Picture of sheep labeled "She seeks wool and flax."

How Were Wool and Flax Used in Bible Times?

     Have you ever seen flax?  I don’t just mean flax seeds, although those are flax.  But have you ever seen flax growing and the gorgeous little blue flowers it gets?  Some friends of mine used to grow flax.  It had delicate flowers, and I can still remember seeing those miniature beauties growing beside their house.  I love miniatures, and I love flowers, so I liked those cute little things!  But if it wasn’t for that, I probably would have never seen flax, other than the seeds.  The truth is, wool and flax may seem a little bit disconnected from our lives, but don’t be put off by that!  Whether or not you have sheep or raise flax, this verse has some lessons for you.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

Proverbs 31:13

Picture of blue flax flowers

What Are Wool and Flax?

     I think most of us know where wool comes from.  From sheep!  Sheep grow very long fleece coats that periodically have to be sheared to keep the sheep healthy.  These wool fleeces can be washed and combed and made into yarn and fabric. 

     While we know this in theory, how many of us have actually seen it done?  My hand can’t go up for that question.  I’ve only ever even seen sheep a few times in my life.  I have some friends who raise sheep, and I’ve seen them at their house and a few other times – mostly when I visited Scotland.  It was a common and quite enjoyable sight in the countryside over there to see white flecks dotting the pastures.  However, you don’t sheep near as commonly here in Texas.  And I’ve never seen a sheep being sheared.

     If you’re like me and have never seen the process of wool turning into yarn, then I think that you might enjoy this little video.  I did anyway!

(Disclaimer: While I enjoyed this particular video and wanted to share it with you, this does not mean that I endorse every video on this channel.)

     Did you enjoy that?  Did you learn anything from it?  I think it is obvious from all of the effort she put in to making a few inches of yarn that it is a slow and tedious process.  We’ll talk about it some more in a little while, but let’s turn our attention back to flax again for a minute.

     I knew even less about turning flax into fabric than I did about turning wool into yarn.  The extent of my flax usage has been to cook with flax seeds, and these seeds had already been prepared.  So I won’t try to explain to you all about flax.  Quite possibly you already know more about it than I do!

     Instead, I will let you watch this lovely video and see the process for yourself.  Oh, and if you thought turning wool into yarn was hard, then you really should watch this.  There are even more steps involved in working with flax.

https://youtu.be/ZeCXLiwWqKw

(Disclaimer: While I enjoyed this particular video and wanted to share it with you, this does not mean that I endorse every video on this channel.)

What Were Wool and Flax Used for in the Bible?

     We usually do word studies on our Proverbs 31 posts, but this verse had mostly straightforward words in it.  So instead of studying the words, I think it was nice to study these processes and what was meant by seeking wool and flax.  These were common terms in Bible times, but most of us today don’t have as clear a picture in our minds of what that means.  I hope you do now after watching those videos!

     Wool and flax were both used for making fabric in Bible days (they still are for that matter).  Fabric is very much a part of a homemaker’s life.  From clothing, to bedding, to table linens, to so much more, we all use fabric.  The Proverbs 31 woman was willing to do the work involved that it took to supply fabric for her family.

     While there still are some people who enjoy doing things the old fashioned way and producing their own fabrics and threads, this is the exception rather than the rule.  I for one would love to know how to spin and weave, but I know that I can’t do everything, no matter how fascinated I am by it.  Anyway, since most of us do not raise sheep and grow flax, what can we take from this verse that we can apply to our lives?  

Picture of light purple wool yarn

How Does This Verse Apply to Me?

     I think that we can learn a few lessons from this verse.  There is a lot more involved here than the actual processes of wool and flax.  These have principles that go with them.  For one thing, in a very literal sense, it is the job of the homemaker to make sure that her family is clothed and has the household linens that they need.

Remember This

     Whether it is by sewing, shopping or whatever means you choose to find clothing, it does take time, effort, and money.  The Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of this task, even if it means digging through the racks of clothes, trying to find something that is modest.  Yes, having things to wear is a part of each of our lives, and it does take work.

     But do you know what?  I think we all have something to remember.  Remember this the next time you are clothes shopping and can’t find anything modest to buy.  Or the next time you can’ find the right color blue shirt to match your floral skirt.  Or the next time you are sewing a dress and have to rip out a seam for the third time. 

     What should you remember?  Our verse!  She seeketh wool and flax and worketh willingly with her hands.  And what should you remember about the verse?  This.  We have a lot to be thankful for!!  Think about it.  When you need a new shirt to wear, you don’t have to go out and shear a sheep.  When your curtains wear out, you don’t have to go out and pick some flax and start the process of making fabric.  We have a lot of blessings, and it’s good to remember them and praise the Lord for them.

Work With Your Hands

     There is another important lesson in the second half of this verse.  She worketh willingly with her hands.  Work is a part of our lives: a good part at that.  God has given each one of us jobs to do.

     How do simple living and work fit together?  Perfectly actually!  Simple living is not about avoiding work.  No, it’s about being intentional in the work that you do.  There are a lot of good things that we could do, but these can often keep us from the best things.  We can’t do everything, but we can do something, and let’s make it the thing that God wants us to do.

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.

1 Thessalonians 4:11

     Yes, working with our hands is important.  Especially in this digital age, it’s nice to put aside electronics and actually make something or work on a physical project.  This evening I enjoyed taking the time to color one of my Psalm 103 cards.  It was very relaxing to work with my hands and color while also making a card that I can send to someone later on.

     As you can see from the above example, working with your hands doesn’t always have to be hard manual labor.  Those who struggle with health problems may be especially limited in what they can do.  But limitations can be a blessing!  If we can’t do something, that’s a clear answer from the Lord that He hasn’t called us to do that right now.  That means He has something else for us. 

     We can all find some way to work for the Lord, through prayer, our testimony, talking with a friend and encouraging them, or making something with our hands.  God has a place for each of us, and He will show it to us when we sincerely seek His will!

Picture of 3 bouquets of dried flax

Simple Takeaway

  1. When you feel overwhelmed about your life, try taking a step back and thinking about the processes people used to have to do all by hand – such as carding and spinning wool.  Thank the Lord for providing you with the things you need and for His grace to see you through your trials and frustrations.
  2. Remember: working with your hands is Biblical and something we should do.  Trying to do every job under the sun (or even every handcraft) is not possible and will not bring success.  God calls us to use our time wisely and to seek His best.  Not to try to do everything.  Take a look at your life and see if there are any areas where you need to cut back or even set something aside.  Are you doing the important things God has called you to?  Don’t get sidetracked by the mediocre.

     If you want to see more posts on practical ways to live a simple life as a Proverbs 31 woman, then sign up and I’ll be in touch!

 

Let’s Chat!

     What is your favorite way to work with your hands?  Did you learn anything about wool and flax today, or were you already familiar with these processes?

     Until next time, put your hands to the tasks God has for you, and remember to not spread yourself too thin!

In Christ,

Bethany

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this encouraging post, Bethany! Those videos were very interesting and informative. And I think I have a better idea now of what this verse means!

    1. I’m so glad you found this to be an encouraging post!! And yes!! I think the videos were very interesting. I had fun picking them out and learning more about these processes. There’s a lot of hard work involved, that’s for sure!

  2. “She worketh willingly with her hands. Work is a part of our lives: a good part at that. God has given each one of us jobs to do.”
    YES!!!!!! LOVE THIS. Thank you for this post, Bethany! 🧡

    1. Thank you, Rachel!!! I’m so glad that God gives each one of us something to do for Him. We all have varying talents and strengths, but what He gives each of us to do is best!

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