Marriage in Bible Times

Theo1689

Well-known member
It seems a number of people are unaware of how marriages worked in Biblical times, and naively think it is the same "romantic" way it occurs in the Western world. Unfortunately, two of the people who need this information the most have me on "ignore", and so they may never even read this, but I found it interesting to study anyway.

Let's start with Jacob and Rachel, which Seth claimed was not based on a contract between the bride's father and the groom, but apparently it was based on "mutual love".

Gen. 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.

This sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like a contract between Laban and Jacob.

Now, we all know that Laban tricked Jacob, and gave him the weak-eyed Leah instead. So they made another contract for another seven years, for Rachel:

Gen. 29:25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
Gen. 29:28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.

And after the agreement between Laban and Jacob, Laban gave Rachel to him. This is not some "figurative" gesture, like the father of the bride giving the bride away today, it was his decision who she would marry.


Now, let's look at a particular phraseology, which modern readers might unfortunately "interpret" away from its original meaning:

Gen. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took wives.
Gen. 12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife,
Gen. 24:67 Then Isaac ... took Rebekah, and she became his wife,
Gen. 25:1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.
Gen. 25:20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah ... to be his wife.
Gen. 26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith ... to be his wife,

Gen. 30:9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. (Apparently the master of a female servant had the same right as a father to give that woman as a wife.)

Gen. 38:6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
Ex. 2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
Ex. 6:23 Aaron took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of eAmminadab
Ex. 6:25 Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took as his wife one of the daughters of Putiel,
Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.
1Chr. 7:15 And Machir took a wife for Huppim and for Shuppim.
2Chr. 11:18 Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the
Mark 12:20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.

Now does any of that sound "mutual" between the man and the woman?


And we have similar terminology regarding the term, "marriage":

Gen. 38:14 ... For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage.
Judg. 12:9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan,
Judg. 21:1 ... “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.”


1Kings 3:1 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David ... (Sure sounds like a contract between the father of a bride, and the groom.)

1Kings 11:19 And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.
1Chr. 2:35 So Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to Jarha his slave, and she bore him Attai.


Jer. 29:6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.

This verse pretty much sums up the Biblical idea of marriage:

Men "take wives".
Women "are given in marriage".
 

SovereignGrace

Well-known member
It seems a number of people are unaware of how marriages worked in Biblical times, and naively think it is the same "romantic" way it occurs in the Western world. Unfortunately, two of the people who need this information the most have me on "ignore", and so they may never even read this, but I found it interesting to study anyway.

Let's start with Jacob and Rachel, which Seth claimed was not based on a contract between the bride's father and the groom, but apparently it was based on "mutual love".

Gen. 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.

This sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like a contract between Laban and Jacob.

Now, we all know that Laban tricked Jacob, and gave him the weak-eyed Leah instead. So they made another contract for another seven years, for Rachel:

Gen. 29:25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
Gen. 29:28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.

And after the agreement between Laban and Jacob, Laban gave Rachel to him. This is not some "figurative" gesture, like the father of the bride giving the bride away today, it was his decision who she would marry.


Now, let's look at a particular phraseology, which modern readers might unfortunately "interpret" away from its original meaning:

Gen. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took wives.
Gen. 12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife,
Gen. 24:67 Then Isaac ... took Rebekah, and she became his wife,
Gen. 25:1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.
Gen. 25:20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah ... to be his wife.
Gen. 26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith ... to be his wife,

Gen. 30:9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. (Apparently the master of a female servant had the same right as a father to give that woman as a wife.)

Gen. 38:6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
Ex. 2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
Ex. 6:23 Aaron took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of eAmminadab
Ex. 6:25 Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took as his wife one of the daughters of Putiel,
Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.
1Chr. 7:15 And Machir took a wife for Huppim and for Shuppim.
2Chr. 11:18 Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the
Mark 12:20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.

Now does any of that sound "mutual" between the man and the woman?


And we have similar terminology regarding the term, "marriage":

Gen. 38:14 ... For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage.
Judg. 12:9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan,
Judg. 21:1 ... “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.”


1Kings 3:1 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David ... (Sure sounds like a contract between the father of a bride, and the groom.)

1Kings 11:19 And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.
1Chr. 2:35 So Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to Jarha his slave, and she bore him Attai.


Jer. 29:6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.

This verse pretty much sums up the Biblical idea of marriage:

Men "take wives".
Women "are given in marriage".

Bingo!
 
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