Her worth is in her and in the text. Proverbs 31 makes it very clear: “she is worth far more than rubies”. (Proverbs 31.10)
Another character that comes to the forefront of the text of Proverbs is “The Wife of the Nobel Man”. She is mentioned throughout the book, referenced again and again, but is dwelt upon at the end of the book in chapter 31.
She bursts on the scene in chapter 12 where we find that she is the” crown of her husband!” (Proverbs 12.4) The Jews had a principle of interpretation called “First Text Principle”. Essentially, it means that when a topic comes up in a text, the interpreter must go back to where the concept is spoken of first in Scripture. For example, when we read from the pen of Paul: “For it is by grace we are saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves but the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2.8-9) For a Jewish interpreter their mind would immediately be taken to Genesis 6 and the flood narrative where Noah “found favor [chen] in the eyes of the Lord”. (Genesis 6.8) The Hebrew word for “favor” can also be translated as “grace”. And you know the rest of the story. Noah and his family were saved from the flood waters because of God’s warning and Noah’s belief in that warning.
For our purposes and the wife of noble character, the study must begin in Genesis 2 with the first woman and the first wife. Man was alone on the earth and for the first time in the story of God and Man, “it was not good”. (Genesis 2.18) So God made for/from Adam a “helper” [‘ezer] for him. This word carries the idea of reinforcements in battle (Psalm 20.2; 121.11-12; Isiah 30.5) Eve was given to Adam in order to come alongside him in ministry and in life. She was to rally to support him. But Eve would be the one to be deceived and handing the fruit to Adam. I’m not absolving Adam, he was right there with her, and as the man should have intervened; however, his “helper” would become his…whatever his anti-helper is.
But not this woman: “she brings him good and not harm all the days of her life” (12); “she provides food for her family…” (15); “she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (20); “her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also praises her” (28). There isn’t a person that comes into contact with her life, who isn’t affected for the better. Eve was created to help Adam be the man, but the wife of noble character did it and that was prized by her husband in verse 29:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
That is the crown that he bears in Proverbs 12.4! The wife of noble character is the crowning achievement of creation and the heroine of the book of Proverbs.