What is he doing at the gate? : understanding Proverbs 31:23 and its implications for responsible manhood in the context of African societies
CITATION: Biwul, J. K. T. 2016. What is he doing at the gate? : understanding Proverbs 31:23 and its implications for responsible manhood in the context of African societies. Old Testament Essays, 29(1):33-60, doi:10.17159/2312-3621/2016/v29n1a4.
The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za
The poem appearing in the epilogue of the book of Proverbs (Prov 31:10-31) is classically a paean poem that eulogises the outstanding qualities of the female figure assumedly portrayed as an epitome of womanhood. This article seeks to address the unbalanced portrayal of the couple in the paean by inviting readers to pay close attention to the mention of the male figure in vv. 11, 23, 28-29 and to discover his salient role often glossed over or overlooked by interpreters. It draws attention to the civilised and humane personality of this male figure who, suggestively, is to be seen to serve as the architect of the achievements and public praise of his wife, given the patrilocal and patriarchal context of ancient Israel. In view of this, it is argued, he also deserves to elicit praise. By implication, it also invites the contemporary African male figure, particularly the Nigerian one, to follow the legacy of this husband by exhibiting the characteristics of responsible African manhood as he functions as husband and father.