Main WEDDING LETTERS 7 SEALS Jericho Scroll 7 TRUMPETS 7 THUNDERS 6 Second Woe p2 7 evil kingdoms Anglic proclamations 7 Bowls APPENDIX


The Wedding Covenant Site index

Glossary of marriage terms


Below a list of keywords used in this wedding part of this site. You can read them right now, or skip them and use them as reference while reading the main article.


There is so much interesting stuff to tell I have great difficulty leaving out information. It may look quite overwhelming to some but placing it in the marriage framework it gets more logical. In my opinion marriage is one of the main keys that unlocks the Bible. I’ll just add every bit of information because it will also help you in other Bible studies later on. That’s my excuse for making the glossary of terms almost as big as the main article.  You will surely miss out on some good nuggets when you skip this part.


Bachelor & Bachelorette party:

The evening and most of the night before the actual wedding the couple plus 10 bridesmaids (virgins) and 10 groomsmen (virgins) had a private party (no other guests). Lots of dance, music and wine.



Betrothal:
The ancient betrothal is best compared to the modern engagement. One of the main differences is that betrothal had far more legal consequences.


Betrothal is the period between signing the Ketubah, a wedding contract, and the consummation of the marriage. The couple was legally married at the very moment the contract was signed. They had all the legal rights and duties of a ‘fully’ married couples and unfaithfulness was considered adultery and was punished with stoning the adulterer/adulteress to death. If the groom died during the betrothal period she became automatically betrothed to his brother.

Deut 22:23-24 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed to an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he has humbled his neighbor's wife: so you shall put away evil from among you.


Bride price:
See Mohar.



Challah:


             

Bride = kallâh = כּלּה = pronounced as: kal-law

Bread = Challah = חלה = pronounced as: khaw-law

Finished = Kalah = כלה = pronounced as: kaw-law




The above words are pronounce quite similarly.

When the last Passover lamb was killed the high priest said: “It’s finished.”


The Shabbat in Jewish tradition is compared to a bride. Just as the veil of the bride is removed after the blessings have been recited, so are the Challah "unveiled" after the blessing is recited and the bread is about to be cut. The Challah is three breads braided into a lover’s embrace of the couple with God in their relationship. It also represents the first three covenants that merge into one as the ultimate covenant: marriage. Info.  


John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished ….

“It is finished” in Hebrew can be seen a play on word to reference to a wedding. He paid the Mohar, bride’s price.

“It is finished” in Greek often is said be a shorthand form of “tetelestai” which was written on legal documents to show a debt was fully paid. While some totally disagree with John 19:30 referencing to that word many assume Jesus was saying He paid our debts of sin on the cross. I agree with that but think there is a second meaning. It was also His payment of the Mohar the bride’s price or bride’s ransom. Info , more info.




Chuppah:

Chuppah (see the very first picture of this booklet) means cover or canopy, covered place or a chamber. A Chuppah, comes in many shapes. Sometimes very sturdy like a cloth between four trees or metal poles. Sometimes like shown on the picture on the front page. But also as simple as 4 groomsmen holding a prayer shawl over the couple.  It has undergone many changes in appearance, religious significance and the ceremonies it's used in. It went through a lot of changes in the middle ages. None of which are relevant for this article. In Jesus' time it referred to a bridal suite where the couple consummated their marriage. Obviously that means they both were in the chamber at the same time. But in Joel we read they both had a place of their own they stayed in before the ceremony. When Moses went up mt. Sinai the clouds were the Chuppah. So which definition we should use in connection to Groom Jesus?

Joel 2:16 ... The bridegroom shall fare forth from his chamber, and the bride from her canopy!"

Click here for pictures




Divorce:
A wife was not allowed to divorce her husband. A man was required to give his wife a Get, a bill of divorce so she could remarry another man. (
Deut 24:1-2). If she committed adultery he could keep all her the assets she brought into marriage. If he divorced her “without cause” he had to return her inventory and Mohar.

Divorce could be for several reasons but Jesus limited it to unfaithfulness. (Matt 5:31-32)


The mohar institution was entirely transformed during late-biblical and post-biblical times. From a bridal price it finally became a lien to be paid by the husband in case of divorce, or by his heirs in case of his death. The change in the mohar institution was a direct result of changes in the material conditions of life. In the simple conditions of early biblical days, all sons and daughters married young. No one stayed single.


The situation changes, however, in conditions reflected in the wisdom book of Ben-Sira, written not long before the uprising of the Maccabees. Apparently bachelorship, common among Jews in Talmudic times, had its beginnings in pre-Maccabean days. Economic conditions were such that men hesitated to shoulder the responsibility of matrimony. It was not unusual for women to support the men they married. Under these conditions there was no place for the old mohar institution. Fathers no longer expected any material gain from their daughters' marriages. On the contrary, fathers often gave rich dowries to daughters as an inducement to marriageable men.


Yet the mohar institution did not pass out of existence. It was reformed intermittently in the course of this period, adapting itself to new circumstances. The first stage in this process was to make the bride's father a mere trustee of the mohar. The money was then inherited ultimately either by the husband or by his children. This reform availed little, so the husband himself was made the trustee of the money, which was employed to buy household articles.


The last step in the reform of the mohar institution was made by Simeon ben Shatach, head of the Pharisees, who were the ruling party in the state during the reign of the Maccabean queen, Salome Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.). He declared that the mohar, which was ordinarily 200 silver dinars (50 shekels) for a virgin, and half for a widow, should merely be written in the Ketubah, the marriage deed, as a lien of the wife on the estate of her husband, to be paid to her only if he divorced her, or at his death. This reform served two humane purposes. It made marriage easier, and divorce more difficult. A man did not need 200 dinars in cash in order to marry a girl, but he needed this amount if he wanted to divorce her. The Ketubah thus protected the woman from being arbitrarily divorced by her husband.




Dowry:
Also known as shiluhim, nudunu, nedunya, seriqtum and parting gifts.                                   
The bride quite often brought cash and other possession like slaves, fields, wells etc. into the marriage. Rabbi’s ordained a father must give some of his property to his daughter. Not doing so was considered unkind and harsh. The minimum was 50 silver coins but more if wealth permitted. If the bride’s family was very poor she received the part of the 50 coins her family couldn’t afford from the charity fund. Court could only enforce the father paying a dowry if he managed to find a husband for her without paying (all of) it. The bride used the dowry to prepare for her marriage. One of those preparations was buying a wedding garment. If the groom accepted to marry without the bride receiving a dowry he had to provide her with all the needed (wedding) garments. Quite often the groom’s father also paid some dowry (not legally required) If the bride’s father could not pay the dowry he promised the groom could either accept that fact or cancel the wedding. Postponing the marriage was not allowed on that ground. However if the bride made the promise herself he could postpone the marriage indefinitely. Property she received during marriage from her husband or someone else was added to her dowry. The dowry was owned by the husband; but in case he died or divorced her, she could claim the whole dowry. The reason of all those rules was to protect the woman against poverty; in case of divorce of dead she had the means to support herself.




Ekklesia:

The word Greek ekklesia, often translated as church, and Hebrew synagogue both mean ‘assembly’. The Hebrew B’rit Chadashah (NT), which uses the word haKeneset, which also refers to an assembly such as we would find in the synagogue. This word comes from the same roots that form ‘haKnesset’, the word used to describe the Congress (assembly) of Israel. This is where it gets quite interesting, because several other Hebrew words created from this same root have some very interesting implications for the Church;


HaKeneset   = Synagogue or Assembly

Keneseeyah = Church

Keneeyah    = Purchase Contract

Keneesah    = Right of Entry


Notice how each of these words, formed from the same root, describe our salvation.



Four cups, four covenants, four ….


Progression

This is one of the most important things to understand when viewing the Bible as whole (which you should).

The Bible isn't a book of separate stories that have no connection or new stories replacing old stories. Neither do new laws and/or teaching replaces old ones. It would mean HS inspired something inferior that needs correcting or improving.


This is best explained with few examples. Shortly after you were born your parents started to teach you to how to speak. That was quite helpful when you went to school because you could understand the calculus lessons. 1+1=2. That's already progressive. Without language you wouldn't have understood that. The A+ in calculus progressed from the first speech lesson your parents gave you. Calculus doesn't make speech obsolete. Eventually you got your master’s degree in math. Does that mean 1+1 no longer equals 2? Does it make speech obsolete? Nope. It simply means 1+1 is the foundation of your math degree. Likewise your first word is the foundation of 1+1.


Another example is marriage. The order of foundation is: Meet --> Friendship --> Dating --> Engagement --> Marriage

Can you have friendship without meeting? Dating couples no longer are friends? Married people never met each other? So marriage progressed from meeting.


The whole Bible is a huge marriage covenant as you hopefully will start to see as we progress. For now I will compare it to a house.

Foundation --> walls --> roof -> Decoration and furniture

Hanging you family pictures on the wall may be your goal but first you have to lay that ugly underground foundation. It's hidden but it paved the way for the family pictures.

Without Genesis no Revelation. Simple as that. A wall doesn't replace a foundation; neither does Exodus replace Genesis. A wall isn't done away with a roof; neither is the OT done away with the NT. You can't hang decorations without walls. Jesus can't give eternal life in Revelation without creation in Genesis. There isn't an old and new testament. It's one huge progressive Book.


Testament vs covenant   Replacing vs progressing

Testament is a Greek legal term that defined a contract that often replaced the previous contract. A covenant is a Hebraic legal term between two partners. This covenant had no appointed end and additional covenants never replaced earlier covenants but added to the previous one. So the term Covenant is more correct than Testament. The New Covenant (Testament) is indeed a new covenant but the Old Covenant (Testament) is in fact a collection of covenants. So I will use OT and NT. Not for accuracy but because it's most known and no other term is completely correct.


The Bible calls it drinking milk and eating meat. Does that mean the meat eater should reject the God given milk they received years ago as obsolete/inferior? Think not...









COVENANTS

Similar to the above there are no new and old covenants. There are different levels. Check the tables in appendix to see how the covenants align with Noah’s rainbow covenant,


1 - Blood covenant = Servanthood = Entry level  Restores the spirit

Daily sacrifice is needed. Just do as requested

Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.


2 - Salt covenant = friendship or hospitality  Restores the soul

When ancient Jews became close friends they performed a certain ritual. They all carried a little pouch of salt (to spice up their food). When sealing a deep friendship each friend (could be more than just 2) emptied his pouch in a bowl. The salt was mixed and each dipped his bread in it and ate. Eating together almost equaled a covenant at that time. That was one of the reasons the Jewish leaders were so mad when Jesus was eating with outcasts which often including dipping in salt. Jesus was bonding with criminals. Back to the ritual. After eating everyone took back their share of salt, minus what was eaten of course, and put it back in his pouch. The covenant of friendship could only be broken if each person got back his own personal grains of salt. Impossible. Friends serve each other. They are equals


Friendship isn't take as much (advantage) as you can. The reason it doesn't really feel like serving is because that's what progression is all about. It becomes an integral part of yourself. A bit like a law written on your heart. Serving evolved into friendship. At times friendship also means sacrifice like spending your day off helping friend with a boring paint job. You aren’t forced or hired; you do it out of love. Salt was also extensively used in sacrifices in the Temple.


Abraham was called God's friends but still he served God. Jesus was in an ultimately deep loving relationship with Father but still He served Father. Not serving would have made Him unhappy.


3 - Sandal covenant = Covenant of inheritance.  Restores the body.

Let me start explaining that odd name...for a non ancient Jew that is. Every Jew had his own piece of land with marked off boundaries. Today we place fences, warning signs etc to mark our property. Ancient Jews used a pair of worn out sandals as a marker. They covered them with rocks because the wind would blow them away.

Deut 19:14 You shall not remove your neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set in your inheritance, which you shall inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess it.

That verse doesn't just forbid messing with your neighbors’ sandals it also speaks about inheritance. The name sandal covenant just 'grew' over time. It started with marking of inheritance but because sandals were used for it, sandals began to equal inheritance. So whenever you read something about sandals remember this covenant/verse.


In Ruth 4:1-13 we read about the marriage between Ruth and Boaz. Especially verses 7 and 8 are relevant because Boaz didn't just get a pair of old sweaty sandals, he got land and with that inheritance.

"Now this was the custom beforetime in Israel, concerning redemption and exchange, to confirm every matter: A man would pull off his sandal and give it to his associate; this was the attestation in Israel. So the kinsman redeemer said to Boaz, Acquire it for yourself. And he pulled off his sandal and gave it to him."

When someone had to sell his land because he was very poor a close family member, the kinsman-redeemer, was obligated to buy the land and that way keep it in the family.

A kinsman-redeemer was also someone that bought a person out of slavery (usually because of debt). The redeemer then owned that person; but not as a slave. Boaz owned Ruth as a wife.


4 - Marriage = all covenants taken to the extreme and wrapped into one. The challah bread represents this.


A child is taught obedience --> Blood covenant

The child becomes a friend --> Salt covenant

The child inherits --> Sandal covenant


Jesus reversed the covenants; He started with a foot washing (inheritance/sandal). Then he broke the bread (friendship/salt) finally the blood/servant by drinking wine (blood of the grapes)


God takes the covenants very seriously:

1Cor 11:27-30 Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.   For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.


So 1+1+1=1

Compare it to a rope that braided from the separate strands. The 3 strands form one strong rope.

There are many more groups of 3 that become something new (life, marriage) when merged together.



Get:
See divorce.


Groomsmen:
The groom had 10 groomsmen but 2 of them were called ‘friends of the bridegroom’. One attended to the groom’s needs the other to the bride’s during the betrothal period. The friend attending to the bride had more contact with her as the groom himself, who had no direct contact with his future bride at all. Needless to say it had to be a friend the groom fully trusted. If the bride needed anything she told the friend. The friend told the groom who provided the stuff. The friend then brought it to the bride. Obviously that friend, unknowingly, played the role of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s betrothal period.

John 16:14 He (Holy Spirit) shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you.

His groomsmen they have to fit 5 special criteria that regular ancient Jewish groomsmen met:

1] Selected before the wedding – They are present before the wedding starts. Even before the bride.

2] Male. - Rev 14:4 "These are men"

3] Virgin. - Rev 14:4 "for they are virgins"

4] Trusted. – Rev 14:5 “no lie was found in their mouths.”

5] Assist the groom. - Rev 14:4 - "These are those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.


Ketubah:
Also known as wedding contract.
It recorded the value of the bride’s dowry plus optional extra’s as agreed upon. The Mohar, mattan, dowry, promises, bride’s estate inventory and other agreements. The contract was signed in triplet. Each father got a copy. The 3rd sealed copy was filed in court/synagogue and could only be opened by a judge on rare occasions.

An actual Jewish marriage record (picture is a modern example) during the period of the return from the Babylonian exile was discovered--the oldest marriage contract in Jewish history. From a couple of Elephantine and Assuan, at the southern border of Egypt.




On...[date]...of the King, said As-hor the son of Teos, builder to the king, to Mahseia, an Aramaean of Seyne belonging to the quarter of Warizath, saying: I came to thy house that thou give me thy daughter Miphtahya to wife. She is my wife and I am her husband from this day and forever. I have given thee as a marriage settlement for they daughter Miphtahya the sum of five shekels royal standard; it is accepted by thee and thy heart is content therewith. I have delivered unto the hand of thy daughter Miphtahya as money for an outfit 1 karash 2 shekels...1 woolen robe, new, striped, dyed on both sides...There is accepted by me and my heart is content therewith 1 couch of reeds with 4 supports of stone...1 cosmetic box of ivory, new. If tomorrow or any other day, As-hor shall die having no issue whether male or female by Miphtahya his wife, Miphtahya shall have full right over the house of As-hor and his goods and chattels and all that he has on the face of the earth without exception. If tomorrow or any other day, Miphtahya shall stand up in the congregation and say: I divorce As-hor my husband, the price of divorce shall be on her head; she shall return to the scales and she shall weigh for As-hor the sum of five shekels (6?) and two d., and all which I have delivered unto her she shall give back, both string and thread, in one day at one time, and she shall go away withersoever she will and no suit or process shall ensue. And if he shall rise up against Miphtahya to drive her away from the house of As-hor and his goods and his chattels, he shall pay the sum of 20 kebhes and this deed shall be annulled, and I shall have not power to say: I have another wife than Miphtahya and other children than the children which Miphtahya shall bear to me. If I shall say I have children and a wife other than Miphtahya and her children, I shall pay to Miphtahya the sum of 20 kebhes royal standard, and I shall have no power to take away my goods and my chattels from Miphtahya. And if I shall have removed them from her...[erasure]...I will pay Miphtahya the sum of 20 kebhes royal standard. Nathan the son of Ananiah has written this deed at the dictation of As-hor, and the witnesses thereto are Penuliah the son of Jezaniah, Jezaniah the son of Uriah, Menaichem the son of Saccur: Witnesses."


This contract was worked out during a meal and written by a Scribe/Rabbi.

The contract consisted of 5 main parts.

1. Family history of both bride and groom containing a detailed family tree and anecdotes.

 Genesis. Lengthy genealogies.

2. Personal family history of the bride. Again with a detailed family tree and anecdotes.

 Exodus. Israel is God’s bride.

3. Personal family history of the groom. Again with a detailed family tree and anecdotes.

 Leviticus. God’s family

4. A story filled with anecdotes how the couple met.

 Numbers. The love affair, joy and sorrow about of God and Israel in the wilderness.

5. Details about responsibilities of both groom and bride before and after the wedding. Payment, rights, etc.

 Deuteronomy lists all that’s expected from God and Israel.


The contact was signed (=sealed) 7 times.

Bride - David, God’s beloved.

Groom – Jesus.

Father of the bride – Jacob (father of Israel)

Father of the groom – Abraham (father of nations)

Scribe – Moses wrote the 5 “Ketubah  books”

Adam – First witness.

Noah – Second witness.


Compare with the 7 letters to the churches. Click


Revelation 5
1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

 More correctly, seven signatures.

2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

 Answer the groom or judge in rare cases. See Ketubah.

3-5 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.




Mattan:
Freewill gift(s) of the groom to the bride to show his love. Often some are given at the beginning of the betrothal period and usually many during the betrothal period. That way the bride was remembered about him. It had a similar function to an engagement ring.



Mikvah for the bride:

A ritual baptism. A stone wall divided two sections of the pool. The main pool contained rainwater which came from heaven. A secondary pool containing (at least) 200 gallons of well water, coming from earth, was build a little below the main pool. The separating wall had a little hole in it so rainwater spilled into the well-water pool. The heavenly water sanctified the earthly water. That way both earth and heaven witnessed the purifying bath. She undressed and went into the secondary pool with her bridesmaids and was pushed under water where she opened eyes and mouth, spread finger and toes, to be sure she was fully touched by the sanctifying water. The small pool was drained after this ritual. Without the Mikvah the marriage can’t take place. The bath must be taken 7+ days after her period. The bride always faced upstream and bowed in the direction of God. When available natural streams like rivers were used as a Mikvah.


Mohar:
Also known as ransom and bride price.
Legally obligated bridal price paid to the bride’s father as a compensation for losing a worker for the bride’s family and a compensation for the cost of raising her. In the beginning this was a spoken contract. (Eze 16:8) After exile is was a written and signed contract.

50 shekels in cash

"In the remote past, there probably was no standard at all, but in Biblical days we already note a minimum mohar. For seduction, the law prescribes a fine equal in sum to the mohar of virgins (Exodus 22:15-16). Now, what was that sum? The rabbis say rape and seduction are equal offenses, and if the Bible prescribes a fine of fifty shekels for rape (Deuteronomy 22:29), then seduction must also be fined the same amount. In other words, the sum equal to the mohar of virgins is fifty shekels. The rabbis' logic is evident as it is compelling. Rape and seduction represent theft of virginity; mohar, the price of virginity. It is by the same logic, probably, that the Bible prescribes a fine of a hundred shekels, double the price of virginity, for the husband who falsely denies his bride's virginity, as double penalty for the thief is not uncommon in the ancient law. Our conclusion is, therefore, that the Bible knew of a minimum mohar of fifty shekels."

Payment was not always in cash:

Gen 24:53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.

1Sam 17:25 And the men of Israel said, Have you seen this man that is come up?  surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who kills him (Goliath), the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel.

Hos 3:2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

Gen 29:18 …I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.

Luke 22:20 … my blood, which is shed for you.

1Cor 6:20 For you are bought with a price… (blood)

1Pet 1:18 … you were not redeemed with corruptible things…

Rev 5:9 … have redeemed us to God by your blood…




Polygamy
The Bible doesn’t forbid polygamy but the Jews usually were monogamous for several reasons. Partly because most men could only afford one wife. Partly because they followed the example of the leadership. David, Solomon and Ahab had many wives who caused them trouble. Solomon, for example, became partly pagan because he learned pagan rituals from many of his pagan wives. That’s why polygamy for kings was forbidden in Deut 17:17. Polygamy also caused rivalry between wives (Leah and Rachel – Gen 30, Hannah and Peninnah – 1Sam 1:1-6). High priests, the prophets and leading persons like Moses and Job were also monogamous.



Rapture/Meeting:
This article is not about the rapture but I feel it must be discussed because it is part of the wedding ceremony. Some rapture interpretations invalidate the marriage pattern.

1Thess 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet (apantesis) the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


When the groom arrives the bride runs towards the groom who is carried on a wooden bier by his friends. The bride is pulled up the bier (into the air) while the groom’s (Jesus) feet don’t touch the ground. (He doesn’t leave the bier)



The key word is ‘meet’. Meet to go to the bride’s house or meet to go to the groom’s house. While English has just one word for meet, Greek has two. In the verse above ‘pick up’ would be a good translation.

In Mat 25:1-12 we read 5 wise virgins are meeting (apantesis) the groom. We aren’t told where they went after meeting him, but tradition tells us it’s the pre-wedding bachelor party.


In Acts 28:11-14 we read Paul came from Alexandria and travelled toward Rome on request of brothers. Verse 15 tells us other brothers living in Rome heard the news and came to meet (apantesis) Paul at the Appi forum which wasn’t his final destination. Finally in verse 16 we read Paul arrived in Rome. So Paul didn’t take them back to Alexandria.

In John 12:12 we read Jesus is traveling towards Jerusalem. In verse 13 we read people came to meet Him. As we all know Jesus really arrived and stayed in Jerusalem. Meet in verse 13 uses an alternative spelling in some manuscripts hupantesis instead of apantesis. One letter difference in Greek. The authoritative Nestle Greek uses apantesis.

So we have 2 occurrences of apantesis that most certainly mean “pickup” someone and one occurrence that likely has the same meaning. So to apantesis means meet someone and take that person from where you came from. The opposite is expressed with ‘apantao’. A group meets a person and all go to the place the person came from.


A common explanation of this phrase is that the word πντησις (“to meet”) refers to a Hellenistic formal reception. According to Roman custom, when a dignity travelled to a city, the citizens left the city and met the dignity and escorted him back to the place they came from. Marshall suggests that Paul’s expression alludes to that custom. Something like that took place in Act. 28:15 and the same phrase is used there.  Moo suggests the same understanding and points to the two examples in NT when this term carries this meaning, Matt. 15:6 and Act. 28:15. Kevin Zuber, a pretribulationalist, raises questions concerning the relevance of this metaphor. He argues that the word πντησις is not necessary a technical term of a Hellenistic formal reception. There are things in the metaphor that don’t seem to fit the context of 4:13-17.

Zuber might have a point in noting some weaknesses with the allusion. Bruce says:

When a dignitary paid an official visit (parousia) to a city in Hellenistic times, the action of the leading citizens in going out to meet him and escort him on the final stage of his journey was called the ρπζω, but there is nothing in the word or in this context (in 1 Thessalonians 4) that demands this interpretation.

One can say that the allusion is possible, but not obvious. An alternative metaphor could be that of a bride and a bridegroom, in which according to Jewish custom the bride was brought by the bridegroom to his father’s house. Hence Christ is taking his church to heaven for the wedding, see Matt. 25:6ff. However there are things in the wedding custom that does not fit the context of 1 Thess. 4 either, such as the suddenness and un-expectancy. In fact, it is difficult to determine the direction Jesus and his believers will take after the meeting in the air by simply referring to different customs in Hellenistic culture.

The reference Walvoord makes to John 14:1-3 is not entirely convincing. In John 14:2 Jesus says: ν τ οκίᾳ το πατρς μου μοναπολλα εσιν: (“My father’s house has many rooms/dwellings”). The same word for room/dwelling, μον, is used in 14:23b where Jesus says: …κα πρς ατν λευσμεθα κα μονν παρ' ατ ποιησμεθα. (“and we will come to them and make our home with them”). In that context, also in 14:18, 28, he speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The context of John 14 suggests that Jesus is referring to his coming to his disciples after the resurrection. The dwelling spoken of is how the Father and the Son will enjoy fellowship with the believer through the presence of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus return to his father is how the place is prepared. Keener suggests this understanding. He admits that the language is eschatological, but it can be understood as realized eschatology rather than future eschatology. Jesus prepares his disciples for his absence by promising his continued presence, John 14:16-27. Lindars thinks that if Jesus’ departure refers to his death, the return should be seen as his resurrection, but an eschatological interpretation is also possible. Morris suggests that this is a reference to the parousia, but John might use the idea of ‘coming’ in more than one sense, and Jesus did come to his disciples in the here-and-now perspective after his resurrection.

Even if John 14:1-3 should refer to Christ’s second coming, there is nothing in the text that suggests that this should be understood as a secret rapture of the believers in the end-times, and nothing is said about its place in relation to the tribulation. Moo points to the fact that the word ‘heaven’ is not used in John 14:3, but even if the language in John 14 might imply it, the stress in the passage is the unity, found in verse 3b; “that you also may be where I am”. One can also note the differences between John 14:1-3 and 1 Thess. 4:13-17. No trumpet, no translation of the saints, no resurrection is mentioned in John. Does it suggest that it is a third event? Will there perhaps be two different pretribulational raptures? Another relevant question is: If the rapture means that Christians will be taken to heaven, will heaven be occupied only seven years before Christ will descend to earth to establish his kingdom?




Virginity cloth:
A virginity cloth was a 2 feet square sheet that often had the bride’s name on it. Sometimes also the wedding date. The bride laid down on the sheet when the new couple consummated their marriage. The blood spilled on the cloth was proof she was a virgin when she married.

When done and the cloth had blood on it the groom shouted a cry of joy and gave the blooded cloth to witnesses, chosen by the father of the bride (Or the maid of honor and best man), waiting outside the door of the bedroom. They showed it to several other guests as proof of her virginity.

John 3:29 He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled



The bride’s parents kept the cloth in a secret place as proof their daughter was virgin when she got married.

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth [the tokens of] the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech [against her], saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these [are the tokens of] my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred [shekels] of silver, and give [them] unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, [and the tokens of] virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.


The groomsmen, bridesmaids, groom and bride were all virgins; of course with the exception of widows and divorced brides.






Wedding:
Seven days of festivities and consummation of the marriage. The couple lived together from this point on. The first Mishnah in Ketubot is "A virgin in married on a Wednesday, and a widow on a Thursday." (Ket. 2a.) The Mishnah explains that since courts met on Mondays and Thursday, if the groom had an issue about his bride's virginity, he could immediately go to court the following morning.


Wedding procession – stealing the bride:
All invited guests (10 bridesmaids + 10 groomsmen) were required to carry a torch or lamp; otherwise they were not allowed to join the procession to. Neither were they allowed to attend to the feast without a lamp or torch.

(Torch of testimony?)


When the procession of the groom passed by on their way to the bride’s house crowds looked down from the roofs (SoS 3:11). The women on the roofs shouted a ‘cry of wedding joy’. These cries were heard by others and passed down the route until it reached the bride’s home. That was the signal for the people in the bride’s house (bride + 10 bridesmaids) to go outside and meet the groom and light up his path to the bride’s house. Meanwhile the bride was robed.

When arrived the groom and guests entered her house ( gen 29:22, Mat 22:1-10, Luke 14:8, John 2:2) and the door was locked. The groom now had the very first direct talk with his bride.


The procession would begin from the bride's father's house to the house of the bridegroom. It began with great celebration, the bridegroom, the bride, the friend, the virgins, groomsmen, musicians, and many other friends and relatives would walk and dance, and cast flowers, and sing songs, with "every demonstration of joy and gladness." The bride was crowned and carried by the crowd on a piece of furniture through the streets to the bridegroom's house.

1 Macc They looked out and there they saw the bridegroom, in the middle of a bustling crowd and a train of baggage, coming to meet the bridal party, escorted by his friends and kinsmen fully armed to the sound of drums and instruments of music.


The lamps consisted of a round receptacle for pitch or oil for the wick. This was placed in a hollow cup or deep saucer, which was fastened by a pointed end into a long wooden pole, on which it was borne a loft.

In going from the bride's house to the groom's house, the bride allowed her hair to be loose and flowing, and she had her face veiled. Some of her own relations preceded her in the procession, and scattered ears of parched grain to the children along the way. There were demonstrations of joy all along the road to the destination. Part of the procession included men who played on drums or other musical instruments. And there was dancing along the way.