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HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

Proverbs 31:21

She is not afraid of the snow for her household; For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

Snow in Palestine occasionally occurs, but when it does snow it rarely reaches any great depth.  During some winters it may not snow at all. “A fall of snow in the rainy season of winter is not rare in Palestine…and is sometimes accompanied with freezing cold” (Keil & Delitzsch).  The Bible mentions snow a number of times (Psalm 51:7; Proverbs 26:1; Isaiah 1:18), but only records one instance where snow fell:  “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow” (2 Samuel 23:20; compare 1 Chronicles 11:22).

The virtuous woman, always concerned about the welfare of her family, is not afraid of the snow.  Snow is here a symbol of the cold that accompanies it. She is not afraid of the cold because she has made preparations ahead of time to dress her family in warm clothing.  “Household” may also include servants.

Her household was “clothed with scarlet.”   The scarlet colour (compare Isaiah 1:18 and Joshua 2:18 where the same word is used), of itself, did nothing to warm them.  “The scarlet clothing is of wool, which as such preserves warmth, and, as high-coloured, appears at the same time dignified (2 Sam. 1:24)” (Keil & Delitzsch, see under Proverbs 31:21).  Thus they were protected by the wool and the scarlet provided ornamentation.  “Scarlet” is “obtained from the Tola, a cochineal-like insect, which, being crushed, produces a fine deep red, or rich crimson dye, much admired by the Orientals. It is the ‘worm’ of Psalm 22:6, to which our Lord likens Himself, He who was bruised and slain that all His redeemed might be clothed in splendour for eternity” (Ironside, Proverbs/Song of Solomon, pages 477-488).

One lesson here is that believers and the children of godly parents do not need to be dressed in dull clothing.  Drabness and dullness of apparel do not add to one’s spirituality. There seems to be an allowance for clothing that is colourful and attractive.  At the same time dress should be modest and should not unnecessarily draw attention to self or to one’s body.

Note:  The LXX and Vulgate translate “scarlet” as “double-garments” or “doubly-clothed.”  It is from a different Hebrew word which is very close in appearance to the Hebrew word for “scarlet.”  See Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament.  This meaning would make sense with respect to the cold of winter.

Author: Godfrey Gregg

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