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Ancient Jewish Wedding

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Can you imagine a woman in modern Singapore, who is getting married soon, do not know the exact wedding day? And she leaves this decision to the father of the groom-to-be to make that decision! How unthinkable. Couples often make the decisions regarding the wedding itself, the HDB flat to apply, and date of the wedding. Let’s take a look at how wedding was planned during ancient Jewish times.

In ancient jewish practice, the couple was matched by the parents. This could be done way before they were of marriageable age. When they come of age, the bridegroom will approach the bride’s father and will work out a marriage covenant, called Ketuvah. Once it is agreed upon, the bride will be called in. The groom will get to meet the bride at this time. He will offer her a cup of wine. If she accepted the cup, and drink from it, they were officially betrothed. In the eyes of the Hebrew law, they were considered married and only a legal divorce could separate them.

However, they could not live together yet as husband and wife, and they normally do not get to see each other. The bridegroom will go back to his father’s house to prepare the wedding chamber, called Chuppah (pronounced Who-Pah), located usually within the house. The wedding was not announced ahead of time. The time interval between the betrothal and the wedding was usually about one year. Only the father knew the day in which the wedding would take place. It was the responsibility of the father to determine when the Chuppah is ready. He can even delay the wedding if family circumstances or health issues warrants it.  Once the father felt that everything is in order, he will say to his son, “the hour has come, go and get your bride.” The bridegroom will go to the bride’s house to bring her home.

Imagine the uncertainty and the anticipation of the bride faced during the one year or so. Yet she is not to remain idle during that time. She has to get ready, and start preparing her wedding dress and other appropriate clothing, and start collecting those items she would need to run the household once they live together.  Likewise, we are all called to be prepared for Christ’s return.  John 14:2,3 says “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.” The promise is clear. He will definitely come. Are we prepared?  He is preparing the place for us now. Let us not be so preoccupied with our present home that we have not made any preparation for our permanent lodging place when he comes. 

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