The Life of Jesus in Harmony
Jewish marriages came at an early age. Rabbi's held 18 suitable for men and 13
for women. A period of betrothal preceded marriages. It probably developed
because of having parents pick marriage
partners. The two did not usually know each other before betrothal. The
betrothal usually lasted about
Betrothed really meant married. A man could not renounce her except by divorce
. If he died during the betrothal she was legally declared a widow. If she was
unfaithful she could be punished for adultery
THE BETROTHAL.The selection of the bride was followed by the espousal, which
was not altogether like our "engagement" but 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. These presents were described by
different terms, that to the bride by "a dowry" (Heb. mohar) and that to the relatives
by "a present" (Heb. mattan).
It has been supposed, indeed, that the mohar was a price paid to the father
for the sale of his daughter. Such a custom undoubtedly prevails in certain parts
of the East at the present day, but it does not appear to have been the case
with free women in patriarchal times. It would undoubtedly be expected that the
mohar should be proportioned to the position of the bride and that a poor man
could not on that account afford to marry a rich wife <1 Sam. 18:23>.
A "settlement," in the modern sense of the term, that is, a written document
securing property to the wife, did not come into use until the post-Babylonian
period: the only instance we have of one is in Tobit 7:14, where it is described
as an "instrument." The Talmudists called it a ketubah and have laid down
minute directions as to the disposal of the sum secured in a treatise of the Mishna
expressly on that subject.
The act of betrothal was celebrated by a feast, and among the more modern Jews
it is the custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the
bride's finger. The ring was nevertheless regarded among the Hebrews as a token of
fidelity (Gen 41:42) and of adoption into a family (Luke 15:22).