The Erusin: Betrothal
Last week we looked at the first part of a traditional Jewish wedding known as shiddukhin (mutual commitment). This week we are continuing on to the second part known as erusin or betrothal. I would strongly recommend reading part one (here) before reading part two, even if you already read it once. Keeping the whole process in perspective will be helpful in seeing the big picture. How do communion, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have anything to do with marriage? I’m so glad you asked…
The bride and groom have been washed and now they enter into erusin (betrothal). The period they enter is also known as kiddushin, meaning sanctification or set apart. Betrothal is much more serious than the engagement time of today. Once entered into erusin the couple is considered married in the eyes of the community (though sexual relations were still forbidden until the marriage ceremony) and a religious divorce or an order to annul the contract was needed to back out. We can see an example of this with Joseph and Mary.
Matthew 1:18-19 AMP
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. And Joseph, her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly.
So after the couple underwent mikvah (ritual immersion) separately they would then appear together under a canopy also known as the huppah; a wedding canopy has long been used as a symbol of a new household being planned. A ceremony takes place under this canopy where the bride and groom express their intention of becoming betrothed to the public. Typically items of value were exchanged as well as in sharing a cup of wine to seal the betrothal vows.
Once the ceremony concluded the couple was considered to have entered into the betrothal agreement. The bride and groom continued to live separately until the end of the betrothal period which usually lasted around one year. Before the groom returned to his home he would leave the bride with a matan (bridal gift). The purpose of the gift was to remind her that even though they are separated now he would return for her.
But why do they separate? Preparation.
The groom returns to his home to prepare a place for his new bride. He would build onto his father’s house by adding new rooms and living arrangements for his wife. The groom didn’t determine when the place was finished but rather his father would make that decision and only then could the groom go get his bride. The place the bride was heading had to be better than where she was coming from.
The bride had preparations of her own to make. Specifically, she had the duty of sewing and creating the wedding garments. She is to keep her vows and remain consecrated for her husband in purity. The bride also needed to have lamps ready with oil because the time and day are never determined and the groom could come in the middle of the night...and that’s for next week.
Let’s break the erusin down with some parallel scriptures. This stuff blows my mind, it’s so awesome. There is an excitement that gets going inside of me that I just can’t quite explain. It’s an energetic excitement. I don’t even know why I’m trying to explain it. You know what I’m talking about. ONWARD!
Exchanging of valuable items and the betrothal cup of wine
Matthew 26:26-28 NLT
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.
The betrothal vow
Hosea 2:19-20 NKJV
“I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”
The matan (bridal gift)
Ephesians 1:13-14 AMP
In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. The Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory.
Jesus (the groom) preparing a place for His Bride
John 14:2-3 AMP
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.
The Church (the bride) preparing for His return
Matthew 25:1-13 (Click to read)
The parable of the ten virgins is such a striking example of preparing the lamps. Whole sermons and writings have been done just on that topic alone. One of my favorite sermons is by Corey Russel at Dwelling Place Church. (Click here to watch/listen) I highly recommend it.
2 Peter 3:14 ESV
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
I could list verse upon verse about consecration and purity as the bride. The Old and New Testaments are filled with them. I’m only providing a couple of them. If you wish to look into some of them on your own, click on the following words to search them in YouVersion:
2 Timothy 2:21 NLT
If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
Psalms 86:11 NLT
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.
2 Corinthians 6:6 NLT
We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
Only the Father decides when the place is prepared
Matthew 24:36 ESV
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
2 Peter 3:10a ESV
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…
Matthew 24:43-44 ESV
” But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Next week we are going to explore the final part of the wedding process, the nissuin. That is the marriage ceremony when the groom comes for his bride and the celebrations begin. I know I said this last week and earlier in this writing, but I love this stuff. The depth of love that Jesus and the Father have for us is so incredibly deep. I feel like while on this earth we will only ever scratch the surface of it. My love for Christ grows when learning things like we’re covering here. My hope is that it is having the same effect on you. Please watch/listen to the sermon I linked above concerning keeping your oil full. We don’t know the day or the hour and I know that I don’t want to be a foolish virgin, I want to be ready. I want you to be ready.
Written by Aaron Crosson