Look at verse 15, the one that suggests she gets by on 4-6 hours of sleep:
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.The word “maidens” is key. First of all, it does not make sense that the maidens are her daughters, because her daughters would already be a part of the "household." Strong’s Concordance, #5291 is the same word that is used in Exodus 2:5
And the daughter of Pharoah came down to wash herself at the river; and her MAIDENS walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her MAID to fetch it.And Esther 4:16
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my MAIDENS will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.In both these verses, the word MAIDEN is referring to HIRED HELP. If it does not refer to hired help, then the maidens with Pharoah's daughter and Esther's maidens would also have to be their daughters, and Proverbs 31 would have to be speaking of the Proverbs 31 woman's daughters as not belonging to her household, or as not normally being given food along with the household, which is ridiculous.
Although the Proverbs 31 woman is accredited for doing all those things, a reasonable interpretation of the text says she has HIRED MAIDENS to help her. She was the CEO of her business, not the main labor force. It appears she was such a wise business woman that she was wealthy, and this is what freed her husband to serve at the city gates, and brought them both respect.
I would guess at least some of the activities she, herself, did. If she sought the wool and flax, she could do this because she had maidens tending to things at home. Other activities her employees did. Perhaps when she bought food from afar, she took employees with her to load and carry the food she selected. She may personally have got up while it was still night and fed her entire household, including her staff of maidens, or she may have had a cook make the meal and a staff to serve it-—especially if she was off seeking wool, flax, food, buying a field, or had returned late from a business trip. She herself may have gone to help the poor, or she may have sent her maidens with baskets of food that the maidens prepared.
This is the opposite of what Christian wives are taught today. They are told to LIMIT their activity to their own homes. They are NOT to be CAREER women or to have goals of their own--other than those of serving their husbands. Due to economic need, some are allowed to have jobs--if their husbands agree--but generally not careers or businesses that take subtantial capital and time.
In contrast, the Proverbs 31 woman was a BUSINESS woman with female employees, probably both in her household and in her business. She makes decisions about the big stuff, like what parcels of land and what produce and resources to buy. She also went on business trips where she buys and sells items. She DOES NOT ask her husband's permission for every move. She was praised because she widened her horizons. She took a risk and started a business and hired help. She made enough money that she had plenty to give to the poor and needy, as well as plenty to cloth her family in expensive silk and purple.
Notice also that her husband trusts her and does not supervise her or boss her around. This gives her freedom to make decisions and not constantly have to second-guess herself. He treats her as the adult she is, rather than keeping her in a child-like state. In her adult state, she serves her husband by hiring help and running a business, thus bringing wealth to her family. She neither mothers her husband, nor behaves as his innocent and ignorant child-bride. She does, however, help others in need.
According to Strong’s, #5291 is “fem. of 5288, a girl (from infancy to adolescence).” But if you check 5288, which is the source of #5291, you’ll find that maiden is the feminized form of boy, lad, young man, or SERVANT. Indeed, in the other contexts where #5291 is used, it is referring to female servants or to working girls from poor families.
The male establishment has used scripture to stomp on women and hold them down, making them into their personal slaves and prostitutes and giving themselves license to control and abuse their wives with impunity. Just like they did with the wife submission and husband authority doctrine, scripture has been twisted to say exactly the opposite of what it actually says. (Remember 1 Timothy 2:14, where “younger women…guide the house” means “younger women…be ruler of the house?” And Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives, not to rule them?) see: http://submissiontyranny.blogspot.com/2009/06/itching-ears-part-4-wives-guide-house.html Instead of the wife doing all that work, her hired maidens did a substantial amount of it. Her staff may be the ones who got up early to feed the family and their employees.
If males refuse to rightly divide the word of truth, but instead institute norms that are contrary to scripture, are women required to obey the oppressive males instead of God? Absolutely not! In Galatians 2:5 Paul did not subject himself to oppressive doctrine--"no, not for an hour."
Rise up, women, make straight the paths for both yourselves, other women, and your daughters! Go forth with joy into the freedom and purpose God has given each of you.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit www.wanetadawn.com