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, Ge 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," Ge 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 CONCUBINE. In after-times a plurality of wives became more common among the Hebrews, and the Scriptures afford numerous illustrations of its evil results, Ge 16:16; Jg 8:30; 2Sa 3:3-5; 1Ki 11:1-8; 2Ch 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, Le 18; 18:1-27; De 27. Marriage with Canaanites and idolaters was strictly forbidden, Ex 34:16; and afterwards with any of the heathen nations around them, especially such as were uncircumcised, Ne 13. 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, Ge 38; De 25:5-10; Mt 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, Mt 5:32; 9/3/type/noyes'>19:3-6,9; and denouncing all breaches of marriage vows, even in thought, Mt 5:28. Compare Heb 13:4; Re 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, Ge 21:21; 24; 34:4-6; Jg 14:2-3. The parties were often betrothed to each other long before the marriage took place. See BETROTHING. A dowry was given by the suitor to the parents and brethren of the bride, Ex 22:13; De 22:29; 2Sa 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," Joh 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, Jg 14:11,20; Song 5:1; 8:13; Mt 9:14; also the companions of the bride, Ps 45:9,14; Song 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, Jg 14:14.
The Jews affirm, that before Jerusalem was laid in ruins, the bridegroom and bride wore crowns at their marriage. Compare Isa 61:10; Song 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, Pr 2:17; Mal 2:14, and the nuptial blessing invoked by the friends, Ge 24:60; Ru 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," Ge 29:27. The ceremonies of Samson's wedding continued seven whole days, Jg 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, Mt 25. "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, Eph 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," 1Co 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 Eph 5:22-23; 1Ti 2:11-12; 1Pe 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, 1Ti 4:3. See BETROTHING, CONCUBINE, DIVORCE, GARMENTS, etc.
was instituted in Paradise when man was in innocence (Ge 2:18-24). Here we have its original charter, which was confirmed by our Lord, as the basis on which all regulations are to be framed (Mt 19:4-5). It is evident that monogamy was the original law of marriage (Mt 19:5; 1Co 6:16). This law was violated in after times, when corrupt usages began to be introduced (Ge 4:19; 6:2). We meet with the prevalence of polygamy and concubinage in the patriarchal age (Ge 16:1-4; 22:21-24; 28:8-9; 29:23-30, etc.). Polygamy was acknowledged in the Mosaic law and made the basis of legislation, and continued to be practised all down through the period of Jewish histroy to the Captivity, after which there is no instance of it on record.
It seems to have been the practice from the beginning for fathers to select wives for their sons (Ge 24:3; 38:6). Sometimes also proposals were initiated by the father of the maiden (Ex 2:21). The brothers of the maiden were also sometimes consulted (Ge 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 (Ge 31:15; 34:12; Ex 22:16-17; 1Sa 18:23,25; Ru 4:10; Ho 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 (Ge 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 (Ge 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 (Mt 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 (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1Pe 3:1-7). Marriage is said to be "honourable" (Heb 13:4), and the prohibition of it is noted as one of the marks of degenerate times (1Ti 4:3).
The marriage relation is used to represent the union between God and his people (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:1-14; Ho 2:9,20). In the New Testament the same figure is employed in representing the love of Christ to his saints (Eph 5:25-27). The Church of the redeemed is the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Re 19:7-9).
(See ADAM) The charter of marriage is Ge 2:24, reproduced by our Lord with greater distinctness in Mt 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 Ge 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, Eph 5:31; Mr 10:5-9; 1Co 6:16; 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 (Ro 6:5). He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife (1Co 11:3; 15:45). Death severs bridegroom and bride, but cannot separate Christ and His bride (Mt 19:6; Joh 10:28-29; 13:1; Ro 8:35-39).
In Eph 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 Ge 2:24 refers to literal marriage. Transl. Eph 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 (Joh 12:24; 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 6:13; Re 2:17; 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 (Lu 2:48-49; 8:19-21; 11:27-28). He shall again leave His Father's abode to consummate the union (Mt 25:1-10; Re 19:7). Marriage is the general rule laid down for most men, as not having continency (1Co 7:2,5, etc.). The existing "distress" (1Co 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 (Mt 5:32; 19:9; Ro 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.(1Co 11:8-9; 1Ti 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 (1Pe 3:1-7; 1Co 14:34-35). Polygamy began with the Cainites. (See LAMECH; DIVORCE; CONCUBINE.) The jealousies of Abraham's (Ge 16:6) and Elkanah's wives illustrate the evils of polygamy. Scripture commends monogamy (Ps 128:3; Pr 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Ec 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 (1Ti 3:2,12; 5:9; Lu 2:36-37; 1Co 7:40); the reverse in the case of young widows (1Ti 5:14). Marriage is honorable; but fornication, which among the Gentiles was considered indifferent, is stigmatized (Heb 13:4; Ac 15:20). Marriage of Israelites with Canaanites was forbidden, lest it should lead God's people into idolatry (Ex 34:16; De 7:3-4). In Le 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 (Ge 38:8; Mt 22:25). The high priest must marry only an Israelite virgin (Le 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; Ge 21:21; 38:6). The parents' consent was asked first, then that of the bride (Ge 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" (Joh 3:29). She was regarded as his wife, so that faithlessness was punished with death (De 22:23-24); the bridegroom having the option of putting her away by a bill of divorcement (De 24:1; Mt 1:19).
No formal religious ceremony attended the wedding; but a blessing was pronounced, and a "covenant of God" entered into (Eze 16:8; Mal 2:14; Pr 2:17; Ge 24:60; Ru 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; Isa 61:10, "ornaments," rather (peer) "a magnificent headdress" like that of the high priest, appropriate to the "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6); the bride wore "jewels" or "ornaments" in general, trousseau. He had a nuptial garland or crown (Song 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 3:6). The bride took a preparatory bath (Eze 23:40). This is the allusion in Eph 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 (Ge 24:65; 29:23); the symbol of her subjection to her husband's power, therefore called "power on her head" (1Co 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 (Jer 2:32). Also a gilded or gold "crown" or chaplet (kullah), a white robe sometimes embroidered with gold thread (Re 19:8; Ps 45:13-14) and jewels (Isa 61:10). Late in the evening the bridegroom came with his groomsmen ("companions," Jg 14:11; "children of the bridechamber," Mt 9:15), singers and torch or lamp bearers leading the way (Jer 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 (Mt 25:6; 22:1-11; Joh 2:2; Ps 45:15). The women of the place flocked out to gaze. The nuptial song was sung; hence in Ps 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 (Joh 3:29). Song 3:11; the feast lasted for seven or even 14 days, and was enlivened by riddles, etc. (Jg 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 "puri
1. Forms of Marriage.
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." Ge 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." Mt 19:5-6; Mr 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." Eph 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. Mt 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.' 1Ti 3:2,12; Tit 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. Eph 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. Mt 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 Matt. 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 Matt. 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. Joh 2:1-11.
The assembly has been espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2Co 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." Re 19:7-9. The Lord will also have an earthly bride during the kingdom. Ho 2:7. See also the Canticles.
1. Its origin and history. --The institution of marriage dates from the time of man's original creation.
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, Comp.
(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.
(6) The respective duties of man and wife. In the patriarchal age polygamy prevailed,
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.
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.
(b) By the restriction of divorce to the case of fornication, and the prohibition of remarriage in all persons divorced on improper grounds.
(c) By the enforcement of moral purity generally
etc., and especial formal condemnation of fornication.
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."
(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
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,
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
but this appears to have been subordinate to the previous consent of the father and the adult brothers.
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 bride. groom to place a ring on the bride's finger. The ring was regarded among the Hebrews as a token of fidelity
and of adoption into a family.
Between the betrothal sad the marriage so interval elapsed, varying from a few days in the patriarchal age,
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."
She was now virtually regarded as the wife of her future husband; hence faithlessness on her part was punishable with death,
the husband having, however, the option of "putting her away."
De 24:1; Mt 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.
The bride was veiled. Her robes were white,
and sometimes embroidered with gold thread,
and covered with perfumes!
she was further decked out with jewels.
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,"
children of the bride-chamber,
preceded by a band of musicians or singers,
and accompanied by persons hearing flambeaux,
2 Esdr. 10:2;
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,
and the festivities were protracted for seven or even fourteen days.
The guests were provided by the host with fitting robes,
and the feast was enlivened with riddles,
and other amusements. The last act in the ceremonial was the conducting of the bride to the bridal chamber,
where a canopy was prepared.
The bride was still completely veiled, so that the deception practiced on Jacob,
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,
a similar privilege was granted to him who was 'betrothed.
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.
etc. In the New Testament the mutual relations of husband and wife are a subject of frequent exhortation.
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.
and the distribution of food at meal times,
the manufacture of the clothing and of the various fabrics required in her home devolved upon her,
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.
The legal rights of the wife are noticed in
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, viz., to exhibit the spiritual relationship between
MARRIAGE, 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," Eph 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