The ancient Jewish wedding custom has a well-established cultural code for bringing together a man and a woman into marriage, that dates back to the days of the Patriarchs, and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Some of those customs have become part of western wedding customs, however, most if not all do not. Jews teach that, originally man and woman were created as a single being. According to one tradition, Adam and Eve were created as a single being. According to one Hebrew tradition, Adam and Eve, were created on the sixth day of creation. One tradition teaches that they were Siamese twins. God then separated the two forming Eve from Adam's side. Thus, man and woman, i.e., husband and wife began as a single entity. Togetherness was their natural state. Their love stems from this natural tendency to be one. The sages of old say that prior to the marriage neither man nor woman is considered a complete entity. The marriage is the joining of the two halves - man and woman - into one complete wholesome being.
While some of the traditions noted above are not Biblical, it permeates the Jewish thinking concerning the holiness of marriage. The Jewish Father of the Groom chose or made the decision and approved the choice of a Bride. In traditional Jewish customs, marriages were arranged by their fathers. It is quite often that the Bride and Groom have never seen one another before they are engaged. Middle Eastern culture is very patriarchal, meaning that the father is deeply involved in his children's choice of marriage life-partners and always requires his approval and blessing. As an indicator of just how important the father is, I experienced this first hand, this patriarchal authority. Shortly after being discharged from the military, I went to work for U.S. Steel Corporation and I asked a young girl out from the accounting department and before she could date, I had to first be invited for Sunday dinner with the family. I went at the special invitation of her father. He sat at the head of the family dinner table, and I was invited to sit at the other end of the table. As I recall, there were nine members of the family present. I felt like I was being examined inside and out with the questions of her father. Subsequently, we did date three times, but later she politely told me her father had "chosen" another suitor for her. I worked in a different department, and we remained friends for many years later.
The beginning step in the "Biblical Theme of the Bride" is that of Choosing the Bride. The particulars are modeled upon Abraham sending forth his servant to choose a bride for Isaac.
Genesis 24:2 - "And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:"
Genesis 24:3 - "And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:"
Genesis 24:4 - "But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."
In reality, it was the Lord that chose the bride. The 24th chapter of Genesis reveals the larger picture, and the text yields only portions of this in the surface text, and even much more within the Hebrew text.
Genesis 24:14 - "And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say. Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: but the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master."
Genesis 24:27 - "And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren."
"It was of the LORD" that sent Samson to marry a Philistine woman:
Judges 14:3 - "Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well."
Judges 14:4 - "But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistine had dominion over Israel."
Deuteronomy 7:6 - "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."
Deuteronomy 7:7 - "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:"
God sends the Holy Spirit to choose us through conviction of sin, which causes us to acknowledge our need of a savior:
John 16:7 - "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
John 16:8 - "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"
God's people are chosen:
Matthew 22:14 - "For many are called, but few are chosen."
John 15:16 - "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you."
2 Thessalonians 2:13 - "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
1 Peter 2:9 - "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;"
The noted passages of Scripture are confirmation that it is God Himself that chooses the Bride. In part 5 we will look at the Bride Price.