אֵשֶׁת חַיִל מִי יִמְצָא וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָהּ: Whoever finds a valorous wife— far greater than that of pearls is her value.
בָּטַח בָּהּ לֵב בַּעְלָהּ וְשָׁלָל לֹא יֶחְסָר: The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he lacks no gain.4The literal meaning of שָׁלָל is “booty” which implies an unexpected gain to which one had no prior claim. Thus in our verse, although her husband had complete trust in her, her deeds actually surpassed his expectations.— S.R. Hirsch
גְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב וְלֹא רָע כָּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיה: She repays him good and not evil all the days of her life.5A person can do much good to another and still cause him moments of pain or shame by his conduct. The true woman of valor, to whom this hymn is dedicated, gives her husband nothing but happiness, never a moment of grief all the days of her life.—S.R. Hirsch
דָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיהָ: She seeks wool and linen, and works them willingly with her hands.
הָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיּוֹת סוֹחֵר מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבִיא לַחְמָהּ: She is like the merchant ships; from afar, she brings her food.6These verses are a tribute to the woman of valor who is willing to do far more than she is required to do. Although her husband is obligated to support her, she does not hesitate to do everything in order to provide for her family.—Metsudas Dovid
וַתָּקָם בְּעוֹד לַיְלָה וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ וְחֹק לְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ: She rises while it is still night and gives food to her household, and tasks to her maids.
זָמְמָה שָׂדֶה וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ נָטְעָה כָּרֶם: She considers a field and buys it; from the fruit of her hand, she plants a vineyard.
חָגְרָה בְעוֹז מָתְנֶיהָ וַתְּאַמֵּץ זְרֹעוֹתֶיהָ: She girds herself with might and strengthens her arms.7She is not strong by nature; she “makes herself” strong. Her zeal and sense of duty give her strength and might.—S.R. Hirsch
טָעֲמָה כִּי טוֹב סַחְרָהּ לֹא יִכְבֶּה בַלַּיְלָה נֵרָהּ: She senses that her business is good, [so] her lamp is not extinguished at night.
יָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישׁוֹר וְכַפֶּיהָ תָּמְכוּ פָלֶךְ: She puts her hand to the spindle, and her palms support the distaff.8This verse is connected with what follows. No time is wasted in idleness. Her other work being finished, she spends her leisure in spinning and making garments for the poor and for the members of her household.
כַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָׂה לֶעָנִי וְיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה לָאֶבְיוֹן: Her palm she spreads out to the poor and her hands she extends to the needy.9An אֶביוֹן , a needy person, is in more desperate need than an עָנִי , a poor person. The woman of valor recognizes that. To the poor man, therefore, she opens her palms, permitting him to take what he wishes. But regarding the needy man, she takes the initiative by extending her hands to provide his needs.— Metsudas Dovid
לֹא תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג כִּי כָל בֵּיתָהּ לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִים: She has no fear for her household because of snow, for her entire household is clothed with scarlet [wool].
מַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ: Bedspreads, she makes herself fine linen and purple [wool] are her clothing.10She was attired in the costliest garments, as befits a distinguished woman.
נוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ בְּשִׁבְתּוֹ עִם זִקְנֵי אָרֶץ: Well-known at the gates11Oriental cities had deep gateways shaded from the sun. There the elders sat as a court to adjudicate disputes and discuss important communal affairs. is her husband as he sits among the elders of the land.
סָדִין עָשְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּר וַחֲגוֹר נָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי: Garments she makes and sells them, and belts,12Like סָדִין a linen garment, חֲגוֹר , girdle, the noun is the collective singular. Sashes or belts were commonly worn around the waist. she provides for the merchants.
עֹז וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ וַתִּשְׂחַק לְיוֹם אַחֲרוֹן: Strength and splendor are her clothing,13These characteristics are borne by her as one wears clothes. See Psalms 104:1, “With beauty and splendor are You clothed.” and smilingly [she awaits her] last day.14God shows the righteous, just before their death, the share they have earned in the World to Come. Thus the woman of valor will be joyous on her last day, because then she will know the fullness of the reward she has earned through her virtuous conduct.—Exodus Rabbah 52:3
פִּיהָ פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה וְתוֹרַת חֶסֶד עַל לְשׁוֹנָהּ: Her mouth she opens with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness15She teaches others to do kind deeds.—Metsudas Dovid is on her tongue.
צוֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכוֹת בֵּיתָהּ וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת לֹא תֹאכֵל: She anticipates the ways of her household, and the bread of idleness, she does not eat.
קָמוּ בָנֶיהָ וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ בַּעְלָהּ וַיְהַלְלָהּ: Her children rise16 and make her fortunate;17She will feel fortunate and happy with the evidence of their appreciation and love. There is no more eloquent testimony to her virtue. her husband—and he praises her:
רַבּוֹת בָּנוֹת עָשׂוּ חָיִל וְאַתְּ עָלִית עַל כֻּלָּנָה: Many daughters have attained valor but you surpassed them all.
שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת יְהֹוָה הִיא תִתְהַלָּל: Favor is deceptive and beauty is vain; a God-fearing woman— —she should be praised.
תְּנוּ לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ: Give her the fruit of her hand, and let her deeds praise her in the gates.18 Although her activities are confined to the home, due recognition will be given her even outside her immediate family. She will be eternally praised as a valiant example for the entire community.—S.R. Hirsch