The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – Introduction

The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – Introduction

The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – Introduction.

“The Jewish wedding is a unique illustration of the Messiah’s relationship with His followers.”  (Dr. David Stern, Professor of Messianic Judaism, translator of the Complete Jewish Study Bible).

According to Dr. Stern, the esteemed writer, professor, and interpreter of the New Testament from the Messianic perspective, he states that there were three phases to the traditional Jewish wedding that took more than a year to complete, culminating in the actual wedding ceremony. This wedding process during biblical times sheds much light on the nature of our call to Christian discipleship. All Christians can learn much from the process of the Jewish wedding.

Phase #1 = Match-Making. This is called “shiddukhin,” and refers to the selection of the bride. In biblical times the match-making was performed by someone designated for that role, many times by a trusted women in the community, and sometimes by the father of the groom. An example is found in Genesis 24, when Abraham selected his servant to make a match for his son Isaac. As in all biblical match-making, the people involved trusted that God would guide the search, that He would personally intervene in the choice. Stern maintains that this phase is a picture of believers in Jesus having been chosen as Messiah’s bride. “Even before the creation of the universe, God loved us and chose us in the Messiah to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” (Ephesians 1:4). In His love, the Father of the Groom desires that all be chosen as a member of the Bride, the Church, the Body of believers. Unfortunately, many choose not to be chosen. In His omniscience, God knew who would be chosen before the world was even made. Nonetheless, “He wants all humanity to be delivered and come to a full knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Phase #2 = Betrothal. This is called “eyrusin” in Hebrew, and is a formal one-year period of engagement in which they commit themselves to a future marriage. The agreement is binding and requires a religious divorce (a “get“) in order to nullify the betrothal. The betrothed couple are not to live together during this time. It seems clear that when Jesus lived, died, was resurrected, and succeeded in redeeming His believers, He in effect had initiated the betrothal phase in this spiritual wedding process. Our betrothal with the Groom is a formal relationship of committed love that anticipates our marriage in the New Jerusalem. Traditionallly, only the husband has the option of a “get.” Stern says that this aspect reflected the fact that Messiah’s believers are secure in their relationship with the Groom. The betrothal covenant between Jesus and the believer cannot be broken by the Groom, because He has promised to be eternally committed to the relationship. As Jesus says “I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never perish, and no one will ever snatch them from my hands.‘ (John 10:28). The primary responsibility of the groom during betrothal is to prepare the couple’s future house. Following along with that Jewish expectation, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many places to live. I am going and preparing a place for you; I will return to take you with me, so that where I am, you may also be.” (John 14:1-3). Christians remain in the betrothal phase  in our relationship with Christ, waiting for the final ceremony at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-8). This feast will be the ceremony in which Jesus Messiah marries His Bride, consummating His marriage with the believers. And then Jesus will take His Bride home to live with Him forever.

Phase #3 = The Wedding Ceremony. Known as the “nissuin,” the betrothal has been completed and the groom comes for the bride. Everything is made ready and the bride eagerly waits for his arrival. The groom is not to know the hour or day of the wedding, for the groom’s father must first decide and then give the command. The return of the Messiah seems to follow right along with that tradition, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows.” (Mark 13:32). At the father’s chosen time, the groom would lead a procession through the streets of the village to the bride’s house, the shofar would loudly sound, and everyone along the way would typically shout “the bridegroom comes!” At the ceremony, held under a canopy and with much candlelight, the groom must first officially lift the veil of the bride and lovingly look at the bride. This was a wedding tradition in memory of the time Jacob was fooled into marrying the wrong woman, and it appears he didn’t bother to lift the veil (Gen. 29). At the Wedding Feast in heaven, we are going to see Jesus face-to-face, and there will be no question of our identity. The father of the groom is host to a jubilant celebration after the ceremony with a huge feast with dancing, singing, and much merriment. Also kept in mind was that the wedding ceremony is a wonderful reminder of the wedding covenant between the Lord and the Chosen People on Mt. Sinai in the wilderness. This was known historically as the ketubah. The traditional wedding celebration is described well in Revelation 19:6-9, which will be the final wedding ceremony of all time. “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reins! Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said ‘Write this down: Blessed are those who are invited to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!” 

[This article is indebted to the research of Dr. David H. Stern, as written in The Complete Jewish Study Bible, in the section of Revelation 19. This introduction couldn’t have been written without his research.]