Jewish Wedding in a Messianic Setting

by Team FOL

In the Jewish context, the process of marriage occurs in two distinct stages: kiddushin [betrothal] followed by nisuin which is a full-fledged marriage.

Kiddushin in Jewish culture is far more binding than an engagement. Once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legal wife of the man. The relationship created by kiddushin can only be dissolved by death or divorce. The time duration between the kiddushin and nisuin could be anywhere between a few months to a year or more.

Three steps comprise a Jewish marriage: a covenant, a cup and token of value. The process is called kiddushin [meaning, matches in Hebrew]. During kiddushin, the groom makes a covenant with the bride at her house. Then they both share a cup of wine, after which, he presents her with a token of something of value, binding the contract which is called the ketubah. The bridegroom, while placing the ring on his bride’s finger, says, “Be sanctified [mekudeshet] to me with this ring in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel. The principal content of the ketubah is Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li which in Hebrew is, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” [Song of Solomon 2:16]

The boy takes leaves from the bride with a promise that he would return. He returns home and begins the process of preparing a place fit for his bride. Except for the groom’s father, no one will know how long the preparation takes. Each time the groom is asked when he would return to his bride, he simply replies, “My father knows it.”

The significance of kiddushim, is ‘to be set apart’ and ‘sacred.’ While waiting for the groom to return, the bride observes three things carefully. One: She waits patiently for her groom no matter how long it takes for his return. Hope keeps her ever waiting. Two: Knowing she is ‘set apart,’ the bride wears a veil especially when she is outdoors symbolizing that she is betrothed and to keep her from other suitors. Three: During this time, the bride in waiting avoids being out of home because his coming could be at any moment.

It is traditional for grooms to come without notice; and like a thief in the night. Sometimes it could be midnight too. This element of surprise should not be mistaken to be groom’s secret mission to check if his bride is cheating on him. The intent is only to surprise his waiting bride.

Compare this with what Jesus did to the Church.

When Christ came into this world, He came and betrothed himself to the Church. Remember the Last Supper where He cut a New Covenant with the Church, which is the Ketubah, and declared that the Church is His. After giving the New Covenant, He sipped from the Cup and offered His “ring.” The gift of value? Jesus gave His very life. What can be more valuable than one’s own life? And after His resurrection from death, He told the Church that He was returning to His Father to prepare a place for her but would soon return to take her for a nisuin. One question remains for the bride in waiting. Is the Church living a life of waiting and preparation under the veil for her Bridegroom’s “surprise party” return?


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