Manners & Customs: Marriage Customs
Ancient Marriage Ceremonies, Processions, and Customs
THE MARRIAGE DOWRY
Reason for dowry for bride's family. In the Orient, when the bride's parents give their daughter in marriage, they are actually diminishing the efficiency of their family. Often unmarried daughters would tend the flock of their father (Exodus 2:16), or they would work in the field, or render help in other ways. Thus upon her marriage, a young woman would be thought of as increasing the efficiency of her husband's family and diminishing that of her parents. Therefore, a young man who expects to get possession of their daughter must be able to offer some sort of adequate compensation. This compensation was the marriage "dowry."
It was not always required that the dowry be paid in cash, it could be paid in service. Because Jacob could not pay cash, he said, "I will serve thee seven years for Rachel" (Genesis 29:18). King Saul required the lives of one hundred of the enemy Philistines as dowry for David to secure Michal as his wife (I Samuel 18:25).
Reason for dowry for the bride herself. It was usually customary for at least some of the price of the dowry to be given to the bride. This would be in addition to any personal gift from the bride's parents. Leah and Rachel complained about the stinginess of their father Laban. Concerning him they said, "He hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money" (Genesis 31:15). Laban had had the benefit of Jacob's fourteen years of service, without making the equivalent of at least part of it as a gift to Leah and Rache1.
Since a divorced wife in the Orient is entitled to all her wearing apparel, for this reason much of her personal dowry consists of coins on her headgear, or jewelry on her person. This becomes wealth to her in case her marriage ends in failure. This is why the dowry is so important to the bride, and such emphasis is placed upon it in the negotiations that precede marriage.
The woman who had ten pieces of silver and lost one was greatly concerned over the loss, because it was doubtless a part of her marriage dowry (Luke 15:8,9).
Special dowry from the bride's father. It was customary for fathers who could afford to do so to give their daughters a special marriage dowry. When Rebekah left her father's house to be the bride of Isaac, her father gave her a nurse and also damsels who were to be her attendants (Genesis 24:59, 61).
And Caleb gave to his daughter a dowry of a field with springs of water (Judges 1:15). Such was sometimes the custom in olden times. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Apparel of the Bride
The adorning of the bride, was a very costly and elaborate affair. Much time was given to the preparation of her person. Every effort was put forth to make her complexion glossy and shining with a luster like unto marble. The words of David must have been their ideal for her: "that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace" (Psalm 144:12). Her dark locks of hair were often braided with gold and pearls. She was decked with all the precious stones and jewels that the family had inherited from previous generations. Those who were too poor to afford much themselves would borrow what they could from their friends.
The wedding festivities, and especially the bride's adornment, would always be remembered by her. The prophet Jeremiah made reference to this thought, "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?" (Jeremiah 2:32). The Apostle John saw New Jerusalem "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Apparel of the Bridegroom
When the night arrived for the wedding festivities to begin, and it was time to go for the bride, the groom was dressed as much like a king as possible. If he were rich enough to afford it, he wore a gold crown. Otherwise it would be a garland of fresh flowers. His garments would be scented with frankincense and myrrh, his girdle would be a silken one brilliantly colored, his sandals would be figured and carefully laced, and all of this would give effect to the "flowing drapery of the loose robes and to the graceful bearing peculiar to the lands of the East. For the time, the peasant seemed a prince among his fellows) and all paid him the deference due to exalted rank."17
This preparation of the groom for the wedding has been aptly described in the prophecy of Isaiah, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments" (Isaiah 61:10).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Arriving at the Bridegroom's House
ARRIVAL AT THE HOUSE OF THE BRIDEGROOM
The most important moment of the entire marriage festivity was that in which the bride entered her new home.23
And as both groom and bride usually wore crowns, the Psalmist must have pictured this important moment in the marriage of the king:
"She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace" (Psalm 45:14-15).
After arriving at the bridegroom's house, some of the older women had the task of arranging the bride's hair. Her flowing locks were hidden beneath a thick veil. From this time on, the custom would dictate that her face was not to be unveiled in public. She was led to her place under a canopy, which was located either inside the house, or if the weather permitted, in the open air. Her place was beside her husband, where both would hear new words of benediction given by one of the fathers, or by some important person who might be present.
In the wedding at Cana of Galilee, JESUS was the most prominent guest present, and doubtless He was asked to pronounce His benediction upon the newlyweds (John 2:1-11).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Difference between a promise and a betrothal. A promise of marriage among the Jews of Bible times might mean an engagement without anything definite. There could be a number of engagements broken off. It was the betrothal that was binding, rather than a mere promise of marriage. The promise might be set aside, but a betrothal entered into was considered as fina1.
The betrothal a covenant. Among the ancient Hebrews the betrothal was a spoken covenant. Ezekiel pictures GOD as marrying Jerusalem, and the following words are used of her: "I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the LORD GOD, and thou becamest mine" (Ezekiel 16:8). After the exile, the betrothal included signing a written document of marriage.
The ceremony of betrothal. The Jewish betrothal in CHRIST's time was conducted thus: The families of the bride and groom met, with some others present to serve as witnesses. The young man would give the young woman either a gold ring, or some article of value, or simply a document in which he promised to marry her. Then he would say to her: "See by this ring [or this token] thou art set apart for me, according to the law of Moses and of Israel."
Difference between betrothal and marriage. The betrothal was not the same as the wedding. At least a whole year elapsed between the betrothal and the actual wedding. These two events must not be confused.
The Law said, "What man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her?" (Deuteronomy 20:7). Two events are differentiated here: betrothing a wife, and taking a wife, i.e., in actual marriage. It was during this period of about a year, between the betrothal and the wedding, that Mary was found to be with child of the HOLY SPIRIT (Matthew 7:18).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Coming for the Bride
GOING OF THE GROOM TO GET THE BRIDE
Sometimes the bride's relations would conduct her from her father's house to the house of her fiancée, where her new home was to be. But more often, as was the case of the Ten Virgins in CHRIST's parable, the bridegroom himself went in person to bring her to his home for the wedding festivities to take place there.
Before leaving the house that had been her home, she would receive the blessing of her relatives. Thus Rebekah's relatives sent her away with a typical Oriental marriage blessing, "Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them" (Genesis 24:60). The bride left her father's house adorned and perfumed, and with a crown on her head.
Ezekiel's description of the bride is very appropriate) "I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head" (Ezekiel 16:11, 12).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Divorce in the Ancient World
DIVORCE IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES
For centuries it has been possible for a husband in Arab lands, to divorce his wife by a spoken word. The wife thus divorced is entitled to all her wearing apparel, and the husband cannot take from her anything she has upon her own person. For this reason, coins on the headgear, and rings and necklaces, become important wealth in the hour of the divorced woman's great need. This is one reason why there is so much interest in the bride's personal adornment in Eastern countries. Such customs of divorce were no doubt prevalent in Gentile lands in Old Testament times. It was for this reason that the Law of Moses limited the power of the husband to divorce his wife, by requiring that he must give her a written bill of divorcement (Deuteronomy 24:1). Thus the Jewish custom of divorce was superior to the Arabic.
It is important to remember that the sin of adultery did not have anything to do with the matter of divorce under the Jewish law. That sin was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), and that by stoning. If a husband found any unseemly thing in his wife, he could give her a written bill of divorcement, which made it possible for her to marry another man (Deuteronomy 24:2).
A man guilty of unfaithfulness was considered to be a criminal only in that he had invaded the rights of another man. A woman was not allowed to divorce her husband. The prophet Malachi taught that GOD hated "putting away" and condemned severely any man who dealt treacherously with the wife of his covenant (Malachi 2:14-16). Such was the attitude of the Hebrew people on the subject of divorce.4
The LORD JESUS swept away all grounds for divorce under the Law, and made unfaithfulness the lone grounds for divorce under the Christian dispensation (Matthew 5:31, 32).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Jesus spoke of the Pipe
JESUS spoke of the children playing in the market place. "We piped unto you, but ye have not danced. We have mourned to you, and ye have not wept" (Luke 7:32). There are two groups of children represented here. One of them has a pipe, perhaps a shepherd's flute, and plays upon it as is done at a wedding procession all the way to the feast, saying:
"Let's play wedding." But the other group refuses to join in the play. Then the one group begins to sing and wail as is done in a funeral procession, suggesting, "Let's play funeral," but the other group continues obstinately to refuse to co-operate.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Marriage Customs in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
The charter of marriage is Genesis 2:24, reproduced by our
Lord with greater distinctness in Matthew 19:4-5; "He which
made them at the beginning made them male and female, and
said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother,
and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain, shall be one
flesh." The Septuagint, and Samaritan Pentateuch reads
"twain" or "two" in Genesis 2:24; compare as to this joining
in one flesh of husband and wife, the archetype of which is
the eternally designed union of Christ and the church,
Ephesians 5:31; Mark 10:5-9; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 1
Corinthians 7:2. In marriage husband and wife combine to
form one perfect human being; the one is the complement of
the other. So Christ makes the church a necessary adjunct to
Himself. He is the Archetype from whom, as the pattern, the
church is formed (Romans 6:5). He is her Head, as the
husband is of the wife (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians
15:45). Death severs bridegroom and bride, but cannot
separate Christ and His bride (Matthew 19:6; John 10:28-29;
John 13:1; Romans 8:35-39).
In Ephesians 5:32 translated "this mystery is
great," i.e. this truth, hidden once but now revealed,
namely, Christ's spiritual union with the church, mystically
represented by marriage, is of deep import. Vulgate wrongly
translated "this is a great sacrament," Rome's plea for
making marriage a sacrament. Not marriage in general, but
the marriage of Christ and the church, is the great mystery,
as the following words prove, "I say it in regard to (eis)
Christ and in regard to (eis) the church," whereas Genesis
2:24 refers to literal marriage. Transl. Ephesians 5:30, "we
are members of His (glorified) body, being (formed) out of
(ek) His flesh and of His bones." Adam's deep sleep wherein
Eve was formed out of His opened side, symbolizes Christ's
death which was the birth of the spouse, the church (John
12:24; John 19:34-35). As Adam gave Eve a new name, 'ishah,
"woman" or "wife" the counterpart of iysh, "man" or
"husband," so Christ gives the church His new name; He,
Solomon, she, the Shulamite (Song of Solomon 6:13;
Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12).
The propagation of the church from Christ, as that
of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual
marriage. Natural marriage rests on the spiritual marriage,
whereby Christ left the Father's bosom to woo to Himself the
church out of a lost world. His earthly mother as such He
holds secondary to His spiritual bride (Luke 2:48-49; Luke
8:19-21; Luke 11:27-28). He shall again leave His Father's
abode to consummate the union (Matthew 25:1-10; Revelation
19:7). Marriage is the general rule laid down for most men,
as not having continency (1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Corinthians
7:5, etc.). The existing "distress" (1 Corinthians 7:26) was
Paul's reason then for recommending celibacy where there was
the gift of continency. In all cases his counsel is true,
"that they that have wives be as though they had none,"
namely, in permanent possession, not making idols of them.
Scripture teaches the unity of husband and wife; the
indissolubleness of marriage save...
Marriage in Easton's Bible Dictionary
was instituted in Paradise when man was in innocence (Gen.
2:18-24). Here we have its original charter, which
by our Lord, as the basis on which all regulations
are to be
framed (Matt. 19:4, 5). It is evident that monogamy
original law of marriage (Matt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16).
This law was
violated in after times, when corrupt usages began
introduced (Gen. 4:19; 6:2). We meet with the
polygamy and concubinage in the patriarchal age
22:21-24; 28:8, 9; 29:23-30, etc.). Polygamy was
the Mosaic law and made the basis of legislation,
to be practised all down through the period of
Jewish histroy to
the Captivity, after which there is no instance of
it on record.
It seems to have been the practice from the
fathers to select wives for their sons (Gen. 24:3;
Sometimes also proposals were initiated by the
father of the
maiden (Ex. 2:21). The brothers of the maiden were
sometimes consulted (Gen. 24:51; 34:11), but her own
not required. The young man was bound to give a
price to the
father of the maiden (31:15; 34:12; Ex. 22:16, 17; 1
25; Ruth 4:10; Hos. 3:2) On these patriarchal
customs the Mosaic
law made no change.
In the pre-Mosaic times, when the proposals were
the marriage price given, the bridegroom could come
at once and
take away his bride to his own house (Gen. 24:63-
67). But in
general the marriage was celebrated by a feast in
the house of
the bride's parents, to which all friends were
27); and on the day of the marriage the bride,
concealed under a
thick veil, was conducted to her future husband's
Our Lord corrected many false notions then existing
subject of marriage (Matt. 22:23-30), and placed it
as a divine
institution on the highest grounds. The apostles
and enforce the nuptial duties of husband and wife
5:22-33; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Marriage is
said to be
"honourable" (Heb. 13:4), and the prohibition of it
is noted as
one of the marks of degenerate times (1 Tim. 4:3).
The marriage relation is used to represent the union
God and his people (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:1-14; Hos.
2:9, 20). In
the New Testament the same figure is employed in
the love of Christ to his saints (Eph. 5:25-27). The
the redeemed is the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev.
Marriage in Naves Topical Bible
Consanguinous, Abraham and Sarah
Ge 11:29; 12:13; 20:3,9-16
-Isaac and Rebekah
Ge 24:3,4,67; 28:2
-Jacob and his wives
-See below, in the elaborated text
-Levirate (the brother required to marry a brother's widow)
Ge 38:8,11; De 25:5-10; Ru 4:5; Mt 22:24; Mr 12:19-
-Parents contract for their children
Hagar selects a wife for Ishmael
Abraham for Isaac
Laban arranges for his daughters' marriage
Samson asks his parents to procure him a wife
-Parents' consent requires in the Mosaic law
-Presents given to parents to secure their favor
Ge 24:53; 34:12; De 22:29; 1Sa 18:25; Ho 3:2
Ge 29:22; Jud 14:12; Es 2:18; Mt 22:11,12
-Jesus present at
-Ceremony attested by witnesses
Ru 4:1-11; Isa 8:1-3
-The groom exempt one year from military duty
Isa 49:18; Jer 2:32
Ge 24:53; Ps 45:12
-A herald preceded the bridegroom
-Wedding robes adorned with jewels
Ge 29:20; Ru 4:10; Ho 3:2; 12:12
-Given by Kings
1Sa 17:25; 18:17,21
-Daughters given in, as rewards of valor
Jud 1:12; 1Sa 17:25; 18:27
-Wives taken by edict
-David gave one hundred Philistine foreskins for a wife
-Wives among the Israelites must be Israelites
Ex 34:16; De 7:3,4; 1Ch 23:22; Ezr 9:1,2,12; Ne
13:26,27; Mal 2:11; 1Co 7:39; 2Co 6:14
-Betrothal a quasi-marriage
Mt 1:18; Lu 1:27
-Betrothal made with the spirit
Jud 11:38; Isa 4:1; Jer 16:9
-Obligations under, inferior to duty to God
De 13:6-10; Mt 19:29; Lu 14:26
-Not binding after death
Mt 22:29,30; Mr 12:24,25
-UNCLASSIFIED SCRIPTURES RELATING TO
Ge 2:23,24; Ex 22:16,17; Le 18:6-18; 20:14,17,19-21;
21:1,7,13-15; Nu 36:8; De 21:10-14; 24:1-5; Pr
21:9,19; Jer 29:6; Ho 2:19,20; Mal 2:13-16; Mt
6:17,18; 10:2-12; Mt 19:2-9; Lu 16:18; Ro 7:1-3; 1Co
7:1-40; 9:5; 11:11,12; 1Ti 3:2,12; 4:1,3; 5:14; Heb
Isa 54:5; 62:4,5; Jer 3:14; 31:32; Ho 1:2; 2:19,20;
5:30-32; Re 19:7-9
Mt 22:2; 25:1-10
Marriage in Smiths Bible Dictionary
1. Its origin and history. --The institution of marriage
dates from the time of man's original creation. Ge 2:18-25
From Ge 2:24 we may evolve the following principles: (1) The
unity of man and wife, as implied in her being formed out of
man. (2) The indissolubleness of the marriage bond, except
on; the strongest grounds, Comp. Mt 19:9 (3) Monogamy, as
the original law of marriage (4) The social equality of man
and wife. (5) The subordination of the wife to the husband.
1Co 11:8,9; 1Ti 2:13 (6) The respective duties of man and
wife. In the patriarchal age polygamy prevailed, Ge 16:4;
25:1,8; 28:9; 29:23,26; 1Ch 7:14 but to a great extent
divested of the degradation which in modern times attaches
to that practice. Divorce also prevailed in the patriarchal
age, though but one instance of it is recorded. Ge 21:14 The
Mosaic law discouraged polygamy, restricted divorce, and
aimed to enforce purity of life. It was the best civil law
possible at the time, and sought to bring the people up to
the pure standard of the moral law. In the Post-Babylonian
period monogamy appears to have become more prevalent than
at any previous time. The practice of polygamy nevertheless
still existed; Herod the Great had no less than nine wives
at one time. The abuse of divorce continued unabated. Our
Lord and his apostles re-established the integrity and
sanctity of the marriage bond by the following measures: (a)
By the confirmation of the original charter of marriage as
the basis on which all regulations were to be framed. Mt
19:4,5 (b) By the restriction of divorce to the case of
fornication, and the prohibition of remarriage in all
persons divorced on improper grounds. Mt 5:32; 19:9; Ro 7:3;
1Co 7:10,11 (c) By the enforcement of moral purity generally
Heb 13:4 etc., and especial formal condemnation of
fornication. Ac 15:20
2. The conditions of legal marriage. --In the Hebrew
commonwealth marriage was prohibited (a) between an
Israelite and a non-Israelite. There were three grades of
prohibition: total in regard to the Canaanites on either
side; total on the side of the males in regard to the
Ammonites and Moabites; and temporary on the side of the
males in regard to the Edomites and Egyptians, marriages
with females in the two latter instances being regarded as
legal. The progeny of illegal marriages between Israelites
and non-Israelites was described as "bastard." De 23:2 (b)
between an Israelite and one of his own community. The
regulations relative to marriage between Israelites and
Israelites were based on considerations of relationship. The
most important passage relating to these is contained in Le
18:6-18 wherein we have in the first place a general
prohibition against marriage between a man and the "flesh of
his flesh," and in the second place special prohibitions
against marriage with a mother, stepmother, sister or half-
sister, whether "born at home or abroad," granddaughter,
aunt, whether by consanguinity on either side or by marriage
on the father's side, daughter in-law, brother's wife,
stepdaughter, wife's mother, stepgranddaughter, or wife's
sister during the lifetime of the wife. An exception is
subsequently made, De 26:5-9 in favor of marriage with a
brother's wife in the event of his having died childless.
The law which regulates this has been named the "levirate,"
from the Latin levir, "brother-in-law."
3. The modes by which marriage was effected. --The
choice of the bride devolved not on the bridegroom himself,
but on his relations or on a friend deputed by the
bridegroom for this purpose. The consent of the maiden was
sometimes asked Ge 24:58 but this appears to have been
subordinate to the previous consent of the father and the
adult brothers. Ge 24:51; 34:11 Occasionally the whole
business of selecting the wife was left in the hands of a
friend. The selection of the bride was followed by the
espousal, which was a formal proceeding undertaken by a
friend or legal representative on the part of the bridegroom
and by the parents on the part of the bride; it was
confirmed by oaths, and accompanied with presents to the
bride. The act of betrothal was celebrated by a feast, and
among the more modern Jews it is the custom in some parts
for the bride. groom to place a ring on the bride's finger.
The ring was regarded among the Hebrews as a token of
fidelity Ge 41:42 and of adoption into a family. Lu 15:25
Between the betrothal sad the marriage so interval elapsed,
varying from a few days in the patriarchal age, Ge 24:55 to
a full year for virgins and a month for widows in later
times. During this period the bride-elect lived with her
friends, and all communication between herself and her
future husband was carried on through the medium of a friend
deputed for the purpose, termed the "friend of the
bridegroom." Joh 3:29 She was now virtually regarded as the
Marriage in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
Scope and Viewpoint of the Present Article
1. Marriage among the Hebrews
2. Betrothal the First Formal Part
3. Wedding Ceremonies
4. Jesus' Sanction of the Institution
5. His Teaching concerning Divorce
It would be interesting to study marriage biologically and
sociologically, to get the far and near historical and
social background of it as an institution, especially as it
existed among the ancient Jews, and as it figures in the
teaching of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament. For,
like all social institutions, marriage, and the family which
is the outcome of marriage, must be judged, not by its
status at any particular time, but in the light of its
history. Such a study of it would raise a host of related
historic questions, e.g. What was its origin? What part has
it played in the evolution and civilization of the race?
What social functions has it performed? And then, as a
sequel, Can the services it has rendered to civilization and
progress be performed or secured in any other way? This,
indeed, would call for us to go back even farther--to try to
discover the psychology of the institution and its history,
the beliefs from which it has sprung and by which it has
survived so long. This were a task well worth while and
amply justified by much of the thinking of our time; for, as
one of the three social institutions that support the much
challenged form and fabric of modern civilization, marriage,
private property and the state, its continued existence, in
present form at least, is a matter of serious discussion and
its abolition, along with the other two, is confidently
prophesied. "Marriage, as at present understood, is an
arrangement most closely associated with the existing social
status and stands or falls with it" (Bebel, Socialism and
Sex, 199, Reeves, London; The Cooperative Commonwealth in
Its Outline, Gronlund, 224). But such a task is entirely
outside of and beyond the purpose of this article.
Neither the Bible in general, nor Jesus in particular,
treats of the family from the point of view of the historian
or the sociologist, but solely from that of the teacher of
religion and morals. In short, their point of view is
theological, rather than sociological. Moses and the
prophets, no less than Jesus and His apostles, accepted
marriage as an existing institution which gave rise to
certain practical, ethical questions, and they dealt with it
accordingly. There is nothing in the record of the teachings
of Jesus and of His apostles to indicate that they gave to
marriage any new social content, custom or sanction. They
simply accepted it as it existed in the conventionalized
civilization of the Jews of their day and used it and the
customs connected with it for ethical or illustrative
purposes. One exception is to be made to this general
statement, namely, that Jesus granted that because of the
exigencies of the social development Moses had modified it
to the extent of permitting and regulating divorce, clearly
indicating, however, at the same time, that He regarded such
modification as out of harmony with the institution as at
first given to mankind. According to the original Divine
purpose it was monogamous, and any form of polygamy, and
apparently of divorce, was excluded by the Divine idea and
purpose. The treatment of the subject here, therefore, will
be limited as follows: Marriage among the Ancient Hebrews
and Other Semites; Betrothal as the First Formal Part of the
Transaction; Wedding Ceremonies Connected with Marriage,
especially as Reflected in the New Testament; and Jesus'
Sanction and Use of the Institution, Teaching concerning
1. Marriage among the Hebrews:
With the Hebrews married life was the normal life. Any
exception called for apology...
Marriage Scripture - Exodus 21:10
If he take him another [wife]; her food, her raiment, and her
duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
Marriage Scripture - Hebrews 13:4
Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but
whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Marriage Scripture - Luke 17:27
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given
in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and
the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Marriage Scripture - Luke 20:34
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this
world marry, and are given in marriage:
Marriage Scripture - Luke 20:35
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world,
and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are
given in marriage:
Marriage Scripture - Mark 12:25
For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry,
nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in
Marriage Scripture - Matthew 22:4
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which
are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and
[my] fatlings [are] killed, and all things [are] ready: come
unto the marriage.
Marriage Scripture - Matthew 24:38
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating
and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noe entered into the ark,
Marriage Scripture - Revelation 19:7
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the
marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself
Marriage Scripture - Revelation 19:9
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are
called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto
me, These are the true sayings of God.
Negotiating the Dowry
CONDUCTING NEGOTIATIONS TO SECURE A WIFE
The customs of the Arabs in certain sections of Bible lands when they negotiate to secure a bride for their son, illustrate in many respects Biblical practices. If a young man has acquired
sufficient means to make it possible for him to provide a marriage dowry, then his parents select the girl and the negotiations begin.
The father calls in a man who acts as a deputy for him and the son. This deputy is called, "the friend of the bridegroom" by John the Baptist (John 3:29). This man is fully informed as to the dowry the young man is willing to pay for his bride. Then, together with the young man's father, or some other male relative, or both, he goes to the home of the young woman. The father announces that the deputy will speak for the party, and then the bride's father will appoint a deputy to represent him.
Before the negotiations begin, a drink of coffee is offered the visiting group, but they refuse to drink until the mission is completed. Thus Abraham's servant, when offered food by the parents of Rebekah, said, "I will not eat, until I have told mine errand" (Genesis 24:33).
When the two deputies face each other, then the negotiations begin in earnest. There must be consent for the hand of the young woman and agreement on the amount of dowry to be paid for her. When these are agreed upon, the deputies rise and their congratulations are exchanged, and then coffee is brought in, and they all drink of it as a seal of the covenant thus entered into. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Parents Select the Bride
CHOICE OF A WIFE THE PARENTS' PREROGATIVE
It is well known that in the East the parents of a young man select a bride for him. This custom goes back to early Old Testament times. When Esau married against the wishes of his parents, he caused ill-favor (Genesis 26:34, 35).
Reason for this parental privilege. Why did parents usually insist on their right to select a bride for their son? The new bride was to become a member of the bridegroom's clan, and therefore, the whole family was interested in knowing if she would be suitable. There is evidence that at least sometimes the son or daughter was consulted. Rebekah was asked if she was willing to go and become the wife of Isaac (Genesis 24:58). But the parents felt they had a right to make the choice.
Love after marriage. Orientals look at the love between husband and wife very much as Occidentals would look at love between a brother and a sister. It is indicated that the former should love each other because GOD chose them for each other. Orientals would say that husband and wife love each other, because GOD through the parents, selected them for each other. In other words, the usual Oriental idea is that love comes after marriage.
When Isaac and Rebekah were married, they had never seen each other before. Yet the Sacred Record says, "Isaac brought her into his mother's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her" (Genesis 24:67).
Love before marriage. Although it is true that most Oriental couples have no opportunity for love before marriage, yet the Bible gives some examples of that sort of love, that are worthy of note. The case of Jacob and Rachel is the most noted illustration of this. With him it was love at first sight (Genesis 29:10-18). Genesis describes his love for her with these memorable words: "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her" (verse 20). Other examples of love before marriage would include Samson who loved "a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines" (Judges 14:2), and "Michal, Saul's daughter, who loved David," and afterwards became his wife (I Samuel 18:20).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Polygamy in the Ancient World
POLYGAMY IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES
THE MOSAIC LAW allowed polygamy among the Hebrew people. Wives were given certain protections against abuses and there were various regulations regarding such marriages. There was, however, among the Israelites, a marked tendency toward monogamy. No doubt the main reason for this was that the custom of more than one wife was too expensive for most of the people.
The law did forbid the multiplication of wives by the kings of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:17). The cause of much of the trouble, in the lives of David and Solomon, as well as Ahab, was because of their following the example of the kings of their day in taking many, and especially heathen wives, rather than obeying GOD's law.
Old Testament influence in favor of monogamy is seen in two ways. First, pictures are painted of unhappy homes because of more than one wife in them. Trouble between rival wives, as in the case of Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30) and also Hannah and Peninnah (I Samuel 1:1-6) argues strongly in favor of monogamy. Second, monogamy among religious leaders and certain outstanding characters, sets the right example for the masses. Men like Adam, Noah, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and Job, had but one wife. Also the high priest (Leviticus 21:14), and the prophets were, as far as we know, monogamous. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
THE WEDDING FEAST
Every guest that attended the feast was required to wear a wedding garment (Matthew 22:12). The wedding banquet was presided over by the ruler of the feast (John 2:8,9). It was his duty to take care of the preparations, and during the feast he would get around among the guests, and see to it that they lacked nothing. He instructed servants in carrying out all the necessary details.
The expression, "children of the bridechamber", (Matthew 9:15), used by JESUS, simply means the guests at the wedding. The governor or ruler of the feast returned thanks at the dinner and pronounced benedictions at appointed times. He also blessed the wine. It was customary to tell riddles at these feasts like Samson did at his wedding (Judges 14:12-18). During the meal mirthfulness prevailed. and the guests were expected to exalt the bride.
There was no religious ceremony at the feast. In place of this were the benedictions of relatives and friends. The benediction of those who witnessed wedding arrangements for Ruth and Boaz is a good example of what would be included in such a benediction (Ruth 4:11). It corresponds to the well wishing of Western wedding guests. After the wedding feast was over the husband was escorted by his friends into the apartment where his wife had previously been conducted. These wedding festivities with relatives and friends lasted for a whole week (cf. Judges 14:17), but the entire number of what was called "the days of the marriage" was thirty. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
THE WEDDING PROCESSION
The bridegroom set out with the bride from the house of her parents, and there followed a grand procession all the way to his house. The streets of Asiatic cities were dark, and it was necessary that anybody venturing forth at night should carry a lamp or torch (cf. Psalm 119:105). Those invited guests, who did not go to the bride's home were allowed to join the procession along the way, and go with the whole group to the marriage feast. Without a torch or lamp they couldn't join the procession, or enter the bridegroom's house.
The Ten Virgins waited for the procession to arrive at the point where they were waiting; and five wise ones were able to proceed because they had a reserve supply of oil for their lamps; but the foolish virgins lacked that oil and so, not being ready, they were barred from the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13).
The lamps carried by these virgins have been described by Dr. Edersheim:
"The lamps consisted of a round receptacle for pitch or oil for the wick. This was placed in a hollow cup or deep saucer, . . . which was fastened by a pointed end into a long wooden pole, on which it was borne aloft.
In going from the bride's house to the groom's house, the bride allowed her hair to be loose and flowing, and she had her face veiled. Some of her own relations preceded her in the procession, and scattered ears of parched grain to the children along the way. There were demonstrations of joy all along the road to the destination. Part of the procession included men who played on drums or other musical instruments. And there was dancing along the way.
One of the punishments Jeremiah predicted for the Jews, because of their sins, was the taking away of wedding joys. "Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride" (Jeremiah 7:34).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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