Jewish wedding customs in the first century hold the key to an understanding of the walk of faith in Messiah! You love romance? Then you will enjoy this.
The first step in the Jewish wedding system was the ‘Shiddukhin’, the arrangement or the making of the match. The father of the Groom usually took the initial steps, by evaluating or approving the girl that would be the best match for his son. This step could be taken at any time, either when the couple were still children, or later when a son might choose a prospect and seek his father's wisdom.
The young man prepared a ‘Ketubah’, or marriage contract (or covenant) which he presented to the intended bride and her father. Included in this was the price that he was prepared to pay for the bride, which was appropriate in that society to compensate the young woman's parents for the cost of raising her, as well as being an expression of his love for her.
The bridegroom, upon signing his name to the Ketubah, would present two cups of wine. He would drink the first cup, an act depicting his love for the young lady. The second cup would remain on the table while the bridegroom prayed. At that point, the prospective bride chose to drink from the second cup, or to let it stay. By drinking from the cup she signified her acceptance of the Bridegroom! By letting it sit on the table, she signified her rejection of the Ketubah. Once the bride drank from the cup, the Ketubah was forever sealed, and the young couple were known to be betrothed!
Before leaving the young man would announce: ‘I am going to prepare a place for you and will return for you when it is ready.’ He would remain separated from his bride for an indefinite period of time usually not to exceed twelve months. They were thus legally married but did not have sexual relations. Joseph and Mary were in this stage of marriage when the angel Gabriel brought her the incredible news!
It was also customary for the groom to leave a gift that would remind her of him and his commitment to come and fetch her. This Gift to the believer is Holy Spirit.
The usual practice was for the young man to return to his father's house and build a honeymoon room (chuppah) there. He had to get his father's approval before he could consider it ready for his bride. If asked about the date of his wedding he would have to reply, "Only my father knows."
Meanwhile the bride would be making herself ready so that she would be pure and beautiful for her bridegroom. This includes a ‘mikvah’ or ‘baptism.’
When the wedding chamber was ready the bridegroom could collect his bride. There was great jubilation ringing all throughout the father's estate upon this announcement. Finally, at long last, the bridegroom gathered together all his closest friends and laid out plans for the ensuing trip to actually fetch away his bride!
Typically, the bridegroom took great pains to enact a secret entourage that could affect a travel mission overland at midnight to maximize fully the element of surprise at the very moment he would sound out the blasting of the shofar; to ‘snatch’ away his waiting bride! This action was filled with much fanfare for the abductors, and was intended to be a romantic thrill for the bride.
Upon arrival at the Father's estate, the new couple would be greeted like royalty. Immediately after the greetings the bride and the groom would retire into the specially prepared place for the bride called the "chuppah". The groom's best friend stood outside waiting for the groom to tell him that the marriage had been consummated. The Father treated his guests to a sumptuous feast, and waited with eager anticipation for the re-emergence of the bridegroom, when yet another elaborate final celebration, The Marriage Supper, would begin. Playing of music and dancing was a regular part of the celebration.
Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! (Rev19:9)
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