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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 31

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 31

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 31

1. The words of Lemuel the king; a prophecy that his mother chastised him;   א. דִּבְרֵי לְמוּאֵל מֶלֶךְ מַשָּׂא אֲשֶׁר יִסְּרַתּוּ אִמּוֹ:
The words of Lemuel the king: The words of King Solomon, that he said for the Holy One, blessed be He, because he sinned against the Holy One, blessed be He.  
Lemuel: for God, like (Job 40: 4): “to (למו) my mouth.” The words that the king said for the sake of the Holy One, blessed be He.  
a prophecy that his mother chastised him: When he married the daughter of Pharaoh on the day of the dedication of the Temple, she brought in for him many kinds of musical instruments, and he was awake all night and slept on the next day until four hours [after dawn], as is related in Pesikta (unknown, but found in Mid. Mishle and in Num. Rabbah 10:8), and the keys of the Temple were under his head. Regarding that time, we learned (Eduyoth 6:1): “Concerning the daily morning burnt-offering, that it was offered up at [the conclusion of] four hours. Then his mother entered and chastised him with all this prophecy.”  
a prophecy that his mother chastised him: An allegorical prophecy with which his mother chastised him.  
2. What, my son, and what, the son of my womb, and what, the son of my vows?   ב. מַה בְּרִי וּמַה בַּר בִּטְנִי וּמֶה בַּר נְדָרָי:
What, my son: What is this that you have done and told that you are my son, and [you did] not [tell] that you are the son of your father. Everybody knows that your father was completely righteous, and if you are wicked, they will say, “His mother made him that way.”  
the son of my womb: All your father’s wives, as soon as they conceived, would not return for marital relations, but I pushed and entered in order to have a son well-formed and of strong vitality, because marital relations are beneficial during the last six months.  
and what, the son of my vows?: All your father’s wives would vow that they would have a son fit for the throne, but I vowed that I would have a son bright in Torah.  
3. Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to the pleasures of kings.   ג. אַל תִּתֵּן לַנָּשִׁים חֵילֶךָ וּדְרָכֶיךָ לַמְחוֹת מְלָכִין:
Do not give: Do not weaken.  
your strength to women: Heb. חילך, your strength.  
4. It is not for kings, Lemoel, it is not for kings to drink wine, neither is strong drink for rulers.   ד. אַל לַמְלָכִים לְמוֹאֵל אַל לַמְלָכִים שְׁתּוֹ יָיִן וּלְרוֹזְנִים אֵו אֵי שֵׁכָר:
It is not for kings, Lemoel: This matter is not fit for kings who are for the Holy One, blessed be He. Lemoel is like (Job 40:4): “to (למו) my mouth.”  
it is not for kings to drink wine: It is not proper for them to become intoxicated.  
neither is strong drink: Heb. אי שכר, like אין שכר, there is no strong drink.  
5. Lest he drink and forget what was made law, and change the judgment of all the impoverished.   ה. פֶּן יִשְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּח מְחֻקָּק וִישַׁנֶּה דִּין כָּל בְּנֵי עֹנִי:
what was made law: What is written in the Torah-and surely the tradition that is committed to memory.  
6. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing and wine to those of bitter soul.   ו. תְּנוּ שֵׁכָר לְאוֹבֵד וְיַיִן לְמָרֵי נָפֶשׁ:
to the one who is perishing: To him who will ultimately perish-to the wicked.  
to those of bitter soul: Who suffer pain because of their poverty and their mourning. To give them pleasure in this world, so that they receive the reward for the precepts they kept, in this world, [leaving them with nothing in the hereafter.]  
7. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and let him remember his misery no more.   ז. יִשְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּח רִישׁוֹ וַעֲמָלוֹ לֹא יִזְכָּר עוֹד:
8. Open your mouth for the dumb, to the cause of all whose help has passed.   ח. פְּתַח פִּיךָ לְאִלֵּם אֶל דִּין כָּל בְּנֵי חֲלוֹף:
all whose help has passed: Heb. בני חלוף. These are the orphans, whose help has passed and gone away.  
9. Open your mouth, judge justly and plead the cause of the poor and the needy.   ט. פְּתַח פִּיךָ שְׁפָט צֶדֶק וְדִין עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן:
10. A woman of valor who can find, for her price is beyond pearls.   י. אֵשֶׁת חַיִל מִי יִמְצָא וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָהּ:
11. Her husband relies on her, and he will lack no gain.   יא. בָּטַח בָּהּ לֵב בַּעְלָהּ וְשָׁלָל לֹא יֶחְסָר:
and he will lack no gain: lit. no plunder, i.e., he will lack no good.  
12. She requites him with good and not with evil all the days of her life.   יב. גְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב וְלֹא רָע כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיהָ:
13. She seeks wool and flax, and she works it with the will of her hands.   יג. דָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיהָ:
14. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.   יד. הָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיּוֹת סוֹחֵר מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבִיא לַחְמָהּ:
15. She rises when it is still night; she gives food to her household and an allotted share to her maidens.   טו. וַתָּקָם בְּעוֹד לַיְלָה וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ וְחֹק לְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ:
food: Heb. טרף.  
and an allotted share: Heb. וחוק. This too is the food that is allotted to them.  
16. She contemplates a field and purchases it; from the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.   טז. זָמְמָה שָׂדֶה וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ נָטְעָ נָטְעָה כָּרֶם:
17. She girds her loins with vigor and strengthens her arms.   יז. חָגְרָה בְעוֹז מָתְנֶיהָ וַתְּאַמֵּץ זְרֹעוֹתֶיהָ:
18. [When] she advises that her merchandise is good her lamp does not go out at night.   יח. טָעֲמָה כִּי טוֹב סַחְרָהּ לֹא יִכְבֶּה בַלַּיְלָ בַלַּיְלָה נֵרָהּ:
19. She stretches forth her hands onto the distaff, and her hands support the spindle.   יט. יָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישׁוֹר וְכַפֶּיהָ תָּמְכוּ פָלֶךְ:
onto the distaff: Heb. כישור that is called vertel, verteil, vertay in Provencal, which prepares (מכשיר) the spindle to spin.  
the spindle: Heb. פלך, fusele in French.  
20. She spreads out her hand to the poor man, and she stretches her hands out to the needy.   כ. כַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָֹה לֶעָנִי וְיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה לָאֶבְיוֹן:
21. She fears not for her household for snow, for all her household are dressed in crimson.   כא. לֹא תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג כִּי כָל בֵּיתָהּ לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִים:
She fears not for her house hold: For those who live in her house.  
for snow: For the cold.  
are dressed in crimson: Colored clothing.  
22. She makes beautiful bedspreads for herself; fine linen and purple wool are her raiment.   כב. מַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ:
beautiful bedspreads: Heb. מרבדים, beautiful spreads for the bed, as in (above 7:16) “I have bedecked my couch with covers (מרבדים רבדתי).”  
23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits with the elders of the land.   כג. נוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ בְּשִׁבְתּוֹ עִם זִקְנֵי אָרֶץ:
Her husband is known in the gates: He is recognizable among his peers because of his garments, which are beautiful.  
24. She makes a cloak and sells it, and she gives a belt to the trafficker.   כד. סָדִין עָשְׂתָּה וַתִּמְכֹּר וַחֲגוֹר נָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי:
to the trafficker: Heb. כנעני, a merchant.  
25. Strength and beauty are her raiment, and she laughs at the last day.   כה. עֹז וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ וַתִּשְׂחַק לְיוֹם אַחֲרוֹן:
at the last day: On the day of her death, she departs with a good name.  
and she laughs: all her life about the day of her death, that it should be honored with a good name.  
26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and instruction of kindness is on her tongue.   כו. פִּיהָ פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה וְתוֹרַת חֶסֶד עַל לְשׁוֹנָהּ:
27. She supervises the ways of her household and does not eat bread of idleness.   כז. צוֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכוֹת בֵּיתָהּ וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת לֹא תֹאכֵל:
She supervises: In her house, she pays attention to all the needs of her household, how they should act with truth and with modesty.  
28. Her children rise and call her fortunate; [also] her husband, and praises her.   כח. קָמוּ בָנֶיהָ וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ בַּעְלָהּ וַיְהַלְלָהּ:
29. "Many women have acquired wealth, but you surpass them all."   כט. רַבּוֹת בָּנוֹת עָשׂוּ חָיִל וְאַתְּ עָלִית עַל כֻּלָּנָה:
“Many women, etc.”: In this way, her husband and children call her fortunate.  
30. Charm is false and beauty is futile; a God-fearing woman is to be praised.   ל. שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת יְהוָה הִיא תִתְהַלָּל:
Charm is false: No one praises a woman of charm or beauty; everything is futility and false, but a God-fearing woman alone is praised.  
31. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her deeds will praise her in the gates.   לא. תְּנוּ לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶֹיהָ:
her deeds: The skill of her deeds testifies for her so that all passersby praise her in the gate of the city. This is the figure, as I explained it, but according to the allegory, the chapter is explained as referring to the Torah and those who study it.  
a woman of valor: This is the Torah.  
who can find: Fortunate is he who merits to find it.  
than pearls: Heb. מפנינים, [also referred to as] מרגליות.  
and he lacks no gain: He eats the fruit in this world and in the next  
She seeks wool and flax: Since it [the Torah] is compared to a woman, Scripture speaks according to the figure concerning the requirements for the work of women, and the allegory is as follows: The Torah seeks Scripture, Mishnah and Midrash, and searches for them, as they are the requirements of the students.  
She is like the merchant ships: The Torah brings those who study it blessing and sustenance.  
She rises when it is still night: They rise early in the [morning] watch.  
she gives food to her household: The teacher teaches the pupils the lesson allotted to them.  
She contemplates a field: Heb. זממה. The Torah muzzles Esau, the “man of the field,” with a muzzle and a bridle.  
and purchases it: lit. and takes him from the world to destroy him;  
from the fruit of her deeds she plants a vineyard: Israel, to keep them alive for the fire of the world to come.  
She advised: Its speech.  
her lamp does not go out at night: It is written בליל, with the “hey” missing; on the night of watching (ליל שמורים), when the Egyptians were plagued, it shone for Israel and protected them.  
onto the distaff: Heb. בכישור, through the skill of its deeds.  
support the spindle: Heb. פלך, a support, as in (II Sam. 3:29): “one who leans on a staff (מחזיק בפלך).”  
She spreads out her hand: Whoever makes himself like a poor man on its account-in him it [the Torah] endures.  
She fears not for her household for snow: with which they judge the wicked from fire to snow.  
dressed in crimson: The covenant of the blood of circumcision. Another explanation: They are dressed with the commandments expressed in double language. (Deut. 15:10): “You shall surely give (נתון תתן) ,” (ibid. verse 8): “you shall surely open (פתוח תפתח) ,” (ibid. verse 14): “you shall surely furnish him liberally (הענק תעניק).” All these save them from the snow of Gehinnom. So it is expounded in Tanhuma.  
She makes a cloak: It grants a glorious [raiment] to the Sages.  
and she gives a belt to the trafficker: To the one who is girded with its merchandise, she gives a belt for their loins.  
to the last day: They need not grieve over the day of judgment because they will be saved from it, and all the days of their life they will rejoice at the day of judgment. An expression of צחוק, laughter, applies to anyone who need not be concerned, as in (Job 41: 21): “and he rejoices at the din of a spear.”  
She supervises the ways of her household: The Torah teaches them the good way, to separate from sin.  
Her children: The pupils.  
her husband: The Holy One, blessed be He.  
and… is futile: Their greatness and their beauty.  
Give her: in the future.  
of the fruit of her hands: Glory and greatness, strength, beauty and ruling power.  
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