Strong women: I salute you, the Bible salutes you, and apparently men do too

I previously blogged on the silly notion that women should not be “strong and independent,” but men should be.

Now I have two types of further confirmation that the proponents of that view is wrong:

a) The dating site eHarmony, which does a lot of research into what makes relationships work and what does not, lists being too weak and dependent – too needy, in short – as second of 5 potential reasons why potential suitors may run away. (The other reasons are too negative, too bossy, too passive, too aloof.)

b) Proverbs 31:10 speaks of a strong/ brave woman with a price far above rubies. “Huh?”, you may say if you know the English Bible. “Proverbs speak of a virtuous woman, not a strong or brave one!” Yes, it does. The Hebrew word that translates here as virtuous is chayil.

The meaning of chayil, by Strong’s dictionary, is: A force, an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength. Related words are ïysh-chayil: man of might, man of valor; and ben-chayil: son of might.

Chayil appears many times in the Old Testament, mostly translated “valor”; “valiant”; “host” (as in multitude or army, not as in entertainer of guests); “army.” Several times, it is translated as “power”, “strength”, “might”, “strong” or “wealth.” It is translated into English as virtuous only twice. By no coincidence, those are the two times that it refers to women. The Proverbs writer wanted to call the Proverbs women strong, or brave. And there is no hint of dependence in Proverbs 31 either, not with all her own business enterprises and stuff. Translators apparently had a cultural bias against calling women strong or brave, or promoting strength and bravery in women. And because of them, we sit with English Bibles that does not translate the word, in the case of Ruth (Rth 3:11) or this women, the way it is usually translated.

In conclusion, neither the Bible nor dating experts tell women to be weak and unilaterally dependent. The above is not egalitarianism, it is simple usage of a Bible concordance and Hebrew dictionary. The Bible teaches women and men that they are interdependent of each other (1 Co 11:11-12) and dependent of Him, but not that women are supposed to be weak and dependent, with men strong and independent.

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