Ancient Jewish Marriage Customs and Jesus and His Bride
In ancient Judaism betrothment is the first stage of the marital process. It is called “Ketubbah” (ka-tuba) which means formal courtship. The Ketubbah stage is initiated when a promise of marriage and money is made by the groom to the bride’s father and a marital contract is drawn up. The Ketubbah stage could last as long as 7 years depending on the amount of money the groom needed to raise and other contract stipulations. During the Ketubbah the bride is considered the wife of the groom but sex is forbidden and she does not live with him under his roof. If the groom discovered that his fiancé had lied about her virginity he could dissolve the Ketubbah contract quietly through a certificate of divorce. If the bride was caught in the act of adultery during the it she was usually killed.
The second stage of the marital process was called Chuppah (Coo-paah). After the groom raised the funds to pay her father he made arrangements to do it and then he set a date where they would consummate the marriage. When the consumption date arrived the groom would go to the bride’s home where she and her maidens were waiting. After he arrived he and his bride would enter the Chuppah Room to consummate their marriage. After they consummated the groom would present the virginity cloth to the chosen witnesses who would examine it and then save it for the bride. The third and final stage of the marital process begins when everyone present formed a line and followed the groom to his house where they would begin the Wedding Feast. For the first time, the bride is brought under the grooms roof to stay. His home is now her home. The Wedding Feast was a 7 day celebration in honor of the newlyweds and it featured food, desserts, and good wine.
Are there parallels between the OT wedding process and the marriage between the Lord Jesus and His church? Absolutely. Jesus is the groom who purchased His bride. He paid the Father with His blood. But His bride is not an untainted virgin but rather a body of sinners whom He lavishes with mercy and grace. Christians are in a type of betrothal or Ketubbah (ka-tube) with Jesus now. They are married to Him. They belong to Him. He is our betrothed. He is our bridegroom. Our Ketubbah with Him is called the New Covenant. When Jesus returns He will consummate the marriage. Not in a sexual way like between an earthly husband and wife but He will bring us to Himself. We will be brought under His roof or His kingdom forever. And once His kingdom is established there will be a Wedding Feast where we will celebrate in all joy and elation.