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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Prophetic Mysteries of the Ancient Hebrew Wedding (Part 4)

Updated: 6 days ago


Prophetic Mysteries of the Ancient Hebrew Wedding (Pt. 4)

In "Part 1", "Part 2", and "Part 3" 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.


14.) Kallah – The Bride


On the wedding day, the bridegroom – and especially the bride (kallah) – would be elaborately clothed. From ancient times, Jewish couples would be treated like royalty on this day. The bride and groom were both given bridal crowns to wear. [1]


Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart. -Song of Solomon 3:11

So, even from this ancient account in the Song of Solomon, we recognize that it was customary for the bride and groom to wear crowns on the day of their wedding.


The wedding day is the bride’s special day, and she is treated accordingly. It is also a very ancient custom for a Jewish bride to sit on a “throne” at her reception. [2] From ancient to modern times, every Jewish bride is bedecked like a queen. The Jewish Midrash speaks of twenty-four adornments mentioned in Isaiah 3:18-24 that were customary for the ancient Hebrew brides to be beautified with on their wedding day. [3] Everything was done to make the bride as lovely as possible for this special day.


I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. -Isaiah 61:10

The bridal imagery in the following excerpt from Ezekiel 16 is also indicative of the majestic preparation and adornment of the ancient Hebrew brides, describing the marriage between God and Israel.


Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. -Ezekiel 16:8-14

So, we understand that on her wedding day, an ancient Hebrew bride was treated like she was a queen at her coronation.


One of the most exciting of the wedding preparations for the bride is choosing her wedding dress. As in most modern cultures, the traditional color of the wedding gown for the ancient Hebrews has always been white, denoting purity from sin. [4] [5]


Concerning Christ and His bride the Church, we find the same bridal imagery described. We find that both Christ and the Church will be wearing crowns. The following passage from Revelation 14 describes the Bridegroom, Christ, coming out of the bridal chamber to visit judgment upon the earth – and He is wearing a crown.


And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. -Revelation 14:14

The Church is also promised a crown at this time.


Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. -2 Timothy 4:8
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. -1 Peter 5:4

We also find that like the ancient Hebrew couple on their wedding day, the description of the Church’s future is portrayed as being royal.


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; -1 Peter 2:9-10

The following passage tells us of the royal nature of the Bridegroom, Christ.


And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. -Revelation 19:16

So, the identity of the Bridegroom is that of the highest royalty conceivable. If the Church is His bride, then the Church is going to be the bride of the most royal and magnificent wedding that has ever taken place. The Church is marrying the pinnacle of royalty! Like the Hebrew brides, the Church will also sit on a throne.


To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. -Revelation 3:21

We also find that the bride, the Church, is given her white wedding dress.


Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. -Revelation 19:7-8

Key Parallel:


  • The ancient Hebrew couple being wed was treated like royalty on their wedding day. They sat on “thrones” at their reception. They were dressed in magnificent wedding apparel and were given crowns. The bride was bedecked in a beautiful white wedding gown.

  • The bride of Christ, the Church, is also royalty, as she will be married to the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” This will be a royal wedding of the highest magnitude! She will wear a crown, be seated on a throne, and have on a white wedding gown.


15.) Chuppah – Concealed in the Wedding Chamber


Upon their arrival at the father’s house, the bridegroom would take his bride to the wedding chamber (chuppah – Strong’s # H2646) in the cheder (Strong’s # H2315), or the room he had prepared (Psalm 19:5, Joel 2:16). [6] These terms chuppah and cheder may be used interchangeably, but for our purposes here, we will define chuppah as the wedding chamber in which the marriage would be consummated through physical union. The tradition of the chuppah is one that has changed and evolved significantly over time, but is still in use today in a modern form in contemporary Jewish weddings. Today, the tradition of the chuppah is represented by a canopy under which the bride and groom stand during the wedding ceremony (often in the form of a cloth upheld by four poles). [7] [8]


But in ancient times, it was in this chamber that the couple would spend seven days hidden away while the wedding celebration continued for that entire week (Judges 14:12). This is referred to as the “seven days of the chuppah.” [9] There, in the privacy of the chuppah, the bride and groom entered into physical union for the first time. The bridegroom’s best man would wait outside the door of the wedding chamber. When the marriage was consummated through their intimate union, the bridegroom would tell the best man through the door, and he would go and announce it to the assembled guests.


Now you understand John the Baptist in John 3:29:


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

Upon hearing the good news, the wedding guests remained in the groom’s father’s house for the next seven days, celebrating with a great wedding feast. [10] The modern practice of yichud is the custom of the married couple enjoying a short period of privacy after the ceremony. [11] This custom also seems to look back to the ancient practice of having seven days concealed in the chuppah.


The Shiv’at Y’mei Mishteh, or Seven Days of Feasting, are said to have been ordained by Moses, and are a custom that is thought to go back to patriarchal times. These feasting days serve as a focal point for communal rejoicing and for the couple to begin their married life together while in the lap of the community. This practice is still observed by traditional Jews today. In modern Jewish practice, during the Seven Days of Feasting, the bride and groom do not work, nor may they be involved in business transactions of any kind. They only eat, drink, and rejoice with each other. Each day, close relatives or friends host the married couple for a festive meal, which is punctuated by singing and rejoicing. [12] This modern practice is taken from the ancient Hebrew wedding tradition of the seven days of concealment in the chuppah, while the wedding guests celebrated in the father’s house for the entire week.


Like the ancient Hebrew brides, Scripture seems to describe a bridal week for the Church in which we will be in the wedding chamber with our Bridegroom, Jesus. Biblical eschatology (or the study of the end times) describes a final seven-year period of time that is connected with the Jewish people specifically (Daniel 9). This chapter in Daniel describes time in periods of “weeks,” which is a common Hebraic expression for a period of seven (in this case, years).


This time period is also described thoroughly in Revelation, and some refer to it as the Tribulation. This final seven-year “week” of time, especially the last half of it (called the “Great Tribulation” by Jesus in Matthew 24:21), is a time of unparalleled distress, and is characterized by the wrath or indignation of God. Pre-Tribulational eschatology, (which turns out to be the eschatological perspective that best aligns with the typology of the Jewish wedding) asserts that Scripture teaches that the Rapture, or catching away of the Church, will happen prior to this seven-year period. So, according to that pattern, while the Jewish people’s final “week” is taking place on earth, Jesus and His bride, the Church, will celebrate their marriage “week” in our heavenly chuppah, hidden away from view!


Though the Church was unknown to the Old Testament audience, we seem to find some prophetic allusions that may refer to the heavenly chuppah in the following passages.


And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? ... Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet [chuppah]. -Joel 2:11, 15-16

The theme of the Lord coming out of His chambers to visit judgment on the earth is spoken of here, referring prophetically to the “Day of the Lord.” It then speaks of a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and a bride from her chuppah. It's difficult to imagine this passage referring to any group other than the Church when it describes a bride coming out of her chuppah. Passages later in Scripture describe the Lord, whom the New Testament calls the Bridegroom, returning with His bride, the Church, at the Second Coming.


Let’s examine another prophetic Old Testament passage that points to a select group of God’s people avoiding the Tribulation in the Day of the Lord by being concealed.


Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. -Zephaniah 2:3

We know from later New Testament passages that the Church is not appointed to God’s Tribulation wrath, and will be kept from that time period altogether – making the Church a likely candidate for this group of people. The following passage written by Paul to the Church identifies this same period of the “Day of the Lord,” and specifically identifies the Church as being exempt from it.


For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. … But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. … For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, -1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4, 9

Some feel that these Old Testament passages may refer to the remnant of Israel being hidden in the wilderness before the Second Coming. While this is certainly a possibility (and the Old Testament does seem to refer to this in other instances), we believe there are some reasons why this is not the case in the passages presented. Instead, it would seem to refer to the Church being hidden away as the pure, righteous bride that is exempted from the wrath of the Bridegroom. Let’s quickly examine this before moving on.


One of the most glaring reasons why the group being hidden cannot be Israel, is because the passages are clear in describing these hidden ones as a righteous group who is exempted from the wrath. To the contrary, Israel at this time can hardly be considered righteous, which is the very reason why she must enter and endure the Tribulation. One of the purposes of the Tribulation is to drive the Jews to repentance, so that toward the end of it there will be a remnant who finally cries out unto Jesus Christ, finally acknowledging Him as their Messiah, which then prompts His return to save them from destruction.


This hardly fits in with the narrative of a righteous group playing the role of a pure virgin bride being hidden away from the wrath. The Old Testament is clear that Israel up until that point was playing the role of the harlot unfaithful wife, not the unmarried pure virgin bride. Meanwhile, the New Testament clearly depicts the Church as the righteous and pure virgin bride of Christ who will avoid the coming wrath. If the Jews were the “hidden group” referenced by these passages, then how could they be called righteous before entering the chuppah, when we are told in passages such as Zechariah 13:8-9 that it will require the refining fire of the Tribulation to produce the righteousness of the Jewish remnant at the end of the Tribulation? But one of the main purposes of the Tribulation is to drive Israel to repentance. They were not righteous until the judgments drove them toward repentance. In fact, their repentance and turning to their true Messiah turns out to be a pre-condition for Christ’s return to earth (the Second Coming) with His bride to set up His Millennial reign.


I [God speaking] will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. -Hosea 5:15

Note: This word “early” actually means “earnestly.” [13]


So, we’ve taken a brief detour through eschatology to explore and understand this aspect of end times prophecy that fits in (from a timing perspective) with the typology of the Jewish wedding rituals, and seems to clearly reveal the Church as that righteous bride being hidden away before the time of trouble, who then returns with her Bridegroom when it is passed. Before moving on to the next point, let’s do a quick review of the key parallels involving the chuppah.


Key Parallel:


  • The ancient Hebrew brides were “abducted” by their bridegrooms, and carried by procession to the father’s house. Upon arrival at the father’s house, the ancient Hebrew bridegrooms would take their brides into the privacy of the wedding chamber – the chuppah – for seven days. In the privacy of the chuppah, they would consummate the marriage through intimate union. The bride would then stay concealed in the chuppah for the remainder of the week, as the guests celebrated.

  • The bride of Christ will be raptured, or lifted up off the earth to be carried away to our heavenly wedding chamber where we will spend “one week” (seven years), concealed and hidden away with our Bridegroom. While the bride of Christ is in the bridal chamber with Jesus, the rest of the world will face seven years of Tribulation.


16.) Mishteh – The Wedding Feast


After seven days in the wedding chamber, the ancient Hebrew bride and bridegroom would emerge and participate in a wedding feast (mishteh – Strong’s # H4960) with their guests. The bride’s veil would be removed so that everyone could see her, and she would be presented to the guests and to the community. The end of this feast would conclude the wedding celebration. [14]


In like manner, following the seven years in our heavenly chuppah while the Tribulation is taking place on earth, Jesus Christ will return to earth (the Second Coming) with His unveiled bride, the Church, to vanquish His enemies, establish His Kingdom, and also celebrate with a marriage supper.


And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. -Revelation 19:9, 11-14

Here in Revelation 19, we see that following the seven-year Tribulation, Jesus will return at His Second Coming with His unveiled bride to earth to execute judgment on earth and then participate in the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” We know His bride is with Him, as we see her described as being “clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” which was the description of the bride given only a few verses earlier in Verse 8.


And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. -Revelation 19:8

As mentioned earlier, we also find Old Testament prophetic mention of Christ at His Second Coming being described as a bridegroom coming out of his bridal chamber, bringing His bride with Him.


Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet [chuppah]. -Joel 2:15-16

Key Parallel:


  • The ancient Hebrew bridal couple would emerge after seven days hidden away in the chuppah and participate in a wedding feast with their guests.

  • After the seven years in the heavenly chuppah, Jesus Christ will come out of His wedding chamber as a Bridegroom, bringing His bride the Church with Him – to also celebrate with a marriage supper.


17.) Yachad - A New Life Together


The Hebrew word yachad meaning “togetherness” or “unitedness” (Strong’s # H3162), is an ideal description for the just-married couple as they begin their new life together as one. [15] The Old Testament describes this togetherness as follows.


Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. -Genesis 2:24

Since the very beginning of the Biblical tradition, the thought regarding the marital union was always one of unity and togetherness. The two people become one, through marriage.

Following the seven-day marriage celebration, and marriage feast, the bridegroom and his bride would go to the home that the bridegroom had previously prepared. They would begin their new life together as husband and wife.


As a future married couple, Christ and the Church will also be brought together as one. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, actually quotes the passage we just looked at from Genesis and applies it to Christ and the Church. Notice how Paul first describes the unity and togetherness of Christ and the Church, and then reveals that the Genesis 2:24 passage’s deeper meaning is to act as a type of Christ and the Church.


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, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. -Ephesians 5:25-32

At the end of the final seven-year “week,” just as the bridegroom and his bride would leave the marriage supper to go to the home the bridegroom had prepared, so Jesus and His bride will depart for their new home, the New Jerusalem (though this may be post-Millennial).


And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. -Revelation 21:2-4

The New Jerusalem was beautifully adorned as a bride, John said, because it will be the eternal home of Christ’s bride. The author of Hebrews told us that the patriarchs looked for a city whose builder and maker was God, and that a heavenly city was being prepared (Hebrews 11:10, 16). He goes on to say that the Church is seeking the “heavenly Jerusalem” and “the city to come” (Hebrews 12:22 and 13:14). The Scriptures noted throughout this study make it clear that the bride is the Church and that the city called the new Jerusalem is being prepared for the bride of Christ. The bride of Christ will then be with her Bridegroom for all of eternity.


And so shall we ever be with the Lord. -1 Thessalonians 4:17b

Key Parallel:


  • After the marriage week and the feast, the ancient Hebrew couples would begin their new lives together in the home that the bridegroom had prepared. They would exhibit togetherness and unity – being considered “one” through marital union.

  • The relationship between Christ and the Church is one of togetherness and unity. We are considered part of His body, and we are to cleave together as one. Following the final “week” on earth and subsequent marriage feast, Christ and His bride will finish out the Millennium and then continue into the Eternal State together forever.


Conclusion


As we close out our four-part article series on this topic, keep in mind all of the incredible typological parallels between the ancient Hebrew wedding traditions and the marriage of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. In this series, we aimed at representing the key parallels, but we certainly acknowledge that many additional wedding subtleties are also embedded within the Biblical text – possibly some waiting to yet be discovered!


From the pattern of the ancient Hebrew wedding practices, we see that, like the bridegroom of ancient times, Jesus came to the home of His future bride for the betrothal, established a covenant with His bride, sealed it with a glass of wine, paid for the bride price with His blood, sanctified her, and sent His bride gifts of the Holy Spirit. We, the betrothed (Christ’s Church) currently await the return of our Bridegroom to abduct us away to the wedding chamber (at the Rapture) to spend seven years hidden away with Him (while the Tribulation occurs on earth). We will then celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and following the Millennial reign on earth, depart with our Bridegroom to our eternal home, the New Jerusalem!


Our present task at hand is all about readiness! Just like the ancient Hebrew brides waited and prepared during the long betrothal period for their bridegroom’s return, we must also wait and prepare for the soon return of our Bridegroom, Christ!


Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. -Revelation 19:7-9

 

[1] Emil G. Hirsch, Frank Knight Sanders, and Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Encyclopedia, entry “Crown,” JewishEncyclopedia.com. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4778-crown - Retrieved 5/15/18)

[2] Aryeh Kaplan, Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, Brooklyn, NY: Moznaim Pub., 1983, p. 91.

[3] Ibid., p. 59.

[4] Ibid., p. 60.

[5] Yehuda Shurpin, “Why Do Jewish Brides Wear White? Isn’t It a Non-Jewish Thing?” Chabad.org. (https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3136016/jewish/Why-Do-Jewish-Brides-Wear-White-Isnt-It-a-Non-Jewish-Thing.htm - Retrieved 5/15/18)

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

[7] Eliezer Segal, “The Huppah: From Eden to Today,” Feb. 14, 1992, in Jewish Free Press. (http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/920214_Huppah.html - Retrieved 5/13/18)

[8] Kaplan, p. 133.

[9] Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Encyclopedia, entry “Huppah,” JewishEncyclopedia.com. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7941-huppah - Retrieved 5/13/18)

[10] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isaac Landman, New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Co., Inc., 1948, pp. 5, 10, 373, 399, 504.

[11] Kaplan, p. 206.

[12] Michael Kaufman, “After the Wedding Ceremony,” My Jewish Learning. (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/after-the-wedding-ceremony/ - Retrieved 5/13/18)

[13] Benson Commentary, entry “Hosea 5:15,” BibleHub.com. (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/hosea/5-15.htm - Retrieved 02/05/18)

[14] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, pp. 5, 504.

[15] Strong’s Concordance, entry “3162, yachad,” BibleHub.com. (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3162.htm - Retrieved 5/22/18)


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