This expression has been translated in various ways in different Bible versions and even within the same version in separate instances. None of the common translations is really reaching the full meaning of this idiom.
For example, in Proverbs 12:4 it is a ‘virtuous woman’: “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband,” whereas the same name in Proverbs 31:10 is “A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies.”
In other Bible versions, ‘e•shet cha•yil’ is translated as: ‘a woman of valor.’
All of these translations are missing the real meaning of the phrase. The key to understanding the character of that wonderful woman that the Bible praises so much and recommends as a ‘model wife’ to all men is in the second word: ‘cha•yil.’ This word has a military connotation. It is mentioned over 150 times, both in the Old and New Testaments, and it always means ‘might’ ‘bravery’ or ‘success.’ This is not exactly the image of a woman that the religious establishments were promoting throughout the generations. The submissive, fragile, shy and quiet woman that men expected at home throughout those generations (and in many communities still today) is far, far away from the mighty warrior character depicted in the Bible. Read again Proverb 31:10-31 and test for yourself the amazing might that the ‘model woman’ possesses. Do you see any fragility, submissiveness or other weak attributes in that woman?
You’ll find instead a brave, wise, generous and competent house maker. In fact, our society would be much healthier if more men could fit into half of the virtues of that biblical ‘model woman.’
If you are a married man, perhaps it would be a wonderful idea to read this chapter again now. You may be surprised to find many of these great virtues in your own wife that you just forgot to recognize, appreciate and praise lately…