5710 marriage, customs concerning
Dictionary of Bible Themes

Dictionary of Bible Themes  »  5000 Humanity  »  5650 Human relationships  »  5708 marriage  »  5710 marriage, customs concerning

Marriage between two individuals united their families and involved the whole community. Parents, particularly fathers, took an active part in selecting partners for their children. There was often a long period of betrothal; wedding celebrations were usually elaborate and might last a week or more.

The choice of a marriage partner

Parents usually chose a suitable partner

Genesis 38:6 See also Genesis 24:2-4; Genesis 21:21 Occasionally mothers made the wedding arrangements.

The wishes of the couple

Genesis 24:57-58 Rebekah is consulted about her proposed marriage to Isaac. See also Genesis 34:4,8-9; Judges 14:2; 1 Samuel 18:20

The bride-price

Daughters were “given” by their fathers

Genesis 29:28; Exodus 2:21; 1 Samuel 18:21

Fathers often received payment

Genesis 29:18; Genesis 34:12 See also Genesis 29:30; Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:28-29; 1 Samuel 18:17,27

Daughters were given as a reward

Judges 1:12-13 pp Joshua 15:16-17 See also 1 Samuel 18:25

The exchange of wedding gifts

Gifts from the bridegroom's family

Genesis 24:53

Gifts from the bride's father

Servants given to the bride as a dowry:

Genesis 24:59; Genesis 29:24,29

Cities and land given as a dowry:

Judges 1:14-15 pp Joshua 15:18-19; 1 Kings 9:16

The period of betrothal

Betrothal followed payment of the bride-price

2 Samuel 3:14 See also Genesis 29:19-20 Jacob worked for Laban during his period of betrothal to Rachel.

A betrothed couple were regarded as husband and wife

Genesis 19:14; Deuteronomy 22:23-24 Unfaithfulness during the period of betrothal is treated as adultery; Matthew 1:18-20 Divorce is required to break a betrothal.

Sexual relationships took place only after the wedding

Genesis 29:21

Betrothed women were referred to as virgins:

Joel 1:8; Luke 1:27 Matthew 1:25; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38

Soldiers and marriage

Deuteronomy 20:7 Engaged soldiers were to marry before going into battle; Deuteronomy 24:5 Recently married soldiers were exempted from military service for a year.

The wedding celebrations

The bride wore an elaborate dress and jewellery

Ezekiel 16:9-13 An allegorical description of God dressing Jerusalem as a bride. See also Psalm 45:13; Isaiah 61:10; Jeremiah 2:32; Revelation 21:2

Attendants on the bride and groom

Psalm 45:14; John 3:29 See also Judges 14:11,20; Matthew 9:15 pp Mark 2:19 pp Luke 5:34; Matthew 25:1-10

The wedding banquet

Genesis 29:22; Judges 14:10; Matthew 22:2; Revelation 19:9

Wedding festivities

Psalm 78:63; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 33:11

The invitation to a wedding

Matthew 22:3-4 Invited guests were called when the feast was ready.

It was an insult to the host to refuse to attend:

Matthew 22:5-7; Luke 14:18-21 Matthew 22:11-12 Guests were expected to dress appropriately.

See also

4410  banquets
5654  betrothal
5659  bride
5660  bridegroom
5679  dowry
5684  fathers
5731  parents
5742  wedding

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