5654 betrothal
Dictionary of Bible Themes

Dictionary of Bible Themes  »  5000 Humanity  »  5650 Human relationships  »  5654 betrothal

The period of engagement preceding marriage; betrothal was a binding contract established between two families and sealed by the exchange of gifts. During this period the couple did not live together; sexual relations with each other at this stage was regarded as equivalent to adultery. Betrothal describes the relationship between God and his people and between Jesus Christ and the church.

Betrothal and the choice of a spouse

Wives were often chosen by parents for their sons

Genesis 21:21 It was usual practice for the groom's parents to choose his wife and arrange the wedding. See also Genesis 24:4; Genesis 38:6

Suitable husbands were sought by parents for their daughters

Ruth 3:1-4 Naomi, in the role of parent, assumes responsibility to find a husband for Ruth. See also Judges 1:12-13; 1 Samuel 18:17,21

Betrothal following the couple's wishes

Judges 14:1-4 Sometimes the man chose a prospective bride and his parents negotiated the marriage. See also Genesis 34:1-4; Genesis 24:57-58; Genesis 26:34-35 Esau chose a bride against his parents' wishes.

Betrothal preceded marriage

Genesis 29:21; Deuteronomy 20:7 A betrothed soldier was exempted from military service until after his marriage; Matthew 1:24; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38

An exchange of gifts accompanyed betrothal

The bride-price

Genesis 34:11-12 This gift, which was given by the groom to the bride's family as compensation, sealed the marriage contract. See also Genesis 24:53; Genesis 29:18,27; Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:28-29; 2 Samuel 3:14

The dowry

1 Kings 9:16 The dowry was a gift from the bride's father to the bride and/or groom.

Servants were given to the bride as a dowry:

Genesis 24:59; Genesis 29:24,29 Judges 1:14-15

Betrothal was treated as marriage

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 Though there were no sexual relations within the betrothal period, the commitment was regarded almost as seriously as marriage and infidelity of a betrothed partner was treated as adultery. See also Genesis 19:14 The men betrothed to Lot's daughters are described as his “sons-in-law”; Matthew 1:18-20 Mary's pregnancy during betrothal left her open to the charge and consequences of unfaithfulness.

Betrothal portrays the relationship between God and his people

Hosea 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2 See also John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:2

See also

5444  pledges
5659  bride
5660  bridegroom
5679  dowry
5680  family
5702  husband
5710  marriage, customs
5740  virgin
5742  wedding
5744  wife
6236  sexual sin

Top of Page
Top of Page

Topical Bible

Bible Hub