(Original Hebrew) חָֽגְרָ֣ה בְעֹ֣וז מָתְנֶ֑יהָ וַ֝תְּאַמֵּ֗ץ זְרֹעֹותֶֽיהָ׃
(Hebrew Transliterated) ḥā-ḡə-rāh ḇə-‘ō-wz mā-ṯə-ne-hā; wat-tə-’am-mêṣ, zə-rō-‘ō-w-ṯe-hā.
(King James Version) “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.”
(Berean Study Bible) “She girds herself with strength and shows that her arms are strong. “
Breakdown of the word for “She girds” / ḥā-ḡə-rāh / חָֽגְרָ֣ה
- Het: Life/Grace/New Beginnings
- Gimel: Balance/Carrying/Change/Motion
- Resh: Beginning/Container
- Hey: At the end of a word, hey makes it feminine/fruitful/productive.
Hagerah = She Girds
The word Hagerah means to gird, or to put on. As in to put clothes or sackcloth or a sword. It carries the idea of intentionally dressing for a purpose. The breakdown of the word further emphasizes this. The letters give a mental picture of intentionality. We see that girding is for the purpose of life, change and motion.
As women, we often spend a large amount of time focusing on what we wear or how we look. We want the world to see us as, at the least, reasonably put together women. Our choices of clothing are often different and women have different ideas on topics like modesty and style, but in the end, we want out outer selves to be a reflection of who we are – or who we are trying to become.
And yet, nowhere in this chapter do we read about how beautiful this woman is or what great style she has. No, the author of Proverbs 31 tells us instead of a women who puts strength on as her outerwear (actually the author mentions this twice in the chapter.) Perhaps because wearing strength is more important than our makeup being on point or wearing the latest style? (Not that there is anything wrong with those things either.)
The thing is, though, that this is something that must be done intentionally. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to be strong. And with many of us dealing with self esteem issues, that’s even more difficult. I believe that’s why the author says to gird yourself or put on strength. It doesn’t just say to “be strong”. Because telling a woman to “be strong” is less than helpful. But a reminder to wake up and dress yourself in strength. Every single morning. That’s a little more doable.
And its not just physical strength, although I’m sure that was necessary in that time period for the woman to do all of the other things she does in the chapter, but its an emotional strength, a spiritual strength. Its a state of being, not a result of a good workout. When you think of a woman you admire, I bet you consider her a strong, or stable, woman. The type of woman who rolls with the punches and never seems to struggle.
We as humans value strength. Probably more than we’d like to admit, sometimes. And there’s a reason. Because Father values strength. The Bible mentions strength over 360 times. I’d say that’s a pretty important topic!
What is her worth?
If you believe, as I do, that a woman’s place is next to her husband (not necessarily underneath him) as a companion and partner, then consider the person that a man wants at his side. Does he want someone who is weak? Someone who might crumble at the first sign of trouble? Or does he want someone who has his back, who can step in and support him.
Think of how during the battle against the Amalekites, Moses had to keep his arms up in order for the Isrealites to win. Eventually, he become too tired to hold his arms up and so Aaron and Hur stepped in to do it for him. Can you imagine the strength that was needed for Aaron and Hur to do that for him? They became tired too and they also needed to be strong. Interestingly enough, using that as an example, we see that it was the arms that needed to be strong – for Moses and also for those supporting him. And we see here in Proverbs that the woman strengthens her arms too.
Husbands aside, a woman needs her strength for herself too. Sometimes the word used for strength in this verse can translate to boldness. Father has not called women to be weaklings who are prone to being pushed around and being doormats. He wants us to have the strength, confidence and boldness to be used when it is needed.
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