Wisdom, intelligence, and brilliance are regarded as synonyms. However, in the Scripture the word wisdom dominates. There appears to be a subtle difference between brilliance and wisdom and one dictionary uses the word “brainy” as a synonym of brilliant but does not use same in the case of wisdom.
The two outstanding words in wisdom are “sound judgement.” I quite like this. One cannot for instance say that a 1st Class Honours graduate who routinely fights on the street is a wise person. Same goes for a President who beats his wife or abuses people’s wives before the press or on twitter or even in private.
This piece came to me as I pondered the import of Proverbs Chapter 14 verse 1. Of course, there are wise men and men not so wise just as there are wise women and women not so wise. Whoever fails to exercise sound or good judgement, more so fairly frequently, cannot be said to be wise.
The verse reads thus: “The wise woman builds her house; but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
I very rarely read any version of the Holy Bible other than the King James. Above is the New International Version because it includes one word pertinent to this piece, that is, “own,” an adjective describing the noun “woman.”
My understanding of the verse is that a wise woman is seen to exercise good judgement when she builds her house to make it a home. She can do this with material and human resources. The human resources include but are not limited to her parents, siblings, colleagues, friends, her religious group, her husband and children, and others. When the marriage and home are in good shape because she worked with several people, things are good. She, not the others, takes the credit. It is why I say during any marriage ceremony that a woman makes a marriage.
Part B of that verse is very interesting. When a marriage fails, the Bible holds only the woman responsible. The word “own” does not only describe the woman, it is an emphasis because the sentence can do without it (her hands …). This places considerable burden on the woman. The husband may be a brute, a drunk, a first class flirt, and so on. How the wife manages the situation will determine whether her house is standing or is torn down.
A story my grandma told me when I was young: a man was a habitual pub crawler. One late night he returned and knocked on the door. His wife abused him and went to bed. He kept knocking then fell silent. In the morning what she saw by the door was the headless frame of her husband. My grandma’s advice to women was, take him in, abuse him or even beat him if you have that tendency; but take him in first.
Consider also that Proverbs 31 verses 10-31 speak of a wise woman and how she builds her home. The verses speak of a woman of noble character, or as is generally known, a virtuous woman.
Imagine that under this crisis a wife requests for aso ebi with shoes, headgear, and handbag to match. Imagine a wife who insists that no pot of soup must be cheaper than a certain amount because she is not used to ‘managing.’ Imagine a
woman who insists that her children must attend the most expensive private school in the neighborhood because the children of her friends are there. And imagine that in the 21st century a woman is still a full time house wife, generating no income of her own. Listen to verse 27: “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. United Nations Women, an arm of UN on women empowerment and gender equality estimated in 2018 that not allowing women equal access to work can reduce the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a nation by 15%. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in a year in a country minus net income from investments in other countries. It implies that allowing and empowering women can increase the GDP by 15%. If Nigeria’s GDP was $1.125 trillion in 2017, find out 15% of that and multiply by N360 (N:$ exchange rate) to determine what we are losing by keeping women away from work and business. It is enormous. It is for the wise woman to take available opportunities or create one so as to make the desired contributions.
In summary, wise women are what our world needs. Encourage one when you meet her.