From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 1:29 PM
Since June is the month of weddings for communities around the world,
there is no better time to reflect on the much anticipated gathering of the
bride (kallah) and the wedding of the Lamb!
“For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.
… Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
(Revelation 19:7, 9)
While the exchange of covenant vows between a man and woman who
love each other is a blessing in any culture, there are aspects of the Jewish
wedding celebration that are rich in spiritual truth.
This ancient ritual prophetically points to the coming of the Messiah and the
great celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb, and also teaches us
unique lessons about God’s covenant love for His people.
One would be hard pressed to find an occasion more joyous than that of
a Jewish wedding. In Hebrew, it’s called a simcha (a joyous occasion).
“Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted,
inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the
sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom.”
An Orthodox Jewish wedding in Jerusalem: Traditionally, the chatan
(groom) first wears the kittel (white linen garment), which signifies purity,
holiness and new beginnings, on the day of his wedding. Thereafter,
he wears it on special occasions such as Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s), Yom
Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Pesach (Passover).
Since Yeshua (Jesus) used the model of the ancient Jewish marriage
ceremony to refer to His future second coming, to recognize exactly what
He was talking about, it’s helpful to understand the nature of marriage during
His earthly ministry in Israel.
There are three distinct parts to the ancient Jewish wedding:
- shiddukhin (mutual commitment),
- eyrusin (engagement), and
- nissuin (marriage).
Shiddukhin: a Time of Mutual Commitment
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a
helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
Shiddukhin refers to the preliminary arrangements prior to the legal betrothal.
Signing the ketubah (marriage contract): in ancient times, the ketubah
protected the rights of the wife by specifying the grooms responsibilities in
caring for her, and the amount of support that would be due her in the event
of a divorce.
In ancient times, the father of the groom often selected a bride (kallah) for
his son, as did Abraham for his son Isaac (Genesis 24:1-4).
In Ultra-Orthodox Judaism today, many marriages are still arranged by a
marriage broker or matchmaker called a shadkhan. It’s considered an exalted
and holy vocation to find and arrange a good marital match, called a shiddukh,
between a man and woman.
In ancient times, marriage was looked upon as more of an alliance for reasons
of survival or practicality, and the concept of romantic love remained a
secondary issue, if considered at all. Romantic love grew over time.
Rebecca at the Well, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini
Of course, the consent of the bride-to-be is an important consideration.
Rebekkah (Rivkah), for example, was asked if she consented to go back with
Eliezer to marry Isaac, the son, and she went willingly (Genesis 24:57–58).
Likewise, we cannot be forced into a relationship with the Son, Yeshua (Jesus).
In the same way that Rebecca was asked if she would go with Abraham’s servant,
the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) asks us if we are willing to follow Him to
be joined in a covenant of love with Yeshua.
Traditionally, in preparation for the betrothal ceremony, the bride (kallah)
and groom (chatan) are separately immersed in water in a ritual called the
mikvah, which is symbolic of spiritual cleansing.
In Matthew 3: 13–17, we read that Yeshua has already been immersed (baptized)
by Yochanan (John) in the waters of mikvah at the Jordan River.
As the Bride-to-be, we are also asked to be immersed.
“Whoever believes and is baptized [ritually
immersed] will be saved.”
A groom rejoices by dancing with his friends after immersing
himself in the mikvah. The water for this mikvah bath is outside
and fed by spring, from which the natural water runs down a
hill into the mikvah, just outside of Jerusalem.
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”
After the immersion, the couple would enter the huppah (marriage canopy)
–symbolic of a new household being planned, to establish a binding contract.
Here, the groom would give the bride money or a valuable object such as a
ring, and a cup of wine was customarily shared to seal their covenant vows.
In this public ceremony under the huppah, the couple entered into the
betrothal period, which typically lasted for about a year. Although they
were considered married, they did not live together or engage in sexual relations.
An outdoor Jewish wedding under a huppah in Vienna
To annul this contract, the couple would need a religious divorce (get), which
had to be initiated by the husband.
Matthew 1:18 –25 provides an excellent example of this.
During Yosef (Joseph) and Miriam’s (Mary) eyrusin, Yosef discovered that
Miriam was pregnant, and he considered divorcing her, although he had not
yet brought her home as his wife.
“…he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an
angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived
in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” (Matthew 1: 19–20)
During the eyrusin period, the groom was to prepare a place for his bride,
while the bride focused on her personal preparations – wedding garments,
Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not
know the exact day or hour. He could come earlier, and it was the father of
the groom who gave final approval for him to return to collect his bride.
For that reason, the bride kept her oil lamps ready at all times, just in case
the groom came in the night, sounding the shofar (ram’s horn) to lead the
bridal procession to the home he had prepared for her.
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, by William Blake
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1 –13), Yeshua (Jesus)
likened the Kingdom of Heaven to this special period of eyrusin, when the
groom comes for his bride:
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet
him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.” (Matthew 25: 6–7)
So too today, in the season of Yeshua’s end-time return, we should be careful
to remain alert and prepared for His coming, since Yeshua was speaking to
His disciples prophetically about the condition of the Church in the last days.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7: 21)
In Jewish weddings today, there are two cups of
wine during the wedding ceremony. After the rabbi
recites the betrothal blessings accompanying the
first, the couple drinks from the cup. Since wine is
associated with Kiddish, the prayer of sanctification
recited on Shabbat, and since marriage is the
sanctification of the bride and groom to each other,
marriage is also called kiddushin.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be
with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)
The final step in the Jewish wedding tradition is called nissuin (to take), a
word that comes from naso, which means to lift up.
At this time, the groom, with much noise, fanfare and romance, carried the
Once again, the bride and groom would enter the huppah, recite a blessing over
the wine (a symbol of joy), and finalize their vows.
Now finally, they would consummate their marriage and live together as
husband and wife, fully partaking of all the duties and privileges of the
covenant of marriage.
It is traditional in some Jewish communities for the
bride to circle the groom seven times and then stand to
the groom’s right side under the huppah. Since the
number seven biblically symbolizes completion and
perfection, this represents the wholeness and
completeness that they cannot attain separately.
Likewise, the Messiah, as the Bridegroom, has gone to prepare a place for us.
The day of the return of the Messiah for His Bride is soon approaching.
Although, we know approximately the time of His return from the signs of the
times, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (2 Peter 3:10)”
The Bride (Believers in Yeshua) should be living consecrated lives, keeping
themselves pure and holy in preparation for the Nissuin and the Wedding
Feast of the Lamb, when the Groom comes with the blast of the shofar
(1 Thessalonians 4: 16) to bring His Bride home.
A Jewish bride and groom take a walk beside the ocean together for the first
time as man and wife.
Traditional Jewish Marriages Today
“Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber [huppah].”
Today, in traditional Judaism, the eyrusin and the nissuin are combined
The bride and groom sign the marriage contract (ketubah) in the presence of
the rabbi and two witnesses before the ceremony.
Unlike a Christian wedding, where it’s generally taboo for the groom to see the
bride before the ceremony, in a Jewish wedding, the groom must see his bride
before the ceremony.
Jacob Meets Rachel at the Well, by William Dyce
Why? Remember the story of Laban, when he tricked Jacob into marrying his
eldest daughter, even though he loved Rachel?
And since Jacob didn’t ensure the identity of his bride, he ended up marrying
the woman he thought would be his sister-in-law, Leah.
Although in ancient times, the wedding feast (seudah) after the nissuin
might have included seven full days of food, music, dancing and celebrations
(Judges 14:10-12), today the Jewish ceremony is usually followed by a wedding
supper and reception with food, wine, music and dance!
However, Orthodox Jews do keep to the tradition of Sheva Brachot and
celebrate after the wedding for seven nights, with friends and family hosting
festive meals in honor of the bride and groom.
Jewish Wedding in Morocco, by Eugene Delacroix (Louvre Museum)
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first
earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City,
the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride
beautifully dressed for her husband.” (Revelation 21: 1–2)
When Messiah returns for us, and everything in the world today indicates
that this will be very soon, we will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb
with Him and our joy (simcha) will be beyond measure.
But there will be those who won’t share in our simcha or celebrate with us,
because they do not know Yeshua!
Bjoern, now is the time to reach out to the lost, while we are still in the
eyrusin period, before the Bridegroom comes.
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone
according to what he has done. … The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And
let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come.” (Revelation
22: 12, 17)
In these end times, please help us bring the Good News of Yeshua to Israel
and the world so that everyone has the opportunity to come to the Wedding Feast
of the Lamb. Time is Short!
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly
or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
“And God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
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