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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Prophetic Mysteries of the Ancient Hebrew Wedding (Part 3)

Updated: Jan 27


Prophetic Mysteries of the Ancient Hebrew Wedding (Pt. 3)

In our "Part 1" and "Part 2" of this article series, we began to examine the typological treasures hidden in the wedding rituals of the ancient Hebrews, which God instituted. It is astonishing to recognize that everything that God has said about His marriage to His bride, the Church, was anticipated thousands of years earlier in the institution of these customs. That fact is a profound piece of evidence that the author of the Bible is not bound to the constraints of time as we are. Rather, it is profound proof of His reality, and demonstrates His origin to be from outside of time.


The Hebrew wedding involved a number of important rituals typologically correlating with the marriage of Christ and the Church. We are investigating seventeen of them in these articles. While these are not necessarily in strict order, they do follow the general process of the ancient Hebrew wedding. Let’s continue our examination of these astonishing parallels.


9.) Mkudeshet – The Betrothed Bride


After the marriage covenant was established, the bridegroom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for a period of time. A typical betrothal period would last about twelve months, but could be up to two years. [1] [2]


Interestingly, scripture compares a thousand years to one day to help convey God’s perception of time. We have been without our Bridegroom for almost two thousand years (since 33 AD). Notice how the following passage tells us that to God, a thousand years is like a day, and notice the context – His return. Also, notice how the Church – the bride – is addressed as “beloved.”


And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. -2 Peter 3:4-8

This period of separation would allow the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life. [3] During this time, she prepared herself for the marriage. She likely had saved up money all her life for this time. She would purchase expensive perfumes, cosmetics, and clothing and keep herself well prepared should the bridegroom return. Because she did not know exactly when he would return, she had to be in a state of constant preparation and readiness!


During this betrothal period while she awaited his return, she is referred to as a mkudeshet – one who is betrothed, sanctified, and dedicated to another. [4] This is how we, the Church and bride of Christ are supposed to await our Bridegroom’s return. Paul talks about our betrothal separation period in the following passage.


For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. -2 Corinthians 11:2

Key Parallel:


  • The ancient Hebrew brides would await the return of their bridegrooms over a betrothal period of about one to two years. The bride was separated and dedicated to her bridegroom throughout this period. During this time, they would make all preparations for the inexact time of his return and be ready to leave with him when he arrived.

  • As Christ’s bride, the Church has endured nearly two thousand years awaiting her Bridegroom. During this time, she is told to stay separated and dedicated to Christ only, and eagerly await His return. Now is our time to make the necessary preparations, as we will have to be ready to depart with Him immediately at the Rapture – the catching away of the Church. Since we don’t know exactly when this will occur, we must remain ready at all times!


10.) Cheder – The Bride Chamber


Concerning the pre-wedding preparations made by the bridegroom, much would need to be completed before it would be time to receive his bride. Once back at his father’s house, he would begin the task of the construction of the cheder – the bride chamber, typically as a room added onto his father’s house. The bridegroom would normally leave the bride by promising that he was going back to his father’s house to prepare a place for her, and that he would then return to receive her at an inexact time in the future (typically about one to two years). [5]


The construction is examined and approved only by the father. When the father was satisfied with the construction, he would give his son permission to go and receive his bride. Therefore, the timing of the bridegroom’s return was inexact and unknown, especially to the bride. She would just have to be ready on an ongoing basis.


In like manner, Jesus, before His crucifixion, made the promise of a bridegroom to His disciples who would soon become the foundation of His future Church. He had been warning the disciples of His coming departure and death, and gave them a comforting promise.


Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. -John 14:1-3

This was Jesus’ first promise of what the disciples would later learn to recognize as what we call the Rapture, and He presented it using the phraseology of a Bridegroom. The word “mansion” here in Greek refers to a lodging, a dwelling-place, or a room (mone – Strong’s # G3438). [6] Concerning the timing of His return, just as any Jewish bride, the Church does not know the exact time. His return is simply imminent, and we must maintain constant readiness.


So, Jesus, as a Bridegroom, is promising His bride that He will prepare a room (or bride chamber) in His Father’s house, for us to consummate the marriage with Him. And we must remain ready for the unknown hour of his return!


Key Parallel:


  • Once the bridegroom returned back to his father’s house, the construction of the bride chamber would be initiated. This room would typically be added onto the father’s house. The bridegroom would have left his future bride by promising that he was going to prepare the bride chamber for her and would be back to receive her at the appointed time.

  • Jesus, in like manner, declared His intention to make this very preparation during our long betrothal period while we, His bride, await His return to receive us. He promised that He would return to receive us at the appointed time.


11.) Mikvah – Baptism


The bride would also be required to partake in a cleansing bath (mikvah). Mikvah is in effect, the Hebrew word used for baptism, referring to a reservoir of water. To this day, a conservative Jewish bride cannot marry without a mikvah. [7] This ritual purification 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.


In like manner, Jesus commanded us to be baptized both in the physical sense, by immersion in water in His name, but also promised a Comforter that would come. He let us know that this Comforter was His very own Spirit called the Holy Ghost, which the believer would become spiritually “baptized” into.


Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. -Acts 2:38
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he [Jesus] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: -Luke 3:16

Although there are many other passages that discuss both Spirit and water baptism, we recognize that the two above verses are representative of the New Testament commands regarding baptism. Jesus spoke of a new birth experience that incorporated elements of both Spirit and water baptism (John 3).


Jesus, through the writings of the Apostle Paul, declares the following saying, concerning His bride.


Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, -Ephesians 5:25-26

Key Parallel:


  • The ancient Hebrew brides, as well as many modern Jewish brides, were required to cleanse themselves in a purifying ritual mikvah prior to the wedding.

  • Jesus commanded His bride, the Church, to be cleansed in the waters of baptism, but also to be baptized with the Holy Ghost.


12.) Shoshvinin – The Wedding Procession


One of the important preparations for the wedding is choosing the members of the wedding procession or party (shoshvinin). The wedding party would include the best man, the maid or matron of honor, the ushers or male attendants, and the bridesmaids or female virgin attendants. In ancient times, an individual member of the wedding party was known as a shoshvin. [8] [9] In addition to the wedding party, there would also typically be a large number of guests that would attend. The guests could include members of the family and those in the community.


Scripture gives us some indication as to the identity of at least one of the shoshvinin in the heavenly marriage between Christ and the church. John the Baptist, one of the last Old Testament Jewish saints, identified himself as the “friend of the Bridegroom” (John 3:29), or in modern terms, the “best man.”


He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. -John 3:29

In other words, John the Baptist does not claim to be part of the bride. We understand this further by Jesus’ statement in Matthew 11:11.


Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. -Matthew 11:11

So, Jesus made it clear that there was coming a group, of which John was not a part, of whom even the least would be greater. We understand later that this is due to the Holy Spirit endowment in each member of the Church. Jesus therefore, makes a clear distinction between Old Testament saints and the Church. John was one of the last Old Testament saints, and was not a part of the Church. Instead, John (knowing this) identified himself as the “best man.”


What about the wedding guests? To speculate on who they might be, we must ask the question, “who else will be in heaven that is not part of the bride?” The most likely candidate group is the Old Testament saints. The souls of the Old Testament saints (though yet unresurrected) will be in heaven. [10]


So, it is possible that the wedding guests may be the souls of the Old Testament saints. They are the friends of the Bridegroom, who are likely also among the ones invited as guests to the later marriage supper upon receiving their resurrection bodies (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 8:11).


Key Parallel:


  • In ancient times, any typical wedding party would have a best man, as well as a number of male and female attendants for the bridegroom and bride. There would be a large number of guests from the families and surrounding community who would attend and celebrate the wedding.

  • Scripture describes John the Baptist – one of the last Old Testament saints – as the “best man.” We can then make an educated guess as to the identity of the other wedding guests. Jesus called John the greatest man of the Old Testament period, and therefore it makes sense why he is the “best man.” So then if he were the greatest of the Old Testament saints, it would make sense that the souls of the other Old Testament saints would be the wedding guests.


13.) Nesuin – The Taking of the Bride


When the marriage chamber was ready, the father inspected it, and if it was suitable, he would tell his son the bridegroom that he could go receive his bride! This was typically done by a procession consisting of the bridegroom in festive attire and accompanied by his male escorts, called minyan – Strong’s # H4510 (Judges 14:11, Jeremiah 7:34). [11] The bridegroom and his procession would often approach at night, conducting a torch-lit procession to the home of the bride. [12]


Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming. To maintain her readiness, she may keep an oil lamp lit through the night. As the procession approached the home of the bride, at a distance, a shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet) would be blown, and there would be shouts to alert the bride that “the bridegroom cometh!” [13] [14]


She would be prepared and ready, and would use these last moments to gather her belongings and be ready to immediately leave with her bridegroom. We see something similar in Song of Solomon.


My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. -Song of Solomon 2:10

The arrival of the groom at the bride’s house signaled his intention of “taking her to wife.” This act of “taking” or in a sense romantically abducting the bride was referred to as nesuin, which literally means “taking.” [15] And that’s the romantic part – all Hebrew brides were “stolen.” The Jews had a special understanding of a woman’s heart. What a thrill for her, to be “abducted” and carried off into the night, not by a stranger, but by one who loved her so much that he had paid a high price and made great preparation for her!


The bride is escorted by procession back to the bridegroom’s father’s house in a bridal litter or palanquin called an aperion in Hebrew (Strong’s # H668). This aperion is mentioned in Song of Solomon 3:9-10.


King Solomon has made for himself a palanquin [aperion] From the (cedar) wood of Lebanon. He made its posts of silver, Its back of gold, Its seat of purple cloth, The interior lovingly and intricately wrought By the daughters of Jerusalem. -Song of Solomon 3:9-10 (AMP)

After the groom and his wedding procession received his bride together with her female attendants (virgin bridesmaids – Psalm 45:13-15; Matthew 25:1-13), the enlarged wedding party would then return from the bride’s home back to the groom’s father’s house (Genesis 24:67). [16]


Just as the bridegroom would come for the bride at any time, often at night, and with a shout and sound of the shofar, in like manner, the Lord will return as a Bridegroom for the Church. And just as the taking of the bride was accomplished by a procession of the groom and male escorts from the groom’s father’s house to the home of the bride, so the taking of the Church will be accomplished by the Bridegroom, Christ, along with a procession of angels from the “Father’s house” in heaven. Paul talks about this nesuin or “taking of the Church” in 1 Thessalonians.


For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. -1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Let’s also recall the “Bridegroom’s promise” of Jesus in John 14.


And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. -John 14:3

Key Parallel:


  • At the time appointed by the bridegroom’s father, a procession would be conducted to go and abduct the bride! Often, this would be done at night, by the light of torches. The bridegroom, flanked by his attendants, would approach the bride’s home. As he drew near, shofars would be sounded, and they would shout to alert her that he was coming! Upon arrival, the bride would be taken by the procession, lifted up and placed in a bridal litter, and brought back to the bridegroom’s father’s house amidst great rejoicing.

  • At the time appointed of the Father, Jesus – our Bridegroom – will appear at a time unknown to us (maybe at midnight) with a shout, a trumpet, and a procession of angels to lift us up and “rapture” us out of this world and bring us back to His Father’s house for the wedding ceremony!


 

[1] Avi Ben Mordechai, Signs in the Heavens, Millennium 7000 Communications, Int’l, 1996, p. 270.

[2] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isaac Landman, New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Co. Inc., 1948, p. 372.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Judaism 101, entry “Marriage,” JewFAQ.org. (http://www.jewfaq.org/marriage.htm - Retrieved 5/28/18)

[5] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 372.

[6] “G3438 - monē - Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV),” Blue Letter Bible. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g3438 - Retrieved 5/11/18)

[7] “Mikveh Before the Wedding,” My Jewish Learning. (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mikveh-a-spiritual-preparation-for-marriage/ - Retrieved 4/18/18)

[8] Aryeh Kaplan, Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, Brooklyn, NY: Moznaim Pub., 1983, p. 62.

[9] 1 Maccabees 9:37-39, (GNT), Bible Gateway. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Maccabees+9&version=GNT - Retrieved 4/20/18)

[10] Tony Garland, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, “20.5.1. Order of Resurrection,” Bible Study Tools. (https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/revelation-20/order-of-resurrection.html - Retrieved 5/4/18)

[12] The Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. III, ed. James Orr, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957, p. 1998.

[13] Richard Booker, Here Comes The Bride: Jewish Wedding Customs And The Messiah, Houston, TX: Sounds of the Trumpet, 1995, p. 9.

[14] Avi Ben Mordechai, Signs in the Heavens, Millennium 7000 Communications, Int’l, 1996, p. 277.

[15] Moses Mielziner, The Jewish Law of Marriage and Divorce in Ancient And Modern Times, Cincinnati, OH: Bloch, 1884, p. 83.

[16] Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997, p. 34.

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