Exodus 21:1 “Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.” This is the beginning of what many refer to as “The Law” (insert the “bom ba bom bom bom” sound if you like)
The writer of Proverbs tell us “Whoso despiseth the word (also known as Torah, instructions or law) shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”
The rest of Exodus and all of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is the ‘shitre erusin’, or the wedding contract of YHWH. The ancient wedding ceremony YHWH gave to the Israelite people was to teach us about the wedding of the Messiah and consisted of 12 steps.
1. The selection of the bride. The bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom. The father would send his trusted servant, known as the agent of the father, to search out the bride. An excellent example of this can be seen in Genesis 24. Abraham wishes to secure a bride for Isaac and sends his servant Eliezer to do this task.
It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and lead them to YHWH (John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”). Just as the bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom, so the believers in the Messiah are chosen by YHWH (John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain”). The bridegroom chose the bride and lavished his love upon her and she returned his love.
This can be seen in Ephesians 5:25, as it is written, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself of it.”
In Genesis 24, Rebekah consented to marry Isaac even before she ever met him. Today, the believers in the Messiah Yeshua consent to become the bride of Messiah even though we have never seen Him. First Peter 1:8 speaks of this, as it is written, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
2. A bride price was established. A price would have to be paid for the bride. The agreed upon price was called a mohar in Hebrew. Yeshua, being our bridegroom, paid a very high price for His bride, the body of believers. The price He paid was His life. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says,”Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” In 1 Corinthians 6:20 it is written, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Our example is Passover.
3. The bride and groom are betrothed to each other. This is the first stage of marriage known as kiddushin, this is exampled for us in Shavuot. Betrothal legally binds the bride and the groom together in a marriage contract, except they do not physically live together. Historically, YHWH betrothed Himself to Israel at Mount Sinai (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:19-20). Whenever you accept the Messiah into your heart and life, you become betrothed to Him while living on the earth.
4. A written document is drawn up, this betrothal contract is called, in Hebrew, a shitre erusin or ketubah. The word ketubah means “that which is written.” The groom promised to work for her, to honor, support, and maintain her in truth, to provide food, clothing, and necessities, and to live together with her as husband and wife. The ketubah was the unalienable right of the bride. The ketubah must be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony. The Bible is the believer’s ketubah. All the promises that G-d provided for the believers in the Messiah are legally ours, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen….”
5. The bride must give her consent. the personal application (halacha) to those who desire the Messiah to come into their hearts and lives is to accept His invitation to do so by faith (emunah), as it is written in Romans 10:8-10: “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.”
6. Gifts were given to the bride and a cup called the cup of the covenant was shared between the bride and the groom. Matthew 26:39 “Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Isaiah 51:17 “Wake up! Wake up! Get up, O Jerusalem! You drank from the cup the Lord passed to you, which was full of his anger!” We know that YHWH is an all-consuming fire, as the Messiah consumed the cup of wrath, that wrath consumed our sin without the price of our soul, and sealed for us the covenant of Salvation. The rite of betrothal (erusin) is completed when the groom gives something of value to the bride and she accepts it.
7. The bride had a mikvah (water immersion), which is a ritual of cleansing. Mikvah is a ceremonial act of purification by the immersion in water. It indicates a separation from a former way to a new way. In the case of marriage, it indicates leaving an old life for a new life with your spouse. Immersing in the mikvah is considered spiritual rebirth.
8. The bridegroom departed, going back to his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber. At this point, the bridegroom leaves for his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber for his bride. It was understood to be the man’s duty to go away to be with his father, build a house, and prepare for the eventual wedding. Before he goes, though, he will make a statement to the bride. “I go to prepare a place for you; if I go, I will return again unto you.” This is the same statement Yeshua made in John 14:1-3.
9. Consecration of the Bride and the acceptance of the bridal chamber. The bride was to wait eagerly for the return of the bridegroom. In the mind of the bride, the bridegroom could come at any time, even in the middle of the night or at midnight. Therefore, she had to be ready at all times. Yeshua referred to this when he told the story of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.
Before the bridegroom could go and get the bride, the groom’s father had to be satisfied that every preparation had been made by the son. Only then could he give permission to the son to go and get the bride. In other words, while the bridegroom was working on the bridal chamber, it was the father who “okayed” the final bridal chamber. The bridegroom did not know when the father would declare the bridal chamber fit and send him to go get the bride.
10. The time of the return of the bridegroom could be at any time even midnight. When the bridegroom came, he came with a shout (Matthew 25:6) and with the blowing of the trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). The marriage will have a sacred procession. For this reason, the bridegroom will enter the chuppah (marriage canopy) first. When the bridegroom approaches the chuppah, the cantor chants, “Blessed is he who comes.”
Matthew 23:39 “For I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, until you say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
11. The bridegroom would return usually in the middle of the night to go to the bridal chamber where the marriage would be consummated. They will stay in that wedding chamber for seven days. At the end of the seven days, the bride and groom will come out from the wedding chamber. When the bride and the groom initially went into the wedding chamber, the friend of the bridegroom stood outside the door. All the assembled guests of the wedding gathered outside waiting on the friend of the bridegroom to announce the consummation of the marriage which was relayed to him by the groom. John 3:29 “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete.”
12. The Wedding Supper. This was an incredible feast started at the announcement of the consummated marriage. This too would last for several days, after which the bride and groom would go to their forever home. Isaiah 2:2 tells us where that home is, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow unto it.” Also we find in Hebrews 12:22 “But you are come unto the Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.” Lastly as a third witness we see Revelation 21:9-10 “Then one of the seven angels … saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!” So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”