In praise of the contentious wife…


Every little thing in the Bible was written about 2000-3000 years ago. And so it is not surprising there’s no mention of social media, worldwide warming – or even Islam.

It is also not surprising that there is a lot of misogyny and patriarchy in the Bible. Ladies had about the similar status and rights in these occasions as a herd of cattle.

The book of Proverbs, for instance, is clearly written by males for males, in particular for young males beginning out in life, and has quite a few warnings about girls – and their capacity to lead these young ingenues astray.

Additionally, it exhorts marrying a submissive wife, as ‘a contentious wife’ is an insufferable burden. Proverbs 21.9 says, ‘It is much better to reside in a corner of the housetop than in a property shared with a contentious wife.’ Only ten verses later, it says, ‘It is much better to reside in a desert land than with a contentious and fretful wife.’ 4 chapters later, we hear once again, ‘It is much better to reside in the corner of the housetop than in a property shared with a contentious wife.’ Lastly, in 27.15 the contentious wife is described as becoming as irritating as a leaking roof (or in some translations as a dripping tap), ‘A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike.’

All this tends to make me really feel incredibly considerably on the contentious wife’s side – rather than becoming against her.

Maybe, even so, the final chapter of the book attempts to redress matters by providing us, in contrast, an ‘Ode to the Capable Wife.’

As opposed to the poor old contentious wife, the capable wife is ‘more valuable than jewels.’ ‘She does her husband fantastic, and not harm, all the days of her life.’ ‘She rises although it is nonetheless evening and offers meals for her household.’ ‘She puts her hand to the distaff and her hands hold the spindle.’

Strangely, even so, while the capable wife is portrayed as a lady of strength and enterprise, it pretty much feels as patronising to study this as it does to study about the contentious wife.

It appears that not only do girls will need to be submissive but they will need to be beneficial also.

And, of course, there’s no mention of the perils of a contentious husband or the blessings of a capable husband.

But, as I say, this book was written in a culture steeped in patriarchy and we ought to see it in that context.

One particular issue, even so, I locate beneficial in undertaking this is to substitute the word ‘wife’ in these passages with the word ‘Church’ or ‘disciples.’ For the reason that Jesus typically spoke of himself as becoming the bridegroom and of the Church, or his disciples, as becoming the bride.

When we do this, we have ‘It is much better to reside in a corner of the housetop than in a property shared with contentious disciples’ and ‘capable disciples are additional valuable than jewels.’

And the passages then cease to grate and turn out to be pretty inspiring.

Right here it is the Ode to the Capable Wife in its (substituted) entirety:

Ode to Capable Disciples
Capable disciples who can locate?
They are far additional valuable than jewels.
The heart of their husband, Christ, trusts in them,
and he will have no lack of get.
They do him fantastic, and not harm,
all the days of their lives.
They seek wool and flax,
and operate with prepared hands.
They are like the ships of the merchant,
They bring their meals from far away.
They rise although it is nonetheless evening
and present meals for their households
and tasks for other disciples.
They look at a field and get it
with the fruit of their hands
They plant a vineyard.
They gird themselves with strength,
and make their arms robust.
They perceive that their merchandise is lucrative.
Their lamps do not go out at evening.
They place their hands to the distaff,
and their hands hold the spindle.
They open their hands to the poor,
and attain out their hands to the needy.
They are not afraid for their households when it snows,
for all their households are clothed in crimson.
They make themselves coverings
their clothes is fine linen and purple.
Their husband, Christ, is recognized in the city gates,
taking his seat amongst the elders of the land.
They make linen garments and sell them
They provide the merchant with sashes
Strength and dignity are their clothes,
and they laugh at the time to come.
They open their mouths with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on their tongues.
They appear effectively to the methods of their households,
and do not consume the bread of idleness.
Their youngsters rise up and contact them pleased
their husband, Christ, also – and he praises them:
‘Many disciples have completed excellently,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but disciples who worry the Lord are to be praised.
Give them a share in the fruit of their hands,
and let their operates praise them in the city gates.


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