Kings and rule makers - shades of Psalm 2 - take care. Note the context of the instructions on strong drink. Note the continuing emphasis on the preferential option for the poor. Who are the children of renewal - see the frame for Book 4 of the Psalms - it is Moses and renew (but you wouldn't know it from traditional translations).
That opening word, tutor, יסר, so many possible glosses: chasten, mentor, warn, bewilder (but not teach - I have reserved that for למד or instruct reserved for תורה - from ירה, throw, shoot). Another choice word with many glosses is חיל which I have glossed as ability, wealth, force, weal, bulwark, but I have not used it for strength (אזז).
Now here you can see what my intentions are for doing this reading - to undermine my presuppositions about what the text means, to relearn the lessons by which my mother, the tradition, might have tutored me. She begins by asking questions. Don't stop asking questions.
Oh - I ignored the Aramaic loanword בר. Purity will do just fine here as in Psalm 2. Psalm 2 and Proverbs 31 share 19 roots for 60 of 286 words, not a very high percentage, but an interesting list in any case. (Excluding 7 common words. With the 7 there are 87 shared of 311 total, 26 distinct.) These are the 'significant' roots: מלך דבר יסר אשׁר ברר נתן דרך רזן בן פן אבד שׁפט יום רעע חק ירא ארץ שׂחק - eight of these are in reverse order: happy, way, perish, judge, injure, decree, them, laugh. See diagram below. But that is probably coincidence - but maybe not - it is a carefully constructed poem.
The music is at the bottom of this post. Fn is first note, Min and Max lowest and highest.
|דִּ֭בְרֵי לְמוּאֵ֣ל מֶ֑לֶךְ |
מַ֝שָּׂ֗א אֲֽשֶׁר יִסְּרַ֥תּוּ אִמּֽוֹ
|1||g||The words of Lemuel king, |
the load by which his mother tutored him.
|מַה בְּ֭רִי וּמַֽה בַּר בִּטְנִ֑י |
וּ֝מֶה בַּר נְדָרָֽי
|2||g||What my pure one? And what, O purity of my belly? |
And what, O purity of my vows?
|אַל תִּתֵּ֣ן לַנָּשִׁ֣ים חֵילֶ֑ךָ |
וּ֝דְרָכֶ֗יךָ לַֽמְח֥וֹת מְלָכִֽין
|3||B||Do not give to women your ability, |
nor your ways to what wipes out kings.
|אַ֤ל לַֽמְלָכִ֨ים לְֽמוֹאֵ֗ל אַ֣ל לַֽמְלָכִ֣ים שְׁתוֹ יָ֑יִן |
וּ֝לְרוֹזְנִ֗ים אֵ֣י שֵׁכָֽר
|4||C||Not for kings Lemuel, not for kings to imbibe wine, |
and for rule-makers, how, strong drink?
|פֶּן יִ֭שְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּ֣ח מְחֻקָּ֑ק |
וִֽ֝ישַׁנֶּה דִּ֣ין כָּל בְּנֵי עֹֽנִי
|5||g||Lest he will imbibe and forget to be lawgiver, |
and feign the case of all the children of poverty.
|תְּנוּ שֵׁכָ֣ר לְאוֹבֵ֑ד |
וְ֝יַיִן לְמָ֣רֵי נָֽפֶשׁ
|6||Give strong drink to the perishing, |
and wine to the bitter self.
|יִ֭שְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּ֣ח רִישׁ֑וֹ |
וַ֝עֲמָל֗וֹ לֹ֣א יִזְכָּר עֽוֹד
|7||g||Let him imbibe and forget his want, |
and his misery let him remember no more.
|פְּתַח פִּ֥יךָ לְאִלֵּ֑ם |
אֶל דִּ֝֗ין כָּל בְּנֵ֥י חֲלֽוֹף
|8||Open your mouth for the dumb, |
to advocate for all the children of renewal.
|פְּתַח פִּ֥יךָ שְׁפָט צֶ֑דֶק |
וְ֝דִ֗ין עָנִ֥י וְאֶבְיֽוֹן פ
|9||Open your mouth. Judge righteousness, |
and advocate for the poor and needy.
|אֵֽשֶׁת חַ֭יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א |
וְרָחֹ֖ק מִפְּנִינִ֣ים מִכְרָֽהּ
|10||א A woman of ability, who will find? |
And far above rubies is her selling-price.
|בָּ֣טַח בָּ֭הּ לֵ֣ב בַּעְלָ֑הּ |
וְ֝שָׁלָ֗ל לֹ֣א יֶחְסָֽר
|11||B||ב Belief in her is in the heart of her husband, |
and spoil he will not be lacking.
|גְּמָלַ֣תְהוּ ט֣וֹב וְלֹא רָ֑ע |
כֹּ֝֗ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּֽיה
|12||ג Good she will reward him and not evil, |
all the days of her life.
|דָּ֭רְשָׁה צֶ֣מֶר וּפִשְׁתִּ֑ים |
וַ֝תַּ֗עַשׂ בְּחֵ֣פֶץ כַּפֶּֽיהָ
|13||g||ד Delighting in the deeds of her handiwork, |
she searches out wool and flax.
|הָ֭יְתָה כָּאֳנִיּ֣וֹת סוֹחֵ֑ר |
מִ֝מֶּרְחָ֗ק תָּבִ֥יא לַחְמָֽהּ
|14||g||ה Having become a ship of wares, |
from afar she brings bread.
|וַתָּ֤קָם בְּע֬וֹד לַ֗יְלָה וַתִּתֵּ֣ן טֶ֣רֶף לְבֵיתָ֑הּ |
|15||ו Waking and arising when it is yet night, |
so she gives prey to her house and decree to her youngsters.
|זָמְמָ֣ה שָׂ֭דֶה וַתִּקָּחֵ֑הוּ |
מִפְּרִ֥י כַ֝פֶּ֗יהָ נָ֣טְעָה כָּֽרֶם
|16||ז Zoning in on a field, and she lays hold of it. |
From the fruit of her palms she has planted a vineyard.
|חָֽגְרָ֣ה בְע֣וֹז מָתְנֶ֑יהָ |
|17||ח Her waist attired with strength, |
so she assures her arms.
|טָ֭עֲמָה כִּי ט֣וֹב סַחְרָ֑הּ |
לֹֽא יִכְבֶּ֖ה בַלַּ֣יְלָה נֵרָֽהּ
|18||g||ט Taste she does that good are her wares. |
Not quenched by night is her lamp.
|יָ֭דֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָ֣ה בַכִּישׁ֑וֹר |
וְ֝כַפֶּ֗יהָ תָּ֣מְכוּ פָֽלֶךְ
|19||g||י Yea, her hands she has set loose to success, |
and her palms maintain a spindle.
|כַּ֭פָּהּ פָּרְשָׂ֣ה לֶעָנִ֑י |
וְ֝יָדֶ֗יהָ שִׁלְּחָ֥ה לָֽאֶבְיֽוֹן
|20||g||כ Known is her palm spread for the poor, |
and her hands she has extended for the needy.
|לֹא תִירָ֣א לְבֵיתָ֣הּ מִשָּׁ֑לֶג |
כִּ֥י כָל בֵּ֝יתָ֗הּ לָבֻ֥שׁ שָׁנִֽים
|21||B||ל Lo, she will not fear for her house from snow, |
for all her house is clothed with scarlet,
|מַרְבַדִּ֥ים עָֽשְׂתָה לָּ֑הּ |
שֵׁ֖שׁ וְאַרְגָּמָ֣ן לְבוּשָֽׁהּ
|22||מ making tapestries for herself. |
Fine linen and purple her raiment.
|נוֹדָ֣ע בַּשְּׁעָרִ֣ים בַּעְלָ֑הּ |
בְּ֝שִׁבְתּ֗וֹ עִם זִקְנֵי אָֽרֶץ
|23||נ Nigh the gates her husband is known, |
where he sits with the elders of the land.
|סָדִ֣ין עָ֭שְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּ֑ר |
וַ֝חֲג֗וֹר נָתְנָ֥ה לַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽי
|24||ס She makes linen underwear and sells it |
and sashes she gives to the shopkeepers.
|עֹז וְהָדָ֥ר לְבוּשָׁ֑הּ |
וַ֝תִּשְׂחַ֗ק לְי֣וֹם אַחֲרֽוֹן
|25||f||ע Of strength and honour is her raiment, |
and she laughs at the day to follow.
|פִּ֭יהָ פָּתְחָ֣ה בְחָכְמָ֑ה |
וְתֽוֹרַת חֶ֝֗סֶד עַל לְשׁוֹנָֽהּ
|26||g||פ Parting open is her mouth in wisdom, |
and instruction and kindness is on her tongue.
|צ֭וֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכ֣וֹת בֵּיתָ֑הּ |
וְלֶ֥חֶם עַ֝צְל֗וּת לֹ֣א תֹאכֵֽל
|27||g||צ She looks out for the processions of her house, |
and the bread of sloth she not does eat.
|קָ֣מוּ בָ֭נֶיהָ וַֽיְאַשְּׁר֑וּהָ |
|28||B||ק Quite arisen are her children and they make her happy. |
Her husband also praises her.
|רַבּ֣וֹת בָּ֭נוֹת עָ֣שׂוּ חָ֑יִל |
וְ֝אַ֗תְּ עָלִ֥ית עַל כֻּלָּֽנָה
|29||B||ר Right many daughters have constructed with ability, |
and you have ascended over them all.
|שֶׁ֣קֶר הַ֭חֵן וְהֶ֣בֶל הַיֹּ֑פִי |
אִשָּׁ֥ה יִרְאַת יְ֝הוָ֗ה הִ֣יא תִתְהַלָּֽל
|30||B||שׁ Supplication may be false and fairness futile. |
A woman who fears Yahweh, she may boast.
|תְּנוּ לָ֭הּ מִפְּרִ֣י יָדֶ֑יהָ |
וִֽיהַלְל֖וּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִ֣ים מַעֲשֶֽׂיהָ
|31||ת To her, give, from the fruit of her hands, |
and let her deeds praise her in the gates.
The pattern of recurring words between Psalm 2 and Proverbs 31 as noted: from warning/tutoring to laughter. The recurrence of אשׁר is a happy accident. Tutor found its way in to this last experiment. The other roots are noted above. If you want to study the text, there are two ways to wrestle with it: search out similar sound patterns from shared roots, and sing the music for an insight into the transparency introduced by the composers - whoever and whenever they were.
|Selected recurring words Psalm 2 and Proverbs 31|
showing the usage of words in one poem in reverse order in the second
Note too how many of these verses do not begin on the tonic. If you are new to this, please read up on the music - have a look at the music page for instructions (or buy the book - < $20 - if you are in Victoria, I still have some, or you can deposit some money for shipping to my PayPal account and I will send you one).