WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL TO STUDY THE
HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
REDISCOVERING THE HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE EARLY
CHRISTIAN CHURCH, CIRCA A.D. 60
The Background of the
In Hebrew tradition, a marriage covenant was called a Ketubah. In this sense, all of Scripture is "ketubah"---a marriage covenant---between God and His people. The Lord describes His relationship with mankind as a parable of a husband and a wife.
Therefore, the traditional marriage ceremony was meant to be a remembrance of God as He revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai. Here, as a Bridegroom, He invited Israel into a covenant of spiritual betrothal to Him. This betrothal was expressed in the Everlasting Covenant established between Himself and Israel, that "I will be your God, and you will be My people."
After this, the Lord declared Himself to be the Husband of Israel throughout scripture. Jewish weddings today celebrate this ancient covenant of marriage that leads to the redemption of all mankind.
From that time on, in every wedding, the vision of the bridegroom coming to the Canopy was meant to be a remembrance of the Lord coming to Mt. Sinai to betroth Himself to Israel. Through this relationship, the Messiah would be born and salvation would flow to all mankind. All of the spiritual symbolisms of the ancient wedding reflect the Lord’s entire redemptive plan that He has embedded within the culture of the ancient Hebrews.
“Jewish weddings today still demonstrate the ancient model of the marriage covenant when marriage was accomplished in two distinct rituals, separated by as much as a year. The first of these was betrothal, or “erusin”, also called “kiddushin”’ from the same root as the word “kadosh”, meaning “holy”.
The marriage was not consummated until after the next ceremony, nissuin – “nuptials”.
Nissuin derives from the verb nasa, which means “to carry or lift” and refers to the days when a bride was carried through the streets to her new home.”
Anita Diamant - “The New Jewish Wedding”.
In the Jewish wedding ceremony there are two cups of wine that reflect the historical aspects of the ancient marriage tradition cited above by a secular Jewish author.
The Wedding Service
Two Cups of Wine
The two cups of wine taken during the wedding service remembers the ancient tradition of Hebrew /Jewish weddings being established in two distinct stages:
THE FIRST CUP - ERUSIN / KIDDUSHIN BETROTHAL: The first cup of wine in Jewish weddings today remembers the Ketubah, the “betrothal covenant” of the ancient day. The first cup of wine sealed the betrothal covenant and the bride-price was paid for the bride at that time. Today, the bride-price has been replaced by a wedding-ring. That is why the ring service takes place with the first cup of wine. Upon betrothal, the bride is considered consecrated and sanctified for her bridegroom only. This cup was called "kiddushin" meaning "holy or sanctified.” The betrothal covenant binds the bride to her bridegroom: but even so, the marriage was not consummated until after the next ceremony, the nuptials. In the ancient model, the nuptials would be delayed for an indefinite period of time. A long separation occurred here, the couple often being separated for one to two years while the bridegroom departed to prepare "her place" at his father's house. This was a special room or small apartment that was called the “bridal chamber" and would be their new home. He could not return for her until his father felt he had adequately prepared to begin his married life. The custom was that his return would be in secret. The bride was not given any warning. But she must live in constant expectation of his return for her. In the ancient tradition, the bridegroom was affectionately called the “thief in the night” because of this romantic tradition. At any moment he could return without warning to "steal her away" to her bridal chamber. Only AFTER he returned for her in this fashion, could the nuptials be completed. [The prophetic symbolism is clearly apparent for the spiritual Bride of Christ today who is also sanctified and separated for the Bridegroom. We have taken the first cup of betrothal and are betrothed to Him. He has paid the bride-price for us. He has returned to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us. We endure the long separation in antici- pation of His return for us.] THE SECOND CUP - NISSUIN / HUPPAH (OR ELEVATION) The word "nuptials" comes from the Hebrew word "nissuin". "Nissuin means "to lift or to carry”.....the elevation or “the lifting away” of the bride and bridegroom. This refers to the ancient times when a bride was physically carried away in secret by her bridegroom to her new home. On one dark night, after a long separation, he would finally come for her. He came with his witness - the friend of the bridegroom - who would shout out “the bridegroom has come” when they approached her house. As the beloved “thief in the night” stole away the bride, her bridal attendants would bring lamps to help to light their way through the dark night as they hurried to the bride's new home. There they would finally complete the marriage nuptials and then be secluded in the bridal chamber to fulfil the bridal week. [The spiritual significance for us is that we look forward to the fulfillment of the nuptials when our Bridegroom returns for us. When He comes for His Bride, He will “lift and carry” us to our bridal chamber prepared for us in Heaven.]
Symbols of the Wedding Ceremony
The Wedding Canopy
Today, when the wedding canopy (the huppah) is raised for marriage vows, it symbolizes the presence, covering and protection of the Lord God, Adonai.
When the bride and bridegroom make their vows under the Canopy, the
representation is that they are exchanging their vows in the very presence of God and He becomes a participant in their marriage Covenant.
Attendants bearing candles
In ancient and modern Jewish weddings, the bridegroom coming to the Canopy is meant to be a visual reminder of the Lord coming to Mt. Sinai to betroth Himself to Israel. Following behind him are attendants bearing lighted candles. They depict the Holy Spirit that accompanied the Lord when presenting Himself as a Bridegroom at Mt. Sinai.
The bridal couple wear white to symbolize renewed spiritual purity. The source of this came from the Day of Atonement and the wilderness Tabernacle. Wearing white garments was the ancient indication that purification and cleansing had been granted by God on this day.
The more recent adaptation of bridal white representing “purity and virginity”....only to be worn by virgins....is a departure from God’s original redemptive precept of wearing white garments. This modern adaption completely misses the profound mercy of God: that He can restore His people to a new life and new beginnings despite past sins.
The bridegroom wears a white coat called a kittel. This is similar to the white coats worn on the Day of Atonement when the restored nation received God's atonement. Wearing white indicates the bridegroom's renewed spiritual purity and his readiness to take on the responsibility of the bridegroom: to nurture and provide for his bride and to protect her physical and spiritual well-being as their lives unite.
Part of ancient tradtion is that on this day, the bride and bridegroom were honored as a king and queen and their adornments were to suggest their "royalty" on their wedding day. The bride wore a small crown such as a diadem or tiara created of gold and jewels (Isaiah 61:10). Today, this can also be a modest crown made of flowers.
In the past, bridegrooms wore such a garland for their "crowns" and it was a often a garland of laurel depicting “victory”.
The bride wears a bridal veil to signify her humility and trust in her bridegroom.
Spiritual Preparation of the Bride and Bridegroom
For the bridal couple, their wedding day was considered a personal Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. In the tradition of this festival day, they would prepare themselves for their wedding day in prayers of confession and repentance before the Lord.
This was a process very much like the intense reflection and soul-searching of the yearly Day of Atonement; when all sins are forgiven of those who repent. Likewise, the bridal couple would seek personal spiritual renewal prior to their wedding. This spiritual restoration to God would enable them to begin their new life together pardoned and released from prior mistakes.
This spiritual preparation enables the bridal couple to enter the wedding canopy cleansed of their past. Marriage was deemed to be a turning point that provides the necessary spiritual support to begin a new life, reborn and purified by God: and the Lord becomes a partner in this process.
The Seven Blessings: the sheva b’rachot
During the Nuptials, the seven blessings are read.
“The sheva b’rachot [the seven blessings] mention the beginning of time in Eden when life was wholeness and the end of days when that wholeness will be restored. Since Eden the world has been in exile from the experience of unfragmented existence, an exile that extends from earth to the heaven.
Both heaven and earth long for a redemption from this exile, a restoration of Edenic harmony to the whole of creation. A wedding is a focal point in history......the wedding canopy provides our whole community with a glimpse into the blessing of the perfect reality that once was in Eden and yet will be again.” Anita Diamant, “The New Jewish Wedding”
1.You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, Who creates the fruit of the vine. 2.You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, You created all things for Your glory. 3.You Abound in blessings, Adonai our God, You created humanity. 4.You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, You made humankind in Your image, after Your likeness, and You prepared from us a perpetual relationship. You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, you created humanity. 5.May she who was barren rejoice when her children are united in her midst in joy. You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, Who makes Zion rejoice with her children. * 6.You make these beloved companions greatly rejoice even as You rejoiced in Your creation in the Garden of Eden as of old. You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, Who make the bridegroom and the bride to rejoice. 7.You abound in blessings, Adonai our God, Who created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love, fellowship, peace and friendship. Soon may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. You abound in blessings, Adonai, our God, You make the bridegroom rejoice with the bride.
[These seven blessings distinctly speak of the true Messianic Bridegroom rejoicing with His Bride when “wholeness is restored to the earth”.]
The Broken Glass
A wine glass is crushed by the bridegroom. A broken glass cannot be mended; likewise, marriage is irrevocable. It is a transforming experience that leaves the individuals forever changed. The broken wine-glass is the symbolic way the couple “cut” their covenant together forever.
Yichud: Becoming One
“After they leave the canopy, bride and groom will traditionally spend ten to fifteen minutes alone in yichud – seclusion. Yichud is an echo of ancient days when a groom would bring the bride to the bridal chamber to consummate the marriage.” Anita Diamant, “The New Jewish Wedding”.
In the ancient model, the Marriage Covenant was not considered completed until the bridegroom fulfilled the “bridal week”. This meant that he must be secluded with his bride for this required period of time to consummate the covenant. It is one of the most essential aspects of the ancient wedding and is mentioned in Gen 29:27 when Laban asks Jacob to “fulfill Leah’s week.”
For the spiritual Bride of Christ today, this is a type of the Yichud that awaits us in Heaven when He returns for us. He will fulfil the “bridal week” with us in our prepared place in Heaven.
After Yichud the bride and groom are announced for the first time as husband and wife. We see this in Revelation 19:7 “the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready.” The bride becomes the “wife” only after yichud is fulfilled.
The Wedding Supper
When the wedding service is concluded and the time of Yichud is accomplished, the bridal couple return to the bridal festivities to preside as a king and queen over the wedding celebration – anciently referred to as “the wedding supper”.
Even today, the bridal couple’s chairs are called “thrones” and they are seen to be celebrated as royalty reigning over their wedding reception.
[This is such a visual picture and type of Christ and His spiritual Bride presiding over the Wedding Supper when the Kingdom Age begins on the earth.]
Reference (Blessing #5):
* “According to Midrash, Zion is the center of the universe,
the holiest Place. Zion is where Adam was created, where the Temple stood and where the Word of God will issue forth at the end of days. When the Messiah arrives, when Time comes to an end – the souls of all the Jews who ever lived will find their way back to Zion. And on that day, “when her children are united in her midst in joy....Zion will rejoice with her children.” In a sense the fifth marriage blessing is a prayer for the redemptive unity of the end of days.”
-Anita Diamont, “The New Jewish Wedding”
WE OFFER SEMINARS AND GROUP BIBLE STUDIES
SHABBAT SHALOM HEBRAIC STUDIES FELLOWSHIP (831) 755-2275