Over the past forty years, the remarkable presence of women in Prov 1–9 has drawn an equally remarkable number of studies, a gift from the rise of feminism and women in the academy. The combination of these two forces brings attention to the once invisible women in the text, figures generally overlooked or ignored as males have read and interpreted the text for other males. Now, however, the text again gives birth to these marginalized figures, providing them with bodies, eyes, ears, hands, feet, and especially, mouths for speech. Of 256 verses in Prov 1–9, 132 specifically mention or speak about women and another seventeen verses either introduce these texts or draw conclusions from them;hence fifty-eight percent of Prov 1–9. Yet, ironically, all this attention to women comes because of the writer’s interest and concern for young men (1:4), with a secondary appeal to older, wise men (1:5). For the sages, it would seem that the way to a man’s heart is not through food, but through women. After all, the author seems to assume, what better way to engage the attention of a young man than by speaking about or describing women?
This paper argues that a close reading of Deborah's story and song reveals an ’eshet hayil, a “woman of valor” (cf. Ruth 3:11, Prov 12:4, 31:10). This is evident not only in the direct references to her, but also in the narratives regarding her associates Barak and Jael.
The church of the first five centuries helped define women’s sense of self, integrating their understanding of sexuality and marriage with the redemptive work of Christ, thus encouraging them to contribute to the work of the church.
The Hebrew view of marital sex, in contrast with Neoplatonism and early church, was not celibate. The Jews were never prudish about sex. The best evidence of this is the high place Solomon's Song of Songs, an ancient collection of poems on courtship and love, holds in the canon of Hebrew Scripture and in the worship of the synagogues, where it is usually read on the 8th day of Passover.
Digging deeper into Prov 31:10–31 in context reveals it was never intended to be a how-to manual for becoming the perfect woman. In the context of Proverbs, this passage is the parting mnemonic incentivizing young men to pursue wisdom and marry wisely.
Sex is discussed openly, explicitly and directly from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. If the Scriptures are our only infallible rule of faith and practice, then as C. S. Lewis said, there’s no use being more spiritual than God!