Biblical Marriage Ceremonies
Part 2

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
February 3, 2010

Last Updated :
January 3, 2020

Roasted Meat And Wedding Feasts, Jewish Weddings Were Both Solemn And Joyous Occasions, When Does Marriage Truly Become Official? Jesus' Puzzling Comments Concerning Marriage In Heaven, Jewish Law Of Redemption, Judah Onan And Tamar, Boaz And Ruth, The Lion Of The Tribe Of Judah, Fallen Angels And The Nephilim, Sex In Heaven And The Power Of God, Adultery, Polygamy And Sexual Promiscuity, Abortion And Birth Control, Legal Paperwork And Jewish Bill Of Divorcement, Scriptural Silence Regarding Marriage Documents, The Jewish "Kesubah" Jewish Wedding Ceremonies Web Links, What Is Really Meant By Fornication?, Closing Remarks, BBB Suggested Reading List

In addition to drinking, we also learn from the Scriptures that a large part of ancient Jewish marriage feasts was spent eating, and that included eating roasted meat. In the Parable of the Marriage Feast, Jesus mentioned the culinary delights that were to be had at some of the more grandiose marriage banquets, when He said the following:

"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage."
Matthew 22:1-4, KJV

Thirteen chapters earlier, in Matthew 9:15, Jesus also said the following:

"And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
Matthew 9:15, KJV

In his commentary on Matthew 9:15, theologian Adam Clarke also makes the following remarks regarding the "children of the bridechamber" who are mentioned in the verse:

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

"These persons were the companions of the bridegroom, who accompanied him to the house of his father-in-law when he went to bring the bride to his own home. The marriage-feast among the Jews lasted seven days; but the new married woman was considered to be a bride for thirty days. Marriage feasts were times of extraordinary festivity, and even of riot, among several people of the east."

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

So putting all of these pieces of the puzzle together, we can determine that ancient Jewish weddings, while viewed as very solemn contracts between men and women, were also an extended time of rejoicing in which plenty of food and drink was present, and undoubtedly, song and dance as well.

But the question still remains: At exactly what point did an ancient marriage actually become "official"? For that matter, when does a marriage become "official" in our modern day? Is it when a priest or public official declares it so? Does a piece of paper -- the marriage document -- make it official? What does one have to do in order to really be married? Well, while I believe that I may have shared this thought before, some of you may still find my answer a bit shocking. While the Bible may not seem to offer us a clear answer regarding this question, I believe that it does, if we recognize the hints that it offers us.

If you carefully study the verses that I have shared in this article, they suggest -- at least to me -- that the attitude of the ancient Israelites -- and maybe of God Himself -- is that the actual moment of marriage is not when a priest says "I now pronounce you man and wife", or when a man and a woman sign a marriage document in a public office;. It is when a man and a woman become one flesh. In other words, it is when they consummate their relationship by engaging in sex for the first time.

Please re-read some of the verses that I shared earlier from the Book of Deuteronomy. In my view, they seem to convey the attitude that the minute that a man and woman engage in sex, that's it; they are married. If a man had sex with a woman, particularly with a virgin, who was not yet betrothed, that was it. That man was obligated to go the full mile with her, because they had already become one in the flesh. That man was obligated to take care of her and support her for the rest of his life. Because from the moment that they had sex, she became his wife. You may not agree with me, but that is the attitude that I personally sense in some of those verses.

But there is another reason why I feel this way, and it has something to do with what Jesus said in the New Testament. I am referring to the following verses:

"The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
Matthew 22:23-30, KJV

In the previous verses, the Sadducees were referring to the "Law of Redemption" which can be found in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, as we see here:

"If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed."
Deuteronomy 25:5-10, KJV

As I explain in other articles, it was because Judah's son, Onan, refused to fulfill this very same obligation to Tamar, that the Lord struck Onan dead. In the end, Tamar gave birth to two sons by her own father-in-law -- Judah -- one of whom was Pharez. As you may already know, Pharez was a biological ancestor of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is interesting to note that centuries later, a very similar situation occurred when another kinsman refused to fulfill the Law of Redemption. As a result, Boaz married Ruth, and they had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who in turn was the father of King David. Following is a key part of that story, taken from the Book of Ruth:

"Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David."
Ruth 4:1-22, KJV

So as you can see, all of these men -- from Judah forward -- were the biological ancestors of Jesus Christ; which is why the Book of Revelation refers to Jesus as the "Lion of the tribe of Juda", as we see here:

"And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 5:5-10, KJV

But returning to our main topic, the previous verses from the Gospel of Matthew have puzzled theologians and others for many centuries. What did Jesus mean? More specifically, what did He mean by "marry" and "given in marriage"? And equally perplexing, what did the Lord mean by the statement "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." The power of God to do what exactly?

To understand what I really mean, we need to sort of reverse engineer some of those questions. In other words, what can we humans do here on Earth that the Angels in Heaven are not allowed to do? The answer to my question can be found in a controversial series that I wrote some years ago entitled "Nephilim: The Giants of Genesis". In that series, we find out that the grave sins of the Fallen Angels were that they lusted after human women, they abandoned their habitation in Heaven, they took on human form, and they had sex with human women, which resulted in the birth of the Nephilim. That is, the giants of the Old Testament. What the rebellious Angels could not do in Heaven, they came to Earth to do: have sex.

I suspect that this is what Jesus meant when He said "marry" and "given in marriage". When Laban gave Leah to Jacob that night, what happened? As we saw earlier, the Scriptures tell us that Jacob "went in unto her". He engaged in sex with her and she became his wife. She literally gave herself to him, just as Laban had given her to Jacob. Ruth did the very same thing with Boaz. She freely gave herself to him, following the wise advice of her mother-in-law, Naomi. So for these reasons, I believe that the sexual act is the real moment when two people become married; at least according to my understanding of the Scriptures. Is it possible then that when Jesus told the Sadducees that they didn't understand the Power of God, that He was referring to God's ability to remove sexual desire? I honestly don't know, but it's been suggested by others that this may be what Jesus meant. But if that is true, then why did the Fallen Angels lust after human women? So in my mind, it is still an open question.

Now, if my understanding is correct, and the sexual act does in fact equate to marriage in God's sight, given the liberal attitude of sexual promiscuity that has become so prominent in our world today, just think of how many polygamists and adulterers there are. The wide availability of abortion and many forms of birth control certainly doesn't do anything to help alleviate this problem. As I candidly point out in the series "Abortion: The Slaughter of the Innocent", in my opinion, abortion and birth control are both evil, because they both promote and encourage this very same attitude of sexual promiscuity.

At any rate, that is my current understanding regarding the real moment when two people actually become married. It is when they become one in the flesh. As we saw earlier in this article, God didn't say "I now pronounce you man and wife"; but rather he said "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth". Everything else -- such as the paperwork -- is just a part of the legal formalities which society has come to expect of us. In fact, it may interest you to know that when it comes to marriage and divorce, it seems that the paperwork has been around for literally thousands of years. For example, you may recall this scene that is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark:

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Matthew 19:3-9, KJV

"And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 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 asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."
Mark 10:2-12, KJV

In the previous verses, the Pharisees were referring to the following portion of the Mosaic Law which is found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy:

"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."
Deuteronomy 24:1-4, KJV

Sadly, as Jesus stated, divorce is not really a part of God's plan for humanity. It was only allowed under the Mosaic Law because of the hardness of the human heart. In other words, I believe that Jesus meant that God only allows divorce as a result of our own inability to love perfectly as we should. Equally tragic is the fact that in the years that followed, liberal-minded rabbis made it even easier for the Jews to obtain a divorce, even for the most vain of reasons. As the previous verses reveal, this was still in practice at the time of Christ. Today, of course, the situation concerning divorce has grown considerably worse. I am reminded of the following verse, spoken by Jesus, regarding the spiritual coldness which would overtake the world:

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
Matthew 24:12, KJV

While I was able to find Scriptural support for "paperwork" pertaining to divorce -- that is, the bill of divorcement -- as strange as it may seem, I was not able to find any verses which specifically mention any kind of document or physical contract -- referred to in Hebrew as "Kesubah" or "Ketubah" -- relating to the marriage ceremony itself. As we saw in part one, the Old Testament mainly discusses the "Mohar". That is to say, the dowry, or bride price. This is not to say that there aren't any verses which discuss a physical marriage contract. But in the time that I devoted to my Biblical research, I was not able to find any. On the other hand, I do find it interesting that the ancient Israelites had the custom of using a shoe, as we saw in the verses pertaining to both the Law of Redemption, as well as Boaz's marriage to Ruth.

As I noted at the beginning of this article, my purpose in writing this article was to answer my friend's question from a purely Biblical perspective. As you may recall, he asked me "How were marriage ceremonies carried out, according to God's Word?". The key phrase there is "according to God's Word". However, if you are interested in learning how the modern Jews perform wedding ceremonies, and in particular, Chassidic wedding ceremonies, you may wish to visit the following web pages:

If you do choose to visit those pages, one thing which you will notice, particularly with the first link, is that there are no Biblical references whatsoever. The foundation for the information is purely Jewish tradition, and the writings of the Jewish rabbis; some of whom took great liberty in their personal interpretation of the Torah -- or Law of God -- as it is found in the Pentateuch. That is to say, in the first five books of the Bible. The second link does provide a few Scriptural references near the bottom of the page.

Addendum - March 3, 2010

Upon reading the previous article, the person to whom it was addressed wrote back to me with the following question:

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

If male and female are married at the moment of intercourse, what then is fornication?

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

As I explained to him via an email message, I believe that he slightly misunderstood what I am saying in the previous article. To say it another way, when a man and a woman who are committed to each other engage in sexual intercourse, that is the moment at which they truly become married;. That is, when they actually become one flesh.

Fornication is something entirely different. If we carefully study the way that the word "fornication" is used in the New Testament, we will determine that it actually has multiple meanings. Generally speaking, fornication refers to any form of sexual activity which occurs outside of an established male/female marriage relationship, which involves multiple sex partners. The word "fornication" is derived from the Greek word "porneia", and encompasses any form of illicit sexual intercourse. This includes adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, prostitution, etc. Again, in its simplified form, fornication is sexual intercourse with multiple sex partners. The following verses demonstrate these points:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
Matthew 5:32, KJV

The above verse clearly demonstrates that marital infidelity, or adultery, is a form of fornication. It involves sex with more than one partner. That is, with one's spouse, as well as with an outsider. Now consider the following verse:

"Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
John 8:41, KJV

Notice how the Jews responded to Jesus with the phrase "one Father". Why were they offended? Because the Lord told them that they had another father, other than God. You see, at first, those Jews did not really understand what Jesus was saying to them. They were quite boastful about the fact that they were the sons -- that is, the physical descendants -- of Abraham; but Jesus was implying that they had another father. In other words, in their minds, Jesus was implying that they had more than one father, and thus were the result of multiple sexual relationships. Thus, they took offense, and stated that they were not born of fornication, and had one father. The fact that they used the word "one" clarifies what they were thinking. Of course, Jesus was not referring to physical fornication whatsoever. He was referring to spiritual fornication, and made the fact quite plain to them when He blasted them in verse forty-four where He bluntly tells them that their father is the Devil:

"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV

If we turn to the Apostle Paul's first Epistle to the church at Corinth, we discover another scriptural example which also demonstrates that Biblically-speaking, fornication refers to sexual relations with more than one partner. Consider this:

"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife."
1 Corinthians 5:1, KJV

In the above verse, we again see that fornication refers to multiple sex partners. In this case, the Church at Corinth was experiencing a very serious problem where a father and a son were having sexual relations with the same woman. That is, with the wife/mother. The Apostle Paul took this problem so seriously that he told them the following:

"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
1 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

This same idea of fornication referring to multiple sex partners is born out in the following verse as well, where the Apostle Paul states that to avoid fornication, we must have only one sex partner. That is, our husband or wife:

"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
1 Corinthians 7:2, KJV

The intention of Paul's words seems to be that when one is not dedicated to one husband or one wife, he or she tends to go from one sex partner to another, in pursuit of happiness, sexual fulfillment, and the perfect mate. There should be no doubt in any one's mind that this attitude is very prevalent in our modern day, and that the world is filled with fornicators.

We find another Biblical example which perfectly defines the meaning of fornication in the Mother of all Fornicators. That is, in Babylon the Great Whore, who is mentioned in the pages of the Book of Revelation. Spiritually-speaking, we are told that she has had multiple sex partners via the kings and the merchants of the Earth who weep at her destruction, as we see by the following set of verses:

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Revelation 14:8, KJV

"With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication . . . And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:"
Revelation 17:2, 4 KJV

"For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. . . And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,"
Revelation 18:3, 9, KJV

"For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand."
Revelation 19:2, KJV

So the previous verses and examples should give everyone a much clearer understanding of what the word "fornication" means, according to the Bible. It is important to remember that, as Christians, we should not always depend upon the modern definitions that are applied to words in order to understand the Bible. Sometimes we need to delve into the past, use Hebrew and Greek lexicons, and find the original meanings of words, in order to properly understand God's Word.

Having shared that piece of information with you, I will bring this article to a close. I trust that you have found it helpful and informative, and I pray that it has been an inspiration and a blessing in your life.

If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or with any other social network, I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click or tap on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!

With these thoughts, I will bring this article to a close. It is my hope that you have found it informative, enlightening, and I pray that it has been a blessing in your life as well. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or with any other social network, I would really appreciate if you'd take the time to click or tap on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!

For additional information and further study, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were either mentioned in this article, or which contain topics which are related to this article. All of these articles are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics web server. To read these articles, simply click or tap on any link you see below.

The Fruit of the Womb
"Adultery, Fornication, Marriage and Divorce" KJV Bible Verse List
Abortion: The Slaughter of the Innocent
Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement
Women Shepherds, Pastors and Teachers: A Biblical Perspective
Churchianity Or Christianity: Which Do You Practice?
Nephilim: The Giants of Genesis
The Gay and Lesbian Agenda: To the Point!
When Sin is No Longer a Sin!
Queen James Bible: Blasphemous Abomination Exposed!
"Homosexuality Lesbianism Bestiality Transvestitism" KJV Bible Verse List
The Overhauling of Straight America
The Gay Gene?

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