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BIBLICAL PATRIARCHAL MARRIAGE

A Biblical patriarchal marriage is one that is biblical in nature, following the precepts of God’s law in Jewish marriage. It is not to be of the notion of Romantic Love, which is that of a mediaeval European concept. Yet it is not entirely Jewish, because it is not to follow traditions blindly, but it traces the spirit of the Law, putting into perspective the principles of God in marriage. It is Kingdom minded, at the same time maintaining the love and union of thcse man and woman in good depths.

The Torah provides very little guidance with regard to the procedures of a marriage. The method of finding a spouse, the form of the wedding ceremony, and the nature of the marital relationship are mostly explained in the Talmud.

THE JEWISH MARITAL RELATIONSHIP

Marriage is vitally important in Judaism. Refraining from marriage is not considered holy, as it is in some other religions. On the contrary, it is considered unnatural. The Talmud tells of a rabbi who was introduced to a young unmarried rabbi. The older rabbi told the younger one not to come into his presence again until he was married.

Marriage is not solely, or even primarily, for the purpose of procreation. Traditional sources recognize that companionship, love and intimacy are the primary purposes of marriage, noting that woman was created in Gen. 2:18 because "it is not good for man to be alone," rather than because she was necessary for procreation. According to the Torah and the Talmud, a man was permitted to marry more than one wife, but a woman could not marry more than one man. Polygyny among the Jews was subsequently banned because of pressure from the predominant Christian culture. It continued to be permitted for Sephardic Jews in Islamic lands for many years. To the present day, Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews continue to practice polygyny. The modern state of Israel allows only one wife, unless you come to Israel with more than one wife, in which case you can keep the wives you have but you cannot marry new ones.

A husband is responsible for providing his wife with food, clothing and sexual relations (Ex. 21:10), as well as anything else specified in the ketubah. A married woman retains ownership of any property she brought to the marriage, but the husband has the right to manage the property and to enjoy profits from the property.

The minimum age for marriage under Jewish law is 13 for boys, 12 for girls; however, the kiddushin can take place before that, and often did in mediaeval times. The Talmud recommends that a man marry at age 18, or somewhere between 16 and 24.

The Torah sets forth a laundry list of prohibited relations. Such marriages are never valid. A man cannot marry certain close blood relatives, the ex-wives of certain close blood relatives, a woman who has not been validly divorced from her previous husband, the daughter or granddaughter of his ex-wife, or the sister of his ex-wife during the ex-wife's life time. For a complete list, see 613 Mitzvot (Commandments).

The offspring of such a marriage are mamzerim (bastards, illegitimate), and subject to a variety of restrictions; however it is important to note that only the offspring of these incestuous or forbidden marriages are mamzerim. Children born out of wedlock are not mamzerim in Jewish law and bear no stigma, unless the marriage would have been prohibited for the reasons above. Children of a married man and a woman who is not his wife are not mamzerim (because the marriage between the parents would not have been prohibited), although children of a married woman and a man who is not her husband are mamzerim (because she could not have married him).

A Biblical patriarchal marriage, in addition to companionship and procreation, considers how the union can be of a blessing to the Kingdom of God, to uphold the testimony of the abundant life in Christ by restoring the headship of Christ and the husband in the family and ministry. It will endeavor to find its specific purpose in God.

MATCH MAKING

The very first stage of a traditional Jewish marriage, is the shidduch, or matchmaking. This means that the process of finding a partner is not haphazard or based on purely external aspects. Rather a close friend or relative of a man and a woman who knows someone who may be compatible. The meeting focuses on important issues as well as casual conversation. The Talmud states that the couple must also be physically attracted to each other.

Whether match-make or not, the Talmud specifies that a woman can be acquired only with her consent, and not without it. Kiddushin 2a-b, Jewish law does not permit anyone to marry against his or her will. Even so, the choice is subjected to some restrictions. So in a patriarchal marriage, it should be one that would contribute to the advancement of the kingdom and not hinder it. Generally, the woman should marry upward, for the man should be someone stronger and more mature that she can look up to, and be someone appropriate to lead the family and ministry that they are involved in.

ACQUIRING A SPOUSE

Mishnah Kiddushin 1:1 specifies that a woman is acquired (i.e., to be a wife) in three ways: through money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Ordinarily, all three of these conditions are satisfied, although only one is necessary to effect a binding marriage.

Acquisition by money is normally satisfied by the wedding ring. It is important to note that although money is one way of "acquiring" a wife, the woman is not being bought and sold like a piece of property or a slave. This is obvious from the fact that the amount of money involved is nominal (according to the Mishnah, a perutah, a copper coin of the lowest denomination, was sufficient). In addition, if woman were being purchased like a piece of property, it would be possible for the husband to resell her, and clearly it is not. Rather, the wife's acceptance of the money is a symbolic way of demonstrating her acceptance of the husband, just like acceptance of the contract or the sexual intercourse.

THE PROCESS OF MARRIAGE: KIDDUSHIN AND NISUIN

The process of marriage occurs in two distinct stages: kiddushin (commonly translated as betrothal) and nisuin (full-fledged marriage). Kiddushin occurs when the woman accepts the money, contract or sexual relations offered by the prospective husband. The word "kiddushin" comes from the root Qof-Dalet-Shin, meaning "sanctified." It reflects the sanctity of the marital relation. However, the root word also connotes something that is set aside for a specific (sacred) purpose, and the ritual of kiddushin sets aside the woman to be the wife of a particular man and no other.

Kiddushin is far more binding than an engagement as we understand the term in modern America; in fact, Maimonides speaks of a period of engagement before the kiddushin. Once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man. The relationship created by kiddushin can only be dissolved by death or divorce. However, the spouses do not live together at that time, and the mutual obligations created by the marital relationship do not take effect until the nisuin is complete.

The nisuin (from a word meaning "elevation") completes the process of marriage. The husband brings the wife into his home and they begin their married life together. "Elevation" also means connecting the husband and wife to God.

In the past, the kiddushin and nisuin would routinely occur as much as a year apart. During that time, the husband would prepare a home for the new family. There was always a risk that during this long period of separation, the woman would discover that she wanted to marry another man, or the man would disappear, leaving the woman in the awkward state of being married but without a husband. Today, the two ceremonies are normally performed together.

Because marriage under Jewish law is essentially a private contractual agreement between a man and a woman, it does not require the presence of a rabbi or any other religious official. It is common, however, for rabbis to officiate, partly in imitation of the Christian practice and partly because the presence of a religious or civil official is required under American civil law.

As you can see, it is very easy to make a marriage, so the rabbis instituted severe punishments (usually flogging and compelled divorce) where marriage was undertaken without proper planning and solemnity.

THE RING

To satisfy the requirements of acquisition by money, the ring must belong to the groom. It must be given to the wife irrevocably. The ring can a plain gold band without break or engraving to represent continuity, purity or can be a diamond ring to represent the value and preciousness of the relationship. The man then places the ring on the woman's finger and says "Be sanctified (mekudeshet) to me with this ring in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel." It was traditionally thought that the left-hand fourth finger is linked directly to the heart. By Jewish tradition, it is to be worn on the index finger of the right hand, the finger that points at the words when reading the Torah. Patriarchally, there should be liberty in this.

THE COVENANT

KETUBAH. As part of the wedding ceremony, the husband gives the wife a ketubah. The word "Ketubah" comes from the root Kaf-Tav-Bet, meaning "writing." The ketubah is also called the marriage contract. The ketubah spells out the husband's obligations to the wife during marriage, conditions of inheritance upon his death, and obligations regarding the support of children of the marriage. It also provides for the wife's support in the event of divorce. There are standard conditions; however, additional conditions can be included by mutual agreement. It is witnessed by 2 people. Marriage agreements of this sort were commonplace in the ancient Semitic world. The ketubah has much in common with prenuptial agreements, which are gaining popularity in America. The ketubah is often a beautiful work of calligraphy, framed and displayed in the home.

In Biblical patriarchal setting, there should also be a PATRIARCHAL COVENANT in writing, stating the purpose of the marriage in God, commitment to Kingdom, specific promises of God, and personal commitment and statements to one another.

THE 7 CIRCLES

This is the process where the bride circles around the groom 7 times. This is not to be taken as demeaning to the woman. It shows that he is now the center of her life. This is not to be taken (if the tradition so state) as a magical means of protection of creating an invisible wall to protect him from evil spirits, from the glances of other women and from the temptations of the world. Rather it is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:21-22 "Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities. How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth-- a woman shall encompass a man." It is a demonstration of the shift of her allegiance from her parents to that of her husband. It is the restoration of patriarchy and it is good that while the woman circles round the man, the man should "circle" around God by reciting the 7 blessings. Thus God is the center of the man, while the man is the center of the woman.

THE 7 BLESSINGS

The bride and groom recite seven blessings (sheva brakhos) in the presence of a minyan (prayer quorum of 10 adult Jewish men). The essence of each of the seven blessings is:

1.... who has created everything for his glory
2.... who fashioned the Man
3.... who fashioned the Man in His image ...
4.... who gladdens Zion through her children
5.... who gladdens groom and bride
6.... who created joy and gladness ... who gladdens the groom with the bride
7… and the standard prayer over wine.

God is never a God after traditions. Thus in a Biblical patriarchal setting, the 7 blessings can be changed to reflect what is more appropriate for the couple, bearing in mind that in the case of a patriarchal marriage, God and His Kingdom are to be blessed above all.

Click Here For Red_Small_Right.gif (871 bytes) 7 Biblical Patriarchal Blessings

CHUPPAH

The bride and groom stand beneath the chuppah, They are accompanied by their parents whom they will continue to honor. The chuppah is a canopy of a decorated cloth held up by four poles, symbolic of their dwelling together and of the husband's bringing the wife into his home, and it is the next phase of the marriage, "nissuin" which means "elevation" of the man and woman to God. The importance of the chuppah is so great that the wedding ceremony is sometimes referred to as the chuppah. Instead of a chuppah that may not be available to the Christians, the couple can come and stand by the altar, which represents the inner court of God, thus presenting the bride to the Heavenly Father. This is also where the Holy Communion be conducted, where the couple will drink from the same cup.

BREAKING THE GLASS

The groom smashes a glass with his right foot. Superstition has it that noises including that of a shattering glass is a deterrent to evil spirits. The traditional explanation is that the breaking of glass is an expression of regret and sorrow over the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. But to the Christians, it is not just the temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed, the Universal Church is robbed, ravished and fragmented. Thus patriarchally, the couple would determine that their hearts would not rest until the Church is restored and the Temple rebuilt. It does make good sense to break the glass after the chuppah to be identified with the heart and burden of God.

BRINGING BRIDE HOME

The couple retires briefly to the private room, symbolic of the groom bringing the wife into his home. A feast follows and the couple at some point returns with band or MC announcing, "For the first time, let’s welcome, Mr and Mrs …."

In a polygamous setting, it would be good and edifying if appropriate, to bring the bride to the earlier wife or wives (with due respect and consideration) who would extend a gesture of reception and acceptance by giving her an embrace and presenting her a gift token of some kind.

A PATRIARCHAL WEDDING CEREMONY

A Biblical patriarchal ceremony should never be blindly ritualistic but intelligently conducted with some cultural adjustments and individual preferences. The following ceremonial procedure is an example of a Biblical Patriarchal Marriage that has been conducted to meaningfully maintain God’s principles of marriage for a patriarchal union.

The day before the wedding, both the bride and the groom may want to fast.

WORSHIP
BRIDE MARCH IN
GROOM’S TESTIMONY
BRIDE’S TESTIMONY
MESSAGE OR TEACHING
OTHER TESTIMONIES
MARITAL COVENANT READ & PRESENTED
RINGS EXCHANGE
LIFT THE VEIL & KISS THE BRIDE
7 CIRCLES & 7 BLESSINGS & PRAYER FOR THE UNMARRIED
HOLY COMMUNION
BREAK THE GLASS
JOIN THE FAMILY (In the case of polygamy)
PRAYER OF BLESSING
PRESENTATION & MARCH OUT TO PRIVATE ROOM
RECEPTION
GROOM & BRIDE RETURN TO RECEPTION

Click Here For Red_Small_Right.gif (871 bytes) A Biblical Patriarchal Wedding Ceremony

 

RESTORATION OF BIBLICAL PATRIARCHY

HEBRAIC ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY

Israel CS Lim, May 1998

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://user03.blue.aol.com/jewfaq/marriage.htm
Judaism 101, an online encyclopedia of Judaism, covering Jewish beliefs, people, places, things, language, scripture, holidays, practices and customs.

http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Judaism/marriage.html
The Jewish Student Online Research Center (JSOURCE)

http://www.ohr.org.il/judaism/articles/wedding.htm
Jewish Wedding Ceremony: An Overview by Rabbi Mordechai Becher

http://hillel.stanford.edu/Being_Jewish/wedding_ceremony.html
Jewish Wedding Ceremonies: A Practical Guide by Rabbi Ari Mark Cartun

http://www.pnc.com.au/~columba/sor/ropjew1.htm
http://econ.pstc.brown.edu/~ronel/lisa&joshua/guidetomarriage.html

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