Chapter 31

1The words of Lemuel the king; a prophecy that his mother chastised him;   אדִּבְרֵי לְמוּאֵ֣ל מֶ֑לֶךְ מַ֜שָּׂ֗א אֲֽשֶׁר־יִסְּרַ֥תּוּ אִמּֽוֹ:
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.  
2What, my son, and what, the son of my womb, and what, the son of my vows?   במַה־בְּ֖רִי וּמַֽה־בַּר־בִּטְנִ֑י וּ֜מֶה בַּר־נְדָרָֽי:
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.  
3Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to the pleasures of kings.   גאַל־תִּתֵּ֣ן לַנָּשִׁ֣ים חֵילֶ֑ךָ וּ֜דְרָכֶ֗יךָ לַֽמְח֥וֹת מְלָכִֽין:
Do not give: Do not weaken.  
your strength to women: Heb. חילך, your strength.  
4It is not for kings, Lemoel, it is not for kings to drink wine, neither is strong drink for rulers.   דאַ֤ל לַֽמְלָכִ֨ים לְֽמוֹאֵ֗ל אַ֣ל לַֽמְלָכִ֣ים שְׁתּוֹ־יָ֑יִן וּ֜לְרוֹזְנִ֗ים אֵ֣ו אֵ֣י שֵׁכָֽר:
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.  
5Lest he drink and forget what was made law, and change the judgment of all the impoverished.   הפֶּן־יִ֖שְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּ֣ח מְחֻקָּ֑ק וִֽ֜ישַׁנֶּה דִּ֣ין כָּל־בְּנֵי־עֹֽנִי:
what was made law: What is written in the Torah-and surely the tradition that is committed to memory.  
6Give strong drink to the one who is perishing and wine to those of bitter soul.   ותְּנוּ־שֵׁכָ֣ר לְאוֹבֵ֑ד וְ֜יַיִן לְמָ֣רֵי נָֽפֶשׁ:
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.]  
7Let him drink and forget his poverty, and let him remember his misery no more.   זיִשְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּ֣ח רִישׁ֑וֹ וַ֜עֲמָל֗וֹ לֹ֣א יִזְכָּר־עֽוֹד:
8Open your mouth for the dumb, to the cause of all whose help has passed.   חפְּתַח־פִּ֥יךָ לְאִלֵּ֑ם אֶל־דִּ֜֗ין כָּל־בְּנֵ֥י חֲלֽוֹף:
all whose help has passed: Heb. בני חלוף. These are the orphans, whose help has passed and gone away.  
9Open your mouth, judge justly and plead the cause of the poor and the needy.   טפְּתַח־פִּ֥יךָ שְׁפָט־צֶ֑דֶק וְ֜דִ֗ין עָנִ֥י וְאֶבְיֽוֹן:
10A woman of valor who can find, for her price is beyond pearls.   יאֵֽשֶׁת־חַ֖יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א וְרָחֹ֖ק מִפְּנִינִ֣ים מִכְרָֽהּ:
11Her husband relies on her, and he will lack no gain.   יאבָּ֣טַח בָּ֖הּ לֵ֣ב בַּעְלָ֑הּ וְ֜שָׁלָ֗ל לֹ֣א יֶחְסָֽר:
and he will lack no gain: lit. no plunder, i.e., he will lack no good.  
12She requites him with good and not with evil all the days of her life.   יבגְּמָלַ֣תְהוּ ט֣וֹב וְלֹא־רָ֑ע כֹּ֜֗ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּֽיהָ:
13She seeks wool and flax, and she works it with the will of her hands.   יגדָּרְשָׁה צֶ֣מֶר וּפִשְׁתִּ֑ים וַ֜תַּ֗עַשׂ בְּחֵ֣פֶץ כַּפֶּֽיהָ:
14She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.   ידהָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיּ֣וֹת סוֹחֵ֑ר מִ֜מֶּרְחָ֗ק תָּבִ֥יא לַחְמָֽהּ:
15She rises when it is still night; she gives food to her household and an allotted share to her maidens.   טווַתָּ֤קָם בְּע֬וֹד לַ֗יְלָה וַתִּתֵּ֣ן טֶ֣רֶף לְבֵיתָ֑הּ וְ֜חֹ֗ק לְנַעֲרֹתֶֽיהָ:
food: Heb. טרף.  
and an allotted share: Heb. וחוק. This too is the food that is allotted to them.  
16She contemplates a field and purchases it; from the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.   טזזָמְמָ֣ה שָׂ֖דֶה וַתִּקָּחֵ֑הוּ מִפְּרִ֥י כַ֜פֶּ֗יהָ נָ֣טְעָה (כתיב נטע) כָּֽרֶם:
17She girds her loins with vigor and strengthens her arms.   יזחָֽגְרָ֣ה בְע֣וֹז מָתְנֶ֑יהָ וַ֜תְּאַמֵּ֗ץ זְרֹעוֹתֶֽיהָ:
18[When] she advises that her merchandise is good her lamp does not go out at night.   יחטָעֲמָה כִּי־ט֣וֹב סַחְרָ֑הּ לֹֽא־יִכְבֶּ֖ה בַלַּ֣יְלָ בַלַּ֣יְלָה נֵרָֽהּ:
19She stretches forth her hands onto the distaff, and her hands support the spindle.   יטיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָ֣ה בַכִּישׁ֑וֹר וְ֜כַפֶּ֗יהָ תָּ֣מְכוּ פָֽלֶךְ:
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.  
20She spreads out her hand to the poor man, and she stretches her hands out to the needy.   ככַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָֹ֣ה לֶעָנִ֑י וְ֜יָדֶ֗יהָ שִׁלְּחָ֥ה לָֽאֶבְיֽוֹן:
21She fears not for her household for snow, for all her household are dressed in crimson.   כאלֹא־תִירָ֣א לְבֵיתָ֣הּ מִשָּׁ֑לֶג כִּ֥י כָל־בֵּ֜יתָ֗הּ לָבֻ֥שׁ שָׁנִֽים:
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.  
22She makes beautiful bedspreads for herself; fine linen and purple wool are her raiment.   כבמַרְבַדִּ֥ים עָֽשְׂתָה־לָּ֑הּ שֵׁ֖שׁ וְאַרְגָּמָ֣ן לְבוּשָֽׁהּ:
beautiful bedspreads: Heb. מרבדים, beautiful spreads for the bed, as in (above 7:16) “I have bedecked my couch with covers (מרבדים רבדתי).”  
23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits with the elders of the land.   כגנוֹדָ֣ע בַּשְּׁעָרִ֣ים בַּעְלָ֑הּ בְּ֜שִׁבְתּ֗וֹ עִם־זִקְנֵי־אָֽרֶץ:
Her husband is known in the gates: He is recognizable among his peers because of his garments, which are beautiful.  
24She makes a cloak and sells it, and she gives a belt to the trafficker.   כדסָדִ֣ין עָ֖שְׂתָּה וַתִּמְכֹּ֑ר וַ֜חֲג֗וֹר נָתְנָ֥ה לַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽי:
to the trafficker: Heb. כנעני, a merchant.  
25Strength and beauty are her raiment, and she laughs at the last day.   כהעֹז־וְהָדָ֥ר לְבוּשָׁ֑הּ וַ֜תִּשְׂחַ֗ק לְי֣וֹם אַחֲרֽוֹן:
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.  
26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and instruction of kindness is on her tongue.   כופִּיהָ פָּתְחָ֣ה בְחָכְמָ֑ה וְתֽוֹרַת־חֶ֜֗סֶד עַל־לְשׁוֹנָֽהּ:
27She supervises the ways of her household and does not eat bread of idleness.   כזצוֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכ֣וֹת בֵּיתָ֑הּ וְלֶ֥חֶם עַ֜צְל֗וּת לֹ֣א תֹאכֵֽל:
She supervises: In her house, she pays attention to all the needs of her household, how they should act with truth and with modesty.  
28Her children rise and call her fortunate; [also] her husband, and praises her.   כחקָ֣מוּ בָ֖נֶיהָ וַֽיְאַשְּׁר֑וּהָ בַּ֜עְלָ֗הּ וַֽיְהַֽלְלָֽהּ:
29"Many women have acquired wealth, but you surpass them all."   כטרַבּ֣וֹת בָּ֖נוֹת עָ֣שׂוּ חָ֑יִל וְ֜אַ֗תְּ עָלִ֥ית עַל־כֻּלָּֽנָה:
“Many women, etc.”: In this way, her husband and children call her fortunate.  
30Charm is false and beauty is futile; a God-fearing woman is to be praised.   לשֶׁ֣קֶר הַ֖חֵן וְהֶ֣בֶל הַיֹּ֑פִי אִשָּׁ֥ה יִרְאַת־יְ֜הוָ֗ה הִ֣יא תִתְהַלָּֽל:
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.  
31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her deeds will praise her in the gates.   לאתְּנוּ־לָ֖הּ מִפְּרִ֣י יָדֶ֑יהָ וִֽיהַלְל֖וּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִ֣ים מַעֲשֶֹֽיהָ:
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.