Biblical Marriage Ceremonies: Part 1
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
February 3, 2010

Last Updated :
March 3, 2010

Marriage According To The Scriptures, Few Details Are Found
In The Scriptures, Jewish Traditions And Christians Beliefs,
Marriage Of Adam And Eve, God's Short Wedding Pronouncement,
Modern Commercialization Of Marriage Ceremony, Becoming One
Flesh, Biblical Definition Of Marriage, God Creates Eve For
Adam, The Fall And Eve's Changed Marital Status, We Are The
Bride Of Christ, Jesus Is The Head Of Our Spiritual Church,
Old Testament Marriages Were Viewed As A Solemn Contract,
Marriage Feasts And Drink Offerings Poured Out To The Gods,
Jacob's Libation (Drink Offering) At Bethel, Marriage Of
Jacob And Leah, Jesus Changes Water Into Wine At Wedding
Feast In Cana Of Galilee, Biblical Betrothals, Pre-Marital
Sex, Seduction And Marriage Obligation Under Old Testament
Law, Biblical Basis For Alimony, The "Mohar" or Bride Price,
Rape And Sexual Promiscuity, Old Testament Laws Regarding
Adultery, Jesus And The Adulterous Woman, True Repentance
And Forgiveness Must Go Hand-In-Hand, "Go, And Sin No More"

Recently, a long-time Christian friend and member of our
EDGE Mailing List wrote to me with the following question:

----- Begin Quote -----

"How were marriage ceremonies carried out, according to
God's Word?"

----- End Quote -----

In spite of how long I have been studying the Bible, I must
confess that this is an issue which continues to mystify me
as well; because, to be honest, the Bible is rather vague
about it; at least insofar as the actual marriage event is
concerned. We are given a few hints in both the Old and the
New Testament regarding what occurred at these events, but
nothing very specific. Also, we must keep in mind that what
we are told is based upon Jewish customs and traditions of
those times. That being said, in addition to gleaning what
we can from the pages of the Bible, probably the best way to
find out how early Jewish weddings were performed would be
by asking a Jewish rabbi, which I am not. Neither am I an
expert when it comes to Jewish traditions. In other words,
as a modern-day Christian, my beliefs are based upon the
teachings of Jesus Christ, and not upon the Jewish rituals
and customs of the Old Testament, which have little bearing
on modern Christian living. As the Apostle Paul tells us:

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law
by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another,
even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should
bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV

In fact, as I have pointed out on a few previous occasions,
Jesus Himself verbally chastised the Jewish religious leaders
of His day due to their rigid adherence to some of the Old
Testament traditions, as we see by the following examples:

"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of
Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the
tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when
they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do
ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother:
and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the
death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his
mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be
profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he
shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of
none effect by your tradition."
Matthew 15:1-6, KJV

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied
of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth
me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit
in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of
God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots
and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said
unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that
ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy
father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother,
let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his
father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by
whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be
free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father
or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through
your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like
things do ye."
Mark 7:6-13, KJV

Concerning the very first marriage between Adam and Eve, it
seems obvious that contrary to the way that modern marriages
are performed, God didn't stand in the Garden of Eden with a
Bible in His Hands and say to Adam and Eve "I now pronounce
you man and wife". In fact, the Bible didn't even exist back
then, because God was, and is, the Living Word. Furthermore,
there were certainly no church buildings in Eden in which to
perform the wedding; or organists playing Felix Mendelssohn's
well-known "Wedding March" or Richard Wagner's equally-famous
"Bridal Chorus" from his opera "Lohengrin", which is known to
many people today as "Here Comes The Bride"; or blood tests;
or fertility tests; or prenuptial agreements; or any of the
many other things which have become associated with weddings
in our modern day. Probably the closest thing to a marriage
pronouncement might be when God gave His blessing to Adam and
Eve after creating them, when He is recorded in Genesis as
having stated the following:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God
created he him; male and female created he them. And God
blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the
air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the
Genesis 1:27-28, KJV

As far as we know, that was basically it. God blessed them,
and said in so many words "Go and fill up the Earth with
your children. Make lots of babies." Now just watch a few
people write to me and complain because I dare to make such
an obvious statement. But honestly folks, isn't that what
the Lord was saying to them? Now, if you are wondering why
that was, and is, so important to the Lord, you might want
to consider reading my series "Is Jesus The Only Begotten
Son of God?". In that particular series, I propose a few
rather revolutionary ideas regarding what this marriage and
sex thing is really all about, and why God told Adam and Eve
to fill up the Earth with their children. Trust me; God has
a plan.

Being as there was no one else in the Garden of Eden at the
time, it obviously makes sense that there was no expensive
marriage celebration, filled with family members and other
invited guests. Neither was there anyone throwing rice at
the newly-weds, or someone tossing a bouquet of flowers into
the air in order to determine who might possibly be the next
bride-to-be. There was no loud band playing, or superficial
people impressing each other with their fancy clothes and
fine jewelry, and no one was drinking alcohol to the point
of becoming inebriated. All of these things -- and the steep
expenses associated with them -- came much later, once this
blessed and holy event was commercialized, and became an
annual multi-million dollar business venture.

In fact, it might interest you to know that the actual word
"marriage" is only used twice in the KJV Old Testament; that
is, in Exodus 21:10 and Psalm 78:63, which state:

"If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her
duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."
Exodus 21:10, KJV

"The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were
not given to marriage."
Psalm 78:63, KJV

In the first verse, the word "marriage" is derived from the
Hebrew word "ownah". Pronounced o-naw', the Hebrew lexicon
states that it is derived from an unused root word meaning
to dwell together. This is in agreement with several verses
which I have shared in a number of my other articles which
deal with this same topic, namely these:

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of
my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken
out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be
one flesh."
Genesis 2:23-24, KJV

"And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall
be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one
flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man
put asunder."
Matthew 19:5-6, KJV

"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male
and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and
mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one
flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What
therefore God hath joined together, let not man put
Mark 10:6-9, KJV

"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."
Ephesians 5:28-31, KJV

Thus we clearly see that according to God's Word, marriage
is defined as two persons of the opposite sex -- or male and
female -- who dwell together and share their lives together,
and have children, with the blessing of God. As Adam stated,
and as Jesus would later confirm in the Gospels, these two
people would cleave together as one. In the Book of Genesis,
the word "cleave" is derived from the Hebrew word "dabaq".
Pronounced daw-bak', it means to cling, stick, stay close,
stay with, follow closely, and to be joined together. Now,
it seems to me that after taking some time to observe the
behavior of the animals in the Garden of Eden, Adam knew
exactly what he was supposed to do, and what God expected of
him, once Eve was presented to him. It probably didn't take
him very long to figure out what "Be fruitful, and multiply"

As I point out in a few other articles, Adam must have felt
rather lonely at first, being the only human, because all of
the creatures in the Garden had mates, whereas he had none.
Being the loving Father that He is, the Lord was of course
concerned about this, as we see by the following verses:

"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should
be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of
the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and
every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see
what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every
living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave
names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to
every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found
an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep
to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his
ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib,
which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and
brought her unto the man."
Genesis 2:18-22, KJV

While Adam and Eve may have been on equal footing when the
Lord first created them, it is my personal belief that this
relationship changed to some degree after The Fall. In my
opinion, this change in Eve's status seems to be suggested
rather strongly in the following verse:

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow
and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth
children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he
shall rule over thee."
Genesis 3:16, KJV

While some women libbers may bristle upon reading that verse,
its meaning seems rather clear to me, particularly when we
look at the Hebrew origin of the word "rule". It is the word
"mashal". Pronounced maw-shal', it means to rule, or to have
dominion over. In other words, following Eve's sin of being
the first one to eat of the forbidden fruit, God placed her
on a shorter chain, and made Adam responsible for her future
actions, and keeping her under control. Adam of course loved
his wife, Eve, but after The Fall, God also placed Adam in a
position where Eve owed Adam her obedience and respect, just
as we Christians owe Christ our obedience and respect, being
as we are His spiritual bride, and Jesus is the Head of our
Spiritual Church, as we see by these verses:

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is
Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head
of Christ is God."
1 Corinthians 11:3, KJV

"Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the
dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly
places, Far above all principality, and power, and might,
and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this
world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all
things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all
things to the church,"
Ephesians 1:20-22, KJV

"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all
things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:15, KJV

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is
the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."
Ephesians 5:23, KJV

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things
he might have the preeminence."
Colossians 1:18, KJV

"And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all
principality and power:"
Colossians 2:10, KJV

"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto
them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders
disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,"
1 Peter 2:7, KJV

Being as I fully address marriage relationships and spousal
responsibilities in other articles, such as "The Fruit Of The
Womb", "Churchianity Or Christianity: Which Do You Practice?"
and "Women Shepherds: The Family Sex Cult Exposed Again!", I
will not be going into great detail in this current article.
Instead, I simply wish to address the question that was posed
to me by my friend.

At some point in time, after Adam and Eve had begun to have
children, the union of a man and a woman became a celebrated
event. Marriage wasn't only considered a very solemn contract
that bound two people together, but it was a joyous event as
well. For example, when Laban gave his daughter Leah to Jacob
in marriage -- after Jacob had worked seven years for Rachel,
who was Leah's sister -- we are told that Laban held a feast
to which he invited all of the men, as we see here:

"And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and
made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening, that he
took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went
in unto her."
Genesis 29:22-23, KJV

In the previous verse, the word "feast" is derived from the
Hebrew word "mishteh". Pronounced mish-teh', it refers to a
feast or banquet at which drink is present. In his famous
commentary, British Methodist theologian and Bible scholar,
Adam Clarke, suggests that given the very solemn nature of a
marriage contract, it is probable that sacrifices were made
during such events as well. Clarke states:

----- Begin Quote -----

"Mishteh signifies a feast of drinking. As marriage was a
very solemn contract, there is much reason to believe that
sacrifices were offered on the occasion, and libations
poured out; and we know that on festival occasions a cup of
wine was offered to every guest; and as this was drunk with
particular ceremonies, the feast might derive its name from
this circumstance, which was the most prominent and
observable on such occasions."

----- End Quote -----

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the practice, a
libation is a drink which is poured out as an offering to a
particular deity. In fact, in researching the Books of the
Old Testament, I discovered that the phrase "drink offering"
is used a total of thirty times. Drink offerings were a very
integral part of the Israelite sacrificial system, and were
mandated by the Lord, through Moses, in the Books of the
Law. While the word "Mishteh" is used in the previous set of
verses, in all of the other verses that I looked at, "necek"
is used instead. Concerning this word, the Hebrew lexicon
states that it refers to a drink offering, libation, molten
image, or something that is poured out. The first time that
we see a clear mention of a drink offering is shortly after
God speaks to Jacob at Bethel, as we read here:

"And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of
Padanaram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name
is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but
Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And
God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and
multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of
thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land
which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and
to thy seed after thee will I give the land. And God went up
from him in the place where he talked with him. And Jacob
set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even
a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon,
and he poured oil thereon. And Jacob called the name of the
place where God spake with him, Bethel."
Genesis 35:9-15, KJV

What we can learn from these verses is that even before the
time of Moses, whenever an important contract was agreed to,
it was customary to pour out a drink offering. It would seem
then that Clarke may be correct in his assumption regarding
drink offerings being made at early Israelite weddings. But
other than the fact that drink offerings may have been made
at the wedding feast of Jacob and Leah, we really know very
little else regarding what occurred at such weddings. We're
simply told that Laban had a feast, and that later that same
evening, he took Leah to Jacob and Jacob "went in unto her".
The Hebrew words that are used here are "laqach", "bath" and
"bow", which mean that Jacob possessed Leah in marriage.

In the New Testament, we find a similar example with Jesus'
first famous miracle where He converted water into wine at
the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. It is obvious from the
story that some of the wine was drunk by the wedding guests,
but perhaps some of it was also used for drink offerings as
well. Following is the full story:

"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was
called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they
wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have
no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with
thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the
servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there
were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of
the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins
apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with
water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith
unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the
feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had
tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it
was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the
governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto
him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine;
and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but
thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of
miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth
his glory; and his disciples believed on him."
John 2:1-11, KJV

As with the previous example concerning Jacob and Leah, you
will notice again that scant details are provided regarding
exactly what occurred at these ancient wedding ceremonies, or
what specific steps had to be taken before the couple could
"officially" be declared man and wife. In the New Testament,
four different words are used when referring to marriage and
getting married. These words are "gamos", "gameo", "ekgamizo"
and "ekgamisko"; but other than referring to the process of
getting married, they offer little information in regards to
what actually occurred at such wedding feasts.

As in our modern day, there are also a few verses in the Old
Testament books of Exodus and Deuteronomy which discuss the
custom of being betrothed. Similar to the marriage contract
itself, the Hebrew words "ya'ad" and "'aras" convey the idea
that betrothals were serious contracts. They were fixed or
set agreements to be married at an appointed future date. In
other words, they were engagements. One particular law which
many modern folks in our liberal society would probably find
distasteful, states that if a man had sex with a virgin who
was not yet betrothed to anyone, he was obligated to marry
her. It says:

"And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie
with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife."
Exodus 22:16, KJV

While the King James Bible uses the word "maid" in the verse,
according to the Hebrew lexicon, the word "bethuwlah" refers
to a virgin more often than not. The word "entice" is derived
from the Hebrew word "pathah", and in this case is referring
to the act of seduction.

But that's not all. If for some reason, the woman's father
refused to allow the man to marry his daughter, the man was
still financially obligated to support her. While I may be
wrong concerning this, I suspect that the reason for this
law was that once a woman lost her virginity, she became a
less attractive candidate for marriage; and thus, the man
who was responsible for putting her in that state, needed to
support her as if they were married. The law states:

"If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall
pay money according to the dowry of virgins."
Exodus 22:17, KJV

It is possible that the previous verse means something else.
The word "dowry" is derived from the Hebrew word "mohar". It
is defined in the Hebrew lexicon as a purchase price for a
wife, or wedding money. In other words, if the verse is not
referring to alimony, as I suggested a moment ago, then maybe
what it is really saying is that if a father refused to give
his daughter to a man after they have had intercourse, then
perhaps the man should try to convince the father to give his
daughter's hand in marriage by paying the "mohar", also known
as the "bride price". This second interpretation concerning
Exodus 22:17 seems to be in agreement with other verses in
the Old Testament which likewise discuss the "Mohar", or
"bride price", such as the following:

"And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels
of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also
to her brother and to her mother precious things."
Genesis 24:53, KJV

"And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven
years for Rachel thy younger daughter."
Genesis 29:18, KJV

"If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not
betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they
be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the
damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be
his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her
away all his days."
Deuteronomy 22:28-29, KJV

"And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth
not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines,
to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make
David fall by the hand of the Philistines. And when his
servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be
the king's son in law: and the days were not expired.
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of
the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their
foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that
he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal
his daughter to wife."
1 Samuel 18:25-27, KJV

"And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying,
Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an
hundred foreskins of the Philistines."
2 Samuel 3:14, KJV

"Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of
her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the
LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods,
and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen
pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half
homer of barley:"
Hosea 3:1-2, KJV

In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, please notice the last phrase which
states "he may not put her away all his days". Just imagine
if such rigid laws were still in effect in our modern day.
Undoubtedly, there would be considerably fewer cases of date
rape, promiscuous sex and single motherhood, because people
would have a stronger motivation for being more responsible
with their actions, particularly with their private sex life.

Concerning the issue of adultery, as I explain in my series
concerning abortion, "Abortion: Slaughter Of The Innocent",
the Mosaic Laws of the Old Testament were very unforgiving.
When a married woman freely engaged in sex with another man
other than her husband, both were to be put to death. The
same law also applied to a virgin who was engaged to be
married. If she voluntarily had sex with another man other
than her fiance, she was to be killed, as we see by these

"If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband,
then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with
the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from
Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an
husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that
city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the
damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the
man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou
shalt put away evil from among you."
Deuteronomy 22:22-24, KJV

On the other hand, when it came to instances where a woman
who was betrothed didn't give her consent to engage in sex,
but was forced against her will by a stranger, the penalty
was less severe. While the offending man was to be put to
death, the woman was allowed to live, as we see by these

"But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the
man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay
with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do
nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for
as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him,
even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and
the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her."
Deuteronomy 22:25-27, KJV

While some of these laws were very strict and unforgiving, as
we learn from the New Testament, and as I also discuss in the
article "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness And Chastisement", the Lord
taught us that forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation are
the much better -- and more godly -- option. For example, you
may recall the story of the woman who was caught in the act
of adultery. The self-righteous Jewish leaders demanded that
she be stoned to death according to the Mosaic Law, but how
did Jesus react to their demands? Consider this:

"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken
in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say
unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the
very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should
be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting
him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped
down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he
heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted
up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among
you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped
down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being
convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one,
beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was
left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus
had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said
unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man
condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto
her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
John 8:3-11, KJV

Please take care to notice the condition that Jesus set for
the woman's forgiveness. He said "Go, and sin no more". In
other words, as I have pointed out before, Jesus wanted her
to know that He too considered what she had done to be wrong
and a sin. However, unlike the Scribes and the Pharisees, He
was willing to extend God's Love, Mercy and Compassion to
her; but she must do her part by refraining to fall into the
same kind of sinful actions again. In other words, it would
seem that true, sincere repentance and forgiveness must go
hand-in-hand. There cannot be one without the other.

Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

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