House on Her Back

“But you speak things which become sound doctrine: aged men to be temperate, sensible, discreet, sound in faith, in love, in patience; aged women likewise in reverent behavior, not slanderers, not being enslaved by much wine, teachers of good, that they might train the young women to be lovers of husbands, lovers of children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, subject to [their] own husbands, so that the Word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:1-5).

[I am not endorsing or promoting George Swinnock as a true Christian when I quote from him.  But I think he writes some things that true Christians could benefit from.]

“In furthering the good of her family and husband. 1. Of the family. Therefore she is fitly termed a housewife; and the apostle chargeth women to be keepers at home, Tit. ii. 5. And to the credit of Sarah, it is recorded, when the angel asked Abraham where she was, he said, ‘Behold, in the tent’ Gen. xviii … Not, as Dinah, gadding in the fields, nor like Tamar, gazing in the streets, but at her dwelling, in her tent.  Phidias, when he was to draw a woman, painted her sitting under a snail’s shell, signifying that she should imitate the snail, which goeth not abroad without her house on her back. Whilst her husband is careful abroad, she must not be careless at home…The man after God’s own heart compares a wife to a vine, which groweth by the house side, which doth both nourish and delight the inhabitants therein with its curious clusters of grapes, Ps. cxxviii” (George Swinnock, Works).

Swinnock mentions an alleged report of how the “Egyptians gave no shoes to their wives, but suffered them to go barefoot, that they might stay always within doors” 2 (George Swinnock, Works).

There is a note “2” for the source of Swinnock’s information concerning Egyptians and their wives, but I cannot decipher the source or where that “2” is listed (whether as an endnote or a footnote). [Note: I acquired these Swinnock works free or I purchased them for a very low price (don’t presently recall), so some of the formatting (especially where there are foreign language quotes (e.g., Latin, Greek, maybe Hebrew) is a bit garbled in places.]

Anyhow, I believe the Holy Spirit of God paints a different picture than the oft-maligned misrepresentation of the virtuous Christian woman being imprisoned and barefoot in the kitchen:

“Who can find a woman of virtue? For her value [is] far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, so that he has no lack [of] gain. She deals good with him, and not evil, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and she works [with] her hands [with] delight. She is like the merchant ships, she brings in her food from afar. She also rises while [it is] still night and gives game to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She has examined a field and takes it; she plants a vineyard from the fruit of her hands. She has girded her loins with strength, and has made her arms strong. She tastes whether her gain [is] good, her lamp is not put out by night. She has sent forth her hands on the distaff, and her hands have held the spindle. She spreads out her hands to the poor, yea, she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household [are] clothed [with] scarlet. She makes herself ornamental coverings; her clothing [is] bleached [linen] and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits with the elders of the land. She makes fine linen garments, and sells, and she delivers girdles to the merchant. Strength and dignity [are] her clothing, and she shall rejoice at the day to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the law of kindness [is] on her tongue. She watches the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband [also], for he praises her: Many [are] the daughters who act with virtue, but you rise above them all! Grace [may be] deceitful, and beauty vain, [but] a woman who fears Jehovah, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:10-31).

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A Study on Proverbs 31:30

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