From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]


1. Forms of Marriage . There are two forms of marriage among primitive races: (1) where the husband becomes part of his wife’s tribe, (2) where the wife becomes part of her husband’s tribe.

(1) W. R. Smith ( Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia ) gives to this form the name sadika , from the sadac or ‘gift’ given to the wife, ( a ) The union may be confined to an occasional visit to the wife in her home ( mota marriage). This is distinguished from mere prostitution, in that no disgrace is attached, and the children are recognized by the trine; cf. Samson’s marriage. ( b ) The husband may be definitely incorporated into his wife’s tribe ( beena marriage). The wife meets her husband on equal terms; children belong to her trine, and descent is reckoned on the mother’s side. Women could inherit in Arabia under this system ( op. cit . p. 94). Possible traces in OT are the marriages of Jacob (Laban claims wives and children as his own,   Genesis 31:31;   Genesis 31:42 ), Moses (  Exodus 2:21;   Exodus 4:18 ), Samson (  Judges 14:1-20;   Judges 15:1-20 ,   Judges 16:4; there is no hint that he meant to take his wife home; his kid seems to be the sadac or customary present). So the Shechemites must be circumcised (  Genesis 34:15 ); Joseph’s sons born in Egypt are adopted by Jacob (  Genesis 48:5 ); Abimelech, the son of Gideon’s Shechemite concubine (  Judges 8:31 ), is a Shechemite (  Judges 9:1-5 ). The words of   Genesis 2:24 may have originally referred to this custom, though they are evidently not intended to do so by the narrator, since beena marriages were already out of date when they were written. Many of the instances quoted can be explained as due to special circumstances, but the admitted existence of such marriages in Arabia makes it probable that we should find traces of them among the Semites in general. They make it easier to understand the existence of the primitive custom of the ‘ matriarchate ,’ or reckoning of descent through females. In addition to the cases already quoted, we may add the closeness of maternal as compared with paternal relationships, evidenced in bars of marriage (see below, § 3), and the special responsibility of the maternal uncle or brother (  Genesis 24:29;   Genesis 34:25 ,   2 Samuel 13:22 ). It is evident that the influence of polygamy would be in the same direction, subdividing the family into smaller groups connected with each wife.

(2) The normal type is where the wife becomes the property of her husband, who is her ‘Baal’ or possessor ( Hosea 2:16 ), she herself being ‘Beulah’ (  Isaiah 62:4 ). She and her children belong to his tribe, and he alone has right of divorce. ( a ) In unsettled times the wife will he acquired by war (  Judges 5:30 ). She is not merely a temporary means of pleasure, or even a future mother, but a slave and an addition to a man’s wealth.   Deuteronomy 21:10-14 regulates the procedure in cases of capture; in   Judges 19:1-30;   Judges 20:1-48;   Judges 21:1-25 we have an instance of the custom. Traces may remain in later marriage procedure, e.g . in the band of the bridegroom’s friends escorting, i.e . ‘capturing,’ the bride, and in her feigned resistance, as among the Bedouin (W. R. Smith, op. cit . p. 81). ( b ) Capture gives place to purchase and ultimately to contract . The daughter is valuable to the clan as a possible mother of warriors, and cannot be parted with except for a consideration. Hence the ‘dowry’ (see below, § 5) paid to the bride’s parents.

2. Polygamy among the Hebrews was confined to a plurality of wives (polygyny). There is no certain trace in OT of a plurality of husbands (polyandry), though the Levirate marriage is sometimes supposed to be a survival. The chief causes of polygyny were ( a ) the desire for a numerous offspring, or the barrenness of first wife (Abraham’s case is directly ascribed to this, and among many peoples it is permitted on this ground alone); ( b ) the position and importance offered by numerous alliances ( e.g . Solomon); ( c ) the existence of slavery, which almost implies it. It can obviously be prevalent only where there is a disproportionate number of females, and, except in a state of war, is possible only to those wealthy enough to provide the necessary ‘dowry.’ A further limitation is implied in the fact that in more advanced stages, when the harem is established, the wife when secured is a source, not of wealth, but of expense.

Polygamy meets us as a fact: e.g . Abraham, Jacob, the Judges, David, Solomon;   1 Chronicles 7:4 is evidence of its prevalence in Issachar; Elkanah (  1 Samuel 1:1 f.) is significant as belonging to the middle class; Jehoiada (  2 Chronicles 24:3 ) as a priest. But it is always treated with suspicion; it is incompatible with the ideal of   Genesis 2:24 , and its origin is ascribed to Lamech, the Cainite (  Genesis 4:19 ). In   Deuteronomy 17:17 the king is warned not to multiply wives; later regulations fixed the number at eighteen for a king and four for an ordinary man. The quarrels and jealousies of such a narrative as   Genesis 29:21-30 are clearly intended to illustrate its evils, and it is in part the cause of the troubles of the reigns of David and Solomon. Legislation (see below, § 6) safeguarded the rights of various wives, slave or free; and according to the Rabbinic interpretation of   Leviticus 21:13 the high priest was not allowed to be a bigamist. Noah, Isaac, and Joseph had only one wife, and domestic happiness in the Bible is always connected with monogamy (  2 Kings 4:1-44 ,   Psalms 128:1-6 ,   Proverbs 31:1-31 , Sir 25:1; Sir 25:8; Sir 26:1; Sir 26:13 ). The marriage figure applied to the union of God and Israel (§ 10) implied monogamy as the ideal state. Polygamy is, in fact, always an unnatural development from the point of view both of religion and of anthropology; ‘monogamy is by far the most common form of human marriage; it was so also amongst the ancient peoples of whom we have any direct knowledge’ Westermarck, Hum. Marr . p. 459). Being, however, apparently legalized, and having the advantage of precedent, it was long before polygamy was formally forbidden in Hebrew society, though practically it fell into disuse; the feeling of the Rabbis was strongly against it. Herod had nine wives at once (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XVII. i. 3, cf. 2). Its possibility is implied by the technical continuance of the Levirate law, and is proved by the early interpretation of   1 Timothy 3:2 , whether correct or not (§ 8). Justin ( Dial . 134, 141) reproaches the Jews of his day with having ‘four or even five wives,’ and marrying ‘as they wish, or as many as they wish.’ The evidence of the Talmud shows that in this case at least the reproach had some foundation. Polygamy was not definitely forbidden among the Jews till the time of R. Gershom ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 1000), and then at first only for France and Germany. In Spain, Italy, and the East it persisted for some time longer, as it does still among the Jews in Mohammedan countries.

3. Bars to Marriage

(1) Prohibited degrees . Their range varies extraordinarily among different peoples, but on the whole it is wider among uncivilized than among civilized races (Westermarck, op. cit . p. 297), often embracing the whole tribe. The instinctive impulse was not against marriage with a near relative qua relative, but against marriage where there was early familiarity. ‘Whatever is the origin of bars to marriage, they are certainly early associated with the feeling that it is indecent for housemates to intermarry’ (W. R. Smith, op. cit . p. 170). The origin of the instinct is natural selection, consanguineous marriages being on the whole unfavourable to the species, in man as among animals. This, of course, was not consciously realized; the instinct took the form of a repulsion to union with those among whom one had lived; as these would usually be blood relations, that which we recognize as horror of incest was naturally developed (Westermarck, p. 352). We find in OT no trace of dislike to marriage within the tribe ( i.e . endogamy), though, judging by Arab analogies, it may have originally existed; on the contrary, the Hebrews were strongly endogamous, marrying within the nation. The objection, however, to incestuous marriages was strong, though in early times there was laxity with regard to intermarriage with relatives on the father’s side, a natural result of the ‘matriarchate’ and of polygamy, where each wife with her family formed a separate group in her own tent. Abram married his half-sister (  Genesis 20:12 );   2 Samuel 13:13 ,   Ezekiel 22:11 imply the continuance of the practice. Nahor married his niece (  Genesis 11:29 ), and Amram his paternal aunt (  Exodus 6:20 ). On marriage with a stepmother see below, § 6. Jacob married two sisters (cf.   Judges 15:2 ). Legislation is found in   Leviticus 18:7-17;   Leviticus 20:11 (cf.   Deuteronomy 27:20;   Deuteronomy 27:22-23 ); for details see the commentaries. We note the omission of prohibition of marriage with a niece, and with widow of maternal uncle.   Leviticus 18:13 forbids marriage not with a deceased but with a living wife’s sister, i.e . a special form of polygamy. The ‘bastard’ of   Deuteronomy 23:2 is probably the offspring of an incestuous marriage. An heiress was not allowed to marry outside her tribe (  Numbers 36:6; cf.   Numbers 27:4 , Tob 6:12; Tob 7:12 ). For restrictions on priests see   Leviticus 21:7;   Leviticus 21:14 . There were no caste restrictions, though difference in rank would naturally be an objection (  1 Samuel 18:18;   1 Samuel 18:23 ). Outside the prohibited degrees consanguineous marriages were common (  Genesis 24:4 , Tob 4:12 ); in   Judges 14:3 the best marriage is ‘from thy brethren.’ Jubilees 4 maintains that all the patriarchs from Adam to Noah married near relatives. Cousin marriages among the Jews are said to occur now three times more often than among other civilized peoples (Westermarck, p. 481).

(2) Racial bars arose from religious and historical causes.   Genesis 24:1-67;   Genesis 28:1-22;   Genesis 34:1-31 ,   Numbers 12:1 ,   Judges 14:3 illustrate the objection to foreign marriages; Esau’s Hittite wives are a grief to his parents (  Genesis 26:34;   Genesis 27:46 ); cf.   Leviticus 24:10 . The marriage of Joseph (  Genesis 41:45 ) is due to stress of circumstances, but David (  2 Samuel 3:3 ) and Solomon (  1 Kings 3:1;   1 Kings 11:1 ) set a deliberate example which was readily Imitated (  1 Kings 16:31 ). Among the common people there must have been other cases similar to Naomi’s (  Ruth 1:4 ): Bathsheba (  2 Samuel 11:8 ), Hiram (  1 Kings 7:14 ), Amasa (  1 Chronicles 2:17 ), Jehozabad (  2 Chronicles 24:26 ) are the children of mixed marriages. They are forbidden with the inhabitants of Canaan (  Exodus 34:16 ,   Deuteronomy 7:3 ), but tolerated with Moabites and Egyptians (  Deuteronomy 23:7 ). Their prevalence was a trouble to Ezra (9, 10) and to Nehemiah (  Nehemiah 10:30;   Nehemiah 13:23 ). Tob 4:12; Tob 6:16 , 1Ma 1:15 renew the protest against them. In the Diaspora they were permitted on condition of proselytism, but Jubilees 30 forbids them absolutely; they are ‘fornication.’ Jewish strictness in this respect was notorious (Tac. Hist . v. 5; cf.   Acts 10:28 ). The case of Timothy’s parents (  Acts 16:1-3 ) is an example of the greater laxity which prevailed in central Asia Minor. It is said that now the proportion of mixed to pure marriages among the Jews is about 1 to 500 (Westermarck, p. 375), though it varies greatly in different countries.   1 Corinthians 7:39 probably discourages marriage with a heathen (cf.   1 Corinthians 7:12 ff;   1 Corinthians 9:5 ), but the general teaching of the Epp. would remove any religious bar to intermarriage between Christians of different race, though it does not touch the social or physiological advisability.

4. Levirate Marriage (Lat. lçvir , ‘a brother-in-law’). In   Deuteronomy 25:5-10 (no || in other codes of OT) it is enacted that if a man die leaving no son (‘child’ LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , Josephus,   Matthew 22:24 ), his brother, if he lives on the same estate, is to take his widow, and the eldest child is to succeed to the name and inheritance of the deceased (cf.   Genesis 38:9 ). If the survivor refuses, a formal declaration is to be made before the elders of the city, and the widow is to express her contempt by loosing his sandal and spitting in his face. The law is a codification, possibly a restriction, of an existing custom. ( a ) It is presupposed for the patriarchal age in   Genesis 38:1-30 , the object of this narrative being to insist on the duty of the survivor; ( b ) Heb. has a special word = ‘to perform the duty of a husband’s brother’; ( c ) the custom is found with variations in different parts of the world India, Tibet, Madagascar, etc. In India it is confined to the case where there is no child, and lasts only till an heir is born; sometimes it is only permissive. In other cases it operates without restriction, and may be connected with the form of polyandry where the wife is the common property of all the brothers. But it does not necessarily imply polyandry, of which indeed there is no trace in OT. Among the Indians, Persians, and Afghans it is connected with ancestor worship, the object being to ensure that there shall be some one to perform the sacrificial rites; the supposed indications of this among the Hebrews are very doubtful. In OT it is more probably connected with the desire to preserve the family name (a man lived through his children), and to prevent a division or alienation of property. On the other hand, the story of   Ruth 4:1-22 seems to belong to the circle of ideas according to which the wife is inherited as part of a man’s property. Boaz marries Ruth as goel , not as levir , and the marriage is legally only a subordinate element in the redemption of the property. There is no stigma attached to the refusal of the nearer kinsman, and the son ranks as belonging to Boaz. The prohibited degrees in   Leviticus 18:1-30 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) make no exception in favour of the Levirate marriage, whether repealing or presupposing it is uncertain. In later times we have the Sadducees’ question in   Mark 12:19 ||. It does not imply the continuance of the practice. It had fallen into disuse, and the Mishna invents many limitations to avoid the necessity of compliance. It was agreed that the woman must have no child (Dt. ‘son’), and the school both of Shammai and of the Sadducees apparently confined the law to the case of a betrothed, not a wedded, wife. If so, the difficulty was twofold, striking at the Levirate custom as well as at the belief in the Resurrection (Edershelm, LT ii. 400).

5. Marriage Customs

(1) The arranging of a marriage was normally in the hands of the parents (  Genesis 21:21;   Genesis 24:3;   Genesis 28:1;   Genesis 34:4 ,   Judges 14:2 , 2Es 9:47 ); there are, in fact, few nations or periods where the children have a free choice. But ( a ) infant or child marriages were unknown; ( b ) the consent of the parties was, sometimes at least, sought (  Genesis 24:8 ); ( c ) the rule was not absolute; it might be broken wilfully (  Genesis 26:34 ), or under stress of circumstances (  Exodus 2:21 ); ( d ) natural feeling will always make itself felt in spite of the restrictions of custom; the sexes met freely, and romantic attachments were not unknown (  Genesis 29:10;   Genesis 34:3 ,   Judges 14:1 ,   1 Samuel 18:20 ); in these cases the initiative was taken by the parties. One view of Canticles is that it is a drama celebrating the victory of a village maiden’s faithfulness to her shepherd lover, in face of the attractions of a royal rival. It was a disgrace if a daughter remained unmarried ( Sir 42:9 ); this fact is the key to   1 Corinthians 7:25 ff. (2) The betrothal was of a more formal and binding nature than our ‘engagement’; among the Arabs it is the only legal ceremony connected with a marriage.   Genesis 24:58;   Genesis 24:60 may preserve an ancient formula and blessing. Its central feature was the dowry ( mohar ) paid to the parents or representatives of the bride, the daughter being a valuable possession.   Deuteronomy 22:29 (cf.   Exodus 22:18 ) orders its payment in a case of seduction, and 50 shekels is named as the average. In   Genesis 34:12 Hamor offers ‘never so much dowry’; cf. the presents of ch. 24. It might take the form of service (  Genesis 29:1-35 , Jacob;   1 Samuel 18:25 , David). Dowry, in our sense of provision for the wife, arose in two ways. ( a ) The parents provided for her, perhaps originally giving her a portion of the purchase money (  Genesis 24:61;   Genesis 29:24 ). Caleb gives his daughter a field (  Joshua 15:19 =   Judges 1:15 ); Solomon’s princess brings a dowry of a city (  1 Kings 9:16 ); Raguel gives his daughter half his goods ( Tob 8:21; Tob 10:10 ). This dowry was retained by the wife if divorced, except in case of adultery. ( b ) The husband naturally signified his generosity and affection by gifts to his bride (  Genesis 24:53;   Genesis 34:12 [where gift is distinct from ‘dowry’],   Esther 2:9 ). According to the Mishna, the later ceremony of betrothal consisted in payment of a piece of money, or a gift, or the conveyance of a writing, in presence of two witnesses. A third method (by cohabitation) was strongly discountenanced. After betrothal the parties were legally in the position of a married couple. Unfaithfulness was adultery (  Deuteronomy 22:23 ,   Matthew 1:19 ). The bridegroom was exempt from military service (  Deuteronomy 20:7 ). Non-fulfilment of the marriage was a serious slight (  1 Samuel 18:19 ,   Judges 14:19 ), but conceivable under certain circumstances (  Genesis 29:27 ).

(2) Wedding ceremonies . Great uncertainty attaches to the proceedings in Biblical times. We have to construct our picture from passing notices, combined with what we know of Arabic and later Jewish customs. In some cases there seems to have been nothing beyond the betrothal (  Genesis 24:63-67 ); or the wedding festivities followed it at once; but in later times there was a distinct interval, not exceeding a year in case of a virgin. Tobit ( Tob 7:14 ) mentions a ‘contract’ (cf.   Malachi 2:14 ), which became a universal feature. The first ceremony was the wedding procession (  Psalms 45:15 , 1Ma 9:37 ), which may be a relic of ‘marriage by capture,’ the bridegroom’s friends (  Matthew 9:15 ,   John 3:29; cf. ‘60 mighty men’ of   Song of Solomon 3:7 ) going, often by night, to fetch the bride and her attendants; in   Judges 14:11;   Judges 14:15;   Judges 14:20 Samson’s comrades are necessarily taken from the bride’s people. The rejoicings are evidenced by the proverbial ‘voice of the bridegroom ,’ etc. (  Jeremiah 7:34 etc.,   Revelation 18:23 ).   Genesis 24:53 ,   Psalms 45:13-15 ,   Jeremiah 2:32 ,   Revelation 19:8;   Revelation 21:2 speak of the magnificence of the bridal attire;   Isaiah 61:10 , of the garland of the bridegroom and jewels of the bride (cf.   Isaiah 49:18 ); the veil is mentioned in   Genesis 24:65;   Genesis 29:23; the supposed allusions to the lustral bath of the Greeks (  Ruth 3:3 ,   Ezekiel 23:40 ,   Ephesians 5:25 ) are very doubtful. The situation in   Matthew 25:1 is not clear. Are the ‘virgins’ friends of the bridegroom waiting for his return with his bride, or friends of the bride waiting with her for him? All that it is possible to say is that the general conception is that of the wedding procession by night in which lights and torches have always played a large part. Another feature was the scattering of flowers and nuts; all who met the procession were expected to join in it or to salute it.

The marriage supper followed, usually in the home of the bridegroom ( 2Es 9:47 );   Genesis 29:22 ,   Judges 14:10 , Tob 8:19 are easily explained exceptions. Hospitality was a sacred duty; ‘he who does not invite me to his marriage will not have me to his funeral.’ To refuse the invitation was a grave insult (  Matthew 22:1-46 ). Nothing is known of the custom, apparently implied in this passage, of providing a wedding garment for guests.   John 2:1-25 gives us a picture of the feast in a middle-class home, where the resources are strained to the uttermost. It is doubtful whether the ‘ruler of the feast’ (cf. Sir 32:1-2 ) is ‘the best man’ ( Sir 3:29 ,   Judges 14:20 ), the office being unusual in the simple life of Galilee (Edersheim, LT i. 355). There is nowhere any hint of a religious ceremony , though marriage was regarded with great reverence as symbolizing the union of God with Israel ( ib . 353). The feast was no doubt quasi -sacramental (cf. the Latin ‘confarreatio’), and the marriage was consummated by the entry into the ‘chamber’ ( huppah ). W. R. Smith ( op. cit . p. 168) finds in this a relic of ‘beena’ marriage (see above, § 1), the huppah or canopy (  Joel 2:16 ) being originally the wife’s tent (  Genesis 24:67 ,   Judges 4:17 ); cf. the tent pitched for Absalom (  2 Samuel 16:22 ). In Arab. [Note: Arabic.] , Syr., and Heb. the bridegroom is said to ‘go in’ to the bride.   Psalms 19:5 speaks of his exultant ‘coming forth’ on the following morning; ‘the chamber’ can hardly refer there to the ‘canopy’ under which in modern weddings the pair stand during the ceremony, though this has no doubt been evolved from the old tent.

The wedding festivities were not confined to the ‘supper’ of the first night, at any rate in OT times. As now in Syria, the feast lasted for 7 days (  Genesis 29:27 , Tob 11:10; Tob 8:19 [a fortnight]). The best picture is in   Judges 14:1-20 , with its eating and drinking and not very refined merriment. Canticles is generally supposed to contain songs sung during these festivities; those now sung in Syria show a remarkable similarity.   Judges 7:1-7 in particular would seem to be the chorus in praise of the bride’s beauty, such as is now chanted, while she herself in a sword dance displays the charms of her person by the flashing firelight. During the week the pair are ‘king and queen,’ enthroned on the threshing-board of the village. It is suggested that ‘Solomon’ (  Song of Solomon 3:7 ) had become the nickname for this village king.   Deuteronomy 24:5 exempts the bridegroom from military service for a year (cf.   Deuteronomy 20:7 ).

6. Position of the wife . The practically universal form of marriage was the ‘Baal’ type, where the wife passed under the dominion of her ‘lord’ (  Genesis 3:16 , Tenth Com.). Side by side with this was the ideal principle, according to which she was a ‘help meet for him’ (  Genesis 2:18 ), and the legal theory was always modified in practice by the affection of the husband or the strong personality of the wife; cf. the position of the patriarchs’ wives, of women in Jg. or in Pr. (esp. 31); cf.   1 Samuel 25:18 ,   2 Kings 4:8 . But her value was largely that of a mother of children, and the position of a childless wife was unpleasant (  Genesis 16:4; Gen 30:1-4 ,   1 Samuel 1:6 , 2Es 9:43 ). Polygamy led to favouritism; the fellow-wife is a ‘rival’ (  1 Samuel 1:6 ) a technical term.   Deuteronomy 21:15 ff. safeguards the right of the firstborn of a ‘hated’ wife;   Exodus 21:10 provides for the rendering of the duties of marriage to a first wife, even if a purchased coacubine; if they are withheld she is to go free (cf.   Deuteronomy 21:14 of a captive). The difference between a wife and a concubine depended on the wife’s higher position and birth, usually backed by relatives ready to defend her. She might claim the inheritance for her children (  Genesis 21:10 ); her slave could not be taken as concubine without her consent (  Genesis 16:2 ). As part of a man’s chattels his wives were in certain cases inherited by his heir , with the limitation that a man could not take his own mother. The custom lasted in Arabia till forbidden by the Koran (ch. 4). In OT there is the case of Reuben and Bilhah (  Genesis 35:22;   Genesis 49:4 ), perhaps implying the continuance of the custom in the tribe of Reuben, after it had been proscribed elsewhere (Driver, ad loc. ). It is presupposed in   2 Samuel 3:7 , where Ishbosheth reproaches Abner for encroaching on his birthright, and in   2 Samuel 16:22 , where Absalom thus publishes his claim to the kingdom. In   1 Kings 2:22 Adonijah, in asking for Abishag, is claiming the eldest brother’s inheritance.   Ezekiel 22:10 finds it still necessary to condemn the practice; cf.   Deuteronomy 22:30 ,   Leviticus 18:8 ,   Ruth 4:1-22 shows how the wife is regarded as part of the inheritance. A widow normally remained unmarried. If poor, her position was bad; cf. the injunctions in Dt., the prophets, and the Pastoral Epp. In royal houses her influence might be greater than that of the wife; e.g . the difference in the attitude of Bathsheba in   1 Kings 1:16 and in   1 Kings 2:19 , and the power of the queen-mother (  1 Kings 15:13 ,   2 Kings 11:1-21 ). There was a strong prejudice in later times against her re-marrying (  Luke 2:36; Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XVII. xiii. 4, XVIII. vi. 6). There is no instance of a corresponding dislike to the marriage of a widower, but the wife was regarded as a man’s property even after his death. St. Paul, however, permits re-marriage (  1 Corinthians 7:39 ), and even enjoins it for younger widows (  1 Timothy 5:14 ).

7. Adultery . If a bride was found not to be a virgin, she was to be stoned (  Deuteronomy 22:13-21 ). A man who violated an unmarried girl was compelled to marry her with payment of ‘dowry’ (  Deuteronomy 22:29 , cf.   Exodus 22:16 ). A priest’s daughter playing the harlot was to be burnt (  Leviticus 21:9 ). Adultery holds a prominent place among social sins (Seventh and Tenth Com.,   Ezekiel 18:11 ). If committed with a married or betrothed woman, the penalty was stoning for both parties, a betrothed damsel being spared if forced (  Deuteronomy 22:22-27 ,   Leviticus 20:10 ,   Ezekiel 16:40;   Ezekiel 23:45 ). The earlier penalty was hurning, as in Egypt (  Genesis 38:24; Tamar is virtually betrothed). In   Numbers 5:11-31 the fact of adultery is to be established by ordeal, a custom found in many nations. It is to be noted that the test is not poison, but holy water; i.e . the chances are in favour of the accused. The general point of view is that adultery with a married woman is an offence against a neighbour’s property; the adultery of a wife is an offence against her husband, but she has no concern with his fidelity. It is not prohable that the extreme penalty was ever carried out (  2 Samuel 11:1-27 ,   Hosea 3:1-5 ). The frequent denunciations in the prophets and Pr. (  Proverbs 2:18;   Proverbs 5:3;   Proverbs 6:25 ) show the prevalence of the crime; the usual penalty was divorce with loss of dowry (cf.   Matthew 5:31 ). In the ‘pericope’ of   John 8:1-59 , part of the test is whether Christ will set Himself against Moses by sanctioning the ahrogation of the Law; it is not implied that the punishment was ever actually inflicted; in fact, no instance of it is known. The answer (  John 8:11 ) pardons the sinner, but by no means condones the sin: ‘damnavit, sed peccatum non hominem’ (Aug.); cf. the treatment of ‘the woman who was a sinner’ (  Luke 7:47 ). The NT is uncompromising in its attitude towards this sin, including in its view all acts of unchastity as offences against God and the true self, as sanctified by His indwelling, no less than against one’s neighbour (  Matthew 5:27 , Act 15:29 ,   1 Corinthians 5:11;   1 Corinthians 6:9;   1 Corinthians 6:13-20 ,   Galatians 5:19 ,   1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). The blessing on the ‘virgins’ of   Revelation 14:4 probably refers to chastity, not celibacy; cf. ‘the bed undefiled’ of   Hebrews 13:4 . The laxity of the age made it necessary to insist on purity as a primary Christian virtue (see Swete, ad loc .).

8. Divorce is taken for granted in OT (  Leviticus 21:7;   Leviticus 21:14;   Leviticus 22:13 ,   Numbers 30:9 ), it being the traditional right of the husband, as in Arabia, to ‘put away his wife’ (  Genesis 21:14 ). The story of Hosea probably embodies the older procedure, which is regulated by the law of   Deuteronomy 24:1 . There must be a bill of divorcement (  Isaiah 50:1 ,   Jeremiah 3:8 ), prepared on a definite charge, and therefore presumably before some public official, and formally given to the woman. (But cf.   Matthew 1:19 , where possibility of private divorce is contemplated [or repudiation of betrothal?].) The time and expense thus involved would act as a check. Further, if the divorcee re-marries, she may not return to her former husband a deterrent on hasty divorce, also on re-marriage , if there is any prospect of reconciliation. The right of divorce is withheld in two cases (  Deuteronomy 22:19;   Deuteronomy 22:29 ). There was great divergence of opinion as regards the ground ‘if she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found in her the nakedness of a thing.’ The school of Hillel emphasized the first clause, and interpreted it of the most trivial things, practically ‘for any cause’ (  Matthew 19:3 ); that of Shammai laid stress rightly on the second clause, and confined it to unchastity . But the vague nature of the expression (cf.   Deuteronomy 23:14 ), and the fact that   Deuteronomy 22:22 enacts death for unchastity, show that something wider must be meant, probably ‘immodest or indecent behaviour’ (Driver, ad loc .). In spite of the prohibition of   Malachi 2:13-16 and the stern attitude of many Rabbis, divorce continued to he frequent;   Ezra 9:10 encouraged it. The Mishna allows it for violation of the Law or of Jewish customs, e.g . breaking a vow, appearing in public with dishevelled hair, or conversing indiscriminately with men. Practically the freedom was almost unlimited; the question was not what was lawful, but on what grounds a man ought to exercise the right the Law gave him. It was, of course, confined to the husband (  1 Samuel 25:44 is simply an outrage on the part of Saul). Women of rank such as Salome (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XV. vii. 10) or Herodias (XVIII. v. 4) might arrogate it, but it is condemned as a breach of Jewish law. Christ contemplates its possibility in   Mark 10:12 , perhaps having in view the Greek and Roman world, where it was legal. But the words caused a difficulty to the early versions, which substitute desertion for divorce, and may be a later insertion, added for the sake of completeness. In a later period the Talmud allowed a wife to claim a divorce in certain cases, e.g . if her husband had a loathsome disease.

In the NT divorce seems to be forbidden absolutely ( Mark 10:11 , Luk 16:8 ,   1 Corinthians 7:10;   1 Corinthians 7:39 ). Our Lord teaches that the OT permission was a concession to a low moral standard, and was opposed to the ideal of marriage as an inseparable union of body and soul (  Genesis 2:23 ). But in   Matthew 5:32;   Matthew 19:9 He seems to allow it for ‘fornication,’ an exception which finds no place in the parallels (cf.   1 Corinthians 7:15 , which allows re-marriage where a Christian partner is deserted by a heathen ), ( a ) Fornication cannot here be sin before marriage; the sense of the passage demands that the word shall be taken in its wider sense (cf.   Hosea 2:5 ,   Amos 7:17 ,   1 Corinthians 5:1 ); it defines the ‘uncleanness’ of   Deuteronomy 24:1 as illicit sexual intercourse. ( b ) Divorce cannot be limited to separation ‘from bed and hoard,’ as by R.C. commentators (  1 Corinthians 7:1-40 uses quite different words). To a Jew it always carried with it the right of re-marriage, and the words ‘causeth her to commit adultery’ (  Matthew 5:32 ) show that our Lord assumed that the divorcêe would marry again. Hence if He allowed divorce under certain conditions, He allowed re-marriage. ( c ) It follows that   Matthew 19:9 , asit stands, gives to an injured husband the right of divorce, and therefore of re-marriage, even if it be supposed that the words ‘except for fornication’ qualify only the first clause, or if ‘shall marry another’ he omitted with B. A right given to an injured husband must on Christian principles he allowed to an injured wife. Further, re-marriage, if permitted to either party, is logically permitted both to innocent and to guilty, so far as the dissolution of the marriage bond is concerned, though it may well be forbidden to the latter as a matter of discipline and penalty.   Matthew 5:32 apparently allows the re-marriage of the justifiably divorced, i.e . guilty wife, though the interpretation of this verse is more doubtful than that of   Matthew 19:9 . ( d ) The view implied by the exception is that adultery ipso facto dissolves the union, and so opens the way to re-marriage. But re-marriage also closes the door to reconciliation, which on Christian principles ought always to be possible; cf. the teaching of Hosea and   Jeremiah 3:1-25; Hermas ( Mand . iv. 1) allows no re-marriage, and lays great stress on the taking back of a repentant wife. ( e ) Hence much is to he said for the view which is steadily gaining ground, that the exception in Mt. is an editorial addition from the Judaic standpoint, or under the pressure of practical necessity, the absolute rule being found too hard. (For the authorities, see Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , Ext. Vol. p. 27 b , and add Wright’s Synopsis and Allen’s St. Mat .) It is true that though the textual variations in both passages of Mt. are numerous, there is no MS authority for the entire omission of the words. But there is no hint of the exception in Mk., Lk., or 1 Cor.;   Matthew 19:3 alters the question of   Mark 10:2 , adding the qualification ‘for every cause,’ which thus prepares the way for the qualified answer of v. 9. This answer really admits the validity of the law of   Deuteronomy 24:1 , with its stricter interpretation (see p. 586 b ), whilst the language of v. 8 leads us to expect its abrogation. The introduction of the exception upsets the argument, which in Mk. is clear and logical. Again, is it not contrary to Christ’s method that He should legislate in detail? He rather lays down universal principles, the practical application of which He left to His Church (see below, § 11).

( f ) The requirement in   1 Timothy 3:2;   1 Timothy 3:12 ,   Titus 1:6 , that the ‘bishop’ and ‘deacon’ shall he the ‘ husband of one wife ,’ is probably to be understood as a prohibition of divorce and other sins against the chastity of marriage (cf.   Hebrews 13:4 ), made necessary by the low standard of the age. Of course, no greater laxity is allowed to the layman, any more than he is allowed to he ‘a brawler or striker’; but sins of this type are mentioned as peculiarly inconsistent with the ministry. Other views of the passage are that it forhids polygamy (a prohibition which could hardly be necessary in Christian circles) or a second marriage. But there was no feeling against the re-marriage of men (see above, § 6), and St. Paul himself saw in a second marriage nothing per se inconsistent with the Christian ideal (  1 Timothy 5:14 ), so that it is hard to see on what grounds the supposed prohibition could rest.

9. The Teaching of NT . (1) Marriage and celibacy . The prevalent Jewish conception was that marriage was the proper and honourable estate for all men. ‘Any Jew who has not a wife is no man’ (Talmud). The Essene, on the other band, avoided it as unclean and a degradation. Of this view there is no sign in NT (  1 Timothy 4:3 ). Christ does, however, emphasize the propriety of the unmarried state in certain circumstances (  Matthew 19:12 [?   Revelation 14:4 ]). The views of St. Paul undoubtedly changed. In   1 Thessalonians 4:4 he regards marriage merely as a safeguard against immorality. The subject is prominent in 1 Cor. In 1Co 7:1;   1 Corinthians 7:7-8;   1 Corinthians 7:38 he prefers the unmarried state, allowing marriage for the same reason as in 1 Th. ( 1Co 7:2;   1 Corinthians 7:2;   1 Corinthians 7:36 ). He gives three reasons for his attitude, the one purely temporary, the others valid under certain conditions. ( a ) It is connected with the view he afterwards abandoned, of the nearness of the Paronsia (  1 Corinthians 7:31 ); there would be no need to provide for the continuance of the race. ( b ) It was a time of ‘distress,’ i.e . hardship and persecution (  1 Corinthians 7:26 ). ( c ) Marriage brings distractions and cares (  1 Corinthians 7:32 ). The one-sidedness of this view may he corrected by his later teaching as to (2) the sanctity of the marriage state . The keynote is struck by our Lord’s action. The significance of the Cana miracle can hardly be exaggerated (  John 2:1-25 ). It corresponds with His teaching that marriage is a Divine institution (  Matthew 19:9 ). So   Ephesians 5:22 ,   Colossians 3:18 , and the Pastoral Epp. assume the married state as normal in the Christian Church. It is raised to the highest pinnacle as the type of ‘the union betwixt Christ and His Church.’ This conception emphasizes both the honourableness of the estate and the beinousness of all sins against it; husband and wife are one flesh (  Ephesians 5:1-33; cf.   Hebrews 13:4 ). (3) As regards relations between husband and wife , it cannot be said that St. Paul has entirely shaken himself free from the influences of his Jewish training (§ 6). The duty of the husband is love (  Ephesians 5:28 ), of the wife obedience and fear, or reverence (  Ephesians 5:22;   Ephesians 5:33 ,   Colossians 3:18 ), the husband being the head of the wife (  Ephesians 5:23 ,   1 Corinthians 11:8;   1 Corinthians 11:7-11 ); she is saved ‘through her childbearing’ (  1 Timothy 2:11-15 ). The view of   1 Peter 3:1-7 is similar. It adds the idea that each must help the other as ‘joint heirs of the grace of life,’ their common prayers being hindered by any misunderstanding. Whether the subordination of the wife can be maintained as ultimate may be questioned in view of such passages as   Galatians 3:28 .

10. Spiritual applications of the Marriage Figure

In OT the god was regarded as baal , ‘husband’ or ‘owner,’ of his land, which was the ‘mother’ of its inhabitants. Hence ‘it lay very near to think of the god as the husband of the worshipping nationality, or mother land’ (W. R. Smith, Prophets , 171); the idea was probably not peculiar to Israel. Its most striking development is found in Hosea. Led, as it seems, by the experience of his own married life, he emphasizes the following points. (1) Israel’s idolatry is whoredom, adultery, the following of strange lovers (note the connexion of idolatry with literal fornication). (2) J″ [Note: Jahweh.] still loves her, as Hosea has loved his erring wife, and redeems her from slavery. (3) Hosea’s own unquenchable love is but a faint shadow of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s. A similar idea is found in   Isaiah 54:4; in spite of her unfaithfulness, Israel has not been irrevocably divorced (  Isaiah 50:1 ). Cf.   Jeremiah 3:3 :1, 32,   Ezekiel 16:1-63 ,   Malachi 2:11 . The direct spiritual or mystical application of Ca. is now generally abandoned.

In NT , Christ is the bridegroom (  Mark 2:19 ,   John 3:29 ), the Church His bride. His love is emphasized, as in OT (  Ephesians 5:25 ), and His bride too must be holy and without blemish (  Ephesians 5:27 ,   2 Corinthians 11:2 ). In OT the stress is laid on the ingratitude and misery of sin as ‘adultery,’ in NT on the need of positive holiness and purity.   Revelation 19:7 develops the figure, the dazzling white of the bride’s array being contrasted with the harlot’s scarlet. In   Revelation 21:2;   Revelation 21:9 she is further identified with the New Jerusalem, two OT figures being combined, as in 2Es 7:26 . For the coming of her Bridegroom she is now waiting (  Revelation 22:17 , cf.   Matthew 25:1 ), and the final joy is represented under the symbol of the marriage feast (  Matthew 22:2 ,   Revelation 19:9 ).

11. A general survey of the marriage laws and customs of the Jews shows that they cannot be regarded as a peculiar creation, apart from those of other nations. As already appears, they possess a remarkable affinity to those of other branches of the Semitic race; we may add the striking parallels found in the Code of Hammurabi, e.g . with regard to betrothal, dowry, and divorce. Anthropological researches have disclosed a wide general resemblance to the customs of more distant races. They have also emphasized the relative purity of OT sexual morality; in this, as in other respects, the Jews had their message for the world. But, of course, we shall not expect to find there the Christian standard. ‘In the beginning’ represents not the historical fact, but the ideal purpose.   Genesis 2:1-25 is an allegory of what marriage was intended to be, and of what it was understood to be in the best thought of the nation. This ideal was, however, seldom realized. Hence we cannot apply the letter of the Bible, or go to it for detailed rules. Where its rules are not obviously unsuited to modern conditions, or below the Christian level, a strange uncertainty obscures their exact interpretation, e.g . with regard to the prohibited degrees, divorce, or ‘the husband of one wife’; there is even no direct condemnation of polygamy. On the other hand, the principle as expanded in NT is clear. It is the duty of the Christian to keep it steadily before him as the ideal of his own life. How far that ideal can be embodied in legislation and applied to the community as a whole must depend upon social conditions, and the general moral environment.

C. W. Emmet.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

An intimate and complementing union between a man and a woman in which the two become one physically, in the whole of life. The purpose of marriage is to reflect the relationship of the Godhead and to serve him. Although the fall has marred the divine purpose and function of marriage, this definition reflects the God-ordained ideal for marriage from the beginning.

The Image of God .  Genesis 1:26-27 declares that mankind ( adam [   Genesis 5:1-3;  9:6;  1 Corinthians 11:7;  Colossians 3:10;  James 3:9 ). Although the image of God is never defined in Scripture, contexts in which God's image are discussed must define the concept (cf.  2 Corinthians 3:18; and  Colossians 3:10 ). God's image in  Genesis 1 includes ruling, creativity (procreation), reasoning power, decision-making, and relationship.

The relational aspect of God's image is reflected in the bringing together of male and female in "one flesh" ( Genesis 1:27;  2:21-24 ). This oneness with sexual differences portrays various aspects of God's image: same nature and essence, equal members, intimate relationship, common purpose, and distinct personalities with different roles, including authority and submission. In the Trinity the Father leads, the Son submits to the Father, and the Holy Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son. However, all three are fully and equally deity. Likewise, male and female in the marriage relationship are of the same nature and essence, equal as persons (cf.  Galatians 3:28 ), intimate in relationship, common in purpose, but distinct personalities with different roles: the husband leads and the wife submits to his leadership (cf.  Ephesians 5:31 ). Marriage appears designed to reflect the same relational unity-in-plurality as the Godhead. Marriage, the most intimate human relationship, was appropriately chosen to reflect this relational aspect of the divine image. Each sex alone incompletely exhibits this part of the divine image. This open intimate relational aspect of God's image, reflected in marriage, was marred by the fall (cf.  Genesis 3:7,10 ), causing each mate to hide (cover oneself) from each other and from God.

Marriage is the most basic and significant social relationship to humankind. This relationship must be nurtured and maintained for the welfare of all. Without marriage, society will fail.

God's design for marital relationship is heterosexual, not homosexual, and monogamous, not polygamous. This relational aspect of God's image in marriage has analogues portrayed in Yahweh's relation with Israel ( Isaiah 54:5;  Jeremiah 31:32;  Ezekiel 16:8-14;  Hosea 2:14-20 ) as well as in Christ's relation with the church ( Ephesians 5:21-33; cf.  1 Corinthians 11:1-3;  2 Corinthians 11:2;  Revelation 19:7-9 ). Israel is portrayed as Yahweh's wife ( Isaiah 54:5;  Jeremiah 31:32;  Ezekiel 16:8-14;  Hosea 2:14-20 ). Her idolatrous unfaithfulness and disobedience to Yahweh are frequently depicted as spiritual "adultery" ( Numbers 25:1-4;  Judges 2:17;  Jeremiah 3:20;  Ezekiel 16:15-59;  23:1-48;  Hosea 1:2;  2:2-13;  3:3 ) for which she was punished by captivity. Yahweh "divorced" his "unfaithful wife" ( Isaiah 50:1;  Jeremiah 3:8;  Hosea 2:2 ), but ultimately will have compassion and delightfully restore her to faithfulness and holiness ( Isaiah 54;  62:4-5;  Ezekiel 16:53-63;  Hosea 2:14-3:1 ).

New Testament marriage imagery describes the relationship between Christ and his church (cf.  2 Corinthians 11:2;  Ephesians 5:21-33;  Revelation 19:7-9 ). The church, Christ's bride, is sacrificially loved by Christ, just as a husband should love his wife ( Ephesians 5:25,28-30,33 ). The husband's responsibility is leadership, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body ( Ephesians 5:23 ). The wife responds submissively to her husband's sacrificial love like the church submits to Christ's ( Ephesians 5:22,24,33 ). The husband's love assists her in becoming holy and blameless before God, even as Christ presents the church without blemish to the Father ( Ephesians 5:26-28 ). Christ's relationship with the church becomes the functional model for a marriage relationship.

God commanded the male and female to perform two specific functions: procreation ("fruitful and multiply") and ruling over the earth ("subdue" and "rule") ( Genesis 1:28 ). These are functions that reflect God's image. Humankind (male and female) receive God-ordained authority to rule over the rest of creation, but not over each other.

Human reproduction comes through intimate sexual union designed only for the marriage relationship. Cohabitation abuses the procreative nature of the marriage relationship. While reproduction is a divine purpose of marriage, some couples are unable to have children for various physical reasons. This does not make their marriage second-rate or inferior. However, a married couple should desire to obey the divine injunction of procreation if possible. Children are one manifestation of the "one flesh" of marriage. The procreative injunction obviously precludes homosexual "marriages."

The Marriage Union as God's Work . God brings a man and a woman together in marriage ( Matthew 19:6; cf. Eve to Adam, Rebecca to Isaac ). It is not humankind's prerogative to separate what God has chosen to put together ( Matthew 19:6 ).

As creator of the marriage relationship, God becomes the essential supporting party to a marriage, giving wisdom, discretion, understanding, and love to protect the union and to enable it to honor God ( Proverbs 2:6-16;  1 Corinthians 13 ). A marriage can glorify God and function properly only when both partners are believers in the Messiah, Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit guides and enables them in their roles and functions. Continued reliance upon God is imperative for believing spouses.

Marriage as God's Norm for Humankind . God made man a relational being in his own image. Therefore, there is the need for intimate relationship within humankind ( Genesis 2:18 ). Such a relationship is also necessary for the reproduction and multiplication of humankind. Without the fall, probably no one would have ever been single. Perfect people would have yielded perfect marriages. Sin brought flaws in humans that sometimes make it difficult to find or sustain a suitable marriage relationship. Being single for life is an exception and, therefore, is declared to be a gift from God ( 1 Corinthians 7:7 ). The single person is normally less encumbered in God's work. So, although marriage appears to be God's norm, singleness is neither more nor less spiritual than marriage ( 1 Corinthians 7:32-36 ).

The Nature of Marriage. Complementarity . The woman was created as "a helper suitable" for the man ( ezer kenegdo ) ( Genesis 2:18 ). The English "complement" best conveys the meaning of neged . A wife is a "helper" who "complements" her husband in every way. A helper always subordinates self-interests when helping another, just as Paul reminds us in  Philippians 2:1-11 . A helping role is a worthy one, not implying inferiority. The wife, therefore, helps the husband to lead their family to serve and glorify God. The husband also complements his wife so that together they become a new balanced entity that God uses in an enhanced way.

A new permanent union (  Genesis 2:24 ). "Cleaving" in  Genesis 2:24 pictures a strong bond between the members of this union. The marriage bond was to be permanent. Separation or termination of the marriage union was not an option before sin entered the world and death with it (  Genesis 3 ). All later revelation shows that separation/divorce was because of sin ( Deuteronomy 24:1-4;  Ezra 9-10;  Malachi 2:14;  Matthew 5:31-32;  19:1-12;  Mark 10:1-12;  Luke 16:18;  1 Corinthians 7:1-16,39 ). God's ideal was for marriage to be permanent and exclusive.

One flesh (  Genesis 2:24 ). "One flesh" involves the unity of the whole person: purpose, physical, and life—a unity whereby the two become a new, God-designed, balanced life. They counterbalance each other's strengths and weaknesses. Sexually the two become "one flesh" physically as reflected in their offspring. God's ideal exclusiveness of the "one flesh" relationship disallows any other relationship: homosexuality, polygamy, adultery, premarital sex, concubinage, incest, bestiality, cultic prostitution. These and other sexual perversions violate the "oneness" of the marriage relationship and were often punishable by death ( Leviticus 20:1-19;  Deuteronomy 22:13-27; cf.  Romans 1:26-32 ). Becoming "one flesh" is used in Scripture for the consummating sexual act of marriage.

These aspects of "one flesh" argue against premarital sex, promiscuity, and perversion of the sexual act. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ), so believers should be holy in their sexual conduct ( Leviticus 19:2;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-6;  1 Peter 1:15-16 ), keeping marriage pure.

Intimacy . Commitment to exclusive sexual intimacy is treated with dignity, considered honorable and undefiled ( Hebrews 13:4 ). Mutual consent is required for any temporal abstinence from sexual relations ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 ). Neither spouse is to exploit the other sexually nor use sex to gratify passionate lust ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 ). One is to delight always in the wife of his youth (cf.  Proverbs 5:15-19;  Ecclesiastes 9:9 ). This intimate relationship is encouraged by God's portrayal of its beauty and dignity in the Song of Songs.

Covenant commitment . The covenant analogy attests the commitment between two married partners ( Proverbs 2:17;  Malachi 2:14 ). Emphasis is upon an agreement, a commitment, not upon an analogy of conditionality and unconditionality of some biblical covenants that would extend the marriage covenant analogy beyond its expected scope. This marriage commitment, and faithfulness to it, preclude sexual relations with anyone except one's spouse ( Exodus 20:14;  Leviticus 18,20;  Romans 1:24-27 ). Although kings frequently employed marriages to seal foreign treaties in the ancient Near East, such commitments were spiritual as well as physical adultery.

Roles . Although male and female are equal in relationship to Christ, the Scriptures give specific roles to each in marriage. Paul, in continually emphasizing the terms "head" and "submit, " summarizes the basic role of husbands and wives respectively.

The husband is to assume headship/leadership ( 1 Corinthians 11:3;  Ephesians 5:23 ). The normal meaning of biblical headship is leadership with authority, as exemplified in Christ (cf.  1 Corinthians 11:1-10;  Ephesians 1:22;  4:15;  5:23 ). Headship is a benevolent responsibility without disdaining condescension and patronizing of the woman (cf.  Matthew 7:12;  Luke 22:26;  1 Peter 3:7 ). Although the husband leads as Christ leads the church, the husband does not have all the rights and authority of Christ. He leads his wife toward dependence upon Christ, not upon himself, for all human leaders are fallible. The husband leads like Christ, being considerate of his wife with respect and knowledge. He considers the ideas of those he leads, because they may be better than his own. Leadership's goal is not to show the leader's superiority, but to elicit all the strengths of people for the desired objective. Headship is not male domination, harshness, oppression, and reactionary negativism (cf.  2 Corinthians 1:24;  Ephesians 5:29;  Colossians 3:19 ), for "no one ever hated his own body."

Leadership assumes the responsibility to initiate and implement spiritual and moral planning for a family. Others, however, should also think, plan, initiate, and give input. The husband, however, must accept the burden of making the final choice in times of disagreement, although seldom should this be needed.

The husband's leadership and its authority is a God-given responsibility to be carried out in humility. Inappropriate use of leadership should be curbed by the unique intimacy and union implied in the phrases "one flesh, " "no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, " and "joint heirs of the grace of life" ( Ephesians 5:29-31;  1 Peter 3:7 ).

The husband leads with an attitude of love. Christ's love for the church provides the model ( Ephesians 5:25-33;  Colossians 3:19 ). The husband loves his wife as he would his own body ( Ephesians 5:25 ), nourishing and cherishing her (v. 29). He gives himself sacrificially for her benefit as Christ sacrificially loved the church. Such love rules out treating his wife like a child or servant; rather he assists her to be a "fellow-heir."

Biblical love thinks first of the other person (cf.  1 Corinthians 13 ). It is a mental decision and commitment. God also gave emotions of love that should follow the mental act of love else the emotional aspect becomes infatuation or lust. Love protects, cares, trusts, and delights in the best for the other. The husband initiates love ( Ephesians 5:25;  1 Peter 3:7 ). He who loves his wife surely loves himself.

The husband is to treat his wife with respect and considerateness ( 1 Peter 3:7 ). The husband bestows honor upon his wife. He always shows respect for her privately and in public.

The husband appropriately provides for and protects his wife. This does not mean that the wife cannot assist in supporting the family, for  Proverbs 31 demonstrates that a godly wife may surely do so. The husband should always be willing to suffer for her safety.

The wife submits to her husband's headship ( Ephesians 5:21-24;  Colossians 3:18;  1 Peter 3:1-6 ). Submission's basic meaning is "to submit or subordinate to a higher authority." It is a predisposition to yield to the husband's leadership and a willingness to follow his authority. The husband does not command the wife to do this. The verb implies that she does this voluntarily. Submission does not imply that the wife is inferior, less intelligent, or less competent. Christ submitted to the Father but was not inferior or less God than the Father ( 1 Corinthians 11:3;  15:28 ). Submission does not indicate that the wife puts her husband in the place of Christ. Christ is supreme in all things! The submissive wife does not give up independent thought. Believing wives with unbelieving husbands think independently, while still submitting to their husbands ( 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 ). She might seek to influence her husband for right and to guide him in righteousness ( 1 Peter 3:1-2 ). Submission never signifies that a wife gives in to her husband's every demand. If demands are unrighteous, she submits to her higher authority, Jesus.

A wife submits to her own husband. Relationships with other men are different in areas of submission and leadership.

Some feel that  Ephesians 5:21 argues that the husband and wife are equally submissive. In its context the best understanding sees this verse as an introduction to three particular areas where people are submissive to one another: wives to husbands (vv. 22-33); children to parents (6:1-4); and servants to masters (6:5-9). Mutual submissiveness does not fit the latter two categories.

A wife should submit with an attitude of honor, reverence, and respect ( Psalm 45:11;  Ephesians 5:33 ). A wife affirms and nurtures her husband's leadership. She submits in the same manner that she and the church submit to Christ (  1 Peter 3:6 ). This analogy provides a good gauge. The wife demonstrates a gentle and quiet spirit ( 1 Peter 3:4 ), not demanding her own way or insisting on her rights. A wife's respect is primarily for the role of leadership that her husband occupies, not necessarily for his merits, though that would be the ideal. She recognizes the God-given leadership with regard and deference.

Effect of the Fall on Marriage . The fall made human hearts hard toward God and toward each other. The relational aspect of God's image became marred. Rebellion against submission to male leadership was Satan's initial temptation ( Genesis 3:1-6,17; contra.  Ephesians 5:33;  1 Peter 3:1 ). Male domination and harshness crept into leadership (cf.  Colossians 3:19;  1 Peter 3:7 ). Sin caused polygamy, concubinage, incest, adultery, rape, prostitution, and all kinds of immorality (cf.  Leviticus 18,20;  Romans 1:26-32 ) to damage or destroy the marriage relationship. Marriage commitments are violated. Divorce, premarital sex, and couples living together out of wedlock would never have occurred had not sin entered the world. The fall severely damaged the marriage relationship.

For marriage to function now according to God's ideal, believers in Christ need to marry only believers. Whenever God directly brought a man and woman together in marriage, both were believers. Although pagan customs encouraged marriage with anyone (cf.  Genesis 16 ), Israel was given explicit commands not to marry foreigners who would lead them to worship foreign deities ( Deuteronomy 7:1-4;  13:6-11;  17:1-7;  20:17;  23:2 ). New Testament believers are also not to be "unequally yoked" with unbelievers ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ), meaning any action causing the union of believer with nonbeliever, or nonbelieving ways, must be avoided.

Ralph H. Alexander

See also Divorce; Family Life And Relations; Human Sexuality

Bibliography . G. W. Bromily, God and Marriage  ; L. J. Crabb, The Marriage Builder: A Blueprint for Couples and Counselors  ; J. Piper and W. Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism  ; E. Wheat and G. Perkins, Love Life for Every Married Couple .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

(See Adam ) The charter of marriage is  Genesis 2:24, reproduced by our Lord with greater distinctness in  Matthew 19:4-5; "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." The Septuagint, and Samaritan Pentateuch reads "twain" or "two" in  Genesis 2:24; compare as to this joining in one flesh of husband and wife, the archetype of which is the eternally designed union of Christ and the church,  Ephesians 5:31;  Mark 10:5-9;  1 Corinthians 6:16;  1 Corinthians 7:2. In marriage husband and wife combine to form one perfect human being; the one is the complement of the other. So Christ makes the church a necessary adjunct to Himself. He is the Archetype from whom, as the pattern, the church is formed ( Romans 6:5). He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife ( 1 Corinthians 11:3;  1 Corinthians 15:45). Death severs bridegroom and bride, but cannot separate Christ and His bride ( Matthew 19:6;  John 10:28-29;  John 13:1;  Romans 8:35-39).

In  Ephesians 5:32 translated "this mystery is great," i.e. this truth, hidden once but now revealed, namely, Christ's spiritual union with the church, mystically represented by marriage, is of deep import. Vulgate wrongly translated "this is a great sacrament," Rome's plea for making marriage a sacrament. Not marriage in general, but the marriage of Christ and the church, is the great mystery, as the following words prove, "I say it in regard to ( Eis ) Christ and in regard to ( Eis ) the church," whereas  Genesis 2:24 refers to literal marriage. Transl.  Ephesians 5:30, "we are members of His (glorified) body, being (formed) out of ( Ek ) His flesh and of His bones." Adam's deep sleep wherein Eve was formed out of His opened side, symbolizes Christ's death which was the birth of the spouse, the church ( John 12:24;  John 19:34-35). As Adam gave Eve a new name, 'Ishah , "woman" or "wife" the counterpart of Iysh , "man" or "husband," so Christ gives the church His new name; He, Solomon, she, the Shulamite ( Song of Solomon 6:13;  Revelation 2:17;  Revelation 3:12).

The propagation of the church from Christ, as that of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual marriage. Natural marriage rests on the spiritual marriage, whereby Christ left the Father's bosom to woo to Himself the church out of a lost world. His earthly mother as such He holds secondary to His spiritual bride ( Luke 2:48-49;  Luke 8:19-21;  Luke 11:27-28). He shall again leave His Father's abode to consummate the union ( Matthew 25:1-10;  Revelation 19:7). Marriage is the general rule laid down for most men, as not having continency ( 1 Corinthians 7:2;  1 Corinthians 7:5, etc.). The existing "distress" ( 1 Corinthians 7:26) was Paul's reason then for recommending celibacy where there was the gift of continency. In all cases his counsel is true, "that they that have wives be as though they had none," namely, in permanent possession, not making idols of them.

Scripture teaches the unity of husband and wife; the indissolubleness of marriage save by death or fornication ( Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9;  Romans 7:3); monogamy; the equality of both ( Iysh ) and ( Ishah ) being correlative, and she a "help-meet for him," i.e. a helping one in whom as soon as he sees her he may recognize himself), along with the subordination of the wife, consequent on her formation subsequently and out of him, and her having been first to fall.( 1 Corinthians 11:8-9;  1 Timothy 2:13-15.) (See Adam .) Love, honor, and cherishing are his duty; helpful, reverent subjection, a meek and quiet spirit, her part; both together being heirs of the grace of life ( 1 Peter 3:1-7;  1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Polygamy began with the Cainites. (See Lamech ; Divorce; Concubine ) The jealousies of Abraham's ( Genesis 16:6) and Elkanah's wives illustrate the evils of polygamy. Scripture commends monogamy ( Psalms 128:3;  Proverbs 5:18;  Proverbs 18:22;  Proverbs 19:14;  Proverbs 31:10-29;  Ecclesiastes 9:9).

Monogamy superseded polygamy subsequently to the return from Babylon. Public opinion was unfavorable to presbyters and women who exercise holy functions marrying again; for conciliation and expediency sake, therefore, Paul recommended that a candidate should be married only once, not having remarried after a wife's death or divorce ( 1 Timothy 3:2;  1 Timothy 3:12;  1 Timothy 5:9;  Luke 2:36-37;  1 Corinthians 7:40); the reverse in the case of young widows ( 1 Timothy 5:14). Marriage is honorable; but fornication, which among the Gentiles was considered indifferent, is stigmatized ( Hebrews 13:4;  Acts 15:20). Marriage of Israelites with Canaanites was forbidden, lest it should lead God's people into idolatry ( Exodus 34:16;  Deuteronomy 7:3-4). In  Leviticus 18:18 the prohibition is only against taking a wife's sister "beside the other (namely, the wife) in her lifetime."

Our Christian reason for prohibiting such marriage after the wife's death is because man and wife are one, and the sister-in-law is to be regarded in the same light as the sister by blood. Marriage with a deceased brother's wife (the Levirate law) was favored in Old Testament times, in order to raise up seed to a brother ( Genesis 38:8;  Matthew 22:25). The high priest must marry only an Israelite virgin ( Leviticus 21:13-14); heiresses must marry in their own tribe, that their property might not pass out of the tribe. The parents, or confidential friend, of the bridegroom chose the bride (Genesis 24;  Genesis 21:21;  Genesis 38:6). The parents' consent was asked first, then that of the bride ( Genesis 24:58). The presents to the bride are called Mohar , those to the relatives Mattan . Between betrothal and marriage all communication between the betrothed ones was carried on through "the friend of the bridegroom" ( John 3:29). She was regarded as his wife, so that faithlessness was punished with death ( Deuteronomy 22:23-24); the bridegroom having the option of putting her away by a bill of divorcement ( Deuteronomy 24:1;  Matthew 1:19).

No formal religious ceremony attended the wedding; but a blessing was pronounced, and a "covenant of God" entered into ( Ezekiel 16:8;  Malachi 2:14;  Proverbs 2:17;  Genesis 24:60;  Ruth 4:11-12). The essential part of the ceremony was the removal of the bride from her father's house to that of the bridegroom or his father. The bridegroom wore an ornamental turban;  Isaiah 61:10, "ornaments," rather ( Peer ) "a magnificent headdress" like that of the high priest, appropriate to the "kingdom of priests" ( Exodus 19:6); the bride wore "jewels" or "ornaments" in general, trousseau. He had a nuptial garland or crown ( Song of Solomon 3:11, "the crown wherewith His mother (the human race; for He is the Son of man, not merely Son of Mary) crowned Him in the day of His espousals"); and was richly perfumed ( Song of Solomon 3:6). The bride took a preparatory bath ( Ezekiel 23:40). This is the allusion in  Ephesians 5:26-27; "Christ loved ... gave Himself for the church, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church not having spot."

The veil ( Tsaip ) was her distinctive dress, covering the whole person, so that the trick played on Jacob was very possible ( Genesis 24:65;  Genesis 29:23); the symbol of her subjection to her husband's power, therefore called "power on her head" ( 1 Corinthians 11:10). (See Dress .) Our "nuptials" is derived from Nubo , "to veil one's self." She also wore girdles for the breasts ("attire," Kishurim ) which she would not readily forget ( Jeremiah 2:32). Also a gilded or gold "crown" or chaplet ( Kullah ), a white robe sometimes embroidered with gold thread ( Revelation 19:8;  Psalms 45:13-14) and jewels ( Isaiah 61:10). Late in the evening the bridegroom came with his groomsmen ("companions,"  Judges 14:11; "children of the bridechamber,"  Matthew 9:15), singers and torch or lamp bearers leading the way ( Jeremiah 25:10); the bride meantime with her maidens eagerly awaited his coming.

Then he led the bride and her party in procession home with gladness to the marriage supper ( Matthew 25:6;  Matthew 22:1-11;  John 2:2;  Psalms 45:15). The women of the place flocked out to gaze. The nuptial song was sung; hence in  Psalms 78:63 "their maidens were not praised" in nuptial song (Hebrew) is used for "were not given in marriage," margin. The bridegroom having now received the bride, his "friend's joy (namely, in bringing them together) was fulfilled" in hearing the bridegroom's voice ( John 3:29).  Song of Solomon 3:11; the feast lasted for seven or even 14 days, and was enlivened by riddles, etc. ( Judges 14:12.) Wedding garments were provided by the host, not to wear which was an insult to him. Large waterpots for washing the hands and for "purifying" ablutions were provided ( Mark 7:3).

These had to be "filled" before Jesus changed the water into wine; a nice propriety in the narrative, the minor circumstances being in keeping with one another; the feast being advanced, the water was previously all emptied out of the waterpots for the guests' ablutions ( John 2:7). Light is thrown upon Egyptian marriages by a translation of an Egyptian contract of marriage, by Eugene Revillout. It is written in the demotic character upon a small sheet of papyrus, No. 2482, Cat. Egyptien, Musee du Louvre. It is dated in the month of Choiach , year 33 of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and the contracting parties are Patina, son of Pchelkhous, and the lady, Ta-outem, the daughter of Rehu. The terms of the deed are singular as to the dowry required on both sides, together with the clauses providing for repudiation.

After the actual dowry is recited, the sum being specified in shekels, the rights of the children which may hereafter come from the marriage, as well as the payment of the mother's pin-money, are secured by the following clause: "thy pocket money for one year is besides thy toilet money which I give thee each year, and it is your right to exact the payment of thy toilet money and thy pocket money, which are to be placed to my account, which I give thee. Thy oldest son, my oldest son, shall be the heir of all my property, present and future. I will establish thee as wife." Practicing in marriage law in Egypt was one of the priestly functions, for at the conclusion the contract states that "the writer of this act is ... the priest of Ammon Horpneter, son of Smin" (?). The bridegroom was exempted from military service for a year ( Deuteronomy 20:7;  Deuteronomy 24:5).

Women in Scripture times were not secluded as now, but went about married and single with faces unveiled ( Genesis 12:14;  Genesis 24:16;  Genesis 24:65). Some were prophetesses, as Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, and took part in public concerns ( Exodus 15:20;  1 Samuel 18:6-7; Abigail,  1 Samuel 25:14-25). The duties of husband and wife are laid down ( Ephesians 5:22-33;  Colossians 3:18-19;  Titus 2:4-5;  1 Peter 3:1-7). Brawling wives stand in contrast to the model wife, God's gift ( Proverbs 19:13;  Proverbs 21:9;  Proverbs 21:19;  Proverbs 27:15;  Proverbs 31:10-31). (On The Spiritual Harlot, See Beast And Antichrist.) Woman, harlot, bride, and ultimately wife, i.e. Christ's church in probation, the apostate church, and the glorified church, form the grand theme of the Bible from first to last. Israel had God for her "husband," she became a harlot when she left Him for idols ( Isaiah 1:21;  Jeremiah 2:20;  Jeremiah 3:1;  Jeremiah 3:6;  Jeremiah 3:8;  Jeremiah 3:14).

Again, Jehovah is to reunite Israel to Him as His earthly bride, as the elect church is His heavenly bride ( Isaiah 54:5, etc.;  Isaiah 62:4-5;  Hosea 2:19;  2 Corinthians 11:2;  Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:2;  Revelation 21:9;  Revelation 22:17). The Father prepares for His Son the marriage feast ( Matthew 22:1-14). The apostate church, resting on and conformed to the godless world, is the harlot riding on the beast and attired in scarlet as the beast. God's eternal principle in her case as in Israel's and Judah's shall hold good, and even already is being illustrated in Rome's being stripped by the world power; when the church sins with the world, the world the instrument of her sin shall be the instrument of her punishment (Ezekiel 23;  Revelation 17:1-5;  Revelation 17:16-18). (See Idolatry .)

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Mark 10:5-9 Matthew 19:4-9 Genesis 2:24 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Ephesians 5:28 Genesis 2:24  Genesis 2:18-23 Ephesians 5:21-33 Ephesians 5:25

Sex is one of God's good Gifts God's intention is for sexual union to be expressed exclusively within the unique monogamous relationship of marriage. Human sexuality ( Genesis 1:27 ) and sexual union within marriage ( Genesis 2:24 ) were part of God's good creation. Sexual union is for procreation ( Genesis 1:28 ) and also for expressing love within the oneness of marriage ( Genesis 2:24;  Proverbs 5:15-19;  1 Corinthians 7:2-5 ). Although polygamy was practiced by some Old Testament personalities, monogamy was always God's ideal for humanity ( Matthew 19:4-5 ). The New Testament clearly teaches monogamy ( 1 Corinthians 7:2 ). Adultery is a violation of the commitment inherent in marriage ( Exodus 20:14;  1 Thessalonians 4:2-3;  Hebrews 13:4 ). So is any sexual intercourse that does not express the oneness of marriage ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ). The biblical condemnation of adultery covers such things as communal marriage, mate swapping, and the so-called open marriage. Likewise, homosexuality violates the intended purpose of sex ( Leviticus 18:22;  Leviticus 20:13;  Romans 1:26-27 ). Incest also is a violation of the biblical view of sex ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 ).

Marriage and singleness are valid options for Christians. Jesus taught that marriage demands faithfulness within a relationship based on a lifetime commitment ( Matthew 19:3-9 ). When the disciples said that this concept made marriage too demanding, Jesus replied that singleness—whether involuntary or voluntary—has its own demand, abstinence from sexual union ( Matthew 19:10-12 ). Paul acknowledged that marriage is best for many; but, based on his own experience, he recommended singleness to those who wanted to devote all of their energies to Christian work and could forego sexual relationships (1Corinthians 7:7-9, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ). Neither Jesus nor Paul presented marriage or singleness as a second-class or less holy state than the other.

Christians condemn sexual immorality in all its forms. Sexual sins are serious because they undermine the foundation of family life, the oneness of the marriage relationship; however, such sins are not unforgivable. Jesus sought out and offered forgiveness to persons guilty of sexual sins ( Matthew 21:31-32;  Luke 7:36-50;  John 4:1-42;  John 8:2-11 ). Forgiveness does not condone such sins, but does offer a new start with God's help. David's experience shows that even when sexual sins are forgiven, the destructive consequences continue ( 2 Samuel 12-19 ). Love demands that followers of Christ seek to help persons caught in the grip of sin, being careful not to become involved in the sin themselves ( Galatians 6:1 ). Persistent immorality is unacceptable behavior for Christians ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13;  1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ).

Christians should marry Christians, but Christians are to strive for a godly home even when this is not the case. The expectation for a Christian to marry another Christian is implicit in Paul's instructions about marrying “only in the Lord” ( 1 Corinthians 7:39 ), and in his words about not being mismated with unbelievers ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ). As important as family relations are, a person's commitment to God takes precedence in those unfortunate situations when the two commitments are in conflict ( Matthew 10:37;  Luke 9:59-62 ). A Christian who is married to a non-Christian should seek to maintain the relationship, to raise any children as believers, and to win the unbelieving spouse ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16;  1 Peter 3:1-12 ). There is no evidence that Timothy's father was a believer ( Acts 16:1 ), but his mother passed her faith along to her son ( 2 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 3:14-15 ).

The biblical ideal is marriage that lasts a lifetime. Christians sometimes must cope with the breakup of a marriage. Because humans do not live up to the high ideals and standards of God, marriages do fail. With the strong biblical emphasis on marriage as a lifetime commitment, divorce poses a real dilemma for Christians. The dilemma of their proper attitude and response is most real for the persons directly involved and for those closest to them, but the dilemma also exists for the larger circle of friends and fellow church members. The Mosaic law allowed a man to divorce his wife but required a bill of divorce for her ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ). This was an advance over a time when a man simply sent his wife away. The writ of divorce was evidence of her release from the marriage and thus her freedom to be married to someone else ( Deuteronomy 24:2 ). Jesus explained  Deuteronomy 24:1 as a concession to the hardness of human hearts; but He emphasized God's original intention as reflected in   Genesis 1:27 and   Genesis 2:24 (  Mark 10:2-9;  Matthew 19:3-9 ). Two verses in Matthew ( Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9 ) state that fornication can be grounds for divorce. Some interpreters believe that these and other relevant passages in the Gospels ( Mark 10:11-12;  Luke 16:18 ) suggest that Jesus especially had in mind persons who divorce a spouse and marry someone else in an attempt to legitimize an adulterous relationship. The case of Herod and Herodias, who had divorced their spouses to satisfy their lust for each other, was notorious in that day. John the Baptist had been in prison for daring to rebuke Herod, and spiteful Herodias successfully plotted John's execution because of this ( Mark 6:14-29;  Matthew 14:1-12 ). Paul followed Jesus in emphasizing the permanence of marriage ( 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 ), but he taught that a Christian was not bound to an unbelieving spouse if the unbeliever insisted on a separation ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ). Clearly, therefore, the Bible teaches permanence as the ideal; but unfortunately, human hearts are still hard; and divorce for various reasons still happens. The Gospels are filled with examples of how Jesus delt with persons who were struggling with guilt and failure ( Luke 19:1-10;  John 8:2-11 ), including one woman who had been married five times and who was living with a man who was not her husband ( John 4:1-42 ). Where guilt was involved, Jesus did not minimize it; but in every case He acted redemptively. That is, His goal was not to condemn people but to help them begin anew with God's grace and strength.

Marriage after the death of a spouse usually is not questioned; marriage again after a divorce is a difficult issue. Marriage after widowhood is clearly permissible in the New Testament ( Romans 7:2-3 ). Paul advised single persons and widows to remain unmarried if they could, but he counseled marriage for others ( 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 ). For example, he advised younger widows to remarry ( 1 Timothy 5:10-14 ). Widows are free to remarry, but “only in the Lord” ( 1 Corinthians 7:39 ). Those who oppose marriage again of divorced persons cite  Mark 10:11-12;  Luke 16:18;  Romans 7:3; and  1 Corinthians 7:10-11 . They interpret the statement by Jesus as teaching that divorced persons who marry again are living in adultery. They cite Paul as evidence that the apostle interpreted Jesus in this way. Based on these verses, some pastors refuse to perform a wedding involving a divorced person. Another group emphasizes Jesus' exception clause in  Matthew 5:31-32 and   Matthew 19:9 . This clause, “Except it be for fornication,” implies that when a married person commits fornication, the spouse is free to secure divorce and to marry another person. Others believe principles inherent in the gospel make marriage again a valid option for divorced persons. They cite the biblical principles of forgiveness and renewal. Those who advocate this position do not believe Jesus intended to establish a legalistic approach to marriage that would condemn every specific remarriage as an adulterous relationship.

Jesus was not a legalist. His interpretation of adultery in  Matthew 5:27-28 should warn against being too heavy-handed about similar idealistic sayings. His hard sayings on divorce were intended to emphasize the biblical ideal of marriage as a lifetime commitment and to rebuke those men whose casual attitude towards divorce make a mockery of this ideal. The emphasis in   Mark 10:11;  Matthew 19:9; and  Luke 16:18 is on the husband who divorces his wife and remarries again. This strongly implies that Jesus was talking about a man who divorces his wife to marry someone else. According to this point of view, Paul affirmed Jesus' ideal and cited Jesus as his authority (  1 Corinthians 7:10-11 ); however, he acknowledged certain exceptions in trying to apply this ideal ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ): “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart, a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” ( 1 Corinthians 7:15 ).

Persons who hold this view believe Paul's words imply the possibility of divorce and remarriage. This approach also would leave to each divorced person the choice about marriage again. Such a decision would be based on the same biblical principles that apply to any persons considering marriage, plus the biblical principles of forgiveness and renewal. The former principles include these: companionship ( Genesis 2:18 ), sexual fulfillment ( Genesis 2:24;  1 Corinthians 7:8-9 ), distinctive expectations of marriage or singleness ( Matthew 19:3-12 ), parenting goals ( Genesis 1:27-28;  1 Timothy 5:14 ), finding the right kind of person ( 1 Corinthians 7:39 ).

Difference of interpretation exists about authority and submission in marriage. On the one hand are those who believe that the husband as head of the house has a delegated authority from God over his wife. In this view, the wife's response is submission. On the other side are those whose model is the modern democratic marriage in which the partners are equals in all things. In between are many Christians who advocate a mutual submission in love as the ideal ( Ephesians 5:21 ), but also believe the husband has special leadership responsibilities. The key biblical passages in this debate are  Ephesians 5:21-32;  Colossians 3:18-19;  1 Peter 3:1-7 . Advocates of strong male authority interpret these passages in light of the various biblical passages reflecting the husband's authority ( 1 Corinthians 14:34-35;  1 Timothy 2:11-14 ). Those who take a more moderate view make the following points: Jesus' actions gave women higher status than was accorded by the society of His day ( Luke 8:1-3;  Luke 10:38-42;  John 4:7-30 ). Paul's more idealistic statements ( Galatians 3:28 ) and actual practice ( Acts 16:14-15;  Acts 17:4;  Acts 18:2-3 ,Acts 18:2-3, 18:18 ,Acts 18:18, 18:26;  Romans 16:3-6 ) indicate that his harder teachings may have been conditioned by specific situations in some first century churches. The admonition to mutual submission in  Ephesians 5:21 applies to all the relationships within the church (  Ephesians 5:25-6:10 ) and in a Christian marriage ( Ephesians 5:21-33 ). Both Paul and Peter's use of submission refers to voluntary submission in a loving relationship, not the forced subjection to authority in a military organization. The biblical references say submit yourself to one another, not subject the other person to yourself (  Ephesians 5:21-22 ,Ephesians 5:21-22, 5:24;  Colossians 3:18;  1 Peter 3:1 ). In such a relationship, the husband's role as head is modeled after the self-giving of Christ ( Ephesians 5:23 ,Ephesians 5:23, 5:25 ,Ephesians 5:25, 5:28-30 );  Philippians 2:1-11;  Colossians 3:19;  1 Peter 3:7 ).

Differences of interpretation exist about the role of husbands and wives in marriage. The Bible presents a tension between two truths: the primacy of persons as persons whether they are male or female ( Galatians 3:28 ) and human sexuality (maleness or femaleness) as an important aspect of human personality ( Genesis 1:27 ). The Bible provides considerable support for traditional roles of husbands and wives; however, the Bible provides examples of a variety of masculine-feminine roles. Martha performed the traditional role of preparing a meal for guests, but Mary played the non-traditional role of learner ( Luke 10:38-42 ). Esau was a hunter, but Jacob liked to cook ( Genesis 25:27-29 ). In the Bible the leaders in home and in society were generally men; but there were exceptions: Deborah was a judge ( Judges 4-5 ); Lydia was a merchant ( Acts 16:14 ); Priscilla and Aquila seemed to have acted as a team in teaching Apollos ( Acts 18:26 ) and in providing a meeting place for the church ( Romans 16:3-5;  1 Corinthians 16:19 ). Even the ideal wife of  Proverbs 31:1 exercised considerable creativity and initiative in far-ranging projects (  Proverbs 31:16-20 ).

Douglas Anderson

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

a civil and religious contract, by which a man is joined and united to a woman, for the ends of procreation. The essence of marriage consists in the mutual consent of the parties. Marriage is a part of the law of nations, and is in use among all people. The public use of marriage institutions consists, according to Archdeacon Paley, in their promoting the following beneficial effects:

1. The private comfort of individuals.

2. The production of the greatest number of healthy children, their better education, and the making of due provision for their settlement in life.

3. The peace of human society, in cutting off a principal source of contention, by assigning one or more women to one man, and protecting his exclusive right by sanctions of morality and law.

4. The better government of society, by distributing the community into separate families, and appointing over each the authority of a master of a family, which has more actual influence than all civil authority put together.

5. The additional security which the state receives for the good behaviour of its citizens, from the solicitude they feel for the welfare of their children, and from their being confined to permanent habitations.

6. The encouragement, of industry.

Whether marriage be a civil or a religious contract, has been a subject of dispute. The truth seems to be that it is both. It has its engagements to men, and its vows to God. A Christian state recognizes marriage as a branch of public morality, and a source of civil peace and strength. It is connected with the peace of society by assigning one woman to one man, and the state protects him, therefore, in her exclusive possession. Christianity, by allowing divorce in the event of adultery, supposes, also, that the crime must be proved by proper evidence before the civil magistrate; and lest divorce should be the result of unfounded suspicion, or be made a cover for license, the decision of the case could safely be lodged no where else. Marriage, too, as placing one human being more completely under the power of another than any other relation, requires laws for the protection of those who are thus so exposed to injury. The distribution of society into families, also, can only be an instrument for promoting the order of the community, by the cognizance which the law takes of the head of a family, and by making him responsible, to a certain extent, for the conduct of those under his influence. Questions of property are also involved in marriage and its issue. The law must, therefore, for these and many other weighty reasons, be cognizant of marriage; must prescribe various regulations respecting it; require publicity of the contract; and guard some of the great injunctions of religion in the matter by penalties. In every well ordered society marriage must be placed under the cognizance and control of the state. But then those who would have the whole matter to lie between the parties themselves, and the civil magistrate, appear wholly to forget that marriage is also a solemn religious act, in which vows are made to God by both persons, who, when the rite is properly understood, engage to abide by all those laws with which he has guarded the institution; to love and cherish each other; and to remain faithful to each other until death. For if, at least, they profess belief in Christianity, whatever duties are laid upon husbands and wives in Holy Scripture, they engage to obey by the very act of their contracting marriage. The question, then, is whether such vows to God as are necessarily involved in marriage, are to be left between the parties and God privately, or whether they ought to be publicly made before his ministers and the church. On this the Scriptures are silent; but though Michaelis has shown that the priests under the law were not appointed to celebrate marriage; yet in the practice of the modern Jews it is a religious ceremony, the chief rabbi of the synagogue being present, and prayers being appointed for the occasion. This renders it probable that the character of the ceremony under the law, from the most ancient times, was a religious one. The more direct connection of marriage with religion in Christian states, by assigning its celebration to the ministers of religion, appears to be a very beneficial custom, and one which the state has a right to enjoin. For since the welfare and morals of society are so much interested in the performance of the mutual duties of the married state; and since those duties have a religious as well as a civil character, it is most proper that some provision should be made for explaining those duties; and for this a standing form of marriage is best adapted. By acts of religion, also, they are more solemnly impressed upon the parties. When this is prescribed in any state, it becomes a Christian cheerfully, and even thankfully, to comply with a custom of so important a tendency, as matter of conscientious subjection to lawful authority, although no Scriptural precept can be pleaded for it. That the ceremony should be confined to the clergy of an established church, is a different consideration. We think that the religious effect would be greater, were the ministers of each religious body to be authorized by the state to celebrate marriages among their own people, due provision being previously made by the civil magistrate for the regular and secure registry of them, and to prevent the laws respecting marriage from being evaded; which is indeed his business. The offices of religion would then come in by way of sanction and moral enforcement.

When this important contract is once made, then certain rights are acquired by the parties mutually, who are also bound by reciprocal duties, in the fulfilment of which the practical virtue of each consists. And here the superior character of the morals of the New Testament, as well as their higher authority, is illustrated. It may, indeed, be within the scope of mere moralists to show that fidelity, and affection, and all the courtesies necessary to maintain affection, are rationally obligatory upon those who are connected by the nuptial bond; but in Christianity nuptial fidelity is guarded by the express law, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" and by our Lord's exposition of the spirit of that law which forbids the indulgence of loose thoughts and desires, and places the purity of the heart under the guardianship of that hallowed fear which his authority tends to inspire. Affection, too, is made a matter of diligent cultivation upon considerations, and by a standard, peculiar to our religion. Husbands are placed in a relation to their wives, similar to that which Christ bears to his church, and his example is thus made their rule. As Christ loved the church, so husbands are to love their wives; as Christ "gave himself," his life, "for the church,"  Ephesians 5:25 , so are they to hazard life for their wives; as Christ saves his church, so is it the bounden duty of husbands to endeavour, by ever possible means, to promote the religious edification and salvation of their wives. The connection is thus exalted into a religious one; and when love which knows no abatement, protection at the hazard of life, and a tender and constant solicitude for the salvation of a wife, are thus enjoined, the greatest possible security is established for the exercise of kindness and fidelity. The oneness of this union is also more forcibly stated in Scripture than any where beside. "They twain shall be one flesh." "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." Precept and illustration can go no higher than this; and nothing evidently is wanting either of direction or authority to raise the state of marriage into the highest, most endearing, and sanctified relation in which two human beings can stand to each other.

2. We find but few laws in the books of Moses concerning the institution of marriage. Though the Mosaic law no where obliges men to marry, the Jews have always looked upon it as an indispensable duty implied in the words, "Increase and multiply,"   Genesis 1:28; so that a man who did not marry his daughter before she was twenty years of age, was looked upon as accessary to any irregularities the young woman might be guilty of for want of being timely married. Moses restrained the Israelites from marrying within certain degrees of consanguinity; which had till then been permitted, to prevent their taking wives from among the idolatrous nations among whom they lived. Abraham gave this as a reason for choosing a wife for Isaac from among his own kindred,  Genesis 34:3 , &c. But when his descendants became so exceedingly multiplied, this reason ceased; and the great lawgiver prohibited, under pain of death, certain degrees of kindred as incestuous. Polygamy, though not expressly allowed, is however tacitly implied in the laws of Moses, Genesis 31;  Exodus 21:10 . This practice likewise was authorized by the example of the patriarchs. Thus Jacob married both the daughters of Laban. In respect to which custom, Moses enjoins that, upon the marriage of a second wife, a man shall be bound to continue to the first her food, raiment, and the duty of marriage. The Jews did not always content themselves with the allowance of two wives, as may be seen in the examples of David, Solomon, and many others. However, they made a distinction between the wives of the first rank, and those of the second. The first they called nashim, and the other pilgashim; which last, though most versions render it by the words "concubines," "harlots," and "prostitutes," yet it has no where in Scripture any such bad sense. There is a particular law called the Levirate, which obliged a man, whose brother died without issue, to marry his widow, and raise up seed to his brother,   Deuteronomy 25:5 , &c. But Moses in some measure left it to a man's choice, whether he would comply with this law or not; for in case of a refusal the widow could only summon him before the judges of the place, when, if he persisted, she untied his shoe, and spit in his face, and said, "Thus shall it be done unto the man who refuses to build up his brother's house." A man was at liberty to marry not only in the twelve tribes, but even out of them, provided it was among such nations as used circumcision; such were the Midianites, Ishmaelites, Edomites, Moabites, and Egyptians. Accordingly, we find Moses himself married to a Midianite, and Boaz to a Moabite. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite, by Abigail, David's sister; and Solomon, in the beginning of his reign, married Pharaoh's daughter. Whenever we find him and other kings blamed for marrying strange women, we must understand it of those nations which were idolatrous and uncircumcised.

It appears almost impossible to Europeans, says Mr. Hartley, that a deception like that of Laban's could be practised. But the following extract, from a journal which I kept at Smyrna, presents a parallel case: "The Armenian brides are veiled during the marriage ceremony; and hence deceptions have occurred, in regard to the person chosen for wife. I am informed that, on one occasion, a young Armenian at Smyrna solicited in marriage a younger daughter, whom he admired. The parents of the girl consented to the request, and every previous arrangement was made. When the time for solemnizing the marriage arrived, the elder daughter, who was not so beautiful, was conducted by the parents to the altar, and the young man was unconsciously married to her. And ‘it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was the elder daughter.' The deceit was not discovered, till it could not be rectified; and the manner in which the parents justified themselves was precisely that of Laban: ‘It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born.' It is really the rule among the Armenians, that neither a younger son nor daughter be married, till their elder brother or sister have preceded them." I was once present at the solemnization of matrimony among the Armenians; and some recollections of it may tend to throw light on this and other passages of Scripture. The various festivities attendant on these occasions continue for three days and during the last night the marriage is celebrated. I was conducted to the house of the bride, where I found a very large assemblage of persons. The company was dispersed through various rooms; reminding me of the directions of our Saviour, in regard to the choice of the lowermost rooms at feasts. On the ground floor I actually observed that the persons convened were of an inferior order of the community, while in the upper rooms were assembled those of higher rank. The large number of young females who were present, naturally reminded me of the wise and foolish virgins in our Saviour's parable. These being friends of the bride, the virgins, her companions, had come to meet the bridegroom,  Psalms 45:14 . It is usual for the bridegroom to come at midnight; so that, literally, at midnight the cry is made, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh! go ye out to meet him,"  Matthew 25:6 . But, on this occasion the bridegroom tarried: it was two o'clock before he arrived. The whole party then proceeded to the Armenian church, where the bishop was waiting to receive them; and there the ceremony was completed. See DIVORCE and See Bride .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]


1. Its origin and history. - The institution of marriage dates from the time of man's original creation.  Genesis 2:18-25. From  Genesis 2:24, we may evolve the following principles:

(1) The unity of man and wife, as implied in her being formed out of man.

(2) The indissolubleness of the marriage bond, except on; the strongest grounds, Compare  Matthew 19:9.

(3) Monogamy, as the original law of marriage.

(4) The social equality of man and wife.

(5) The subordination of the wife to the husband.  1 Corinthians 11:8-9;  1 Timothy 2:13.

(6) The respective duties of man and wife.

In the patriarchal age, polygamy prevailed,  Genesis 16:4;  Genesis 25:1;  Genesis 25:8;  Genesis 28:9;  Genesis 29:23;  Genesis 29:26;  1 Chronicles 7:14, but to a great extent, divested of the degradation which, in modern times, attaches to that practice. Divorce also prevailed in the patriarchal age, though but one instance of it is recorded.  Genesis 21:14. The Mosaic law discouraged polygamy, restricted divorce, and aimed to enforce purity of life. It was the best civil law possible at the time, and sought to bring the people up to the pure standard of the moral law.

In the Post-Babylonian period, monogamy appears to have become more prevalent than at any previous time. The practice of polygamy nevertheless still existed; Herod the Great had no less than nine wives at one time. The abuse of divorce continued unabated. Our Lord and his apostles re-established the integrity and sanctity of the marriage bond by the following measures:

(a) By the confirmation of the original charter of marriage as the basis on which all regulations were to be framed.  Matthew 19:4-5.

(b) By the restriction of divorce to the case of fornication, and the prohibition of remarriage in all persons divorced on improper grounds.  Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9;  Romans 7:3;  1 Corinthians 7:10-11.

(c) By the enforcement of moral purity generally  Hebrews 13:4 etc., and especial formal condemnation of fornication.  Acts 15:20.

2. The conditions of legal marriage. - In the Hebrew commonwealth, marriage was prohibited

(a) Between An Israelite And A Non-Israelite. There were three grades of prohibition: total in regard to the Canaanites on either side; total on the side of the males in regard to the Ammonites and Moabites; and temporary on the side of the males in regard to the Edomites and Egyptians, marriages with females, in the two latter instances, being regarded as legal. The progeny of illegal marriages between Israelites and non-Israelites was described as "bastard."  Deuteronomy 23:2.

(b) Between An Israelite And One Of His Own Community. The regulations relative to marriage between Israelites and Israelites were based on considerations of relationship.

The most important passage relating to these is contained in  Leviticus 18:6-18, wherein we have, in the first place, a general prohibition against marriage between a man and the "flesh of his flesh," and in the second place, special prohibitions against marriage with a mother, stepmother, sister or half-sister, whether "born at home or abroad," granddaughter, aunt, whether by consanguinity on either side or by marriage on the father's side, daughter in-law, brother's wife, stepdaughter, wife's mother, stepgranddaughter, or wife's sister during the lifetime of the wife.

An exception is subsequently made,  Deuteronomy 26:5-9, in favor of marriage with a brother's wife, in the event of his having died childless. The law which regulates this has been named the "Levirate ", from the Latin levir , "Brother-In-Law".

3. The modes by which marriage was effected. - The choice of the bride devolved, not on the bridegroom himself, but on his relations or on a friend deputed by the bridegroom for this purpose. The consent of the maiden was sometimes asked,  Genesis 24:58, but this appears to have been subordinate to the previous consent of the father and the adult brothers.  Genesis 24:51;  Genesis 34:11.

Occasionally, the whole business of selecting the wife was left in the hands of a friend.

The selection of the bride was followed by the espousal, which was a formal proceeding undertaken by a friend or legal representative on the part of the bridegroom and by the parents on the part of the bride; it was confirmed by oaths, and accompanied with presents to the bride. The act of betrothal was celebrated by a feast, and among the more modern Jews, it is the custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the bride's finger. The ring was regarded, among the Hebrews, as a token of fidelity,  Genesis 41:42, and of adoption into a family.  Luke 15:25.

Between the betrothal and the marriage, some interval elapsed, varying from a few days, in the patriarchal age,  Genesis 24:55, to a full year, for virgins and a month, for widows, in later times. During this period, the bride-elect lived with her friends, and all communication between herself and her future husband was carried on through the medium of a friend deputed for the purpose, termed the "friend of the bridegroom."  John 3:29.

She was now virtually regarded as the wife of her future husband; hence, faithlessness on her part was punishable with death,  Deuteronomy 22:23-24, the husband having, however, the option of "putting her away."  Deuteronomy 24:1;  Matthew 1:19.

The essence of the marriage ceremony consisted in the removal of the bride from her father's house to that of the bridegroom or his father. The bridegroom prepared himself for the occasion by putting on a festive dress, and especially, by placing on his head, a handsome nuptial turban.  Psalms 45:8;  Song of Solomon 4:10-11. The bride was veiled. Her robes were white,  Revelation 19:8, and sometimes embroidered with gold thread,  Psalms 45:13-14, and covered with perfumes.  Psalms 45:8. She was further decked out with jewels.  Isaiah 49:18;  Isaiah 61:10;  Revelation 21:2.

When the fixed hour arrived, which was, generally late in the evening, the bridegroom set forth from his house, attended by his groomsmen, (Authorized Version, "companions,"  Judges 14:11, "children of the bride-chamber,"  Matthew 9:15, preceded by a band of musicians or singers,  Genesis 31:27;  Jeremiah 7:34;  Jeremiah 16:9, and accompanied by persons bearing flambeaux,  2 Esdras 10:2;  Jeremiah 25:10;  Matthew 25:7;  Revelation 18:23, and took the bride with the friends to his own house.

At the house, a feast was prepared, to which all the friends and neighbors were invited,  Genesis 29:22;  Matthew 22:1-10;  Luke 14:8;  John 2:2, and the festivities were protracted for seven, or even fourteen, days.  Judges 14:12;  Job 8:19. The guests were provided by the host with fitting robes,  Matthew 22:11, and the feast was enlivened with riddles,  Judges 14:12, and other amusements.

The last act in the ceremonial was the conducting of the bride to the bridal chamber,  Judges 15:1;  Joel 2:16, where a canopy was prepared.  Psalms 19:5;  Joel 2:16. The bride was still completely veiled, so that the deception practiced on Jacob,  Genesis 29:23, was not difficult.

A newly married man was exempt from military service, or from any public business which might draw him away from his home, for the space of a year,  Deuteronomy 24:5, a similar privilege was granted to him who was 'betrothed.  Deuteronomy 20:7.

4. The social and domestic conditions of married life. - The wife must have exercised an important influence in her own home. She appears to have taken her part in family affairs, and even to have enjoyed a considerable amount of independence.  Judges 4:18;  1 Samuel 25:14;  2 Kings 4:8; etc. In the New Testament, the mutual relations of husband and wife are a subject of frequent exhortation.  Ephesians 5:22;  Ephesians 5:33;  Colossians 3:18-19;  Titus 2:4-5;  1 Peter 3:1-7.

The duties of the wife, in the Hebrew household, were multifarious; in addition to the general superintendence of the domestic arrangements, such as cooking, from which even women of rank were not exempt,  Genesis 18:8;  2 Samuel 13:5, and the distribution of food at meal times,  Proverbs 31:13, the manufacture of the clothing and of the various fabrics required in her home devolved upon her,  Proverbs 31:13;  Proverbs 31:21-22, and if she were a model of activity and skill, she produced a surplus of fine linen shirts and girdles, which she sold and so, like a well-freighted merchant ship, brought in wealth to her husband from afar.  Proverbs 31:14;  Proverbs 31:24. The legal rights of the wife are noticed in  Exodus 21:10 under the three heads of food, raiment, and duty of marriage or conjugal right.

5. The allegorical and typical allusions to marriage have exclusive reference to one object, namely, to exhibit the spiritual relationship between God and his people. In the Old Testament,  Isaiah 54:5;  Jeremiah 3:14;  Hosea 2:19. In the New Testament, the image of the bridegroom is transferred from Jehovah to Christ ,  Matthew 9:15;  John 3:29, and that of the bride to the Church,  2 Corinthians 11:2;  Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:2;  Revelation 21:9.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

From the beginning God’s ideal for marriage has been that one man and one woman live together, independent of parents, in lifelong union ( Genesis 2:18-24;  Matthew 19:4-6). This ideal union is broken only by death, in which case the surviving partner is free to remarry ( Romans 7:2-3;  1 Corinthians 7:39;  1 Timothy 5:14).

Polygamy in the Old Testament

The early history of the human race is one of almost total departure from God, so that only a very small minority of people retained any real understanding of God ( Genesis 6:1-8;  Romans 1:20-27). Polygamy, the practice of having several wives at the same time, became so widespread that even God’s people did not always regard it as wrong ( Genesis 25:6;  2 Samuel 5:13;  1 Kings 11:1-3). Inevitably, jealousy and conflict resulted, leading them eventually to recognize that God’s ideal of monogamy was best ( Genesis 21:8-10;  Genesis 29:21-35;  Genesis 30:1-24;  Deuteronomy 21:15-17;  Judges 8:30-35;  Judges 9:1-6;  1 Samuel 1:4-8;  2 Samuel 3:2-5;  1 Kings 11:1-8).

In ancient Israel it was considered a matter of social shame if a wife did not have children ( Genesis 16:1;  Genesis 30:1;  1 Samuel 1:10-11;  Luke 1:7). According to one custom, if a wife was not able to have children, she may have allowed her husband to produce a child by her maidservant. All legal rights over the child belonged to the wife, not the maid ( Genesis 16:2;  Genesis 30:1-8). (Concerning the case where a married man died without leaving children see Widow .)

Marriage customs

Among the ancient Israelites, engagement to marry was almost as binding as marriage. Unfaithfulness within an engagement was considered as bad as adultery ( Deuteronomy 22:23-27;  Matthew 1:18-20). Parents usually chose the marriage partners for their sons and daughters ( Genesis 21:21;  Genesis 24:1-4;  Genesis 38:6;  Ruth 3:1-5), though they may have taken into consideration any preference that a son or daughter indicated ( Genesis 24:58-61;  Genesis 34:4;  Genesis 34:8;  Judges 14:2;  1 Samuel 18:20-21).

The custom was for the bridegroom to give some payment or service to the parents of the bride as the price for the daughter he had taken from them ( Genesis 29:18;  Genesis 29:30;  Genesis 34:12;  1 Samuel 18:25). The bride’s parents usually gave a gift to the married couple which, in wealthy families, often consisted of servants or land ( Genesis 29:24;  Genesis 29:29;  Judges 1:15;  1 Kings 9:16).

Both the bridegroom and the bride wore special clothes for the wedding ceremony and the associated festivities ( Isaiah 61:10;  Jeremiah 2:32;  Revelation 19:7-8;  Revelation 21:2). The bridegroom had his best man, and the bride her bridesmaids ( Psalms 45:14;  John 3:29). The bridegroom and his friends went and brought the bride from her father’s house to his own house, where the feast was held ( Psalms 45:14-15;  Matthew 25:1-13). The wedding feast was a time of great celebration, and all who were invited as guests were given special clothes for the occasion ( Matthew 22:1-4;  Matthew 22:11-12;  John 2:1-11). Festivities sometimes went on for a week ( Genesis 29:27;  Matthew 9:14-15).

Total union

Whatever the traditions or procedures, marriage is more than a social custom or a legal arrangement. It is also more than a sexual relationship. It is an unselfish giving of each partner to the other in a union that excludes all others. God intends people to have and to enjoy sexual relations, but only as part of a total relationship where a man and a woman commit themselves to each other for life ( Matthew 19:5-6;  Hebrews 13:4). Divorce is not part of God’s plan for human society ( Malachi 2:16;  Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:8-9; see Divorce ).

Human sexuality is one of God’s gifts to humankind and, like all God’s gifts, it can be properly enjoyed or shamefully abused ( 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5;  1 Timothy 4:3-4). The Bible encourages a healthy enjoyment of sex within marriage ( Proverbs 5:18-19;  Ecclesiastes 9:9; Song of  Song of Solomon 1:12-13;  Song of Solomon 7:6-13;  Song of Solomon 8:1-3), but it forbids sexual relations before marriage or with any person other than one’s marriage partner ( Leviticus 18:6-18;  Leviticus 20:10;  Deuteronomy 22:20-22;  Malachi 2:14;  Mark 6:18;  Romans 7:2; cf.  Matthew 5:27-28; see Adultery ; Fornication ). It condemns prostitution, incest, bestiality and homosexual practices as perversions. They are sins against one’s own body ( Leviticus 18:22-23;  Leviticus 19:29;  Leviticus 20:14-17;  Romans 1:26-27;  1 Corinthians 6:9-10;  1 Corinthians 6:13-18;  Revelation 22:15).

In marriage as God intended it, there is an equality between the man and the woman ( Genesis 2:23-24). Though there may be physical, emotional and psychological differences between the male and the female, the two complement each other so that each is equipped to do what the other cannot. Together they form a unit, with each dependent on the other ( 1 Corinthians 7:3-4;  1 Corinthians 11:11-12).

God holds the man ultimately responsible for the household that comes into being through the marriage ( Genesis 3:9-12;  1 Corinthians 11:3; cf.  Romans 5:12). Husbands have at times thought this responsibility gives them special privileges that allow them to treat their wives as inferiors instead of as equals ( Genesis 3:16), but such a state of affairs was not God’s original intention. Sin has spoiled the marriage relationship as it has spoiled everything else in human society. However, because of the exercise of Christian love, Christian marriage ought to achieve marital harmony, even in circumstances where other marriages do not.

Christian love is the sort of self-sacrificing love that Christ exercised – serving others rather than pleasing self. Husband and wife must exercise such love towards each other ( Ephesians 5:1-2), though the husband in particular is required to make sacrifices ( Ephesians 5:25-29).

Likewise husband and wife must exercise submission to each other ( Ephesians 5:21), though the wife in particular is required to recognize the husband’s headship of the family ( Ephesians 5:22-24). Where each is prepared to sacrifice self-interest for the sake of the other, the marriage will be enriched ( Ephesians 5:33; see Husband ; WIFE). It will also be a fitting picture of the relationship between Christ and his church ( Ephesians 5:29-32).

Special considerations

Since their relationship with Christ governs all their other relationships, Christians should not marry those who do not share their faith in Jesus Christ ( 2 Corinthians 6:14-16; cf.  1 Corinthians 7:39). However, where one partner of a non-Christian marriage later becomes a Christian, the marriage should be maintained. God understands the circumstances, and the Christian should do everything possible to make the marriage work harmoniously ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16).

In certain circumstances it may be God’s will for a person not to marry, and this may at times require much self-discipline ( Jeremiah 16:2;  Matthew 19:12 1 Corinthians 1:7-8,17,32-35). Even among those who intend to marry, self-discipline is necessary. They must take into consideration the added responsibilities that marriage brings ( 1 Corinthians 7:32-34), and must not marry hastily, particularly when there is the possibility of increased social and economic hardship ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-31). But if an unmarried person is constantly aflame with sexual passion, it may be better to marry, lest the temptations prove to be too great ( 1 Corinthians 7:9;  1 Corinthians 7:36-38; cf.  1 Corinthians 7:5).

While the Christian teaching on marriage is based on principles that the Creator set out for his creatures, it also acknowledges the weaknesses of human nature and the need to deal with them sensibly. Christian morality requires God’s people to uphold his standards when others want to destroy them. At the same time Christian love requires them to give support to those who, having ignored God’s law, are sorry for their sin and need help in rebuilding their lives ( John 8:1-11;  1 Corinthians 6:9-11;  Galatians 6:1-2).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

The union for life of one man and one woman, is an ordinance of the Creator for the perpetuity and happiness of the human race; instituted in Paradise,  Genesis 1:27-28   2:18-24 , and the foundation of no small part of all that is valuable to human society. By promoting parental love and the sense of responsibility, marriage most effectually promotes the health and happiness of children, and their careful education to virtue, industry, and honor, to right habits and ends, and to all that is included in the idea of home. God made originally but one man and one woman. The first polygamists were Lamech and those degenerate "sons of God," or worshippers of Jehovah, who "took them wives of all that they chose,"  Genesis 4:17   6:2 . On the other hand, Noah and his three sons had each but one wife; and the same appears to be true of all his direct ancestors' back to Adam. So also was it with Job, Nahor, Lot, and at first with Abraham. See  Genesis 16:16   Judges 8:30   2 Samuel 3:3-5   1 Kings 11:18   2 Chronicles 11:18-21   13:21 . In the time of Christ there is no mention of polygamy as prevalent among the Jews.

The Israelites were forbidden to marry within certain specified degrees,  Leviticus 18:1-30,1-27   Deuteronomy 27:1-26 . Marriage with Canaanites and idolaters was strictly forbidden,  Exodus 34:16; and afterwards with any of the heathen nations around them, especially such as were uncircumcised,  Nehemiah 13:1-31 . By the Levirate law, as it is termed, if a Jew died without children, his nearest brother or kinsman was bound to marry the widow, that her firstborn son after this marriage might be reckoned the son and heir of the first husband,  Genesis 38:1-30   Deuteronomy 25:5-10   Matthew 22:23-26 . The Savior set his seal to marriage as a divine and permanent institution, aside from all the civil laws which guard and regulate, or seek to alter or annul it; forbidding divorce except for one cause,  Matthew 5:32   19:3-6,9; and denouncing all breaches of marriage vows, even in thought,  Matthew 5:28 . Compare  Hebrews 13:4   Revelation 21:8 .

Jewish parents were wont to arrange with other parents as to the marriage of their children, sometimes according to the previous choice of the son, and not without some regard to the consent of the daughter,  Genesis 21:21   24:1-67   34:4-6   Judges 14:2-3 . The parties were often betrothed to each other long before the marriage took place. See  Exodus 22:13   Deuteronomy 22:29   2 Samuel 13:11 . The nuptials were often celebrated with great pomp and ceremony, and with protracted feasting and rejoicing. It was customary for the bridegroom to appoint a Paranymphus, or groomsman, called by our Savior "the friend of the bridegroom,"  John 3.29 . A number of other young men also kept him company during the days of the wedding, to do him honor; as also young women kept company with the bride all this time. The companions of the bridegrooms are expressly mentioned in the history of Samson,  Judges 14:11,20 Song of   Song of Solomon 5:1   8:13   Matthew 9:14; also the companions of the bride,  Psalm 45:9,14 Song of   Song of Solomon 1:5   2:7   3:5   8:4 . The office of the groomsman was to direct in the ceremonies of he wedding. The friends and companions of the bride sang the epithalamium, or wedding song, at the door of the bride the evening before the wedding. The festivities of the wedding were conducted with great decorum, the young people of each sex being in distinct apartments and at different tables. The young men at Samson's wedding diverted themselves in proposing riddles, and the bridegroom appointed the prize to those should could explain them,  Judges 14:14 .

The Jews affirm, that before Jerusalem was laid in ruins, the bridegroom and bride wore crowns at their marriage. Compare  Isaiah 61:10 Song of   Song of Solomon 3:11 , "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother, crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." The modern Jews, in some places, throw handfuls of wheat on the newly married couple, particularly on the bride, saying "Increase and multiply." In other places they mingle pieces of money with the wheat, which are gathered up by the poor. The actual ceremony of marriage was very simple, consisting of little more than the reading of the marriage contract,  Proverbs 2:17   Malachi 2:14 , and the nuptial blessing invoked by the friends,  Genesis 24:60   Ruth 4:11,12 .

The wedding festivities commonly lasted seven days for a maid, and three days for a widow. So Laban says to Jacob, respecting Leah, "Fulfill her week,"  Genesis 29:27 . The ceremonies of Samson's wedding continued seven whole days,  Judges 14:17,18 . These seven days of rejoicing were commonly spent in the house of the woman's father, after which they conducted the bride to her husband's home.

The procession accompanying the bride from the house of her father to that of the bridegroom, was generally one of more or less pomp, according to the circumstances of the married couple; and for this they often chose the night, as is tell the custom in Syria. Hence the parable of the ten virgins that went at midnight to meet the bride and bridegroom,  Matthew 25:1-46 . "At a Hindoo marriage, the procession of which I saw some years ago," says Mr. Ward, "the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampre, to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight, it was announced, as if in the very words of Scripture, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.' All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands to fill up their stations in the procession; some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared; but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride, at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area, before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed in a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and them went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut, and guarded by sepoys. Others and I expostulated with the doorkeepers, but in vain. Never was I so struck with our Lord's beautiful parable as at this moment; and the door was shut.'"

Christianity invests the family institution with peculiar sacredness; makes true love its basis, and mutual preference of each others' happiness its rule; and even likens it to the ineffable union between Christ and his church,  Ephesians 5:22-33 . Nowhere in the world is woman so honored, happy, and useful as in a Christian land and a Christian home. Believers are directed to marry "in the Lord,"  1 Corinthians 7:39 . No doubt the restrictions laid upon the ancient people of God contain a lesson for all periods, and the recorded ill results of forbidden marriages among the Jews, if heeded, would prevent the serious evils which often result form union between a Christian and a worldling. As to the mutual duties of husband and wife, see  Ephesians 5:22-23   1 Timothy 2:11,12   1 Peter 3:1-7 .

The Romish church puts dishonor on what the Holy Spirit describes as "honorable in all." It not only extols celibacy and virginity in the laity, but also strictly refuses marriage to all its priests, bishops, etc., and in thus "forbidding to marry," fixes upon itself the name of anti-Christ,  1 Timothy 4:3 . See Betrothing , Concubine , Divorce , Garments , etc.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Marriage. The institution of marriage dates from the time of man's original creation.  Genesis 2:18-25. The marriage bond is not to be dissolved except on the strongest grounds. Comp.  Matthew 19:9. On the relation of the wife to the husband, see  1 Corinthians 11:8-9;  1 Timothy 2:13. In the patriarchal age polygamy prevailed.  Genesis 16:4;  Genesis 25:1;  Genesis 25:6;  Genesis 28:9;  Genesis 29:23;  Genesis 29:28;  1 Chronicles 7:14. Divorce also prevailed in the patriarchal age, though but one instance of it is recorded.  Genesis 21:14. The Mosaic law discouraged polygamy, restricted divorce, and aimed to enforce purity of life. It was the best civil law possible at the time, and sought to bring the people up to the pure standard of the moral law. Our Lord and his apostles re-established the integrity and sanctity of marriage,  Matthew 19:4-5;  Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9;  Romans 7:3;  1 Corinthians 7:10-11, and enforced moral purity,  Hebrews 13:1-25;  Hebrews 4:1-16, etc., especially by the formal condemnation of fornication.  Acts 15:20. In the Hebrew commonwealth an Israelite and a non-Israelite were not allowed to marry, except in a few special cases, and Israelites closely related could not marry. See  Leviticus 18:6-18, and for exceptions,  Deuteronomy 25:5-9. The law which regulates this exception has been named the "levirate" law, from the Latin Levir, "brother-in-law." The choice of the bride devolved not on the bridegroom himself, but on his relations or on a mend deputed for this purpose. The consent of the maiden was sometimes asked,  Genesis 24:58; but this appears to have been subordinate to the previous consent of the father and the adult brothers.  Genesis 24:51;  Genesis 34:11. The act of betrothal was celebrated by a feast, and among the more modern Jews it is the custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the bride's finger. The ring was regarded among the Hebrews as a token of fidelity,  Genesis 41:42, and of adoption into a family.  Luke 15:22. During the interval between betrothal and marriage, the bride lived with her friends; her communications with her future husband were carried on through a friend deputed for the purpose, termed the "friend of the bridegroom."  John 3:29. She was regarded as the wife of her future husband; hence faithlessness on her part was punishable with death,  Deuteronomy 22:23-24, the husband having, however, the option of "putting her away."  Deuteronomy 24:1;  Matthew 1:19. At the marriage ceremony the bride removed from her father's house to that of the bridegroom or bis father. The bridegroom prepared himself for the occasion by putting on a festival dress, and especially by placing on his head a handsome nuptial turban.  Psalms 45:8;  Song of Solomon 4:10-11. The bride was veiled. Her robes were white,  Revelation 19:8, and sometimes embroidered with gold thread,  Psalms 45:13-14, and covered with perfumes,  Psalms 45:8; she was further decked out with jewels.  Isaiah 49:18;  Isaiah 61:10;  Revelation 21:2. When the fixed hour arrived, which was generally late in the evening, the bridegroom set forth from his house attended by his groomsmen (A. V." companions,"  Judges 14:11; "children of the bride-chamber,"  Matthew 9:15), preceded by a band of musicians or singers,  Genesis 31:27;  Jeremiah 7:34;  Jeremiah 16:9, and accompanied by persons bearing flambeaux,  Jeremiah 25:10;  2 Esdras 10:2;  Matthew 25:7;  Revelation 18:23, and took the bride with the friends to his own house. At the house a feast was prepared, to which all the friends and neighbors were invited,  Genesis 29:22;  Matthew 22:1-10;  Luke 14:8;  John 2:2, and the festivities were protracted for seven or even fourteen days.  Judges 14:12;  Tobit 8:19. The guests were sometimes furnished with fitting robes,  Matthew 22:11, and the feast was enlivened with riddles,  Judges 14:12, and other amusements. The last act in the ceremonial was the conducting of the bride to the bridal chamber,  Judges 15:1;  Joel 2:16, where a canopy was prepared.  Psalms 19:5;  Joel 2:16. The bride was still completely veiled, so that the deception practiced on Jacob,  Genesis 29:23, was not difficult. A newly married man was exempt from military service, or from any public business which might draw him away from his home, for the space of a year,  Deuteronomy 24:5; a similar privilege was granted to him who was betrothed.  Deuteronomy 20:7.

The Conditions Of Married Life. —The wife appears to have taken her part in family affairs, and even to have enjoyed a considerable amount of independence.  Judges 4:18;  1 Samuel 25:14;  2 Kings 4:8, etc. In the New Testament the mutual relations of husband and wife are a subject of frequent exhortation.  Ephesians 5:22;  Ephesians 5:33;  Colossians 3:18-19;  Titus 2:4-5;  1 Peter 3:1-7. The duties of the wife in the Hebrew household were multifarious,  Genesis 18:6;  2 Samuel 13:8, the distribution of food,  Proverbs 31:15, the manufacture of the clothing,  Proverbs 31:13;  Proverbs 31:21-22; and the legal rights of the wife are noticed in  Exodus 21:10, under the three heads of food, raiment, and duty of marriage or conjugal right. Marriage is used to illustrate the spiritual relationship between God and his people.  Isaiah 54:6;  Jeremiah 3:14;  Hosea 2:19. In the New Testament the image of the bridegroom is transferred from Jehovah to Christ,  Matthew 9:15;  John 3:29, and that of the bride to the church.  2 Corinthians 11:2;  Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:2. 9. For full account, see Bissell's Biblical Antiquities.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

This is God's institution: He said it was not good that man should be alone, and He provided a suitable help for Adam in the person of Eve. Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman ( isha ), because she was taken out of Man ( ish ). 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 . This declaration of union was confirmed by the Lord, who, in quoting the above, added, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."  Matthew 19:5,6;  Mark 10:7-9 . It is confirmed also by being taken as a type of the sacred union of the Lord with the church: "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. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."  Ephesians 5:30-32 .

All this shows that God's institution of marriage was the union of one man and one woman, the two and only two, becoming one. What is more than this is not of God, but is of human lust. This order was first broken through by Lamech, the sixth from Adam, who had two wives. Long after this instances are recorded of wives, on account of their great desire for children, giving their maid servants to their husbands: an act that would now be judged as most unnatural in a wife. Sarai gave her Egyptian handmaid to Abram 'to be his wife' (the same word for 'wife' being used for both Sarai and Hagar), and God said He would make of Ishmael a great nation. Jacob's two wives gave their handmaids to their husband, and thus he had four wives. God reckoned the twelve sons of these four women equally as sons of Jacob, and they became the heads of the twelve tribes. It might have been thought that God would not have blessed the issue of these unions, but He did: there is no record of any law having been given on this subject.

In early times marriages were also contracted between near relatives. This was altered by the law of Moses as well as restrictions introduced as to divorce, though even under the law, because of the hardness of their hearts, Moses allowed them to put away their wives for any cause, "but from the beginning it was not so," and from the time the Lord was on earth it was not to be so any longer.  Matthew 19:5-9 . The choice of persons to be appointed as bishops and deacons in the church, was restricted to those who were the husbands of 'one wife.'  1 Timothy 3:2,12;  Titus 1:6 . God has providentially so ordered it in all countries called christian that a man is allowed to have but one wife; and in the best of those countries a man cannot divorce his wife except when she herself has already broken the marriage bond. Instruction is given in the Epistles to both: the wives are to be in subjection to their husbands, and the husbands are to love and cherish their wives, even as Christ the church.  Ephesians 5:28,29 .

It is not now known how the negotiations were conducted that led to a man and woman being betrothed, or espoused, or what were the ceremonies usually attending it. The betrothed couple were at once looked upon as husband and wife, as seen in the case of Joseph, who thought of divorcing his espoused wife Mary.  Matthew 1:18,19 . In the East a man does not usually see his espoused wife until they are married (as Isaac did not see Rebecca and had no choice in the matter), the engagement, and the amount of dowry to be paid by the husband to the bride's father, being arranged by the relatives.

Of the ancient marriage ceremonies very little is known. On the night of a marriage the young women went forth with lamps or torches to meet the bridegroom and to escort him to the house of the bride, as in  Matthew 25 . Such processions have been seen in modern times, and the same cry has been heard, "Behold the bridegroom." They had marriage feasts, as in the parable of  Matthew 22 (when a special garment was provided for each of the guests), and as the one to which the Lord, His mother, and His disciples were invited at Cana, where the Lord made the water into wine.   John 2:1-11 .

The assembly has been espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ,  2 Corinthians 11:2; and it waits for that glorious time when it will be said, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready . . . . arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints . . . . Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb."  Revelation 19:7-9 . The Lord will also have an earthly bride during the kingdom.  Hosea 2:7 . See also the Canticles.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [11]

A convenant between a man and a woman, in which they mutually promise cohabitation, and a continual care to promote the comfort and happiness of each other. By Grove thus: "A society formed between two persons of different sexes, chiefly for the procreation and education of children." this union is very near and strict, and indeed indissoluble but by death, excepting in one case; unfaithfulness in the one or the other by adultery or fornication,  Romans 7:2 .  Matthew 5:32 . It is to be entered into with deliberation at a proper age, and with mutual consent, as well as with the consent of parents and guardians, under whose care single persons may be. It is a very honourable state,  Hebrews 13:4 . being an institution of God, and that in Paradise,  Genesis 2:1-25 : Christ honoured marriage by his presence, and at such a solemnity wrought his first miracle,   John 2:1-25 : Moreover, it is honourable, as families are formed and built up, the world peopled with inhabitants; it prevents incontinence and fornication, and, where the various duties of it are attended to, renders life a blessing. The laws of revelation, as well as most civilized countries, have made several exceptions of persons marrying who are nearly related by blood. The marriage of parents and children appears, at first view, contrary to nature, not merely on account of the disparity of age, but of the confusion which it introduces into natural relations, and its obliging to inconsistent duties; such as reverence to a son, and the daughter to be equal with the father.

Nor can the son or daughter acquit themselves of such inconsistent duties as would arise from this unnatural union. The marriage of brothers and sisters, and of some other near relations, is likewise disapproved by reason on various accounts. It frustrates one design of marriage, which is to enlarge benevolence and friendship, by cementing various families in a close alliance. And, farther, were it allowed, young persons instead of entering into marriage upon mature consideration, with a settled esteem and friendship, and a proper concern and provision for the support and education of children, would be in danger (through the intimacy and affection produced by their near relation, and being bred together) of sliding in their inconsiderate years into those criminal familiarities which are most destructive of the great ends of marriage. Most nations have agreed to brand such marriages as highly criminal, who cannot be supposed to have derived their judgment from Moses and the Israelites. It is probable God expressly prohibited these marriages in the beginning of mankind, and from the first heads of families the prohibition might be transmitted as a most sacred law to their descendants.

See INCEST. Some have supposed from those passages,  1 Timothy 3:2 .  Titus 1:6 . that bishops or pastors ought never to marry a second wife.

But such a prohibition would be contrary to natural right, and the design of the law itself; neither of which was ever intended to be set aside by the Gospel dispensation. It is more probably designed to guard against polygamy, and against divorce on frivolous occasions; both of which were frequent among the Jews, but condemned by our Lord,  Matthew 19:3-9 . The duties of this state are on the part of the husband, love, superior to any shown to any other person; a love of complacency and delight,  Proverbs 5:18-19 . Chaste and single. Provision for the temporal good of the wife and family,  1 Timothy 5:3 . Protection from abuse and injuries,  Ruth 3:9 . 1 Sam 35: 5, 18. Doing every thing that may contribute to the pleasure, peace, and comfort of the wife,  1 Corinthians 7:33 .

Seeking her spiritual welfare, and every thing that shall promote her edification and felicity. the duties on the part of the wife are, reverence, subjection, obedience, assistance, sympathy, assuming no authority, and continuance with him,  Ephesians 5:32-33 .  Titus 2:5 .  1 Timothy 5:11-12 .  Ruth 1:16 .

See articles Divorce, Parent Grove's Mor. Phil. vol. 2: p. 470; Paley's Mor. Phil. ch. 8: vol. 1: p. 339; Bean's Christian Minister's Advice to a New-married Couple; Guide to Domestic Happiness; Advantages and Disadvantages of the Marriage State; Stennett on Domestic Duties; Jay's Essay on Marriage; Doddridge's Lect. 225, 234, 265, . vol. 1: oct. ed.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

The Scriptures, both of the Old Testament and the New, have in a great variety of circumstances shew in what high esteem the holy estate of marriage was considered by holy men of old. And though in the Old Testament we read of many wives being joined to one husband, yet our Lord Jesus expressly said, that it was not so from the beginning. ( Matthew 19:3-9) And there is reason to believe, that in numberless instances where we read of a man having more wives than one, all but one were rather as concubines than wives. Such, for example, as Abraham's Hagar and Ke-turah. And I think it very plain, from the New Testament doctrine upon this subject, that from the very first order of things, even from the creation, the spiritual marriage and unity between Christ and his church was all along respected by the marriage-state, and uniformly intended to be shadowed forth. In confirmation of this opinion, I beg the reader to consult ‘the following Scriptures:  Genesis 2:18-25;  Ephesians 5:22-33;  Hebrews 13:4. And when the readers hath fully considered the force of these Scriptures: let him turn to John's gospel, second chapter and there read how the Lord Jesus honouered the marriage both with his presence and first miracle that he wrought; than let him turn to the fifth chapter of Mathew's Gospel, and Luke the sixteenth and eighteenth, and mark how strongly the Lord attacheth adultery to the separation of men and their wives. From the whole of which taken together, I think it is very plain, not only of the original design from the beginning, that every woman should have her own husband, and, every husband his own wife, but also that the married state was intended, in the most dear and tender manner, to set forth and display Christ's union with his church. Perhaps it may not be improper under this article, to make another observation in the allusion to the customs of the East on the celebration of their marriages, and which may serve to illustrate and explain, in some measure, that circumstance respecting the man without a wedding garment, which our Lord speaks of in the marriage-feast the king made for his son. (See  Matthew 22:1-14)

We cannot need to be informed how splendid and costly the entertainments made for marriage feasts always were in the East, Their ordinary entertainments were great, and no expense was spared in them; but even the poorest of the people on bridal occasions exerted themselves to make the festivity as rich as possible. In the marriage therefore of the king's son, we may well suppose the display of magnificence must have been proportionably great. The circumstance of the wedding garment provided for the guests, was in exact conformity to the oriential custom. Certain rich vests, or caffans, were provided for every one, therefore, when the king came in to see the guests, and found a man without the wedding garment, the contempt he had shewn in refusing to put on what must have been provided for him, excited the king's displeasure, and rendered him a just object of the king's wrath. This explains the sense of the parable. But the spiritual meaning of the parable is still infinitely more important. The invitation of the gospel to the marriage of the Lord Jesus with our nature, runs in the same charter of grace. "Go ye into the highways, and as many as ye shall and bid to the marriage." So that wheresoever the sound of the gospel comes, it may be truly said, in the language of the parable, the invitation goeth forth, and there will be gathered together, all, as many as the servants find, both bad and good; and the wedding will be furnished with guests. The man therefore whom the king finds at his table without the wedding garment, is a type or repre%sentation of every one of the same description and character, who contumaciously refuses to be clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness, but comes before the king with the filthy rags of his own righteousness; and as at the sight and remonstrance of the king that man was speechless, unable to speak a word by way of softening his guilt, so at the last day, when the Lord Jesus shall come to be glorified m his saints, and admired in all that believe, all that are found without the justifying garment of Jesus's salvation will be struck dumb, and overwhelmed with guilt and shame. The soul that is Christless now, will be speechless then. Such seems to be the evident scope and tendency of this beautiful parable of our Lord.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [13]

 Genesis 2:18-24 Matthew 19:4,5 Matthew 19:5 1 Corinthians 6:16 Genesis 4:19 6:2 Genesis 16:1-4 22:21-24 28:8,9 29:23-30

It seems to have been the practice from the beginning for fathers to select wives for their sons ( Genesis 24:3;  38:6 ). Sometimes also proposals were initiated by the father of the maiden ( Exodus 2:21 ). The brothers of the maiden were also sometimes consulted ( Genesis 24:51;  34:11 ), but her own consent was not required. The young man was bound to give a price to the father of the maiden (31:15; 34:12;  Exodus 22:16,17;  1 Samuel 18:23,25;  Ruth 4:10;  Hosea 3:2 ) On these patriarchal customs the Mosaic law made no change.

In the pre-Mosaic times, when the proposals were accepted and the marriage price given, the bridegroom could come at once and take away his bride to his own house ( Genesis 24:63-67 ). But in general the marriage was celebrated by a feast in the house of the bride's parents, to which all friends were invited (29:22,27); and on the day of the marriage the bride, concealed under a thick veil, was conducted to her future husband's home.

Our Lord corrected many false notions then existing on the subject of marriage ( Matthew 22:23-30 ), and placed it as a divine institution on the highest grounds. The apostles state clearly and enforce the nuptial duties of husband and wife ( Ephesians 5:22-33;  Colossians 3:18,19;  1 Peter 3:1-7 ). Marriage is said to be "honourable" ( Hebrews 13:4 ), and the prohibition of it is noted as one of the marks of degenerate times ( 1 Timothy 4:3 ).

The marriage relation is used to represent the union between God and his people ( Isaiah 54:5;  Jeremiah 3:1-14;  Hosea 2:9,20 ). In the New Testament the same figure is employed in representing the love of Christ to his saints ( Ephesians 5:25-27 ). The Church of the redeemed is the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" ( Revelation 19:7-9 ).

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [14]

 Isaiah 54:1 (a) This situation is described more particularly in  Galatians 4:27. The Lord is telling us that Israel is married to GOD, and is "the wife" of God. God calls Himself "her husband." The ungodly are those who have no relationship to GOD. Their number far exceeds the number of those who belong to GOD. Those on the broad road are many, while those on the narrow road are few. This is also the story of the difference between Israel and the Church. The laws of Sinai produced a few followers, but the love of Calvary has produced a multitude of followers. The Jewish nation has remained few in number, while among the Gentiles the Gospel has brought multitudes into the family of GOD.

 Isaiah 62:4 (a) The time is coming when Israel, GOD's people, will again own all their own land to the east of the sea, they will walk with GOD, they will live godly lives, they will love the GOD of their land, and He will again be able to shower upon them the blessings of Heaven, hath spiritual and physical.

 Jeremiah 3:14 (a) In this place GOD is calling His people Israel to return to Him in sweet fellowship and confiding trust so that He may again be to them all that a husband should be.

 Malachi 2:11 (a) The affection of Judah for idols is compared to a marriage wherein the heart that should have been joined to the Lord turned away from Him to be joined to idols.

 Romans 7:4 (a) This is a beautiful type of the blessed relationship which is brought about when the sinner trusts the Lord Jesus and is born again. It is the act of being saved wherein the sinner gives himself to CHRIST and CHRIST gives Himself to the sinner in a very sweet, eternal and devoted union.

 Revelation 19:7 (a) In this way is described that precious, mysterious union which will take place some day in the sky between the Lord JESUS and His bride, the Church. Individually, we are married to CHRIST at the moment we are saved. Collectively, we will enjoy this precious mutual event some day above the clouds when all the Church of GOD is united together, differences are forgotten, sectarian lines are eliminated, and the saints go marching in to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [15]

What then does πορνεία mean in the two Matthaean passages? It is distinguished from μοιχεία in  Matthew 15:19,  Mark 7:21 f., and in inferior Manuscriptsof  Galatians 5:19; cf.  1 Corinthians 6:9 and  Hebrews 13:4 (

Copyright Statement These files are public domain.Text Courtesy of Biblesupport.Com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information Hastings, James. Entry for 'Marriage'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

King James Dictionary [16]

MAR'RIAGE, n. L.mas, maris. The act of uniting a man and woman for life wedlock the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity,and for securing the maintenance and education of children.

Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled.  Hebrews 13

1. A feast made on the occasion of a marriage.

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage for his son.  Matthew 22

2. In a scriptural sense, the union between Christ and his church by the covenant of grace.  Revelation 19

Webster's Dictionary [17]

(1): ( v. t.) The marriage vow or contract.

(2): ( v. t.) A feast made on the occasion of a marriage.

(3): ( v. t.) Any intimate or close union.

(4): ( v. t.) The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony.

(5): ( n.) In bezique, penuchle, and similar games at cards, the combination of a king and queen of the same suit. If of the trump suit, it is called a royal marriage.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

This relation is in a general way represented by several Hebrew words, the most distinctive of which are several forms of חָתִן , Chathan', to Give In Marriage; Gr. Γάμος , a Wedding. It is very remarkable, however, as well as significant, that there is no single word in the whole Hebrew Scriptures for the estate of marriage, or to express the abstract idea of wedlock, matrimony, as the German Ehe does. It is only in the post-exilian period, when the laws of marriage had gradually developed themselves, that we meet with the abstract אישות and זווג— Ζεῦγος (Jebanoth, 6:5; Kiddushin, 1:2); the former denoting The Legal, and the latter The Natural side of matrimony. But even then no such definition of marriage is to be found in the Hebrew writings as we find in the Roman law, "Nuptiue sunt conjunctio maris et feminae et consortium omnis vite, divini et humani juris communicatio" (Dig. lib. xxiii, Titus 2, "De ritu nupt."). In the present article, which treats of marriage as found amongo the Hebrew race, we cover the entire field of matrimonial relations and ceremonies, both ancient and modern. (See Wedlock).

I. Origin, Primitive Relations, And General View Of The Married State.

1. The institution of marriage is founded on the requirements of man's nature, and dates from the time of his original creation. It may be said to have been ordained by God, in as far as man's nature was ordained by him; but its formal appointment was the work of man, and it has ever been in its essence. a natural and civil institution, though admitting of the infusion of a religious element into it. This view of marriage is exhibited in the historical account of its origin in the book of Genesis; the peculiar formation of man's nature is assigned to the Creator, who, seeing it "not good for man to be alone," determined to form an "help meet for him" ( Genesis 2:18), and accordingly completed the work by the addition of the female to the male ( Genesis 1:27). The necessity for this step appears from the words used in the declaration of the divine counsel. Man, as an intellectual and spiritual being, would not have been a worthy representative of the Deity on earth, so long as he lived in solitude, or in communion only with beings either high above him in the scale of creation, as angels, or far beneath him, as the beasts of the field. It was absolutely necessary, not only for his comfort and happiness, but still more for the perfection of the divine work, that he should have a "help meet for him," or, as the words more properly mean, "the exact counterpart of himself'" ( עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ , Septuag. Βοηθὸς Κατ᾿ Αὐτόν ; Vulg. Adjutorium Simile Sibi, "a help meet for him") a being capable of receiving and reflecting his thoughts and affections. No sooner was the formation of woman effected, than Adam recognized in that act the will of the Creator as to man's social condition, and immediately enunciated the important statement, to which his posterity might refer as the charter of marriage in all succeeding ages, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" ( Genesis 2:24). From these words, coupled with the circumstances attendant on the formation of the first woman, we may evolve the following principles:

(1) The unity of man and wife, as implied in her being formed out of man, and as expressed in the words "one flesh;"

(2) the indissolubleness of the marriage bond, except on the strongest grounds (compare  Matthew 19:9);

(3) monogamy, as the original law of marriage, resulting from there having been but one original couple, as is forcibly expressed in the subsequent reference to this passage by our Lord ("they Twain,"  Matthew 19:5) and St. Paul ("Two shall be one flesh,"  1 Corinthians 6:16);

(4) the social equality of man and wife, as implied in the terms Ish and Ishshah, the one being the exact correlative of the other, as well as in the words "help meet for him;"

(5) the subordination of the wife to the husband, consequent upon her subsequent formation ( 1 Corinthians 11:8-9;  1 Timothy 2:13); and

(6) the respective duties of man and wife, as implied in the words "help meet for him."

2. The introduction of sin into the world modified to a certain extent the mutual relations of man and wife. As the blame of seduction to sin lay on the latter, the condition of subordination was turned into subjection, and it was said to her of her husband, "he shall rule over thee" ( Genesis 3:16)- a sentence which, regarded as a prediction, has been strikingly fulfilled in the position assigned to women in Oriental countries; but which, regarded as a rule of life, is fully sustained by the voice of nature and by the teaching of Christianity ( 1 Corinthians 14:34;  Ephesians 5:22-23; Timothy 2:12). The evil effects of the fall were soon apparent in the corrupt usages of marriage: the unity of the bond was impaired by polygamy, which appears to have originated among the Cainites ( Genesis 4:19); and its purity was deteriorated by the promiscuous intermarriage of the "sons of God" with the "daughters of men," i.e. of the Sethites With the Cainites, in the days preceding the flood ( Genesis 6:2).

3. For the history of marriage in the later ages. see below. One question may properly be considered here, i.e. Celibacy. Shortly before the Christian sera an important change took place in the views entertained on the question of marriage as affecting the spiritual and intellectual parts of man's nature. Throughout the Old Testament period marriage was regarded as the indispensable duty of every man, nor was it surmised that there existed in it any drawback to the attainment of the highest degree of holiness. In the interval that elapsed between the Old and New Testament periods, a spirit of asceticism had been evolved, probably in antagonism to the foreign notions with which the Jews were brought into close and painful contact. The Essenes were the first to propound any doubts as to the propriety of marriage; some of them avoided it altogether, others availed themselves of it under restrictions (Josephus, War, 2:8, § 2, 13). Similar views were adopted by the Therapeutae, and at a later period by the Gnostics (Burton's Lectures, 1:214); thence they passed into the Christian Church, forming one of the distinctive tenets of the Encratites (Burton, 2:161), and finally developing into the system of Monachism. The philosophical tenets on which the prohibition of marriage was based are generally condemned in  Colossians 2:16-23, and specifically in  1 Timothy 4:3. The general propriety of marriage is enforced on numerous occasions, and abstinence from it is commended only in cases where it was rendered expedient by the calls of duty ( Matthew 19:12;  1 Corinthians 7:8;  1 Corinthians 7:26). With regard to remarriage after the death of one of the parties, the Jews, in common with other nations, regarded abstinence from it, particularly in the case of a widow, laudable, and a sign of holiness ( Luke 2:36;  Luke 2:7; Josephus, Ant. 17:13, 4; 18:6, 6); but it is clear, from the example of Josephus (Vit. 76), that there was no prohibition even in the case of a priest. In the Apostolic Church remarriage was regarded as occasionally undesirable ( 1 Corinthians 7:40), and as an absolute disqualification for holy functions, whether in a man or woman ( 1 Timothy 3:2;  1 Timothy 3:12;  1 Timothy 5:9); at the same time it is recommended in the case of young widows ( 1 Timothy 5:14).

II. Mode Of Selecting A Bride, Betrothal, And Marriage Price.

1. Imitating the example of the Father of the Universe, who provided the man he made with a wife, fathers from the beginning considered it both their duty and prerogative to find or select wives for their sons ( Genesis 24:3;  Genesis 38:6). In the absence of the father, the selection devolved upon the mother ( Genesis 21:21). Even in cases where the wishes of the son were consulted, the proposals were made by the father ( Genesis 34:4;  Genesis 34:8); and the violation of this parental prerogative on the part of the son was "a grief of mind" to the father ( Genesis 26:35). The proposals were generally made by the parents of the young man, except when there was a difference of rank; in such a case the negotiations proceeded from the father of the maiden ( Exodus 2:21), and when accepted by the parents on both sides, sometimes also consulting the opinion of the adult brothers of the maiden ( Genesis 24:51;  Genesis 34:11), the matter was considered as settled without requiring the consent of the bride. The case of Rebekah ( Genesis 24:58) forms no exception to this general practice, inasmuch as the alliance had already been concluded between Eleazar and Laban, and the question put to her afterwards was to consult her opinion, not about it, but about the time of her departure. Before, however, the marriage contract was finally concluded, a price ( מהר ) was stipulated for, which the young man had to pay to the father of the maiden ( Genesis 31:15;  Genesis 34:12), besides giving presents ( מתן ) to her relations ( Genesis 24:53;  Genesis 34:12). This marriage-price was regarded as a compensation due to the parents for the loss of service which they sustained by the departure of their daughter, as well as for the trouble and expense which they incurred in her education. Hence, if the proffered young man had not the requisite compensation, he was obliged to make it up in service ( Genesis 29:20;  Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 3:1). Some, indeed, deny that a price had to be paid down to the father for parting with his daughter, and appeal for support to  Genesis 31:15, where, according to them, "the daughters of Laban make it a matter of complaint, that their father bargained for the services of Jacob in exchange for their hands, just as if they were strangers;" thus showing that the sale of daughters was regarded as an unjust act and a matter of complaint (Saalschutz, Das Mosaische Recht. p. 733). But, on a closer inspection of the passage in question, it will be seen that Rachel and Leah do not at all complain of any indignity heaped on them by being sold just as if they were strangers, but, on the contrary, mention the sale to corroborate their statement that they are no longer their father's property, have no more any portion in his possession, and are now regarded by him as strangers, since, according to the usual custom, they have been duly sold to their husband, and hence agree with the latter that it is time for them to depart. Besides, the marriage-price is distinctly mentioned in other passages of Scripture ( Exodus 22:15-16;  1 Samuel 18:23;  1 Samuel 18:25;  Ruth 4:10;  Hosea 3:2), and was commonly demanded by the nations of antiquity; as the Babylonians (Herod. 1:196); Assyrians (Elian, ''V. H'' 4:1; Strabo, 16:745); the ancient Greeks (Odyss. 8:318 sq.; Arist. Polit. 2:8; Pausan. 3:12, 2); the Germans (Tacitus, Germ. 18), and still obtains in the East to the present day. In fact, it could not be otherwise where polygamy was practiced. As the number of maidens was under such circumstances less than that of wooers, it called forth competition, and it was but natural that he who offered the highest marriage-price obtained the damsel. There was therefore no fixed marriage-price; it varied according to circumstances. We meet with no dowry given with the bride by her father during the patriarchal age, except a maid-servant ( Genesis 24:61;  Genesis 29:24;  Genesis 29:29).

2. The Mosaic enactments introduced no changes into these usages. The father's power over the child in matters of marriage continued paramount, and he could give his children to any one he pleased without asking their consent. Thus Caleb offers his daughter Achsah ( Joshua 15:16-17) as wife to any one who will conquer Kirjath-sepher ( Judges 1:12). Saul promises his daughter to him who shall kill the Philistine, and barters his daughter Michal for the prepuces of a hundred slain Philistines ( 1 Samuel 17:26-27;  1 Samuel 18:25-27); and Ibzan takes thirty wives for his thirty sons ( Judges 12:9). The imaginary case of women soliciting husbands ( Isaiah 4:1) was designed to convey to the mind a picture of the ravages of war, by which the greater part of the males had fallen. A judicial marriage-price ( הבתולה מהר ) was now introduced, which was fixed at fifty silver shekels ( Exodus 12:16, with  Deuteronomy 22:29), being the highest rate of a servant ( Leviticus 27:3), so that one had to pay as much for a wife as for a bondwoman. When the father of the maiden was rich and Did Not Want The Marriage-Price ( אין חפוֹ במהר ), he expected some service by way of compensation for giving away his daughter ( 1 Samuel 18:25). As soon as the bargain was concluded, and the marriage- price paid, or the required service rendered, the maiden was regarded as betrothed to her wooer, and as sacredly belonging to him. In fact, she was legally treated as a married wontan ( אשת איש ); she could not be separated from her intended husband without a bill of divorce, and the same law was applicable to her as to married people. If she was Persuaded to criminal conduct between the espousals and the bringing her home to her husband's house, both she and her seducer were publicly stoned to death; and if she was violated, the culprit suffered capital punishment ( Deuteronomy 22:23-27, with  Deuteronomy 22:22; and  Leviticus 20:10). With such sacredness was betrothal regarded, that even if a bondmaid who was bought with the intention of ultimately becoming a secondary wife ( Exodus 21:7-11), was guilty of unchastity prior to her entering into that state, both she and her seducer were scourged, while the latter was also obliged to bring a sin-offering, and. the priest had to pray for the forgiveness of his sin ( Leviticus 19:20-22). Every betrothed man was by the Mosaic law exempt from military service ( Deuteronomy 20:7).

3. In the post-exilian period, as long as the children were minors-which in the case of a son was up to thirteen, and a daughter to twelve years of age- the parents could betroth them to any one they chose; but when they became of age their consent was required (Maimonides, Hilchoth Ishuth, 3:11, 12). Occasionally the whole business of selecting the wife was left in the hands of a friend, and hence the case might arise which is supposed by the Talmudists (Yebam. 2, § 6, 7), that a man might not be aware to which of two sisters he was betrothed. So in Egypt at the present day the choice of a wife is sometimes entrusted to a professional woman styled a khat'beh; and it is seldom that the bridegroom sees the features of his bride before the marriage has taken place (Lane, 1:209-211). It not unfrequently happened, however, that the selection of partners for life was made by the young people themselves. For this, the ceremonies connected with the celebration of the festivals in the Temple afforded an excellent opportunity, as may be gathered from the following remark in the Mishna: "R. Simeon ben-Gamaliel says. There were never more joyous festivals in Israel than the 15th of Ab and the Day of Atonement. On these the maidens of Jerusalem used to come out dressed in white garments, which they borrowed, in order not to shame those who had none of their own, and which they had immersed [for fear of being polluted]. Thus arrayed, these maidens of Jerusalem went out and danced in the vineyards, singing, Young man, lift up thine eyes, and see whom thou art about to choose; fix not thine eye upon beauty, but look rather to a pious family; for gracefulness is deceit, and beauty is vanity, but the woman that fears the Lord, she is worthy of praise" (Megilla, 4:8). Having made his choice, the young man or his father informed the maiden's father of it, whereupon the young people were legally betrothed. The betrothal was celebrated by a feast made in the house of the bride (Jebamnoth, 43 a; Taanith, 26 b; Pessachil, 49 a; Kiddushin, 45 b), and is called קידושוֹן , Made Sacred, for by it the bride was made sacred to her bridegroom, and was not to be touched by any one else. It is also called אירסין , which may be from ארש איס , To Betroth. For a betrothal to be legal, it has to be effected in one of the following three modes:

(1.) By Money, or Money'S Worth, which, according to the school of Shammai, must be a denar ( דיני ) = 90 grains of pure gold, or, according to the school of Hillel, a perutah ( פרוטה ) = half a grain of pure silver, and which is to be given to the maiden, or, if she is a minor, to her father, as betrothal price ( כס קידושין );

(2.) By Letter or Contract ( שטר אירוסין ), which the young man, either in person or through a proxy, has to give to the maiden, or to her father when she is a minor; or,

(3.) By Cohabitations ( ביאה , Usus), when the young man and maiden, having pronounced the betrothal formula in the presence of two witnesses, retire into a separate room. This. however, is considered immodest, and the man is scourged (Kiddushin, 12 B ). The legal formula to be pronounced is, "Behold, thou art betrothed or sanctified to me ( את מקודשת לי כדת משה וישראל הנה ), according to the law of Moses and Israel" (Kiddushin, 1:1; 4:9; Tosiftha Kethuboth, 4; Kethuboth, 4:8; Maimonides, Hilchoth Ishuth, 3; Eben in Ezer, 32). Though betrothment, as we have seen before, was the beginning of marriage itself, and, like it, could only be broken off by a regular bill of divorcement ( גט ), yet twelve months were generally allowed to intervene between it and actual marriage ( חופה ) in the case of a maiden, to prepare her outfit, and thirty days in the case of a widow (Kethuboth, 57 a). The intercourse of the betrothed during this period was regulated by the customs of the different towns (Mishna, Kethuboth, v. 2). When this more solemn betrothment ( קידושין ) was afterwards united with the marriage ceremony ( חופה ), Engagements ( שדוכין ) more in our sense of the word took its place. Its nature and obligation will best be understood by perusing the contents of the contract ( תנאים ) which is made and signed by the parties, and which is as follows: "May he who declares the end from the beginning give stability to the words of this contract, and to the covenant made between these two parties: namely, between A, bachelor, with the consent of his father B, and C, who is proxy for his daughter D, spinster. The said A, bachelor, engages, under happy auspices, to take the afore-mentioned D, spinster, by marriage and betrothal ( חופה וקידושין ), according to the law of Moses and Israel. These henceforth are not to conceal anything from each other appertaining to money or goods, but to have equal power over their property.

Moreover, B, the said father of the bridegroom, is to dress his son in goodly apparel before the marriage, and to give the sum of... . in cash; whilst C, father of the said bride, is to give his daughter before the marriage a dowry in cash to the amount of... as well as jewelery to the amount of . . to dress her in goodly apparel corresponding to the dowry, to give her an outfit, and the bridegroom the Talith ( עלית ), i.e. the fringed wrapper used at prayer, (See Fringe), and Kittel ( קיטל ), i e. the white burial garment, in harmony with his position and in proportion to the dowry. The marriage is to be (D.V.) on the... in the place... at the expense of the said C, the bride's father, and, if agreed to by both parties, may take place within the specified period. Now the two parties have pledged themselves to all this, and have taken upon themselves by an oath to abide by it, oil the penalty of the great anathema, and at the peril of forfeiting half the dowry; but the forfeit is not to absolve from the anathema, nor is the anathema to absolve from the forfeit. The said father of the bride also undertakes to board at his table the newly-married couple for the space of... and furnish them with lodgings for the space of... The surety on the part of the bridegroom is E, sol of F; and on the part of the bride, G, sol of H. The two bridal parties, however, guarantee that these sureties shall not suffer thereby. Further, C, the said father of the bride, is to give his daughter an assurance letter, that, in the event of his death, she is to get half the inheritance of a son ( שטר חצי זכר ); whilst the bridegroom pledges himself to get his brothers, in the event of his dying without issue, to give her A Chalizuh Document [for which see below], without any compensation. But if there should be dispute or delay on the subject, which God forbid, the decision is to be left to the Jewish congregation. We have taken all this in possession from the party and sureties, for the benefit of the other parties, so that everything aforementioned may be observed, with the usual witness which qualified us to take care of it. Done this day... Everything must be observed and kept. (Signed)... (Comp. Nachlas Shiva, 9 b). This contract, which is written in Rabbinic Hebrew, is used by all orthodox Jews to the present day.

III. Marriage Ceremonies.

1. In the pre-Mosaic period, when the proposals were accepted, and the marriage-price ( מהר ), as well as the sundry other gifts ( מתן ), were duly distributed, the bridegroom ( חתן ) could at once remove the bride ( כלה ) from her father's house to his own house, and this removal of the maiden, under the benedictions of her family, but without any definite religious ceremony whatever, and cohabitation, consummated and expressed Marriage ( לקח אשה ). Thus we are told that Isaac, when meeting Eleazar and Rebekah in the field, as soon as he was informed bv the former of what had transpired, took Rebekah to the tent of his departed mother, and this without further ceremony constituted the marriage, and she Thereby became his wife ( ותחי לו לאשה ,  Genesis 24:63-67). Under more ordinary circumstances, however, when the bride had not at once to quit her parental roof under the protection of a friend, as in the case just mentioned, but where the marriage took place in the house of the bride's parents, it was celebrated by a feast, to which all the friends and neighbors were invited, and which lasted seven days ( Genesis 29:22;  Genesis 29:27). On the day of the marriage, the bride was conducted to her future husband veiled, or, more properly, in an outdoor wrapper or shawl ( צעי ), which nearly enveloped her whole form, so that it was impossible to recognize the person, thus accounting for the deception practiced on Jacob ( Genesis 24:65;  Genesis 29:23) and on Judah ( Genesis 38:14).

2. With regard to age, no restriction is pronounced in the Bible. Early marriage is spoken of with approval in several passages: ( Proverbs 2:17;  Proverbs 5:18;  Isaiah 62:5), and in reducing this general statement to the more definite one of years, we must take into account the very early age at which persons arrive at puberty in Oriental countries. In modern Egypt marriage takes place in general before the bride has attained the age of sixteen frequently when she is twelve or thirteen, and occasionally when she is only ten (Lane, 1:208). The Mosaic law prescribes no civil or religious forms for the celebration of marriage. The contract or promise made at the payment of the marriage-price, or when the service which was required in its stead was rendered, constituted the solemn bond which henceforth united the espoused parties, as is evident from the fact pointed out in the preceding sections, that a betrothed maiden was both called a married woman, and was legally treated as such. There can, however, be no doubt that the ancient custom of celebrating the consummation of the marriage by a feast, which lasted seven days ( Genesis 29:22;  Genesis 29:27), must have becbme pretty general by this time. Thus we are told that when Samson went to Timnath to take his wife, he made there a feast, which continued for seven days, according to the usage of young men on such occasions ( כי כן יעשַו הבחורים ), that the parents of the bride invited thirty young men ( Υἱοὶ Τοῦ Νυμφῶνος ,  Matthew 9:15) to honor his nuptials, and that to relieve their entertainment, Samson, in harmony with the prevailing custom among the nations of antiquity, proposed enigmas ( Judges 14:10-18). We afterwards find that the bridal pair were adorned with nuptial crowns ( Song of Solomon 3:11;  Isaiah 61:10) made of various materials gold, silver, myrtle, or olive varying in costliness according to the circumstances of the parties (Mishna, Sota, 9:14; Gesmara, 49 a and b; Selden, Ux. Ebr. 2:15), and that the bride especially wore gorgeous apparel, and a peculiar girdle ( Psalms 45:13-14;  Isaiah 49:18;  Jeremiah 2:12), whence in fact she derived her name Kallah ( כלה ), which signifies The Ornamented, The Adorned. Thus attired, the bridegroom and bride were led in joyous procession through the streets, accompanied by bands of singers and musicians ( Jeremiah 7:34;  Jeremiah 25:10;  Jeremiah 33:11), and saluted by the greetings of the maidens of the place, who manifested the liveliest interest in the nuptial train ( Song of Solomon 3:11), to the house of the bridegroom or that of his father. Here the feast was prepared, to which all the friends and the neighbors were invited, and at which most probably that sacred covenant was concluded which came into vogue during the post-Mosaic period ( Proverbs 2:17;  Ezekiel 16:8;  Malachi 2:14). The bride, thickly veiled, was then conducted to the ( חדר ) bridal chamber ( Genesis 29:23;  Judges 15:11;  Joel 2:6), where a nuptial couch ( חפה ) was prepared ( Psalms 19:5;  Joel 2:16) in such a manner as to afford facility for ascertaining the following morning whether she had preserved her maiden purity; for in the absence of the Signa Virginitafis she was stoned to death before her father's house ( Deuteronomy 22:13-21).

3. In the period after the exile the proper age for marriage is fixed in the Mishna at eighteen (Aboth, v. 31), and though, for the sake of preserving morality, puberty was regarded as the desirable age, yet men generally married when they were seventeen (Jebaumoth, 62; Kiddushin, 29). The Talmudists forbade marriage in the case of a man under thirteen years and a day, and in the case of a woman under twelve years and a day (Buxtorf, Syznagog. cap. 7, p. 143). The day originally fixed for marriage was Wednesday for maidens and Friday for widows (Mishna, Kethuboth, 1:1). But the Talmud already partially discarded this arrangement (Gemara, ibid. 3 a), and in the Middle Ages it became quite obsolete (Eben Ha-Ezar, lxv). The primitive practice of the sages, however, has been resumed among the orthodox Jews in Russia, Poland, etc. The wedding-feast was celebrated in the house of the bridegroom (Kethuboth, 8 a, 10 a), and in the evening, for the bridal pair fasted all day, since on it, as on the day of atonement, they confessed their sins, and their transgressions were forgiven. On the day of the wedding, the bride, with her hair flowing, and a myrtle wreath on her head (if she was a maiden, Mishna, Kethuboth, 2:1), was conducted, with music, singing, and dancing, to the house of the bridegroom by her relations and friends, who were adorned with chaplets of myrtle, and carried palm branches in their hands (Kethuboth, 16,17; Sabbath, 110 a; Sota, 49 b).

The streets through which the nuptial procession passed were lined with the daughters of Israel, who greeted the joyous train, and scattered before them cakes and roasted ears of wheat, while fountains freely poured forth wine (Kethuboth, 15 b; Berachoth, 50 b). Having reached the house, the bridegroom, accompanied by the groomsmen, met the bride, took her by the hand, and led her to the threshold. The Kethubah ( כתובה ) Donatio Propter or Ante Nuptias, or the marriage-settlement, alluded to in the book of Tobit ( Tobit 7:15), was then written, which in the case of a maiden always promises 200, and in the case of a widow 100 Denar (each denar being equal to 90 grains of pure gold), whether the parties are rich or poor (Mishna, Kethuboth,  Tobit 1:2), though it may be enlarged by a special covenant ( תוספות כתובה ). The dowry could not be claimed until the termination of the marriage by the death of the husband or by divorce (Ibid. V. 1), though advances might be made to the wife previously (9:8). Subsequently to betrothal a woman lost all power over her property, and it became vested in the husband, unless he had previously to marriage renounced his right to it ( Tobit 8:1;  Tobit 9:1). The marriage must not be celebrated before this settlement is written (Balbs Kama, 89). The wording of this instrument has undergone various changes in the course of time (Kethuboth, 82 b).

The form in which it is given in the Talmud, by Maimonides, etc., is as follows: "Upon the fourth day of the week, on the... of the month, in the year... of the creation of the world, according to the computation adopted in this place, A, son of B, said to C, spinster, daughter of E, Be thou my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will work for thee, honor thee, maintain thee, and provide for thee according to the custom of Jewish husbands, who work for their wives, honor them, maintain them, and provide for them honestly; I also give thee the dowry of thy virginity, 200 silver Sus, which belong to thee by the law, as well as thy food, thy apparel, and whatsoever is required for thy maintenance, and I will go in to thee according to the custom of the whole earth.' And C, the spinster, consented. and became his wife. The dowry which she brought him from the house of her father, in silver, gold, and ornaments, as well as in apparel, domestic utensils, and bedding, amounts to... pure silver, and A, the bridegroom, has consented to add to it from his own property the same sum; and the bridegroom said thus: I undertake for myself and my heirs after me the security for this Kethiubah, this dowry and this addition, so that the same shall be paid from the best and most choice of my possessions which I have under the whole heaven, which I have acquired or shall acquire in real or personal property. All this property is to be mortgaged and pledged, yea, even the coat which I have on is to go in order to pay this Kethubah, this down and this addition, from this day to all eternity.' And the surety of this Kethubah, this dowry and this addition, A, the bridegroom, has undertaken in the strictness of all the Kethubahs and supplement instruments usual among the daughters of Israel, and which are written according to the order of our sages of blessed memory, not after the manner of a mere visionary promise or empty formula. We have taken possession of it from A, the bridegroom, and given it to C, spinster, daughter of E, according to all that is written and explained above, by means of such a garment as is legal in the taking of possession. All this yea and amen. (Signed) . . ."Comp. Maimonides, Jud Ha-Chazaka Hilchoth Jebum Ve-Cheliza, 4:33. Among the more modern Jews it is the custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the bride's finger (Picart, 1:239)-a custom which also prevailed among the Romans (Smith, Dict. of Ant. p. 604). Some writers have endeavored to prove that the rings noticed in the O.T. ( Exodus 35:22;  Isaiah 3:21) were nuptial rings, but there is not the slightest evidence of this. The ring was nevertheless regarded among the Hebrews as a token of fidelity ( Genesis 41:42), and of adoption into a family ( Luke 15:22). According to Selden it was originally given as an equivalent for dowry- money (Uxor Ebraic. 2:14). After the document was handed over to the bride, crowns, varying in expense according to the circumstances of the parties, were placed upon the heads of the bridal pair (Sota, 49 a, b), and they, with their relations and friends, sat down to a sumptuous repast; the marriage-feast was enlivened by the guests, who sang various songs and asked each other amusing riddles (Berachoth, 31 a; Nedarinim, 51 a), parched corn was distributed among the guests if the bride was a virgin (Keth. ii), and when the meal was concluded with customary prayer of thanksgiving, the bridegroom supplemented it with pronouncing over a cup of wine the seven nuptial benedictions ( שבע ברכות ) in the presence of at least ten persons (Kethuboth, 7 b), which gave the last religious consecration to the marriage-covenant, and which are as follows:

1. "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created everything for thy glory."

2. "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created man."

3. "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created man in thine image, in the image of the likeness of thy own form, and hast prepared for him, in himself, a building for the perpetuity of the species. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the creator of man."

4. "The barren woman shall rejoice exceedingly, and shout for joy when her children are gathered around her in delight. Blessed art thou, O Lord, "who rejoicest Zion in her children."

5. "Make this loving pair to rejoice exceedingly, as thou hast made thy creature rejoice in the Garden of Eden in the beginning. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who rejoicest the bridegroom and the bride."

6. "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe. who hast ordained joy and gladness, bride and bridegroom, delight and song, pleasure and intimacy, love and friendship, peace and concord; speedily, O Lord our God, let there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of jubilant bridegrooms under their canopies, and of the young men at the nuptial feast playing music. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who makest the bridegroom rejoice with his bride."

7. "Remove all suffering and anger; then will the dumlb be heard in song; lead us in the paths of righteousness, listen to the benedictions of the children of Jeshurun! With the permission of our seniors and rabbins, and my masters, let us bless our God in whose dwelling is joy, and of whose bounties we have partaken!" to which the guests respond, "Blessed be our God, in whose dwelling is joy, of whose bounties we have partaken, and by whose goodness we live;" and he then answers, "Then let us bless our God, in whose dwelling is joy, of whose bounties we have partaken, and by whose goodness we live" (Kethuboth, 7 b, 8). The married couple were then conducted to an elaborately-ornamented nuptial chamber ( חופה , where the bridal couch (Thalamus) was carefully prepared; and at the production of the linteum vilrinitatis the following morning ( Deuteronomy 22:13-21), which was anxiously awaited, the following benediction was pronounced by the bridegroom: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast placed a nut in paradise, the rose of the valleys-a stranger must not rule over this sealed fountain; this is why the hind of love has preserved the holy seed in purity, and has not broken the compact. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast chosen Abraham and his seed after him!" (see Halachoth Gedoloth, ed. Vienna, 51 [comp. Pliny, Hist. Nat. 15:24], where an explanation will be found of the use of אגוז nut, in this connection). Festivities continued for seven days (Kethuboth, 7 a).

As important religious questions had to be put to the bridal pair which required a learned man to do (Gitrit, 6; Kiddushin, 6, 13), it was afterwards resolved that the marriage-ceremony should be performed by a rabbi, and it is celebrated in the following manner: A beautifully- embroidered silk or velvet canopy, about three or four yards square, supported by four long poles, is held by four men out of doors on the day of the wedding. Under this chupash ( חופה ), which represents the ancient bridal chamber, the bridegroom is led by his male friends, preceded by a band of music, and welcomed by the joyous spectators with the exclamation, Blessed Is He Who Is Now Come! ( ברוהִבא ); the bride, with her face veiled (Nuptiae), is then brought to him by her female friends and led three times round the bridegroom, in accordance, as they say, with the remark of Jeremiah, "The woman shall compass the man" ( Jeremiah 31:22), when he takes her round once amid the congratulations of the bystanders, and then places her at his right hand ( Psalms 45:10), both standing with their faces to the south and their backs to the north. The rabbi then covers the bridal pair with the Talith, or fringed wrapper, which the bridegroom has on (comp. Ruth 3:19;  Ezekiel 16:8), joins their hands together, and pronounces over a cup of wine the benediction of affiance ( ברכת ארוסין ), which is as follows: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast forbidden to us consanguinity, and hast prohibited us the betrothed, but hast permitted us those whom we take by marriage and betrothal. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast sanctified thy people Israel by betrothal and marriage" (Kethuboth, 7 a). Whereupon the bridegroom and bride taste of the cup of blessing, and the former produces a plain gold ring, and, in the presence of all the party, puts it on the bride's finger, saying, "Behold, thou art consecrated unto me with this ring according to the rites of Moses and Israel!" The rabbi then reads aloud, in the presence of appointed witnesses, the Kethubah, or the marriage-settlement, which is written in Syro- Chaldaic, and concludes by pronouncing over another cup of wine the seven benedictions ( שבע ברכות ), which the bridegroom in ancient times, before the ceremony of marriage became a public act and was delegated to the spiritual head, used to pronounce himself at the end of the meal. The bridegroom and bride taste again of this cup of blessing, and when the glass is emptied it is put oln the ground, and the bridegroom breaks it with his foot, as a symbol to remind them in the midst of their joys that just as this glass is destroyed, so Jerusalem is destroyed and trodden down under the foot of the Gentiles. With this the ceremony is concluded, amid the shouts, May you be happy! ( מזל טוב ). (See Wedding).

IV. Polygamy And Concubinage. Though the history of the protoplasts in which we are told that God in the beginning created a single pair, one of each sex seems to exhibit a standard for monogamy, yet the Scriptures record that from the remotest periods men had simultaneously several wives, occupying either coordinate or subordinate positions. Against the opinion that Lamech, sixth in descent from Adam through Cain, introduced polygamy-based on the circumstance that he is the first who is recorded as having married two wives ( Genesis 4:19) is to be urged that (1.) Lamech is the first whose marriage or taking of a wife is recorded, and consequently it is impossible to say how many wives his five progenitors had;

(2.) The mention of Lamech's two wives is incidental, and is entirely owing to the fact that the sacred historian had to notice the useful inventions made by their respective sons Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain, as well as to give the oldest piece of rhythmical composition which was addressed to the wives, celebrating one of these inventions; and

(3.) If polygamy had been for the first time introduced by Lamech, the sacred writer would have as distinctly mentioned it as he mentions the things which were first introduced by Lamech's sons. The manner in which Sarah urges Abraham to take her servant Hagar, and the fact that Sarah herself gives the maiden to her own husband ( לאשה ) to be his wife, the readiness with which the patriarch accepts the proposal ( Genesis 16:1-4), unquestionably show that it was a common custom to have one or more secondary wives. In fact, it is distinctly mentioned that Nahor, Abraham's own brother, who had eight sons by Milcah, his principal wife, and consequently did not require another wife for the purpose of securing progeny, had nevertheless a secondary wife ( פלגש ), by whom he had four sons ( Genesis 22:21-24). Besides, it is now pretty generally admitted that  Genesis 25:1 describes Abraham himself to have taken another or secondary wife in the lifetime of Sarah, in addition to Hagar, who was given to him by his principal wife, as is evident from  Genesis 25:6;  1 Chronicles 1:32, and that he could not have taken her for the sake of obtaining an heir. If any more proof be wanted for the prevalence of polygamy in the patriarchal age, we refer to Esau, who, to please his father, married his cousin Mahalath in addition to the several wives whom he had ( Genesis 28:8-9); and to Jacob, who had not the slightest scruple to marry two sisters, and take two half-wives at the same time ( Genesis 29:23-30;  Genesis 30:4;  Genesis 30:9), which would be unaccountable on the supposition that polygamy was something strange. Though sacred history is silent about the number of wives of the twelve patriarchs, yet there can be little doubt that the large number of children and grandchildren which Benjamin had at so early an age ( Genesis 46:21;  Numbers 26:38-41;  1 Chronicles 7:6-12;  1 Chronicles 8:1), must have been the result of polygamy; and that Simeon, at all events, had more than one wife ( Exodus 6:15). The extraordinary rate at which the Jews increased in Egypt implies that they practiced polygamy during their bondage. This is, moreover, corroborated by the incidental notice that Asher, Judah's grandson, had two wives ( 1 Chronicles 4:5 with 2:24); that Caleb, Judah's great-grandson, had three principal and two subordinate wives ( 1 Chronicles 2:9;  1 Chronicles 2:18;  1 Chronicles 2:42;  1 Chronicles 2:46;  1 Chronicles 2:48); that Aharaim, probably Benjamin's great-grandson, had three wives ( 1 Chronicles 8:8-11); and that Moses had two wives ( Exodus 2:21;  Numbers 12:1); as well as by the fact that the Mosaic legislation assumes the existence of polygamy ( Leviticus 13:14;  Deuteronomy 25:5). Still, the theory of monogamy seems to be exhibited in the case of Noah and his three sons ( Genesis 6:18;  Genesis 7:7;  Genesis 7:13;  Genesis 8:16), of Aaron, and of Eleazar.

In judging of this period we must take into regard the following considerations:

(1.) The Principle of monogamy was retained, even in the practice of polygamy, by the distinction made between the chief or original wife and the secondary wives, or, as the A.V. terms them, "concubines"-a term which is objectionable, inasmuch as it conveys to us the notion of an illicit and unrecognised position, whereas the secondary wife was regarded by the Hebrews as a wife, and her rights were secured by law. The position of the Hebrew concubine may be compared with that of the concubine of the early Christian Church, the sole distinction between her and the wife consisting in this, that the marriage was not in accordance with the civil law: in the eye of the Church the marriage was perfectly valid (Bingham, Ant. 11:5, § 11). It is worthy of notice that the term pillegesh ( פַּלֶּגֶשׁ ; A.V. "concubine") nowhere occurs in the Mosaic law. The terms used are either "wife" ( Deuteronomy 21:15) or "maid-servant" ( Exodus 21:7); the latter applying to a purchased wife.

(2.) The motive which led to polygamy was that absorbing desire of progeny which is prevalent throughout Eastern countries, and was especially powerful among the Hebrews.

(3.) The power of a parent over his child, and of a master over his slave (The Postestas Patsiea and Domestica of the Romans), was paramount even in matters of marriage, and led in many cases to phases of polygamy that are otherwise quite unintelligible, as, for instance, to the cases where it was adopted by the husband at the request of his wife, under the idea that children born to a slave were in the eye of the law the children of the mistress ( Genesis 16:3;  Genesis 30:4;  Genesis 30:9); or, again, to cases where it was adopted at the instance of the father ( Genesis 29:23;  Genesis 29:28;  Exodus 21:9-10). It must be allowed that polygamy, thus legalized and systematized, justified to a certain extent by the motive, and entered into, not only without offense to, but actually at the suggestion of those who, according to our notions, would feel most deeply injured by it, is a very different thing from what polygamy would be in our own state of society.

2. In the case of polygamy, as in that of other national customs, the Mosaic law adheres to the established usage. Hence there is not only no express statute to prohibit polygamy, which was previously held lawful, but the Mosaic law presupposes its existence and practice, bases its legislation thereupon, and thus authorizes it, as is evident from the following enactments:

1. It is ordained that a king "shall not multiply wives unto himself' ( Deuteronomy 17:17), which, as bishop Patrick rightly remarks, "is not a prohibition to take more wives than one, but not to have an excessive number, after the manner of Eastern kings, whom Solomon seems to have imitated;" thus, in fact, legalizing a moderate number. The Mishna (Sanhedrin, 2:4), the Talmud (Babylon Sanhedrin, 21 a), Rashi (On  Deuteronomy 17:17), etc., in harmony with ancient tradition, regard eighteen wives, including half' wives, as a moderate number, and as not violating the injunction contained in the expression "Multiply."

2. The law enacts that a man is not to marry his wife's sister to vex her while she lives ( Leviticus 18:18), which, as the same prelate justly urges, manifestly means "that though two wives at a time, or more, were permitted in those days, no man should take two sisters (as Jacob had formerly done) begotten of the same father or born of the same mother;" or, in other words, a man is at liberty to take another wife besides the first, and during her lifetime, provided only they are not sisters.

3. The law of primogeniture ( Deuteronomy 21:15-17) actually presupposes the case of a man having Two wives, one beloved and the other not, as it was with Jacob and his two wives, and ordains that if the one less beloved is the mother of his first-born, the husband is not to transfer the right of primogeniture to the son of his favorite wife, but is to acknowledge him as first-born who is actually Song of Solomon

4.  Exodus 21:9-10, permits a father who had given his son a bondwoman for a wife, to give him a second wife of Freer Birth, and prescribes how the first is then to be treated that she is to have alimony, clothes, and the conjugal duty; and

5.  Deuteronomy 25:5 expressly enjoins that a man though having a wife already, is t

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [19]

mar´ij  :

Introduction, Scope and Viewpoint of the Present Article

1. Marriage among the Hebrews

2. Betrothal the First Formal Part

3. Wedding Ceremonies

4. Jesus' Sanction of the Institution

5. His Teaching concerning Divorce


It would be interesting to study marriage biologically and sociologically, to get the far and near historical and social background of it as an institution, especially as it existed among the ancient Jews, and as it figures in the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament. For, like all social institutions, marriage, and the family which is the outcome of marriage, must be judged, not by its status at any particular time, but in the light of its history. Such a study of it would raise a host of related historic questions, e.g. What was its origin? What part has it played in the evolution and civilization of the race? What social functions has it performed? And then, as a sequel, Can the services it has rendered to civilization and progress be performed or secured in any other way? This, indeed, would call for us to go back even farther - to try to discover the psychology of the institution and its history, the beliefs from which it has sprung and by which it has survived so long. This were a task well worth while and amply justified by much of the thinking of our time; for, as one of the three social institutions that support the much challenged form and fabric of modern civilization, marriage, private property and the state, its continued existence, in present form at least, is a matter of serious discussion and its abolition, along with the other two, is confidently prophesied. "Marriage, as at present understood, is an arrangement most closely associated with the existing social status and stands or falls with it" (Bebel, Socialism and Sex , 199, Reeves, London; The Cooperative Commonwealth in Its Outline , Gronlund, 224). But such a task is entirely outside of and beyond the purpose of this article.

Neither the Bible in general, nor Jesus in particular, treats of the family from the point of view of the historian or the sociologist, but solely from that of the teacher of religion and morals. In short, their point of view is theological, rather than sociological. Moses and the prophets, no less than Jesus and His apostles, accepted marriage as an existing institution which gave rise to certain practical, ethical questions, and they dealt with it accordingly. There is nothing in the record of the teachings of Jesus and of His apostles to indicate that they gave to marriage any new social content, custom or sanction. They simply accepted it as it existed in the conventionalized civilization of the Jews of their day and used it and the customs connected with it for ethical or illustrative purposes. One exception is to be made to this general statement, namely, that Jesus granted that because of the exigencies of the social development Moses had modified it to the extent of permitting and regulating divorce, clearly indicating, however, at the same time, that He regarded such modification as out of harmony with the institution as at first given to mankind. According to the original Divine purpose it was monogamous, and any form of polygamy, and apparently of divorce, was excluded by the Divine idea and purpose. The treatment of the subject here, therefore, will be limited as follows: Marriage among the Ancient Hebrews and Other Semites; Betrothal as the First Formal Part of the Transaction; Wedding Ceremonies Connected with Marriage, especially as Reflected in the New Testament; and Jesus' Sanction and Use of the Institution, Teaching concerning Divorce, etc.

1. Marriage Among the Hebrews:

With the Hebrews married life was the normal life. Any exception called for apology and explanation. "Any Jew who has not a wife is no man" (Talmud). It was regarded as awaiting everyone on reaching maturity; and sexual maturity comes much earlier indeed in the East than with us in the West - in what we call childhood. The ancient Hebrews, in common with all Orientals, regarded the family as the social unit. In this their view of it coincides with that, of modern sociologists. Of the three great events in the family life, birth, marriage and death, marriage was regarded as the most important. It was a step that led to the gravest tribal and family consequences. In case of a daughter, if she should prove unsatisfactory to her husband, she would likely be returned to the ancestral home, discarded and discredited, and there would be almost inevitably a feeling of injustice engendered on one side, and a sense of mutual irritation between the families ( Judges 14:20;  1 Samuel 18:19 ). If she failed to pass muster with her mother-in-law she would just as certainly have to go, and the results would be much the same (compare customs in China). It was a matter affecting the whole circle of relatives, and possibly tribal amity as well. It was natural and deemed necessary, therefore, that the selection of the wife and the arrangement of all contractual and financial matters connected with it should be decided upon by the parents or guardians of the couple involved. Though the consent of the parties was sometimes sought ( Genesis 24:8 ) and romantic attachments were not unknown ( Genesis 29:20;  Genesis 34:3;  Judges 14:1;  1 Samuel 18:20 ), the gift or woman in the case was not currently thought of as having a personal existence at her own disposal. She was simply a passive unit in the family under the protection and supreme control of father or brothers. In marriage, she was practically the chattel, the purchased possession and personal property of her husband, who was her ba‛al or master ( Hosea 2:16 ), she herself being be‛ūlāh ( Isaiah 62:4 ). The control, however, was not always absolute ( Genesis 26:34;  Exodus 2:21 ).

The bargaining instinct, so dominant among Orientals then as now, played a large part in the transaction. In idea the family was a little kingdom of which the father was the king, or absolute ruler. There are many indications, not only that the family was the unit from which national coherence was derived, but that this unit was perpetuated through the supremacy of the oldest male. Thus society became patriarchal , and this is the key of the ancient history of the family and the nation. Through the expansion of the family group was evolved in turn the clan, the tribe, the nation, and the authority of the father became in turn that of the chief, the ruler, and the king. The Oriental cannot conceive, indeed, of any band, or clan, or company without a "father," even though there be no kith or kinship involved in the matter. The "father" in their thought, too, was God's representative, and as such he was simply carrying out God's purpose, for instance, in selecting a bride for his son, or giving the bride to be married to the son of another. This is as true of the far East as of the near East today. Accordingly, as a rule, the young people simply acquiesced, without question or complaint, in what was thus done for them, accepting it as though God had done it directly. Accordingly, too, the family and tribal loyalty overshadowed love-making and patriotism, in the larger sense. Out of this idea of the solidarity and selectness of the tribe and family springs the overmastering desire of the Oriental for progeny, and for the conservation of the family or the tribe at any cost. Hence, the feuds, bloody and bitter, that persist between this family or tribe and another that has in any way violated this sacred law.

Traces of what is known as beena marriage are found in the Old Testament, e.g. that of Jacob, where Laban claims Jacob's wives and children as his own (  Genesis 31:31 ,  Genesis 31:43 ), and that of Moses ( Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 4:18 ). This is that form of marriage in which the husband is incorporated into the wife's tribe, the children belonging to her tribe and descent being reckoned on her side (compare W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia , 94). In Samson's case we seem to have an instance of what is known among Arabs as cadḳat marriage (from cadaḳ , "gift"), the kid here being the customary cadaḳ (Jdg 14;  Judges 15:1;  Judges 16:4 ). There is no hint that he meant to take his wife home. It is differentiated from prostitution in that no disgrace is attached to it and the children are recognized as legitimate by the tribe. Such marriages make it easier to understand the existence of the matriarchate , or the custom of reckoning the descent of children and property through the mothers. The influence of polygamy would work in the same direction, subdividing the family into smaller groups connected with the several wives. There is, however, no clear evidence in the Old Testament of polyandry (a plurality of husbands), though the Levirate marriage is regarded by some as a survival of it. In other words, polygamy among the Hebrews seems to have been confined to polygyny (a plurality of wives). It is easy to trace its chief causes: (1) desire for a numerous offspring ("May his tribe increase!"); (2) barrenness of first wife (as in Abraham's case); (3) advantages offered by marital alliances (e.g. Solomon); (4) the custom of making wives of captives taken in war (compare   Psalm 45:3 ,  Psalm 45:9 ); (5) slavery, which as it existed in the Orient almost implied it.

2. Betrothal the First Formal Part:

Betrothal with the ancient Hebrews was of a more formal and far more binding nature than the "engagement" is with us. Indeed, it was esteemed a part of the transaction of marriage, and that the most binding part. Among the Arabs today it is the only legal ceremony connected with marriage.  Genesis 24:58 ,  Genesis 24:60 seems to preserve for us an example of an ancient formula and blessing for such an occasion. Its central feature was the dowry ( mōhar ), which was paid to the parents, not to the bride. It may take the form of service (Gen 29;  1 Samuel 18:25 ). It is customary in Syria today, when the projected marriage is approved by both families, and all the financial preliminaries have been settled, to have this ceremony of betrothal. It consists in the acceptance before witnesses of the terms of the marriage as contracted for. Then God's blessing is solemnly asked on the union thus provided for, but to take place probably only after some months, or perhaps some years. The betrothal effected, all danger from any further financial fencing and bluffing now being at an end, happiness and harmony may preside over all the arrangements for the marriage day. Among the Jews the betrothal was so far regarded as binding that, if marriage should not take place, owing to the absconding of the bridegroom or the breach of contract on his part, the young woman could not be married to another man until she was liberated by a due process and a paper of divorce. A similar custom prevails in China and Japan, and in cases becomes very oppressive. The marriage may have been intended by the parents from the infancy of the parties, but this formality of betrothal is not entered on till the marriage is considered reasonably certain and measurably near. A prolonged interval between betrothal and marriage was deemed undesirable on many accounts, though often an interval was needed that the groom might render the stipulated service or pay the price - say a year or two, or, as in the case of Jacob, it might be seven years. The betrothed parties were legally in the position of a married couple, and unfaithfulness was "adultery" ( Deuteronomy 22:23;  Matthew 1:19 ).

Polygamy is likely to become prevalent only where conditions are abnormal, as where there is a disproportionate number of females, as in tribal life in a state of war. In settled conditions it is possible only to those able to provide "dowry" and support for each and all of the wives.

The fact of polygamy in Old Testament times is abundantly witnessed in the cases of Abraham, Jacob, the judges, David, Solomon, etc. It was prevalent in Issachar ( 1 Chronicles 7:4 ); among the middle class ( 1 Samuel 1:1 f). But it is treated, even in the Old Testament, as incompatible with the Divine ideal (  Genesis 2:24 ), and its original is traced to deliberate departure from that ideal by Lamech, the Cainite ( Genesis 4:19 ). Kings are warned against it ( Deuteronomy 17:17; compare  Genesis 29:31; 30). Noah, Isaac and Joseph had each only one wife, and Bible pictures of domestic happiness are always connected with monogamy (2 Ki 4;  Psalm 128:1-6; Prov 31; compare Sirach 25:1; 26:1, 13). Marriage is applied figuratively, too, to the union between God and Israel, implying monogamy as the ideal state. Nevertheless, having the advantage of precedent, it was long before polygamy fell into disuse in Hebrew society. Herod had nine wives at one time (Josephus, Ant. , Xvii , i, 2). Justin Martyr ( Dial ., 134, 141) reproaches Jews of his day with having "four or even five wives," and for "marrying as many as they wish" (compare Talm). It was not definitely and formally forbidden among Jews until circa 1000 AD. It exists still among Jews in Moslem lands. Side by side with this practice all along has been the ideal principle ( Genesis 2:18 ) rebuking and modifying it. The legal theory that made the man "lord" of the wife ( Genesis 3:16; Tenth Commandment) was likewise modified in practice by the affection of the husband and the personality of the wife.

The difference between a concubine and a wife was largely due to the wife's birth and higher position and the fact that she was usually backed by relatives ready to defend her. A slave could not be made a concubine without the wife's consent (  Genesis 16:2 ).

3. Wedding Ceremonies:

There is a disappointing uncertainty as to the exact ceremonies or proceedings connected with marriage in Bible times. We have to paint our picture from passing allusions or descriptions, and from what we know of Jewish and Arabic customs. In cases it would seem that there was nothing beyond betrothal, or the festivities following it (see  Genesis 24:3 ff). Later, in the case of a virgin, an interval of not exceeding a year came to be observed.

The first ceremony, the wedding procession , apparently a relic of marriage by capture (compare   Judges 5:30;  Psalm 45:15 ), was the first part of the proceedings. The bridegroom's "friends" ( John 3:29 ) went, usually by night, to fetch the bride and her attendants to the home of the groom ( Matthew 9:15;  John 3:29 ). The joyousness of it all is witnessed by the proverbial "voice of the bridegroom" and the cry, "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" ( Jeremiah 7:34;  Revelation 18:23 ). The procession was preferably by night, chiefly, we may infer, that those busy in the day might attend, and that, in accordance with the oriental love of scenic effects, the weird panorama of lights and torches might play an engaging and kindling part.

The marriage supper then followed, generally in the home of the groom. Today in Syria, as Dr. Mackie, of Beirut, says, when both parties live in the same town, the reception may take place in either home; but the older tradition points to the house of the groom's parents as the proper place. It is the bringing home of an already accredited bride to her covenanted husband. She is escorted by a company of attendants of her own sex and by male relatives and friends conveying on mules or by porters articles of furniture and decoration for the new home. As the marriage usually takes place in the evening, the house is given up for the day to the women who are busy robing the bride and making ready for the coming hospitality. The bridegroom is absent at the house of a relative or friend, where men congregate in the evening for the purpose of escorting him home. When he indicates that it is time to go, all rise up, and candles and torches are supplied to those who are to form the procession, and they move off. It is a very picturesque sight to see such a procession moving along the unlighted way in the stillness of the starry night, while, if it be in town or city, on each side of the narrow street, from the flat housetop or balcony, crowds look down, and the women take up the peculiar cry of wedding joy that tells those farther along that the pageant has started. This cry is taken up all along the route, and gives warning to those who are waiting with the bride that it is time to arise and light up the approach, and welcome the bridegroom with honor. As at the house where the bridegroom receives his friends before starting some come late, and speeches of congratulation have to be made, and poems have to be recited or sung in praise of the groom, and to the honor of his family, it is often near midnight when the procession begins. Meanwhile, as the night wears on, and the duties of robing the bride and adorning the house are all done, a period of relaxing and drowsy waiting sets in, as when, in the New Testament parable, both the wise and the foolish virgins were overcome with sleep. In their case the distant cry on the street brought the warning to prepare for the reception, and then came the discovery of the exhausted oil.

Of the bridegroom's retinue only a limited number would enter, their chief duty being that of escort. They might call next day to offer congratulations. An Arabic wedding rhyme says:

"To the bridegroom's door went the torch-lit array,

And then like goats they scattered away."

With their dispersion, according to custom, the doors would be closed, leaving within the relatives and invited guests; and so, when the belated virgins of the parable hastened back, they too found themselves inexorably shut out by the etiquette of the occasion. The opportunity of service was past, and they were no longer needed.

At the home all things would be "made ready," if possible on a liberal scale.  John 2 gives a picture of a wedding feast where the resources were strained to the breaking point. Hospitality was here especially a sacred duty, and, of course, greatly ministered to the joy of the occasion. An oriental proverb is significant of the store set by it:

"He who does not invite me to his marriage

Will not have me to his funeral."

To decline the invitation to a marriage was a gross insult ( Matthew 22 ).

It was unusual in Galilee to have a "ruler of the feast" as in Judea ( John 2 ). There was no formal religious ceremony connected with the Hebrew marriage as with us - there is not a hint of such a thing in the Bible. The marriage was consummated by entrance into the "chamber," i.e. the nuptial chamber (Hebrew ḥedher ), in which stood the bridal bed with a canopy ( ḥuppāh ), being originally the wife's tent (  Genesis 24:67;  Judges 4:17 ). In all lands of the dispersion the name is still applied to the embroidered canopy under which the contracting parties stand or sit during the festivities. In Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew the bridegroom is said to "go in" to the bride.

A general survey of ancient marriage laws and customs shows that those of the Hebrews are not a peculiar creation apart from those of other peoples. A remarkable affinity to those of other branches of the Semitic races especially, may be noted, and striking parallels are found in the Code of Hammurabi, with regard, e.g., to betrothal, dowry, adultery and divorce. But modern researches have emphasized the relative purity of Old Testament sexual morality. In this, as in other respects, the Jews had a message for the world. Yet we should not expect to find among them the Christian standard. Under the new dispensation the keynote is struck by our Lord's action. The significance of His attending the marriage feast at Cana and performing His first miracle there can hardly be exaggerated. The act corresponds, too, with His teaching on the subject. He, no less than Paul, emphasizes both the honorableness of the estate and the heinousness of all sins against it.

4. Jesus' Sanction of the Institution:

The most characteristic use of marriage and the family by our Lord is that in which He describes the kingdom of God as a social order in which the relationship of men to God is like that of sons to a father, and their relation to each other like that between brothers. This social ideal, which presents itself vividly and continuously to His mind, is summed up in this phrase, "Kingdom of God," which occurs more than a hundred times in the Synoptic Gospels. The passages in which it occurs form the interior climax of His message to men. It is no new and noble Judaism, taking the form of a political restoration, that He proclaims, and no "far-off Divine event" to be realized only in some glorious apocalyptic consummation; but a kingdom of God "within you," the chief element of it communion with God, the loving relation of "children" to a "Father," a present possession. Future in a sense it may be, as a result to be fully realized, and yet present; invisible, and yet becoming more and more visible as a new social order, a conscious brotherhood with one common, heavenly Father, proclaimed in every stage of His teaching in spite of opposition and varying fortunes with unwavering certainty of its completion - this is the "kingdom" that Jesus has made the inalienable possession of the Christian consciousness. His entire theology may be described as a transfiguration of the family (see Peabody, Jesus Christ, and the Social Question , 149 ff; Holtzmann, New Testament Theology , I, 200; Harnack, History of Dogma , I, 62; B. Weiss, Biblical Theol. of the New Testament , I, 72, English translation, 1882).

Beyond this Jesus frequently used figures drawn from marriage to illustrate His teaching concerning the coming of the kingdom, as Paul did concerning Christ and the church. There is no suggestion of reflection upon the Old Testament teaching about marriage in His teaching except at one point, the modification of it so as to allow polygamy and divorce. Everywhere He accepts and deals with it as sacred and of Divine origin ( Matthew 19:9 , etc.), but He treats it as transient, that is of the "flesh" and for this life only.

5. His Teaching Concerning Divorce:

A question of profound interest remains to be treated: Did Jesus allow under any circumstances the remarriage of a divorced person during the lifetime of the partner to the marriage? Or did He allow absolute divorce for any cause whatsoever? Upon the answer to that question in every age depend momentous issues, social and civic, as well as religious. The facts bearing on the question are confessedly enshrined in the New Testament, and so the inquiry may be limited to its records. Accepting with the best scholarship the documents of the New Testament as emanating from the disciples of Jesus in the second half of the 1st century AD, the question is, what did these writers understand Jesus to teach on this subject? If we had only the Gospels of Mark and Luke and the Epistles of Paul, there could be but one answer given: Christ did not allow absolute divorce for any cause (see  Mark 10:2 ff;   Luke 16:18;  Galatians 1:12;  1 Corinthians 7:10 ). The Old Testament permission was a concession, He teaches, to a low moral state and standard, and opposed to the ideal of marriage given in Gen ( Luke 2:23 ).

"The position of women in that day was far from enviable. They could be divorced on the slightest pretext, and had no recourse at law. Almost all the rights and privileges of men were withheld from them. What Jesus said in relation to divorce was more in defense of the rights of the women of His time than as a guide for the freer, fuller life of our day. Jesus certainly did not mean to recommend a hard and enslaving life for women. His whole life was one long expression of full understanding of them and sympathy for them" (Patterson, The Measure of a Man , 181 f).

Two sayings attributed to Christ and recorded by the writer or editor of the First Gospel ( Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9 ) seem directly to contravene His teaching as recorded in Mk and Luke. Here he seems to allow divorce for "fornication" (ρ Ο2 εἰπ ρ Ο2 μὴπ ρ Ο2 έπἱπ πορνεία , ei mḗ epı́ porneı́a , save for fornication"), an exception which finds no place in the parallels (compare  1 Corinthians 7:15 , which allows remarriage where a Christian partner is deserted by a heathen). The sense here demands that "fornication" be taken in its wider sense ( Hosea 2:5;  Amos 7:17;  1 Corinthians 5:1 ). Divorce to a Jew carried with it the right of remarriage, and the words 'causeth her to commit adultery' ( Matthew 5:32 ) show that Jesus assumed that the divorced woman would marry again. Hence, if He allowed divorce, He also allowed remarriage. A critical examination of the whole passage in Mt has led many scholars to conclude that the exceptive clause is an interpolation due to the Jewish-Christian compiler or editor through whose hands the materials passed. Others think it betrays traces of having been rewritten from Mark or from a source common to both Matthew and Mark, and combined with a semi-Jewish tradition, in short, that it is due to literary revision and compilation. The writer or compiler attempted to combine the original sayings of Jesus and His own interpretation. Believing that our Lord had not come to set aside the authority of Moses, but only certain Pharisaic exegesis, and supported, as doubtless he was, by a Jewish-Christian tradition of Palestine, he simply interpreted Mark's narrative by inserting what he regarded as the integral part of an eternal enactment of Yahweh. In doing this he was unconsciously inconsistent, not only with Mark and Luke, but also with the context of the First Gospel itself, owing to his sincere but mistaken belief that the Law of Moses must not be broken. The view implied by the exception, of course, is that adultery ipso facto dissolves the union, and so opens the way to remarriage. But remarriage closes the door to reconciliation, which on Christian principles ought always to be possible (compare Hosea; Jer 3; Hermas, Mand iv. 1). Certainly much is to be said for the view which is steadily gaining ground, that the exception in Matthew is an editorial addition made under the pressure of local conditions and practical necessity, the absolute rule being found too hard (see Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), extra vol, 27b, and The Teaching of our Lord as to the Indissolubility of Marriage , by Stuart Lawrence Tyson, M.A. Oxon., University of the South, 1912).

The general principle expanded in the New Testament and the ideal held up before the Christians is high and clear. How far that ideal can be embodied in legislation and applied to the community as a whole all are agreed must depend upon social conditions and the general moral development and environment. See further Divorce .


Material from Mishna in Selden, Uxor Heb , London, 1546; Hamberger, Real. Encyclopedia f. Bibel und Talmud , Breslau, 1870; Benzinger, Hebraische Archaologie  ; Nowack, Lehrbuch der hebraischen Archaologie  ; McLennan, Primitive Marriage  ; Westermarck, History of Human Marriage , London, 1891; W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia , Cambridge, 1895; Tristram, Eastern Customs , London, 1894; Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs , London, 1898; Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question , III, concerning the family.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [20]

The Levirate Law.—The divine origin of marriage, and the primitive state of the institution, are clearly recorded in the instance of the first human pair , whence it appears that woman was made after man to be 'a helper suited to him.' The narrative is calculated to convey exalted ideas of the institution. It is introduced by a declaration of the Lord God, that 'it is not good that the man should be alone' of the truth of which Adam had become convinced by experience. In order still further to enliven his sense of his deficiency, the various species of creatures are made to pass in review before him, 'to see what he would call them; on which occasion he could behold each species accompanied by its appropriate helper, and upon concluding his task would become still more affectingly aware, that amid all animated nature there was not found an help meet for himself.' It was at this juncture, when his heart was thus thoroughly prepared to appreciate the intended blessing, that a divine slumber, or trance, fell upon him—a state in which, as in after ages, the exercise of the external senses being suspended, the mental powers are peculiarly prepared to receive revelations from God . His exclamation when Eve was brought to him shows that he had been fully conscious of the circumstances of her creation, and had been instructed by them as to the nature of the relation which would thenceforth subsist between them. 'The man said, thisstime, it is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this shall be called woman, for out of man was this taken.' The remaining words, 'for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they (two) shall be one flesh,' which might otherwise seem a proleptical announcement by the historian of the social obligations of marriage, are by our Lord ascribed to the Divine agent concerned in the transaction, either uttered by Him personally, or by the mouth of Adam while in a state of inspiration. 'Have ye not read that He that made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, for this cause,' etc. . It is a highly important circumstance in this transaction, that God created only one female for one man, and united them—a circumstance which is the very basis of our Lord's reasoning in the passage against divorce and remarriage; but which basis is lost, and his reasoning consequently rendered inconclusive, by the inattention of our translators to the absence of the article, 'He made them a male and a female, and said, they shall become one flesh; so that they are no more two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.' 'The weight of our Lord's argument,' says Campbell, 'lay in this circumstance, that God at first created no more than a single pair, one of each sex, whom he united in the bond of marriage, and, in so doing, exhibited a standard of that union to all generations.' The apostasy introduced a new feature into the institution, namely, the subjection of the wife's will to that of her husband (; comp. ). The primitive model was adhered to even by Cain, who seems to have had but one wife . Polygamy, one of the earliest developments of human degeneracy, was introduced by Lamech, who 'took unto him two wives' (; circa 3874 B.C.). The intermarriage of 'the Sons of God,' i.e. the worshippers of the true God, with 'the daughters of men,' i.e. the irreligious (B.C. 2468), is the next incident in the history of marriage. They indulged in unrestrained polygamy 'they took them wives of all that they chose.' From this event may be dated that headlong degeneracy of mankind at this period, which ultimately brought on them extirpation by a deluge . At the time of that catastrophe Noah had but one wife , and so each of his sons . Pursuing the investigation of the subject according to chronological arrangement, Job next appears (B.C. 2130) as the husband of one wife . Reference is made to the adulterer, who is represented as in terror and accursed . The wicked man is represented as leaving 'widows' behind him; whence his polygamy may be inferred . Job expresses his abhorrence of fornication , and of adultery , which appears in his time to have been punished by the judges . Following the same arrangement, we find Abraham and Nahor introduced as having each one wife . From the narrative of Abraham's first equivocation concerning Sarah, it may be gathered that marriage was held sacred in Egypt. Abraham fears that the Egyptians would sooner rid themselves of him by murder than infringe by adultery the relation of his wife to an obscure stranger. The reproof of Pharaoh, 'Why didst thou say, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way' , affords a most honorable testimony to the views of marriage entertained by Pharaoh at that period, and most likely by his court and nation. It seems that Sarah was Abraham's half-sister. Such marriages were permitted till the giving of the law . Thus Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron, married his father's sister , a union forbidden in .

The first mention of concubinage, or the condition of a legal though subordinate wife, occurs in the case of Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian handmaid, whom Sarah, still childless, after a residence of ten years in Canaan, prevailed on Abraham, apparently against his will, to receive into that relation , which was however considered inviolable (;;;;; ). The vehement desire for offspring, common to women in the East, as appears from the histories of Rebecca , of Rachel , of Leah , and of Hannah , seems to have been Sarah's motive for adopting a procedure practiced in such cases in that region in all ages. The miseries naturally consequent upon it are amply portrayed in the history of the Patriarchs .

Lot does not appear to have exceeded one wife . The second equivocation of the same kind by Abraham respecting Sarah elicits equally honorable sentiments concerning marriage, on the part of Abimelech, king of Gerar (; , etc.), who, it appears, had but one proper wife (; see also ). Perhaps Abraham relied on the ancient custom, which will shortly be adverted to, of the consent of the 'brother' being requisite to the sister's marriage, and thus hoped to secure his wife's safety and his own. In ancient times the parents chose wives for their children (;; ); or the man who wished a particular female asked his father to obtain her from her father, as in the case of Shechem (B.C. 1732;; comp. ). The consent of her brothers seems to have been necessary (;;;; comp.; ). A dowry was given by the suitor to the father and brethren of the female (; comp.; ). This, in a common case, amounted to from 30 to 50 shekels, according to the law of Moses (comp.; ). Pausanias considers it so remarkable for a man to part with his daughter without receiving a marriage-portion with her, that he takes pains, in a case he mentions, to explain the reason. In later times we meet with an exception . It is most likely that from some time before the last-named period the Abrahamidæ restricted their marriages to circumcised persons (; comp.;;;; Josephus, Antiq. xi. 8, 2; xii. 4, 6; xviii. 9, 5). The marriage of Isaac develops additional particulars; for beside Abraham's unwillingness that his son should marry a Canaanitess (; comp.;;;;;; ), costly jewels are given to the bride at the betrothal , and 'precious things to her mother and brother' a customary period between espousals and nuptials is referred to and the blessing of an abundant offspring invoked upon the bride by her relatives —which most likely was the only marriage ceremony then and for ages afterwards (comp.; ); but in , the father places his daughter's right hand in the hand of Tobias before he invokes his blessing. It is remarkable that no representation has been found of a marriage ceremony among the tombs of Egypt. The Rabbins say that among the Jews it consisted of a kiss . It is probable that the marriage covenant was committed to writing (;; ); perhaps, also, confirmed with an oath . It seems to have been the custom with the patriarchs and ancient Jews to bury their wives in their own graves, but not their concubines . In , Abraham, after the death of Sarah, marries a second wife. Esau's polygamy is mentioned; (B.C. 1760). Jacob serves seven years to obtain Rachel in marriage and has a marriage feast, to which the men of the place are invited (; comp.; ). Samson's marriage feast lasts a week (; B.C. 1136; comp. , etc.); in later times it lasted longer . The persons invited to Samson's marriage are young men called 'sons of the bride-chamber,' . Females were invited to marriages , and attended the bride and bridegroom to their abode and in the time of Christ, if it was evening, with lamps and flambeaux . In later ages the guests were summoned when the banquet was ready , and furnished with a marriage garment . The father of the bride conducted her at night to her husband . The bride and bridegroom were richly ornamented . In Mesopotamia, and the East generally, it was the custom to marry the eldest sister first . By the deception practiced upon Jacob in that country, he marries two wives, and, apparently, without anyone objecting . Laban obtains a promise from Jacob not to marry any more wives than Rachel and Leah . The wives and concubines of Jacob and their children travel together but a distinction is made between them in the hour of danger (; comp. ). Following the arrangement we have adopted, we now meet with the first reference to the Levirate Law. Judah, Jacob's son by Leah, had married a Canaanitish woman . His first-born son was Er . Judah took a wife for him . Er soon after died , and Judah said, to Onan, 'Go in unto thy brother's wife, Tamar, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.' 'Onan knew that the offspring would not be his.' All these circumstances bespeak a pre-established and well known law, and he evaded the purpose of it, and thereby, it is said, incurred the wrath of God . It seems, from the same account, to have been well understood, that upon his death the duty devolved upon the next surviving brother. No change is recorded in this law till just before the entrance of Israel into Canaan (B.C. 1451), at which time Moses modified it by new regulations to this effect:—'If brethren dwell together (i.e. in the same locality), and one of them die, and leave no child, the wife of the dead must not marry out of the family, but her husband's brother or his next kinsman must take her to wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother, and the first-born of this union shall succeed in the name of his deceased father, that his name may be extant in Israel;' not literally bear his name, for Ruth allowed her son by Boaz to be called Obed, and not Mahlon, the name of her first husband (, yet see Josephus, Antiq. iv. 8, 23). In case the man declined the office, the woman was to bring him before the elders, loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in, or, as some render it, before his face, by way of contempt (. Josephus understands in the face, Antiq. v. 9, 4), and shall say, 'So shall it be done unto the 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,' quasi Bare-sole! It does not appear that the original law was binding on the brother, if already married; and we may well believe that Moses, who wished to mitigate it, allowed of that exception. The instance of Ruth (B.C. 1245), who married Boaz, her husband's relation, exhibits the practice of the law under the Judges. Boaz was neither the father of, nor the nearest relation to, Elimelech, father-in-law to Ruth, the wife of Mahlon, and yet he married her after the refusal of him who was the nearest relation (; Ruth 3; Ruth 4).

It should seem, from the instance of Potiphar's wife, that monogamy was practiced in Egypt . Pharaoh gave to Joseph one wife . The Israelites, while in Egypt, seem to have restricted themselves to one. One case is recorded of an Israelite who had married an Egyptian woman . The giving of the law (B.C. 1491) acquaints us with many regulations concerning marriage which were different from the practices of the Jews while in Egypt, and from those of the Canaanites, to whose land they were approaching . There we find laws for regulating the marriages of bondmen , and of a bondmaid, . The prohibition against marriages with the Canaanites is established by a positive law . Marriage is prohibited with any one near of kin, 'of the remainder of his flesh' . A priest is prohibited from marrying one that had been a harlot, or divorced . The high-priest was also excluded from marrying a widow, and restricted to one wife . Daughters who, through want of brothers, were heiresses to an estate, were required to marry into their own tribe, and, if possible, a kinsman, to prevent the estate passing into another family . The husband had power to annul his wife's vow, if he heard it, and interfered at the time . If a man had betrothed a wife, he was exempt from the wars, etc. . It was allowed to marry a beautiful captive in war, whose husband probably had been killed (, etc.). Abundance of offspring was one of the blessings promised to obedience, during the miraculous providence which superintended the Theocracy (;;;; ); and disappointment in marriage was one of the curses (;; comp.; ). A daughter of a distinguished person was offered in marriage as a reward for perilous services . Concubinage appears in Israel (B.C. 1413) . The violation of a concubine is avenged . Polygamy . The state of marriage among the Philistines may be inferred, in the time of Samson, from the sudden divorce from him of his wife by her father, and her being given to his friend , and from the father offering him a younger sister instead . David's numerous wives . In Psalms 45, which is referred to this period by the best harmonists, there is a description of a royal marriage upon a most magnificent scale. The marriage of Solomon to Pharaoh's daughter is recorded in; to which the Song of Solomon probably relates, and from which it appears that his mother 'crowned him with a crown on the day of his espousals' . It would appear that in his time females were married young (; comp. ); also males . An admirable description of a good wife is given in . The excessive multiplication of wives and concubines was the cause and effect of Solomon's apostasy in his old age . He confesses his error in Ecclesiastes, where he eulogizes monogamy . Rehoboam took a plurality of wives and so Abijah , and Ahab , and Belshazzar, king of Babylon . It would seem that the outward manners of the Jews, about the time of our Lord's advent, had become improved, since there is no case recorded in the New Testament of polygamy or concubinage among them. Our Lord excludes all causes of divorce, except whoredom , and ascribes the origin of the Mosaic law to the hardness of their hearts. The same doctrine concerning divorce had been taught by the prophets (;; ). The apostles inculcate it likewise ; yet St. Paul considers obstinate desertion by an unbelieving party as a release . Our Lord does not reprehend celibacy for the sake of religion, 'those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake' (; comp.; ). Second marriages not condemned in case of death . Mixed marriages disapproved . Early marriage not recommended . Marriage affords the means of copious illustrations to the writers of Scripture. The prophets employ it to represent the relation of the Jewish church to Jehovah, and the apostles that of the Christian church to Christ. The applications they make of the idea constitute some of the boldest and most touching figures in the Scripture.