Friday, March 30, 2012

Proverbs 31:21 commentary: a covering of scarlet

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

The virtuous woman is not concerned about the winter snow discomforting her household. As the clause after the colon shows, it is because they are clothed in scarlet. Now, many commentators are befuddled by this verse because the color scarlet doesn’t protect anyone from inclement weather. So, they insert other words and comments rather than admit they don’t know because one of the conditions of the so called scholar is that they often worship their own intellect.

Scarlet and crimson are synonyms.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

We think of dyed clothing as a wealthier person’s prerogative but history tells us that even poor Hebrew women used vegetable dyes to color clothing and scarlet specifically came from an insect’s body which is a long story not necessary for our study. Scarlet, however, was something that important people wore (2 Samuel 1:24; Daniel 5:7; Matthew 27:28). This color was also found in the tabernacle as Exodus 26:31 shows and the ephod had scarlet in it (Exodus 28:6.)

So, going back to Isaiah 1:18 we have scarlet, red, and crimson as synonymous, and we understand they are all basically the same color. This color was a covering for the tabernacle in the wilderness. (Exodus 26:14; 36:19; 39:34). While the assumption you might make from this verse is that the preferred color of the outer cloke worn in the Ancient Near East, at least for women of some means such as our virtuous woman, was scarlet that wouldn’t help our spiritual application for the Christian of this verse written to ancient Hebrews under the Law given to Moses.

Quite often in the Bible snow represents purity and being cleansed from sin as in the verse I quoted in Isaiah. Why, in this verse, if we look at this from a prophetic view of the church, would the church be afraid of the snow for her household but for the scarlet that they are covered with, noticing it doesn’t say she covers them with it but simply that they are clothed with it? Snow not only symbolizes purity but in Western Literature it also symbolizes death as winter is a traditional time of nature’s silence. Snow covered trees are beautiful but show no signs of life. Snow is a covering like a funeral shroud. Also, Proverbs has referred to snow arriving in summer as out of place and unexpected.

Proverbs 26:1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

Of the many possible interpretations of this Proverb for the church, could it be that the church is not afraid of death because her household are clothed in the the scarlet, red, crimson blood of Christ?

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