Proverbs 31:13

Proverbs 31:13

She seeketh wool and flax
To get them, in order to spin them, and work them up into garments; she stays not till they are brought to her, and she is pressed to take them; but she seeks after them, which shows her willingness to work, as is after more fully expressed. It was usual in ancient times for great personages to do such works as these, both among the Grecians F26 and Romans: Lucretia with her maids were found spinning, when her husband Collatinus paid a visit to her from the camp F1: Tanaquills, or Caia Caecilia, the wife of King Tarquin, was an excellent spinster of wool F2; her wool, with a distaff and spindle, long remained in the temple of Sangus, or Sancus, as Varro F3 relates: and a garment made by her, wore by Servius Tullius, was reserved in the temple of Fortune; hence it became a custom for maidens to accompany newly married women with a distaff and spindle, with wool upon them F4, signifying what they were principally to attend unto; and maidens are advised to follow the example of Minerva, said to be the first that made a web F5; and, if they would have her favour, to learn to use the distaff, and to card and spin F6: so did the daughters of Minyas, in Ovid F7; and the nymphs, in Virgil F8. When Alexander the great advised the mother of Darius to use her nieces to such employments, the Persian ladies were in great concern, it being reckoned reproachful with them for such to move their hands to wool; on hearing which, Alexander himself went to her, and told her the clothes he wore were wrought by his sisters F9: and the daughters and granddaughters of Augustus Caesar employed themselves in the woollen manufacture by his order F11; and he himself usually wore no other garment than what was made at home, by his wife, sister, daughter, and granddaughter F12. The Jews have a saying F13, that there is no wisdom in a woman but in the distaff; suggesting, that it is her wisdom to mind her spinning, and the affairs of her household: at the Roman marriages, the word "thalassio" was often repeated F14, which signified a vessel in which spinning work was put; and this was done to put the bride in mind what her work was to be. Now as to the mystical sense of these words; as of wool outward garments, and of flax linen and inward garments, are made; by the one may be meant external, and by the other internal, acts of religion; both are to be done, and not the one without the other: outward acts of religion are, such as hearing the word, attendance on ordinances, and all good works, which make up a conversation garment that should be kept; and they should be done so as to be seen of men, but not for that reason: and internal acts of religion are, the fear of God, humility, faith, hope, love, and other graces, and the exercises of them, which make up the new man, to be put on as a garment; and these should go together; bodily exercise, without powerful godliness, profiteth little; and pretensions to spirituality and internal religion, without regard to the outward duties of religion, are all vain. Hence Ambrose, on the text, observes that one may say,

``It is enough to worship and serve God in my mind; what need have I to go to church, and visibly mingle with Christians? Such a man would have a linen, without a woollen garment, this woman knew not; she does not commend such works.''
She sought all opportunities of doing good works externally, as believers do; and sought after the kingdom of God, inward godliness, which lies in peace, righteousness, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Not that such garments are to be joined with Christs robe of righteousness, to make up a justifying one; a garment mingled with linen and woollen, in this sense, is not to come upon the saints, ( Leviticus 19:19 ) ; and worketh willingly with her hands;
or, "with the pleasure of her hands" F15; as if her hands took delight in working, as the church and all true believers do; who are made willing in the day of the Lord's power upon them, to serve him, as well as to be saved by him; in whose hearts he works, both to will and to do; and these do what they do cheerfully: these do the work of the Lord, not by the force of the law, nor through fear of punishment, but in love; not by constraint, but willingly, having no other constraint but the love of God and Christ; and not with mercenary selfish views, but with a view to his glory; and they find a pleasure and delight in all they do; Christ's ways are ways of pleasantness; his commandments are not grievous, his yoke is easy.
FOOTNOTES:

F26 Vid. Homer. Iliad 3. v. 125. & 6. v. 490, 491. & 22. v. 440. Odyss. l. v. 357. & 5. v. 62.
F1 "Cujus, ante torumn calathi, lanaque mollis erat", Ovid. Fasti, l. 2. prope finem.
F2 Valerius Maximus, l. 10. p. 348.
F3 Apud Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48.
F4 Plin. ibid.
F5 Pomponius Subinus in Virgil. Cyrin, p. 1939.
F6 "Pallade placata, lanam mollire puellae discant, et plenas exonerare colos", Ovid. Fast. l. 3. prope finem.
F7 Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 1. v. 34, 35.
F8 Georgic. l. 4.
F9 Curt. Hist. l. 5. c. 2.
F11 Sueton. in Vit. August. c. 64.
F12 lbid. c. 73.
F13 Vid. Buxtorf. Lex. Rabbin. col. 1742.
F14 Varro apud Chartar. de Imag. Deorum, p. 88.
F15 (hypk Upxb) "cum voluptate altro neis manibus", so some in Vatablus, Tigurine version; so Cocceius, Michaelis, Piscator, Gejerus, Schultens.
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