she is. At peace with herself (verse 18a), others (verse 28), her surroundings (verse 20), and her circumstances (verse 21a) she is totally immersed in her vocation for which she was made. She is the center of a happy home! She is devout and compassionate; she has a strong, healthy self-esteem combined with a sense of humor (verse 25).

2. She is a thinking individual who invests her time well. In a disciplined way she takes charge of herself in order to be able to meet her family's needs. If she does all attributed to her, she seems to have a twenty-four-hour job with little time for herself .She rises in the night, her lamp never goes out (verse 18b); she takes care of her household, sews and plants a vineyard besides (verse 16b). She is organized with a sense of planning; she takes the challenges of her family as self understood. Apparently, she does not ever procrastinate or neglect any of her duties; the opposite is true: she gives herself magnanimously and without complaint (verse 18a).

3. She is dedicated. This quality is manifested by her unselfishness and desire to live for others. Her life is home centered and extends to the neighbors and relatives. She is interested in the community where she exacts influence (verse 20). Through her presence she reassures and uplifts everybody. She gives them a sense of security, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually (verse 271). She is a teacher of integrity and honor (verse 26). She shares the responsibility of their household and mission with her husband as an equal companion. He is able to trust her and can share with her his inmost thoughts, 'his heart' (verse 11). Thus, complemented by her strength and spiritual support, he is able to mature and can be entrusted with a high position in the city (verse 23).

 4. Above all, she is clothed with strength and beauty (verse 30), which come from her centeredness on the Lord. Nothing on the exterior can touch or change her inner  sanctuary, her heart. She is confident because she has prepared her inner self with strength and dignity. With her spirit of prayer she guards her house and family from evil influences (verse 12).

From the outset it is obvious that this kind of woman is not easy to find. The writer of Proverbs explains that this special woman is indeed a treasure, worth far more than rubies or pearls. In the Old Testament time, rubies (or pink pearls) were a highly-prized possession.

In Mary, the Maiden of Galilee we have the ideal of such a woman of noble character. In the eyes of God and of St. Joseph she is indeed more valuable, more highly prized than all the precious gems one could possess.

 Being raised and educated in a pious Jewish family we can well imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary was introduced to and pondered Proverbs 31 as a girl and throughout her life as mother of the Holy Family. Let us briefly examine her life in terms of the above-mentioned qualities.

1. Mary was content. This is best reflected in her Magnificat. In humility, Our Lady proclaims with wonder and awe God's greatness and the way she is called to participate in it. From the hour of her creation, she was meant to be God's gift to humanity .Walking in darkness and feeling the sword in her heart accompanied this high vocation. Yet she pondered all in her heart and nothing could sway her faithfulness to the covenant she had sealed with God.

2. Mary was a thinking individual. The most prominent example of her ability to intellectually penetrate a matter can be seen in her dialogue with the angel at the hour of her Annunciation. Though totally disposed to carry out God's plan she needed more information in order to give her free consent. Her thinking, however, could be described as intuitive vision of the truth. It means ultimately seeing everything from God's vantage point and responding with a liberating fiat.

3. Mary was dedicated. In her a special sensitivity the Handmaid of the Lord sees others in their uniqueness and limitations. She has a special sense for what needs attention as we can see in her selfless service to Elizabeth. As wife and mother, Mary's focus was totally centered on her duties. This is reflected not only in terms of her actions but also through her being. Nothing was too much for her if it served the well-being of her small family.

Outstanding testimonies of this dedication are the rough circumstances of giving birth and the subsequent flight to Egypt. Being so young, it was probably hard for her to be deprived of the support of her extended family. Instead of complaining she employed all her strength in supporting her husband and child by creating an uplifting family spirit. She accompanied her Son and Savior wherever He went, never questioning or demanding exterior recognition or honor.

 4. Above all, the Blessed Virgin Mary was God-centered and undividedly His own. Untouched by sin, her being was always in harmony and her soul was an open vessel for His graces. In return the Almighty turned to her with the fullness of His life. The highest 'pearl' far surpassing all rubies of this world surrendered Himself to her.

 May her example inspire every woman to imitate her. "Many are the women of proven worth but she has excelled them all."

 Sr.  .M.Danielle Peters 


[1] Good and not evil: i.e., prosperity, not adversity.
[2] Merchant: literally, "Canaanite" (cf. Proverbs 31:24), probably because the merchant class had been composed chiefly of Canaanites.
[3] Her lamp is undimmed: indicates abundance of productive work and its accompanying prosperity; cf Proverbs 20:20; Job 18:6.
[4] Laughs at the days to come: anticipates the future with gladness free from anxiety.
[5] The true charm of the ideal wife is her religious spirit, for she fears the LORD.


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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Kris Sommers , was last modified Monday, 05/16/2011 12:54:16 EDT by Kris Sommers . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.