The Old Testament marriage customs are very interesting as it transition from Old Testament to New Testament. It is one that is worth studying. It will help everyone to understand the foundation of Christina marriages.
Subject: Marriage Customs In Old Testament
Bible Study Teachings
These questions I believe will be answer in this lesson.
- What were some of the customs for marriage in the OT?
- What was the average age of couples who got married in the OT?
- What was legislation under the Mosaic Law?
- How was the bride chosen?
- What was a levirate marriage?
- What did it mean when a woman was betrothal?
OT MARRIAGE Customs
– the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, which becomes the foundation
for a home and family.
Origin of Marriage. Marriage was instituted by God when He declared, “It is not good
that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). So
God fashioned a woman and brought her to the man. On seeing the woman, Adam
exclaimed, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called
Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). This passage also emphasizes
the truth that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they
shall become [[[[[ one flesh”]]]]] (Gen. 2:24). This suggests that God’s ideal is for a
man to be the husband of one wife and for the marriage to be permanent.
Legislation. God’s desire for His people was that they marry within the body of
believers. The Mosaic Law clearly stated that an Israelite was never to marry a foreigner.
The Israelite would be constantly tempted to embrace the spouse’s god as well (Ex.
34:10-17; Deut. 7:3-4). Likewise, the apostle Paul commanded the members of the
church at Corinth, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Marriages between Israelites were directed by law, and all incestuous relationships were
outlawed **(Lev. 18:6-8; 20:19-21)***. In addition, priests were forbidden to marry
prostitutes and divorced women (Lev. 21:7, 13-14). Daughters who inherited their
father’s possessions had to marry within their tribe or lose their inheritance (Num. 27:8; 36:2-4).
Choosing the Bride.
In Old Testament times, the parents chose the mate for their son. The primary reason for this was that the bride became part of the clan. Although they were married and became “one flesh,” the couple remained under the authority of the bridegroom’s father. The parents chose someone who would best fit into their clan and work harmoniously with her mother-in-law and sisters-in-law.
Sometimes the parents consulted with their children to see if they approved of the
choice of mates being made for them. For example, Rebekah was asked if she wanted to marry Isaac (Gen. 24:57-58).Samson demanded that a certain girl be acquired for him. Although his parents protested, they completed the marriage contract for Samson
(Judg. 14: 1-4).
Frequently people married at a young age, a fact that made the parents’ choice a
practical matter. By New Testament times, the Jewish leaders had decided to establish minimum ages for which a marriage contract could be drawn up. The age was set at 13 for boys and 12 for girls.
Even if the young wife lost her husband in war or accident, she remained within the
clan and was wed to her brother-in-law or next of kin (Deut. 25:5–10). This arrangement
is known as LEVIRATE MARRIAGE. It is the basis for the story of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth
– a form of marriage prescribed by the Law of Moses in which a man was required to
marry the widow of a brother who died with no male heir. The term “levirate” means
“husband’s brother.” The purpose of the law was to provide an heir for the dead brother, thereby preserving his name and estate. The law also was designed to provide for the welfare of widows (Deut. 25:5-10).
The story of Ruth and Boaz, recorded in the Book of Ruth, is a good example of the levirate form of marriage. Reference to levirate marriage was also made by the
Sadducees, who tested Jesus with a question about the resurrection
Concept of Love:
Although romance before marriage was not unknown in Old Testament times, it
played a minor role in the life of teenagers of that era. They did not marry the person
they loved; they loved the mate they married. Love began at marriage. When Isaac married Rebekah, the Bible records that “she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen. 24:61-67).
OT Marriage Customs:
A number of customs and steps were involved in finalizing a marriage in Old Testament
times. The first was agreeing on a price to be given to the father of the girl. The payment was compensation for the loss of a worker. The sum was mutually agreed upon (Gen. 34: 12; Ex. 22:16-17). It could consist of services instead of money. For example, Jacob agreed to work for seven years for Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). The giving and receiving of money was probably accompanied by a written agreement. After this agreement was made, the couple was considered engaged.
In biblical times, a betrothal for marriage was a binding agreement that set the young woman apart for the young man. The agreement was voided only by death or divorce; one could not get out of the betrothal in any other way. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he did not want to make a “public example” of her; instead, he decided to divorce her secretly. However, he did not carry out the divorce, because an angel of the Lord convinced him that the baby to be born to Mary would be the Son of God (Matt. 1: 18-25).
During the engagement period, the bridegroom had certain privileges. If war was
declared, he was exempt from military duty (Deut. 20:7) (Deut. 24:5). He also knew that his bride-to-be was protected by Mosaic Law. If another man raped her, the act was treated as adultery; and the offender was punished accordingly (Deut. 22:23-29). This was considered a more serious crime than the rape of a girl not yet betrothed. The length of engagement varied. Sometimes the couple was married the same day they were engaged. Usually, however, a period of time elapsed between the betrothal and the marriage ceremony. During this time the young man prepared a place in his father’s house for his bride, while the bride prepared herself for married life.
On the day of the wedding, the groom and his friends dressed in their finest clothes
and went to the home of the bride. Together the couple went back to the groom’s house. Their friends sang and danced their way back to his house. Once at the groom’s house, the couple was ushered into a bridal chamber. The
marriage was consummated through sexual union as the guests waited outside. Once that fact was announced, the wedding festivities continued, with guests dropping by for the wedding feast. Usually the wedding party lasted for a week (Gen. 29:21-28).
In closing, we still have lots of questions
Please send me your questions so I can add them to this list.
Questions yet to be answer
- Why did Moses ok divorce in the OT?
- Is every marriage of God?
- Is every marriage by Christian approve by God?
- What happen ifl got marriage when I wasn’t a Christian?
Sa) Will the lord forgives me if I divorce someone I was married to before I got saved?
5b) suppose I got a divorce when I was a sinner, does it count against me now that I am
- Who find a wife for you?
- Can Christian get divorce and be forgiven?
8a) why did David and Samson had so many wives?
8b) The Bible said two shall become one not hundreds to become one. [David, Samson And Solomon]
- Can God find me a husband or a wife?
- What did Jesus mean when he told the Pharisees Moses grant divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but it was not so in the beginning?
Thanks for reading our Bible Study Topic On OT MARRIAGE Customs
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