Jewish Wedding

We love weddings when our kids, and kids we mentor, get married. The Princess Bride is a cult classic we love to watch with our couples. Jan and I have watched it more times than we can count. At one point…

The Priest declares, “Mawwiage is wat bwings us togeder today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wifin a dream… And wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv— “

Prince Humperdinck interrupts: “Skip to the end!”

We chortle every time, but you must watch it yourself to discover that Prince Humperdink is not Princess Buttercup’s ‘twue wuv.’ Also, skip to the end, in our minds, is in eternity with our kids, grandkids, and their spouses in a complete family circle before the throne of God to receive the applause of Heaven… As our savior says, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

Getting there with our kids, spouses, and grandkids is one of our most critical missions.

Stepping away from Wesley, Buttercup and Humperdink to something far more serious, in Jewish culture, the first step, the Ketubah, or Betrothal,[1] was the establishment of the marriage covenant, usually when the father of the prospective bridegroom and bride took the initiative[2] and negotiated the price (mohair) the groom must pay to purchase her.[3]

Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife.[4] From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified – set apart – exclusively for her bridegroom.[5] As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the groom and bride drank from a cup of wine over which the betrothal had been pronounced.[6]

After the marriage covenant was established, the bride is led out to a Mikvah – think of it as a stone bathtub. She took off her clothes, was ‘baptized’ in the Mikvah by water immersion, then rose a new, betrothed woman and given new clothes. The groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months.[7] This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life.[8]

In the Gospel of Matthew, the Apostles asked when He was coming again. Jesus answered,

Mat 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

Picture the future groom building a place for his bride. His friends ask, “When’s the wedding?”

As he’s putting shingles on the roof, the young man answers, “Only my father knows.”

You see, the father knows when the Katubah is fulfilled and he can send his son to get his bride. One of the specific requirements of that Katubah can be found in the Bible

Rom 11:25 …until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father’s house to which he would later bring his bride. At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came to abduct his bride – usually at night – to take his bride to live with him. The groom, the best man, and other male escorts left the father’s house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride.[9]

Think on this as you read the parable in Matt 25: 1 – 13, about the ten virgins waiting with the bride for the coming of the Groom.

Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming.[10] As a result, the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout,[11] which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.

After the groom received his bride, together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party returned from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house,[12] where the wedding guests had assembled.

Shortly after their arrival, the bride and groom were escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (huppah). Prior to entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face.[13] While the groomsmen and bridesmaids waited outside, the bride and groom entered the bridal chamber alone. There, in the privacy of that place, they entered into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted approximately one year earlier.[14]

After the marriage was consummated, the groom came out of the bridal chamber and announced the consummation of the marriage to the members of the wedding party waiting outside.[15] Then, as the groom went back to his bride in the chamber, the members of the wedding party returned to the wedding guests and announced the consummation of the marriage.[16]

Upon receiving the good news, the wedding guests remained in the groom’s father’s house for the next seven days, celebrating with a great wedding feast.[17]

During the seven days of the wedding feast, the bride and groom remained hidden in the bridal chamber[18] (Cf. Genesis 29:21-23, 27-28) for the seven days of the huppah.[19] Afterwards, the groom came out of hiding, bringing his bride with him, but with her veil removed so that everyone could see her.

Creation began with a wedding and likewise, Jesus’ ministry began with a wedding. It is no accident that we read,

John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

John 2:2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

It’s cool in my mind that Jesus was invited to a wedding. He was obviously a lot of fun to be around because grim puddle glums don’t get invited to parties.

We now come to the plot. Recall that the guests have been drinking the host’s wine all week.

John 2:3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

John 2:4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

I don’t think Jesus was being mean to his mother. Thinking about my own red headed momma, I think they were having a humorous conversation. In my mind, I try to visualize the body language and eye rolling laughter of the moment.

We now arrive at the astonishing result:

John 2:6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.

John 2:7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

John 2:8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.

John 2:9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.

John 2:10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

My guess, to emphasize the moment, is that the BEST wine arrived when the husband escorted his new bride out of the Huppah chamber following their honeymoon week together. Let’s apply some other passages to this one:

Mat 26:29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

Luk 22:18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”

In my imagination, Jesus gave his mom the first taste of the wine of the New Kingdom.

To wrap up the wedding at Cana, we read,

John 2:11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Marriage Bookends

Think about this. Jesus began his ministry with a miracle at a wedding and in his words at Passover in John 14, intimately proclaimed that he ‘goes to prepare a place for us’. In the same way a future groom prepares a place for his bride. These bookends reinforce marriage and its importance as a ‘type,’ representing the Kingdom of God.

From engagement to betrothal to the end times, our WOKE God Gifts us with Marriage. Along the Scarlet Thread, He presents the theme of marriage between a man and woman as a ‘type’ of the relationship of the church to our savior, Jesus Christ. God created marriage between one man and one woman in Genesis 2 and He ends creation with the wedding feast of His son and His bride, the church in Rev 19. All other fabrications are counterfeit Opposable Thumbs and fail the test of eternity. You see, Marriage is a ‘type’ of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Anything else evades that truth and strives to replace marriage, between one man and one woman, with a false narrative.

[1] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Isaac Landman ed., Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Co., Inc. New York, 1948, pp. 7, 372.

[2] David R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage, Philosophical Library, New York, 1953, p.167

[3] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p.372

[4] The Jewish Encyclopedia, Isidore Singer ed., Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York, 1907, III, pp.126,127. Cf. Mal 2:14; Mt 1:18-19

[5] George F. Moore, Judaism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1946, II, p.121

[6] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p.373

[7] Ibid., p.372

[8] Ibid

[9] The Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr ed., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1957, III, p.1998

[10] Emma Williams Gill, Home Life in the Bible, Broadman Press, Nashville TN, 1936, p.20

[11] James Neil, Everyday Life in the Holy Land, Cassell and Company, Limited, New York, 1913, p.251

[12] J. Jeremias, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol IV, ed. by Gerhard Kittel, trans. and ed. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI, 1967, p.1100

[13] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isaac Landman, Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Co., Inc., New York, 1948, pp. 10, 399

[14] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p.373

[15] Psalm 19:5; John 3:29

[16] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, pp.5, 504

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid