Sunday, April 1, 2012

Proverbs 31:22 commentary: coverings of tapestry

22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

If we’re talking about the lady literally in these passages we see her here making coverings of tapestry, then after the semi-colon which is similar to a comma, there is a further thought, her clothing is silk and purple.

Tapestries are often works of art and they provided the practical comfort of insulation for your wall or a divider for privacy around your bed (See Proverbs 7:16). They were not usually affordable to the poor either to purchase or to make. A Tapestry was traditionally made on a vertical loom or a floor loom. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length, called the warp, and those parallel to the width, called the weft or woof. See the directions on how to deal with a plague in garments in Leviticus 13 to see these words in use. This lady literally is a woman of means.

She wears silk, clothing of wealth, and purple, a color available only to the few. Tyrian purple, extracted from sea snails, was the color of royalty, prized all the more because it didn’t fade and even became more intense in sunlight. Lydia, the businesswoman in Acts 16:14, who provided a place for Paul, was a seller of this dye, so probably was very well off with a large household.

Since the secrets of silk making only reached Europe in the middle of the sixth century AD the existence of silk clothing shows the trade with China was established very early. China is mentioned in the Bible in Isaiah 49:12. The word for China, Sinim, can also be found in the name for the study of China, Sinology.

There are many applications possible from this verse to the church. Some commentators call the Tapestry, a covering around the bed earlier in Proverbs, as symbolic of the four gospels, and the silk and purple representative of the church’s relationship to the King of the Universe. I realize that when you get into the study of types in the Bible you are on very subjective ground and much of it is opinion.

Through prayer and thoughtful reflection my take on this is that the coverings of tapestry represent the words of God as found in the Bible, as a protection and a covering. It is deeply woven and layered, very complex and yet simple to understand and beautiful on the surface. The material and color of the clothing represents the church’s faith, royal and delicate, for the relationship the church has to the One who is Lord of all things. It doesn’t fade with persecution but grows even more intense like Tyrian purple when given to the sun’s rays, and gentle as silk is soft.

But, as in all of my comments I am still searching, praying, and thinking for a better answer, a more sure one. I’ll post if I come to that point.

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