JEWISH MARRIAGE CUSTOMS

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March 24, 2015 by James Lindquist

Part Five of Eight: The Betrothal (Kiddushin)

In part one I listed John 14:1-3 where Christ not only promised the Disciples that He’d go and prepare a place for them, but that He’d also return for them. They knew what Jesus was talking about in terms of the Jewish marriage customs but they knew not that it was a spiritual promise and that He would return for their (our) spirits [1] as His Bride.

Neither did they realize that we are the many mansions that Christ talked about in our John 14 Scripture. Mansions refer to the 1 Corinthians 3:16 Scripture that says Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? Christians, whether Messianic or gentile, are the mansions (temples) that Christ is going to prepare.

v5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ [1 Peter 2:5 ASV].

John Gills exposition of the entire Bible says this about 1 Peter 2:5:

Ye also, as living stones, Saints likewise are compared to stones; they lie in the same quarry, and are the same by nature as the rest of mankind, till dug out and separated from thence by the powerful and efficacious grace of God, when they are hewn, and made fit for the spiritual building; where both for their ornament, beauty, and strength, which they receive from Christ, they are compared to stones, and are lasting and durable, and will never perish. . .

Jewish marriage customs hinged upon two ceremonies: the betrothal and the marriage ceremony. The Kiddushin (formally the Erusin), or the betrothal, is less than a marriage but more than an engagement. In biblical times when a Jewish couple entered into a betrothal, the Halakha [2] considered the marriage to be legal and binding. In fact, when they entered into a betrothal, it was so strong and binding that if the bridegroom died, they considered the woman to be a widow.

The bridegroom brought three things to the house of the prospective bride: a marriage contract (Ketubah), gifts for the bride (Mattan), and the bride price (Mohar). The father of the bride also gave his daughter a dowry (Shiluhim). In lieu of an inheritance, the father gave the daughters a dowry to show his love for her as well because it was the son who inherited the land and the father’s fortune.

Parallels to the Church…

Just like the groom left his father’s house and traveled to the bride’s house for the purpose of betrothal, so did Christ travel from heaven to the earth for the purpose of betrothal and marriage to His prospective bride [3]. The main reason behind Christ’s coming was to establish a marriage covenant with His bride, the church.

The Veil (Jewish customs)

The woman, upon her betrothal would henceforth cover her face with a veil whenever she went into the public arena. When the woman veiled her face in public, it meant that she was unavailable and that she was setting herself aside for the one who had just bought her for a price. It meant that she’s chosen and consecrated unto her bridegroom.

Parallels to the Church…

The veil is symbolic of separation or setting oneself apart [4] for Christ. Before the Cross, it was separation from God. After the Cross, it is the separation from the world, which has to do with our consecration to God.

v19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you [John 15:19 KJV].

When we veil our faces, we are saying to the world that we are unavailable and are staying true to Jesus and not committing spiritual adultery by choosing any of the world’s ways. Christians are the light of the world [5] and we need to stop our unholy actions and alliances. We need to veil ourselves by consecrating unto the Lord Jesus Christ, our soon coming husband [6].

v15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them [1 John 2:15 NIV].

During the time of our betrothal to Christ and wearing our symbolic veil, false teachers are not to distract us [7]; neither should worldly things distract us [8]. We are in the world, but we are not of the world [9].

Remember that the groom brought three things to the betrothal ceremony at the bride’s house. We’ve already learned of the two spiritual gifts given to the prospective bride by the groom and the dowry given by the father. The third item that the groom brought to the prospective bride’s house was a contract of marriage. The Jewish (Hebrew) language, calls this the Ketubah.
____________________________
[1] Ecclesiastes 12:7
[2] Jewish law
[3] Ephesians 1:9-14
[4] 2 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Peter 15:1
[5] Matthew 5:14
[6] Hosea 2:16 Ishi means “my husband” and Baali means “Lord”
[7] 2 John 7:11
[8] 1 John 2:15
[9] John 17:14

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