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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

 

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DOWRY

dou'-ri: In all Hebrew marriages, the dowry held an important place. The dowry sealed the betrothal. It took several forms. The bridegroom presented gifts to the bride. There was the mohar, "dowry" as distinguished from matttan, "gifts to the members of the family" (compare Gen 24:22,53; Gen 34:12). The price paid to the father or brothers of the bride was probably a survival of the early custom of purchasing wives (Gen 34:12; Ex 22:17; 1 Sam 18:25; compare Ruth 4:10; Hos 3:2). There was frequently much negotiation and bargaining as to size of dowry (Gen 34:12). The dowry would generally be according to the wealth and standing of the bride (compare 1 Sam 18:23). It might consist of money, jewelry or other valuable effects; sometimes, of service rendered, as in the case of Jacob (Gen 29:18); deeds of valor might be accepted in place of dowry (Josh 15:16; 1 Sam 18:25; Jdg 1:12). Occasionally a bride received a dowry from her father; sometimes in the shape of land (Jdg 1:15), and of cities (1 Ki 9:16). In later Jewish history a written marriage contract definitely arranged for the nature and size of the dowry.
Edward Bagby Pollard

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'DOWRY'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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