By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 5, 2008
Eshet Chayil means "woman of worth," "valour" or "strength." The phrase comes from Proverbs 31:10, where it introduces a paean to her manifold virtues. "Who can find her," the author asks rhetorically. She rises while it's still night to bring food for her household, her lamp never goes out, her mouth is full of wisdom, and teachings of lovingkindness are on her tongue, and much, much more.
There is a widespread custom of singing Eshet Chayil on Friday nights at home before kiddush, as a song of praise to the woman of the house.