When we use a dictionary, even one as highly acclaimed as Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, we have to remember there is an element where a dictionary represents the cultural understanding of that word. Our language is always changing, which is why we have new dictionaries being published. This is why Noah Websters is so often referred to as it was written at a time where the culture in America referred to the Bible as its reference point.
I did a quick search on Prov 31:10 using several main translations. This is what I found:
NIV – A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
NKJ – Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
Literally a wife of valor, in the sense of all forms of excellence
New Living – Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies.
New Revised – A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
NAS – An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
I checked out the definitions of these highlighted words in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary online. I have summarized this long list – remember that these words describe the wife that is precious…
Noble: dignified, being above everything that can dishonor reputation
Virtue: Strength; that substance or quality of physical bodies, by which they act and produce effects on other bodies
Valour: Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a man to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; intrepidity; prowess.
Capable: Possessing mental powers; intelligent; able to understand, or receive into the mind; And a second definition for capable would be summarized to be “qualified for”
Wow!! I want to be this woman. Not only do I want to be strong and able (as per the definitions I get from the Hebrew) but as I add that to our own rich language and cultural understandings I want to be dignified, affecting others, have strength of mind, be able minded and courageous for the task at hand.
Though this is a pretty impressive list I believe it is something that can be worked on. This list gives clarity of issues that I need to assess in my life instead of blanketing it to mean “excellent” and not knowing what that really looks like.
What areas of excellence do you see in your life? Or do you want to see in your life?
P.S. This word is still not translated as "perfect". We must get rid of this picture in our minds!