Several years ago when I began to study Torah from a Messianic Jewish perspective, I heard someone give a sermon from a portion of Deuteronomy. The speaker said this Torah portion contained the marriage agreement between God and Israel.
My first thought was “what is he talking about?” Instead of outright rejecting this idea or getting hostile about it, I decided to explore this idea some more and eventually I accepted this concept as truth considering the fact that God’s people accepted the terms of His relationship with them—the Ten Commandments.
Earlier this year, I decided to see if I could find the pattern of the Jewish wedding tradition in the Torah and was intrigued by what I found.
Quite some time ago I wrote about the historical Jewish wedding tradition. I challenged you to compare it to the original marriage covenant God made with His people on Mount Sinai. Did you give it a try?
Let’s see how we compare:
1. Traditionally the Jewish father chose the bride and sent a friend or servant to come to terms with her parents.
- In Deuteronomy 4:37, Moses explained to the second generation in the wilderness, “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power.” God used Moses to bring God’s chosen people to Himself.
2. A written marriage contract called a ketubah was drawn up complete with promises of support for the bride and expectations for the bride. A bride’s price (mohar) was agreed upon.
- God gave Moses the ketubah — the Ten Commandments, rulings, and promises for His people in Exodus 20-23 and the blessings and curses in Leviticus 26. Exodus 24:5-8 says, “Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” The blood of these sacrifices was a shadow of the bride price of the new marriage covenant.
- In Exodus 29:20-21, God commanded Moses concerning the consecration of Aaron and his sons for the inauguration of the ministry of the priesthood, “Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar.” This was an even clearer shadow of the bride price of the new marriage covenant.
3. If the bride agreed to the covenant, the bridegroom would pour a glass of wine and if she drank it, it meant she had accepted his proposal of her own free will.
- The mixed multitude that came out of Egypt agreed to the terms of the marriage covenant by saying, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up the mountain, saw God, and ate and drank. (Exodus 24:3, 9-11)
4. At this point a groom and bride were considered legally married but did not have sexual relations. They continued to live separately. Gifts were given to the bride.
- Exodus 24:12 indicates that Moses was to come up the mountain to receive the stone tablets with the law and commandments on them.
- It wasn’t until around the 24th of Iyar in the second year the children were in the wilderness, God took some of His Spirit from Moses and gave it to 70 elders chosen by Moses (Numbers 11:16-29).
5. Prior to the betrothal, the bride and groom commonly performed a ritual immersion symbolic of ritual cleansing.
- Recall that in Exodus 19:14-15, the people were sanctified and washed their clothes and had to remain clean by not coming near their wives.
6. The groom promised to prepare a place (bridal chamber) for his bride and to come back and get his bride after the bridal chamber met the father’s approval.
- In Exodus 24:13-14 as Moses and Joshua were approaching the mountain of God, Moses asked the elders to wait for them until they came back to them. Moses received the plans for the Tabernacle and its furnishings from God. These plans were given according to the pattern of what was in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). Moses is a type of Jesus.
7. The bride waited for the groom to return.
- Exodus 24:16-18 says, “Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” While Moses was gone, the people waited for him to return. Again we see that Moses is a type of Jesus.
8. The groom came like a thief in the night preceded by his friends who blew shofars (horns of kosher animals) to announce his coming. (Matt 25:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
- Exodus 32:1 relates what had been happening in Moses’ absence: “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”” Exodus 32:15-18 continues: “And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. 16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said: “It is not the noise of the shout of victory, Nor the noise of the cry of defeat, But the sound of singing I hear.” The people had decided that Moses wasn’t coming back and had been having a celebration with the golden calf they had made. Although the blowing of the shofar [teruah] is not exactly shouting [rea], the root of both words are the same [rua]. They weren’t expecting Moses and Joshua who are both types of Jesus–Moses of Jesus’ first coming and Joshua of His second coming.
- Exodus 32:19-21 describes a strange cup the children of Israel had to drink: “So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.” I have often wondered why Moses made them drink water mixed with gold powder. The only reason I can come up with is because it was part of the pattern of the Jewish marriage custom.
10. The bride and groom entered the bridal chamber and consummated the marriage. The groom then notified the best man that the wedding had been consummated. The blood stained sheet was presented indicating the bride’s purity and the blood covenant. The guests then celebrated seven days after which the marriage supper began.
- After the sin of the golden calf, Moses received grace from the Lord, the covenant was renewed, and new tablets were made. After the Tabernacle and its furnishings were built and erected, Aaron and his sons were consecrated, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. The command to consecrate Aaron and his sons was given in Exodus 29 but the description of it actually being carried out is in Leviticus 8 and 9. This consecration ceremony shows us the time of the actual consummation of the original marriage covenant. Aaron and his sons were not allowed to leave the tent of meeting but to stay at its door for a seven day period. The consecration ceremony was performed according to God’s commandments.
- Leviticus 9:22-24 tells us what happened on the eighth day, “Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Aaron, his sons, and their families were supposed to eat their appropriate priestly portions but didn’t because of the death of Nadab and Abihu.
This is probably not what you expected but a pattern does exist here.
Do you know how Jesus fulfills these wedding traditions for the New Covenant?
Come back next time to see how your assessment compares to mine.