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Eishet Chayil – Verse 7

August 25, 2010

She considers a field

For me, this is the most important verse of the Eishet Chayil.  When I was a very young woman, the current religious teaching was one of submission approaching subjection.  Popular books encouraged perfectly intelligent women to abandon their brainpower and lean on their poor spouses (who had also been taught that subjugation was the manly way on one hand or the righteous manly way on the other).  He was expected to make every decision for her from the time she opened eyes in the morning to the last blink at night. “I just don’t know, I will have to ask my husband” we would helplessly intone to anyone asking for a decision on anything.

Not the Eishet Chayil.  She is neither an impulse buyer, nor a shop-aholic.  She considers a field (not a dress, not a piece of blingy jewelry, not the hottest new chariot) and buys it.  There is no mention of a family consultation here.  Why not??  Isn’t that just courtesy??  There are several reasons for this.  The reasons are in almost every verse of this selection. Pr.31:11,12,13,15,16,18,19,24,25,26,27,30 and 31. Her husband safely trusts in her.  She is not idly contemplating how to spend his hard-earned money. . . We will learn more on this story as we work through the passage.

This is the seventh verse of the Eishet Chayil passage, so it begins with the seventh letter of the Hebrew Alef-Bet, Zayin. Zam’ma is from the verb root zamam, which means to purpose, so she is eyeing the field, not idly, but with a plan, a purpose, an intention in mind. Sawdeh is a field.  There is an English cognate: sod from a grassy field.  It is also related to the Hebrew word sode, which is a base or basis. Vatikawkehu, and she takes it. The vav is the conjunctive prefix, tav is a feminine subject prefix, which replaces the first letter of the verb root, lekak.  This verb is also used to describe a husband “taking” a wife.  It does not at all imply thievery or thuggery.  It means to accept responsibility for, more than just owning.  Mipri The mem prefix means from or of, and pri means fruit.  There is a cognate in English, one of the finest of fruits, the pear. Berry is not far fetched as a cognate either. Khapeiha The root word is kaph, and means the palm of the hand.  The fruit of her hands is another way of saying what she has earned by her diligence and skill. From, or of, her own skills and diligence she plants a vineyard. Natah, nun tet ayin hey. Nun is a picture of life, tet is a picture of a womb, ayin is a picture of the eyes, and hey is the feminine suffix, which pictures a window or breath of air. What a letter-perfect picture of planting.  In the seed is life, which is hidden away in the earth, as in a womb, nourished and grown, then revealed to the eyes and the fresh air. Kerem, kaph resh mem, is a vineyard.  The letter-picture is of an open hand, the head, and water.  The proffered gift of the vineyard is a heady water!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerie Knowles permalink
    July 5, 2011 8:02 am

    thank for this very deep insight !

  2. AliYah Zimmerman permalink
    September 8, 2012 6:31 pm

    Definitelly something that is speaking to me in this moment of my life.
    Thank you for such beautiful and inspirational insight.

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