In this month, the most traditional to have a wedding, I wanted to share an article from my Gracylu Originals’ archives.
There was an orderly system in place for Jewish marriages back in the days of ancient Israel. I’m not a scholar, but have studied this topic and think it’s interesting how some of these traditions are still around today. Not to mention another significance parallel I’m sure you’ll pick up on.
We’ll take a look at the system up to the betrothal.
Typically, the father of the groom selected the bride, and sent a trusted servant to negotiate with her father. They usually kept marriages in the clan.
Next came the issue of the bride price. In some cultures, this is flipped to a dowry given by the bride’s father to the groom’s family. We see this in part today in that’s it’s not unusual for the bride and her family to bear most of the wedding costs.
Not so in ancient Jewish culture. Since the bride went to live with the groom’s family, her father lost a member of the household, disrupting the division of work. The bride price reflected the value of the bride. (Hmmm, wonder how much my dad could get for me?)
Then there was the betrothal agreement—the Ketubah. This wasn’t just an agreement, it served as a binding contract. It contained the bride price, the rights of the bride, and the promises of the groom. This often included that if he did not treat the bride with care or provide fully for her, he answered to her father.
The bride did have a choice whether to accept or reject the marriage proposal. It was only after she drank from the cup of the covenant that she became bound to the agreement.
Finally, the groom had the option of giving gifts to his bride. Often it was a coin or something of value to remember him by until the wedding celebration. The focus wasn’t on the value, but the meaning. It was something the bride could look at and remember the promises he had made to her. This has been compared to the engagement rings we have today.
After the groom’s departure to prepare the wedding chambers (often an additional wing on his father’s house), the bride underwent physical and spiritual purification. Called Mikvah, she dipped in a pool of living water. This also represented separation from the old life into the new.
Now consecrated, the bride was to remain faithful and ever watchful for her groom to come—even in the midnight hour. It was the bridegroom’s father who ultimately determined when the groom was ready to retrieve his bride.
When the bridegroom finally returned, the celebration began! After spending seven days alone in the Huppah (room or covering), the time came for the marriage supper.
Does this process sound familiar? Have you researched how this compares to the bride of Christ? Share your take in the comments below.