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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

A Marriage Proposal

Valentines Day a day of love and romance, telling those who are special in our lives that we love them.

I had a request for a farm update and I had it all written then God did the change of plan thing and this is it. So next week I will chat about Isaac – the rooster, and the farm.

A Marriage Proposal:

I bet you never considered the Bible as the romance book. It really is.

God is very romantic and I know that is probably not the first words that come to you when you think about Him. I hope this blog changes that.

Why should we even know what a Jewish marriage proposal entails? Because Jesus was Jewish and it was important to Him, He mentioned it fairly often.

Jewish people follow tradition and the plans outlined by Yahweh (God Almighty).

The thing is, that in present time, traditions have been changed and customs have been altered depending on who “interpreted” the customs. In the Jewish times, they had Holy Scriptures but if they did not “understand” what was said, they went to their “Rabbi.” The Rabbis, who were many, and over different locations, then did the interpretations based on their filter, their view. This is why we have many different forms of Jewish people.

It is the same with our mainstream churches – Priests were the ones we went to for interpretations about the Holy Scriptures and depending on how it is interpretated is why we have so many different denominations today. I cannot say this is the “way” it is in every Jewish culture, but this is how it was understood to be in Biblical times.

The Proposal – in traditional Jewish culture, meaning “way back”, the proposal was a contract usually made between a girl’s father or family and the bridegroom – it was solicited by the grooms’ parents. Often a marriage was a “business” proposal, done to better the family’s income, status or combine businesses. Very rarely did a marriage proposal have to do with love, except in God’s case.

The Jewish groom would go to the Jewish brides’ home and made the contract with the father and the girl he was choosing to marry. (sometimes the girl got a say, sometimes not). Payment or a dowry was given from the groom to the bride’s family. The girl was asked if she accepted the proposal and the girl was given a form of jewelry or something valuable. Upon agreement, the groom would then return home and start preparing a place where he and his bride would live after the actual marriage ceremony.

Fathers were very concerned when their sons married because they had to have a payment for the brides’ family, this was often a large “something”. It could have been money, property, business, animals and as we read in the Bible – Isaac contracted to work (labor) for his bride for 7 years. Sometimes presents of value were given to the bride’s father and mother.

Once this contract or agreement, known as a betrothal, was made, the groom or father would return home, leaving the girl at her home until a marriage ceremony was performed. The girl got ready to leave, she prepared for an upcoming departure, this could be up to a year wait, she never knew when the groom was coming back, but she knew he was. A betrothal was considered a “marriage”, the couple were considered “married” legally at this point even though they had not been together yet. In some cases, the groom and bride had not even met yet. In order for this agreement to not be honored an actual “divorce” would have had to be applied for, by the groom. The couple belonged to each other.

The groom would go back home and prepare a space for his bride. It could be an area in his family’s home or he might make a new or separate home for his bride. He spent his waiting time, getting ready for the bride’s arrival. If the couple was to remain in the family home, then the bride would be expected to take over duties in the home of her in-laws. The new bride is adopted into the Fathers home.

At the right time, the groom would leave his home and again travel to the bride to go and get her and bring her back to where they will live. At this point there was a ceremony, what we would call the “wedding” where the bride and groom in front of their family and friends pledged their vows to each other, under a canopy. The canopy or “chuppah”, was a representation of the new home a couple was establishing, a symbol of two lives becoming one. It also represented the sheltering presence of God and the wish for God’s blessing over the couple. Other sources state that the canopy is based on the book of Ruth in the Bible where she requested that Boaz (her future husband) to “spread his robe over her.”

A Rabbi would say blessings over a glass of wine and the couple would then drink from the glass. This glass was smashed in a cloth by the groom to symbolize the destruction of the tabernacle and to remind the couple how fragile relationships can be. This is followed by the groom giving the bride an object of value, usually a ring. A celebration then started – a wedding feast. The bride and groom were at some point removed to a private area and they remained “sequestered” for the remainder of the feast, with family catering to their needs but the family continuing on with the “party.”

After the wedding feast, the bride moved to the groom’s home to begin their life together.

Today is Valentines Day, the day of love and romance. What better way to celebrate than to remember the marriage proposal that we each have been given. Jesus talked often about His bride. The Old Testament is filled with descriptions of the Jewish people being the bride of God. Remember Jesus was Jewish. Together the bride of Christ is made up of Jewish people and Christian people, God has been trying to woo all the world since the beginning of time. His love is for you, His people.

Let’s compare a couple of things:

The father of the groom or the groom Himself would go to the brides home and make the initial agreement, the offer of marriage. God Himself showed up many times in the Old Testament, offering His covenant, His promise to the Jewish people: If You Will …. Then I Will…… a promise, an offer.

Hosea 2:16-20 talks about God’s betrothal (engagement) to His people.

The groom leaves His home and travels to the bride’s home. Jesus, the groom left heaven to come to earth. The groom coming to earth, the home of His bride.

The groom goes to the bride and offers to marry her. If she says “yes,”  the groom gives a gift of value to the bride. Jesus gave the ultimate gift of value – His life as a sacrifice to His bride, to pay for her in full. Have you given your “yes” to Jesus?

The marriage contract was binding, it could not be annulled unless the groom gave the bride a certificate of divorce. The bride cannot annul it, but if her family was kind, she can at the beginning say “no” to the offer. Jesus is offering Himself to you and He is waiting for your answer.

Jesus drank from the glass of wine at the last supper and offered it to His disciples, there was another glass of wine Jesus did not drink at the ceremony – He said He would not drink this cup again until…. At the marriage ceremony, in God’s Kingdom.

Jesus assures us that He is coming back and will take us to be with Him. The same preparation as the groom coming for His bride.

If we examine many of Jesus words in light of this marriage proposal – they line up with this process.

These are terms of endearment that God calls us, great lover words.

Chosen: Colossians 3:12

Beloved: Ephesians 1:6, Romans 1:7, Song of Solomon 6:1-3

Adopted: Romans 8:15 "From God we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba Father'". We are adopted into the house of the Father.

“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 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 14:1-4  This is the same process as the marriage covenant. The groom goes back to His home to prepare a place for His bride.

“I tell you, I will not drink form this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”  Matt 26:29

“So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”  Matt 19:6

“The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Matthew 22:2

“This cup is a new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.” Luke 22:20, Matt 26:28 – this statement alone is a marriage proposal Jesus made to His disciples.

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Rev. 19:7-9

Even the Apostle Paul writes: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” 2 Corinthians 11:2

In Genesis God starts the earth’s history with Adam who is not good alone, so God makes a helper from Adams rib bone and fashions a woman. The 2 are literally joined together by God, the romantic. The end of the Bible is the wedding feast with Jesus and His bride (the church). God’s story starts with a marriage and ends with a marriage. The Old Testament and the New are filled with promises, and parellels to the Jewish traditional marriage.

The Song of Solomon is an intimate look at what a marriage should be. God wrote the book, He knows romance.

What does this marriage proposal to you require? It requires your “yes” to His marriage proposal. He has pursued you. He has come to His bride to make the offer of marriage.

He has given us His most precious gift, Himself. He has gone away to prepare a place for us in the home of His Father.  He assures us He will come back and take us to be with Him. Each and every step is here in the Jewish Marriage Proposal, the only thing He is waiting for is your answer……….



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