Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ancient Jewish Weddings (Continued)

3) Mohar

Genesis 24:50-51 "Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, 'The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.'"

The family accepted the servant's offer, they could clearly see this was God's will. The servant then presented Rebekah with the mohar, all the gifts Isaac had prepared for her, samples of the wealth he would provide for her as her husband. This is so much like the Holy Spirit in your life today, giving you spiritual gifts according to His grace.

4) Cup of Acceptance

Genesis 24:54a "And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there."

Once the terms of the ketuvah had been specified and the father of the bride had agreed to them, betrothals were sealed with a traditional "cup of acceptance" from which both parties drank; the covenant was sealed, and the couple was considered to be betrothed. Think about how God gives us His Holy Spirit as a seal for that day when we will be joined to Him forever in heaven.

The betrothal period typically lasted one full year, beginning with the sealing of the covenant and ending with the wedding ceremony. During that time the groom would prepare their new home, which meant adding on to his father's home or building a new home on the family property. He would have stocked the bridal chamber with seven days' worth of provisions so they could spend a week together inside as their honeymoon.

Think of Jesus saying, "I go to prepare a place for you; in My Father's house are many mansions." As fast and as hard as he worked, though, it was the groom's father who made the final decision as to when the bridal chamber and new home were ready, and gave permission for his son to go marry his bride. Think of Jesus telling His disciples that He would return for them to bring them back to Him, but only the Father knew the day and the hour.

For the bride this time was for purification and preparation for the wedding feast. She would wear a veil whenever she stepped out of her house to show that she was set apart for marriage to a particular man -- she was "spoken for," no longer available because she had been bought with a price.

In Hebrew, she would be called a "me `kudeshet," meaning one who is "sanctified, dedicated to another, set apart and consecrated to her bridegroom" just as every believer is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, being transformed by the renewing of your minds, one day to be glorified with Christ (and this is where we are in the marriage process with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are certainly His, but the wedding itself is yet to come).

[C] Nissuin: The wedding (nissuin) was the next stage of the marriage process. It was always a surprise for the bride, she never knew when the groom was going to come. Finally, the groom's father would approve all the preparations his son had made and would release him to go get his bride. A great processional would be made, to the bride's home. Typically, this processional would happen at night. The groomsmen and other attendants would carry large torches through the streets to illuminate their path, with lots of noise, horns blowing and fanfare.

The bride and her attendants would be able to hear the approaching party giving her a few minutes to get ready. (This is where the parable of the ten virgins takes place, in Matthew 25). In the final minutes of readiness, the bride was to put on her veil. The bridal veil was a symbol of authority. By placing the veil on her head she was demonstrating to herself and the whole world that she was coming under her husband's authority.

Genesis 24:64-65 "And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, 'Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?' The servant said, 'It is my master.' So she took her veil and covered herself."

For Rebekah the surprise was that her betrothal would last only one night, but the processional would last nearly two months across 600 miles of desert.

Ancient wedding ceremonies were actually very simple. Before witnesses the bride accepted gifts from her groom, and the groom spoke a few words of acceptance and consecration to his bride. During the wedding ceremony the bride's veil was placed on her husband's shoulder. This signified the bride yielding to her husband's authority. After this the husband drew his wife into the bridal chamber for seven days of celebration.

[D] Fourth part of marriage: The joyful celebration would last one week. As the happy couple stayed in their marriage chamber, being served by their attendants, the guests would partake of a week-long feast. Isaac loved Rebekah from the beginning, and their marriage comforted and strengthened him.

Think of the wedding feast described in Revelation.....

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