Back to Bible Studies
Back to Wives Page
Back to Home Page

Proverbs 31:10

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

by Kelli Roark

Cross reference Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 19:14 and Ruth 3:11


The entire chapter of Proverbs 31 was sage advice given to King Lemuel (many believe this to be King Solomon) by his mother. The first nine verses apply to ruling as king while the last 22 verses pertain to the ideal wife. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew language and each of the 22 verses starts with one of the Hebrew letters in alphabetical order. The specific qualities that King Lemuel’s mother picked out to be in this poem had to be the most important, most vital aspects of the ideal wife.

NKJV Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

Webster’s Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.

Young’s A woman of worth who doth find? Yea, far above rubies [is] her price.

Darby’s Who can find a woman of worth? for her price is far above rubies.

ASV A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies.

HNV Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.

RSV A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

NIV A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Even with such a short simple verse as this I am all the more convinced that I need to learn Hebrew so that I can do my own translating. Virtuous is not the same as worthy is not the same as good. How watered down have many, dare I say most, of the scriptures gotten so as to be more palatable in our "enlightened" society?

 Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman [is] a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed [is] as rottenness in his bones.

Commentary by Matthew Henry: Note, 1. He that is blessed with a good wife is as happy as if he were upon the throne, for she is no less than a crown to him. A virtuous woman, that is pious and prudent, ingenious and industrious, that is active for the good of her family and looks well to the ways of her household, that makes conscience of her duty in every relation, a woman of spirit, that can bear crosses without disturbance, such a one owns her husband for her head, and therefore she is a crown to him, not only a credit and honour to him, as a crown is an ornament, but supports and keeps up his authority in his family, as a crown is an ensign of power. She is submissive and faithful to him and by her example teaches his children and servants to be so too. 2. He that is plagued with a bad wife is as miserable as if he were upon the dunghill; for she is no better than rottenness in his bones, an incurable disease, besides that she makes him ashamed. She that is silly and slothful, wasteful and wanton, passionate and ill tongued, ruins both the credit and comfort of her husband. If he go abroad, his head is hung down, for his wife’s faults turn to his reproach. If he retire into himself, his heart is sunk; he is continually uneasy; it is an affliction that preys much upon the spirits.

By this reference we can see that there is such a thing as a virtuous wife. This verse also shows what a virtuous wife is not. "The concept of the crown originates from a cap, turban, or more formal metallic crown that was decorated with jewels. Its placement on one's head indicated that one was set apart for a particular task or calling" (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). This connotes that a husband would want others to know that he had been set apart to be the husband of this woman. If a woman makes her husband ashamed, not only would he likely not want to be set apart to her, but he would also not have the strength to wear her as his crown with rotting bones. There is not much that can be joyful in life if your bones are rotting away. Death is immanent. This might warrant further study on what exactly makes a husband ashamed, or more specifically makes my husband ashamed of me. Are there behaviors that I have that unknowingly make my husband ashamed? For example, when his clothes are clean, pressed and put away and it is easy to get ready for the day, whatever kind of attire he may need, he can wear me as a crown. But when we have to rush around because I didn’t do my JOB, it is only natural that he would be ashamed of my behavior. What else can I think of that directly affects how pleased my husband is to be set apart to me?

 Proverbs 19:14 House and riches [are] the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife [is] from the LORD.

Commentary by Matthew Henry: Note, 1. A discreet and virtuous wife is a choice gift of God’s providence to a man—a wife that is prudent, in opposition to one that is contentious, v. 13. For, though a wife that is continually finding fault may think it is her wit and wisdom to be so, it is really her folly; a prudent wife is meek and quiet, and makes the best of every thing. If a man has such a wife, let him not ascribe it to the wisdom of his own choice or his own management (for the wisest have been deceived both in and by a woman), but let him ascribe it to the goodness of God, who made him a help meet for him, and perhaps by some hits and turns of providence that seemed casual brought her to him. Every creature is what he makes it. Happy marriages, we are sure, are made in heaven; Abraham’s servant prayed in the belief of this, Genesis 24:12. 2. It is a more valuable gift than house and riches, contributes more to the comfort and credit of a man’s life and the welfare of his family, is a greater token of God’s favour, and about which the divine providence is in a more especial manner conversant. A good estate may be the inheritance of fathers, which, by the common direction of Providence, comes in course to a man; but no man has a good wife by descent or entail. Parents that are worldly, in disposing of their children, look no further than to match them to house and riches, but, if withal it be to a prudent wife, let God have the glory.

A prudent wife is not something that a man attains for himself as are houses and riches. If we want to be viewed as prudent, virtuous wives, we must realize that we are gifts from the Lord to our husbands. How can I conduct myself so that I am a gift that he wants to keep? Again we are brought to the difference between virtuous behavior and behavior that makes our husbands ashamed.

 Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman.

Here the Bible plainly points to a virtuous woman. Therefore, it is indeed possible to be a woman of virtue. A further study of the life of Ruth would likely show more specific attributes of this type of woman. Also, it becomes clearer what the role of the church (the bride) is to Christ. He is our kinsman redeemer just as Boaz was the kinsman redeemer for Ruth.

 King James Version English Concordance for Who can find

The words Who can find occur in 4 verses, including 3 exact phrase matches shown:

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 20:6

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10

That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? Ecclesiastes 7:24

Okay, this is really bad, I have some commentary here and I simply cannot find where I found it - so the disclaimer is: I did not write this commentary and when I find the source I will enter it here and in the following studies where it is also used. Some of the text is illegible because it was written in Hebrew or Greek and the font did not translate to my computer.

31:10 Who can find (23) a wife (24) of noble character? (25) For her value(26) is far more than rubies.

23sn The poem begins with a rhetorical question (erotesis). This is intended to establish the point that such a noble wife is rare. As with wisdom in the Book of Proverbs, she has to be found.
24tn The first word (tv#a@) begins with a (alef), the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

It appears that it is difficult to find a wife like this, yet it must be possible or the verse would likely read, "No one can find a virtuous wife, for she is worth more than any man can afford." It is a rare and blessed man who can find a virtuous wife. In all three cases it would seem that the search would have been worth it for the one that found what they were looking for.

 King James Version English Concordance for a virtuous

The exact phrase of a virtuous was found in 3 verses: these are the only appearances of these words.

Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman.

Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman [is] a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed [is] as rottenness in his bones.

The New King James Version says: An excellent wife . . .

25tn Heb "a woman of valor." This is the same expression used to describe Ruth (e.g., Ruth 3:11). The term ly]j^ here means "moral worth" (BDB 298). Elsewhere the term is used of physical valor in battle, e.g., "mighty man of valor," the land-owning aristocrat who could champion the needs of his people in times of peace or war (e.g., Judg 6:12). Here the title indicates that the woman possesses all the virtues, honor, and strength to do the things that the poem will set forth. Older translations used the word "virtuous."

Virtue - areté intrinsic eminence, moral goodness, excellencies, the original and general sense seems to be blended with the impression made on others, i.e., renown, excellence or praise. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary

King James Version English Concordance for Virtue

Virtue occurs 7 times in 6 verses:

Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19 and Luke 8:46 all speak of people wanting to touch Jesus to be healed and the virtue going out of Him.

Mark 5:30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

Matthew Henry Commentary on Mark 5:30 Christ’s enquiry after his concealed patient, and the encouragement he gave her, upon the discovery of her; Christ knew in himself that virtue had gone out of him, v. 30. He knew it not by any deficiency of spirits, through the exhausting of this virtue, but rather by an agility of spirits, in the exerting of it, and the innate and inseparable pleasure he had in doing good. And being desirous to see his patient, he asked, not in displeasure, as one affronted, but in tenderness, as one concerned, Who touched my clothes?

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

I guess I would interpret virtue or virtuous to be the desire to do the right thing, not simply for the sake of doing the right thing, but more for the impression I am making about my relationship with my family, my husband, and more importantly, my Lord. And this virtuous behavior is not for gaining the praise of others, but simply out of love and obedience to God. We are instructed to have this kind of behavior added to our faith. That pretty much negates sinning and justifying it because we’re saved. I think it’s interesting that knowledge is added to virtue and not the other way around. We have to have proper behavior, the right heart, before we can truly utilize the knowledge that God has made available to us in His book. Without a change of heart the knowledge is worthless because it will not be put into practice. Philippians 4:8 - a familiar song from church camps, but how many of us really practice what this verse tells us to do? Are there things in my life that are not virtuous or worthy of praise that I spend my time and my thoughts on? How much of what is on television is really virtuous? How much of my conversations are virtuous? Is there virtue in what I’m reading? Just questions to ponder as I strive to become more and more like my Lord and less and less like the sinner that I am.

King James Version English Concordance for for her price

The exact phrase of for her price was found in 1 verse: this is the only appearance of these words.

26sn This line expresses that her value (Heb "her price"), like wisdom, is worth more than rubies (e.g., 3:15; 8:11).

Price - timé denotes "a valuing," hence, objectively, "price paid or received"; "value, honor, preciousness." Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary

I’m a bit stuck on this one since it is the only time in the whole Bible that it is used. I guess it’s pretty self explanatory - the value placed on a virtuous woman. I wonder what other characteristics the Bible places a price upon. Obviously this could be a study in and of itself being that the only reference I am using here is the phrase "for her price." If I do such a study later, I will insert what I find here so as to enhance this study.

 King James Version English Concordance for is far

The words is far occur in 45 verses, including 11 exact phrase matches.

Job 21:16, Job 22:18, Ecclesiastes 7:24, Isaiah 59:11, Lamentations 1:16, Ezekiel 6:12, Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6, Luke 24:29, Romans 13:12, Philippians 1:23.

This phrase by itself is also self-explanatory - not near. By placing the value of a virtuous woman far above rubies, the implication of her great worth is emphasized. Again, I think further study of this phrase would enhance this study.

King James Version English Concordance for above rubies

The exact phrase of above rubies was found in 2 verses, shown below: these are the only appearances of these words.

Job 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom [is] above rubies.

King James Version English Concordance for rubies

rubies occurs 6 times in 6 verses:

Proverbs 31:10 and Job 28:18

Proverbs 3:15 She [is] more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

Proverbs 8:11 For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Proverbs 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge [are] a precious jewel.

Lamentations 4:7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing [was] of sapphire.

Rubies: Concerning the meaning of the Hebrew words translated "rubies" there is much difference of opinion. See also Prov 3:15; 8:11; 31:10 Some suppose "coral" to be in tended; others "pearl," supposing that the original word signifies merely "bright in color," or "color of a reddish tinge." (The real ruby is a red sapphire, next in value to the diamond. The finest rubies are brought chiefly from Ceylon and Burmah.) Online Study Bible

Ruby: ( Heb. peninim), only in plural ( Lam 4:7). The ruby was one of the stones in the high priest's breastplate (Exd 28:17). A comparison is made between the value of wisdom and rubies (Job 28:18; Pro 3:15; Pro 8:11). The price of a virtuous woman is said to be "far above rubies" (Pro 31:10). The exact meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain. Some render it "red coral;" others, "pearl" or "mother-of-pearl." Easton's Bible Dictionary

Exodus 28:17-20 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, [even] four rows of stones: [the first] row [shall be] a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: [this shall be] the first row. And the second row [shall be] an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.

Now maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see ruby listed in those stones, nor do I see red coral, pearl, or mother-of-pearl so I’m not quite sure where Easton gets its definition of ruby. I happen to know, only because I worked in a jewelry store, that rubies and sapphires are the exact same stone only with different colorings. They are the next most precious and hard stones after diamonds. I am bothered by the definition saying that rubies were in the high priest’s breastplate. Clearly they were not - or else there is a mistake in scripture. And if we are operating with the belief that scripture is the inerrant, living word of God there is no room for mistakes. I believe that rubies were listed here and in other places for a specific purpose and that sapphires were listed in other places for equally specific purposes. In fact, Lamentations 4:7 lists rubies and sapphires separately. In my Bible commentary by John MacArthur he notes after sardius "or ruby." This also bothers me. Sardius, rubies, and sapphires all appear in scripture. It is hard for me to believe that any of the references to these stones was simply a mistranslation. Yet another reason to learn Hebrew. The other place that some of the twelve stones from Exodus 28 are listed is in:

Revelation 21:19-20 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The next verse goes on to say, The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

MacArthur also gives commentary here: Because some of the names of these gems have changed through the centuries it is difficult to identify each one with certainty. Eight of the 12 stones are found in the breastplate of the High Priest, and the other 4 may also be related to the breastplate. The gems picture a brilliant, indescribable panoply of beautiful colors that send forth the light of God’s glory. A possible definition of sardius is a common stone from the quartz family, which ranged in color from orange-red to brownish-red to blood-red. With this as a possible definition of sardius I find it hard to believe that sardius is another word for ruby. I would think that garnet would be more closely associated with sardius because of its color and because it is more common than rubies. I did not have the time or the resources at this point to study this to the depth that I would have liked; therefore, here is yet another area for future study

It appears as though a virtuous woman is worth even more than wisdom: "for the price of wisdom [is] above rubies," whereas "her price is far above rubies." Could we interpret this to mean that it is easier to find wisdom than a virtuous wife? If so, how much more a noble calling it is to be a virtuous woman. Even without a clear definition of what the scripture is referring to when it speaks of rubies we can get a picture of what it means to be valued above rubies. Clearly rubies were precious stones that were highly valued. They weren’t every day rocks. Something about them set them apart - to be noticed, to be different. Quite likely it was a symbol of wealth to have rubies. I can only conjecture that the Lord chose rubies instead of sapphires (since they are the same stone) because of the color red and the emphasis that would put on women and their curse. Yet even though they were cursed once a month, they are more valuable than the wealth of men - if they are virtuous.

Commentary by Matthew Henry on Proverbs 31:10-31 This description of the virtuous woman is designed to show what wives the women should make and what wives the men should choose; it consists of twenty-two verses, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order, as some of the Psalms, which makes some think it was no part of the lesson which Lemuel’s mother taught him, but a poem by itself, written by some other hand, and perhaps had been commonly repeated among the pious Jews, for the ease of which it was made alphabetical. We have the abridgment of it in the New Testament (1 Tim 2:9-10, 1 Pe 3:1), where the duty prescribed to wives agrees with this description of a good wife; and with good reason is so much stress laid upon it, since it contributes as much as any one thing to the keeping up of religion in families, and the entail of it upon posterity, that the mothers be wise and good; and of what consequence it is to the wealth and outward prosperity of a house every one is sensible. He that will thrive must ask his wife leave. Here is,

Commentary by Matthew Henry on Proverbs 31:10 I. A general enquiry after such a one (v. 10), where observe, 1. The person enquired after, and that is a virtuous woman—a woman of strength (so the word is), though the weaker vessel, yet made strong by wisdom and grace, and the fear of God: it is the same word that is used in the character of good judges (Exd 18:21), that they are able men, men qualified for the business to which they are called, men of truth, fearing God. So it follows, A virtuous woman is a woman of spirit, who has the command of her own spirit and knows how to manage other people’s, one that is pious and industrious, and a help meet for a man. In opposition to this strength, we read of the weakness of the heart of an imperious whorish woman, Eze 16:30. A virtuous woman is a woman of resolution, who, having espoused good principles, is firm and steady to them, and will not be frightened with winds and clouds from any part of her duty. 2. The difficulty of meeting with such a one: Who can find her? This intimates that good women are very scarce, and many that seem to be so do not prove so; he that thought he had found a virtuous woman was deceived; Behold, it was Leah, and not the Rachel he expected. But he that designs to marry ought to seek diligently for such a one, to have this principally in his eye, in all his enquiries, and to take heed that he be not biased by beauty or gaiety, wealth or parentage, dressing well or dancing well; for all these may be and yet the woman not be virtuous, and there is many a woman truly virtuous who yet is not recommended by these advantages. 3. The unspeakable worth of such a one, and the value which he that has such a wife ought to put upon her, showing it by his thankfulness to God and his kindness and respect to her, whom he must never think he can do too much for. Her price is far above rubies, and all the rich ornaments with which vain women adorn themselves. The more rare such good wives are the more they are to be valued.

  The implication is clearly that this type of woman is not the run of the mill average woman. She is something special - she is priceless. She is difficult to find and I would think even more difficult to become - but not impossible. Her main concerns are things that delight the Lord, thus she is virtuous. I need to look further into what brings delight to my Savior. Obviously by exemplifying those qualities I will become virtuous and bring untold wealth to my husband and family. Think of the amazing riches there are when peace reigns in your home. Happiness overflows. Forgiveness is second nature. Genuine concern for the needs of others takes precedence over self. How many homes today look like that? Does my home regularly reflect those qualities? That I can be this kind of woman and have this kind of impact on those I love is a tremendous responsibility indeed. But what an honor to take that responsibility and wear it. That I can choose not to be this kind of woman and rot away my husband and therefore my family is too scary a scenario to even think of. God has given me as a gift to Jim. This marriage was set apart in heaven. It is therefore my duty to do the best that I can, with Christ as my guide, to be a virtuous woman.

© Kelli Roark ~ 2001~  for questions or information you may write to her at: 

I look forward to posting more of Kelli's work in the future.  I pray you are blessed by utilizing and applying this study.

Back to Bible Studies
Back to Wives Page
Back to Home Page   © 19992011   PO Box 2130 Snohomish, Washington 98291 USA
The Welcome Home Blog   Follow on Facebook   ABellaCake   MamasJournal

Welcome Page

Welcome Home Messages

Christian Life Issues

Motherhood & Parenting

Letters to My Sisters

Modest Feminine

thewelcomehome blog

Good Things and Recipes

Titus2 Journey Study

Letters to Mothers

The Hope Chest

Modest Clothing

The Great Page

pamela's writings

Woman To Woman

Sandy's Home Notes

Just  for Young Ladies

Good Things

Bible Study Resources

Ministries to Women


Prodigals & Waywards


 Glenys's writings


My Replies to Women 

Home Management

Pregnancy - Childbirth


Celebration Days

Home Church

Notable Quotes

Top Ten To Do's

Child Training  

Sewing & Crafts

Just For Young Men


Home Schooling Index

Kathryn's Kitchen


Gifts to Make

Just For MEN

Bible-Quiet time

 More - Teaching Children


Past sexualabuse



Hymns & Quotes

Far Above Rubies


Post Abortion Hope

Large Family



Medical Info Page   PCOS

Low Carb


Games & Rules

Our Guestbook

Timothy / Missions

Neat Stories   

Nutrition-Health-Food Value

Funny Funny

Simple Living

Christian Music


Various & Sundry links

Diet & Weight Loss

mama's journal

Greeting Cards

Tchotchke Graphics