Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, April 19, 2020 

Shavuah Tov,

Counting the Omer – Day 8

Here is the proper blessing to be said each day.  This is how Jewish people fulfill the command to count.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר

Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about the counting of the Omer.  Today is one week and one day of the counting of the Omer.

Ancient Jewish Marriage Custom: A Rehearsal for Messiah 

(Part 1 of 2)

By Dr. and Senator Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: In earlier RRs, I have discussed the importance of marriage (a sacrament? a covenant?) and the economy of God’s Kingdom. First-century Jews participated in fourteen steps of marriage. These steps foretold (prophesied, served as a rehearsal for) the first coming of the Messiah. This RR is inspired by a program led by Perry Stone (Voice of Evangelism) I attended a decade or so ago. Consider how ancient Jewish marriage steps foretold Yeshua’s life and ministry.


** First century Jewish wedding: When a young man decided to marry, he traveled from his village to another village. That is, he searched for and selected a bride from a village other than his own. The man searched the public places (commonly, market places) for a prospective bride. Young, unmarried maidens congregated in these public spaces (the first-century Jewish version of shopping malls). Young women signaled their availability for marriage with a veil. Betrothed maidens wore veils (they were not available for another man’s romantic interests). Unbetrothed (single) maidens did not wear veils (they were available for a marriage proposal).

** Yeshua’s ministry: Yeshua traveled from His village (Heaven) to our village (earth) to find persons willing to marry Him spiritually: (John 15:16a): [Yeshua said] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you….”


** First century Jewish wedding: If romantic interest between the young man and the maiden was established, the couple met with the man’s father to discuss marriage. If this process seems hurried to you, remember that marriage was necessarily a hurried affair. There was a good chance that one or both parents might die at a young age. It was of paramount importance to start a family and have the next generation grown or nearly grown as soon as possible. The husband was commonly in his early twenties (he needed to be established in a trade to support a family), but the wife was probably in her early teens. Soon after menarche (beginning puberty), she began thinking about her family. Our custom of a prolonged courtship would have been viewed as an extravagant waste of time, when it was vitally important to start reproducing quickly.

The young man was expected to pay a mohar (mohar = “purchase price”) before betrothal could be established. The mohar could be a combination of money and other valuables. If the maiden accepted the mohar, she was said to be “purchased,” and she became the young man’s be’ulah (be’ulah = “the owned one”). Feminism apparently was not a big issue among first-century Jews.

** Yeshua’s ministry: Yeshua’s bride is purchased by Him (1 Corinthians 6:20a): For you were bought with a price. – AND – (1 Peter 1:18-19): You know that you were redeemed from the futile way of life handed down from your ancestors– not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with precious blood like that of a lamb without defect or spot, the blood of Messiah. A person can be saved from the spiritual death he/she deserves only because of God’s love and grace and by being redeemed (“purchased back”) by the blood of Messiah Yeshua shed on Golgotha’s cross.


** First century Jewish wedding: The couple and the man’s father sat at a table, upon which were two items– a ketubah and a cup of wine. The ketubah was a small scroll upon which was written a marriage contract for the couple. The ketubah detailed: (1) the purchase price (the mohar); (2) expectations of what the woman would bring to the marriage (duties, etc.); and (3) expectations (promises) of what the man would bring to the marriage. The ketubah was in every sense a legal, binding contract. All responsibilities and expectations were plainly written. The woman studied the contract. If acceptable, she signed the ketubah, as we sign any contract today, and the betrothal could proceed. If she refused to sign, the betrothal obviously would not continue.

** Yeshua’s ministry: The Holy Bible is a Believer’s written contract– his/ her ketubah (2 Timothy 3:16-17): All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed. No Believer ever needs to be ignorant of God’s commandments and promises for his/ her life.


** First century Jewish wedding: To accept the man’s marriage proposal and agree to the terms set forth in the ketubah, the woman had to agree verbally to marriage.

** Yeshua’s ministry: A person must agree to terms of salvation in the Holy Bible (his/ her ketubah) and the proposal of the Bridegroom Yeshua the Messiah (Romans 10:9): For if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. – AND – (Matthew 10:32): [Yeshua said] “Therefore whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father who is in heaven.” The gentle Yeshua only asks that we become His bride; He does not force us to follow Him (Revelation 3:20): [Yeshua said] “Behold, I stand at the [heart’s] door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Could this dining of Yeshua with a saved person represent a Communion meal?


** First century Jewish wedding: After verbally agreeing to the ketubah’s terms, the bride and bridegroom sealed this covenant (contractual) relationship of betrothal. Recall that the second item on the table before them was a cup of wine. If both parties agreed to terms of the ketubah (that is, the promise of betrothal followed by marriage), both sipped wine from the cup, thereby sealing the contractual terms in the ketubah. If the woman stood up, declined to drink from the cup, and left the room, her intentions of not agreeing to marriage were obvious. If both drank from the cup, they and their families considered them to be betrothed. Betrothal differed from our engagement. Our engagement can be readily broken, even by a terse Twitter message. A Jewish betrothal was an unconsummated marriage.  A Jewish betrothal could be dissolved only by death or divorce. Recall Joseph’s dilemma, when he learned Miriam (Mary) was pregnant. He naturally presumed Miriam’s infidelity during her betrothal (Matthew 1:19): And Joseph her [Miriam’s] husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, made up his mind to dismiss [divorce] her secretly. Miriam could have been stoned to death because of her presumed adultery. After angelic visitation, Joseph confidently proceeded with marriage.

** Yeshua’s ministry: The basis of the New Covenant– the basis of our faith and hope– is the shedding of Yeshua’s blood at Golgotha (see many Scriptures, including Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7, 2:13; Colossians 1:14, 20; Hebrews 9:12-14, 10:19,29, 13:12; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5). Only hours before His sacrifice, Yeshua taught us that the shedding of His blood is the basis of God’s New Covenant (Matthew 26:27-28): And [Yeshua] took a cup; and after giving thanks, He gave to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the removal of sins. Yeshua commanded His disciples, as He would command us today, to drink from a perpetually filled cup of the fruit of the vine. In so doing, each person signals his/ her acceptance of Yeshua as Bridegroom and his/ her willingness to be Yeshua’s  bride. When an ancient Jewish couple drank from the cup in the betrothal process, it symbolized the joining of two individual into one (1 Corinthians 10:16a): The cup of blessing that we bless– isn’t it a sharing of Messiah’s blood? This joining of two into one is God’s original plan for marriage (Genesis 2:24): This [marriage] is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh. At Communion, a Believer signals his/ her desire to be joined together in one flesh (one body) with Yeshua. This joining together with God the Father, with Yeshua, and with one another captures Yeshua’s fondest desire for His followers (see John, chapter 17). The Apostle Paul elaborated about the importance of eating the Communion meal (1 Corinthians 11:25-26): In the same way, He [Yeshua] also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in memory of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 


** First century Jewish wedding: The bridegroom gave his bride the best gifts his family could afford. A Biblical example includes Eleazar, sent by Abraham to find a wife (Rebekah) for his son, Isaac. Eleazar took ten camels laden with gifts (see Genesis 24:10, 53).

** Yeshua’s ministry: Of many gifts, consider these that have been given to you: When Yeshua left earth, He sent the Holy Spirit (Helper, Comforter) to be with us in His absence (see John 14:16-17 and 16:7). Yeshua provided a way for us to achieve eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14): After you heard the message of truth– the Good News of your salvation– and when you put your trust in Him, you were sealed with the promised Ruach ha-Kodesh. He is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of His possession– to His glorious praise! We have been given many different gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11), including the greatest gift of alllove (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-13).


** First century Jewish wedding: The first century Jewish bride was expected to be a virgin at time of betrothal and to remain a virgin until marriage. She was expected to remain free of “stain or wrinkle” and “holy and blameless” (that is, not defiled by adultery and being inwardly and outwardly pure), as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:27: Messiah did this so that He might present to Himself His glorious community– not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing, but in order that she might be holy and blameless. [NOTE: “Community” in this TLV version translates the Greek ekklesia. Ekklesia is literally “the called out ones.” Most versions translate ekklesia as “church.”]

After betrothal, the bride ceremonially bathed in a mik’vah, which was a bathtub-like chamber carved in stone and filled with fresh (running) spring water. This ceremonial bathing signaled to herself and others that she was pure and she intended to remain pure.

** Yeshua’s ministry: John the Immerser came to prepare the way for the Lord, preaching repentance and immersing (baptizing) believers in water (see Luke, chapter 3). John fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-5. Various Christian denominations have developed different views about the sacrament of baptism. Using the examples of John the Immerser (Yochanan HaMat’biel) and his immersing of Yeshua, these statements seem appropriate:
… Infant baptism is not authorized. Only believers/ followers who repented were baptized by John. Infants are sinless and need neither baptism nor repentance. Children before the age of accountability cannot understand the concept of sin and cannot repent or make a decision whether to accept or reject baptism.
… The textual word for “baptism” (Greek baptisma) indicates submersion or immersion in water. Sprinkling (for baptism) does not satisfy the word implied in “baptism.” “Sprinkling” would have used another word. It is a custom that grew as Christianity spread to colder climates.  True water baptism implies submersion of the body in water. The picture, here, is that the old, sin-filled person “dies;” is (completely covered with water) “buried” in a watery grave; and is (brought up) “resurrected” to a sin-forgiven life.

Why would Yeshua seek baptism? One of the three earthly offices Yeshua filled was that of Priest. To be a Jewish priest, a man must: (a) be thirty years of age (I believe, although the Bible is not specific, that Yeshua was Baptized by John on His 30th birthday, first day of Sukkot); (b) receive authority from his father, a priest, that he was worthy (Yeshua received the authority and praise from the Highest Authority possible– God the Father); and (c) ceremonially cleanse himself by water immersion (Yeshua was baptized by immersion in the Jordan River by John the Baptizer). 

If Yeshua had no sin for which He needed forgiveness, why would He seek baptism, the symbol of new birth and washing away of sin? Yeshua wished to fulfill Jewish law and to provide an example for others; He wished to occupy legally the office of Priest, on His journey to become our High Priest in Heaven; and He wanted to set the example that we should go into the nations, making disciples of all; baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teaching them His commandments (see Matthew 28:19-20).

There are other baptisms noted in the B’rit haChadashah, which I choose not use space to cover in this RR. You may wish to read applicable verses, including:. baptism of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16-17 || 15:26 || and 16:13); and baptism with fire (see Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16), which is related to purification by fire. In brief, Paul emphasized that Yeshua’s bride should remain free of adultery– that is, she should not follow Satan, and she should be free of other defects– various unforgiven sins (see Ephesians 5:25-27).


** First century Jewish wedding: At this point, the man was betrothed to his wife. Only death or divorce could break the betrothal. As soon as the betrothal occurred, the bride placed a veil across her face, which she wore throughout her betrothal. Neither before nor after this time did a Jewish woman wear a veil. The veil was a sign to future suitors that might come to her village that she was betrothed and could not/ would not consider any offer of marriage. Satan is a suitor who would gladly have us commit spiritual adultery with him. Think of the veil as the equivalent of our engagement ring. 

The veiled bride congregated with other virgins (both unbetrothed and betrothed). This band of virgins kept each other from moral straying and provided fellowship and encouragement, while the bridegrooms were away and suitors might come seeking wives. The period of betrothal lasted approximately one year. During this year, the betrothed bride, who typically was a very young teenager, learned domestic skills from her mother and aunts. The betrothed husband, who was typically a decade or so older, lived in his father’s village, building a house for him and his wife. When he left to return to the father’s village, he likely told his bride something like, “I go to prepare a place for you (in my father’s village).” Yeshua told us the same thing. See next section.

** Yeshua’s ministry: Believers are expected to congregate together in places of worship (churches, synagogues) for specific reasons (Hebrews 10:24-25): And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds. And do not neglect our own meetings, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another– and all the more so as you see the Day approaching. [“The Day” likely refers to the Day the Lord returns.] You and other Believer/ Christian “virgins” should accomplish the things mentioned in this Hebrews passage, when meeting together. 

When Yeshua departed, He told His disciples that He was preparing a place for us, His brides (John 14:2-4): [Yeshua said] “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be. And you know the way to where I am going.” Bridegroom Yeshua promised us, His bride, the same thing a first century bridegroom promised his young bride. When Yeshua ascended into the clouds to go to His Father’s house (Heaven) to prepare a place for us, two angels (“men in white”) promised He would return in like manner (Acts 1:10-11): While they [Yeshua’s followers] were staring into heaven as He [Yeshua] went up, suddenly two men [surely, angels] stood with them in white clothing. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you keep standing here staring into heaven? This Yeshua, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

CONCLUSION: In next Sunday’s RR, I will discuss the remaining six steps in the first-century Jewish wedding and how these steps foretold the long-awaited Yeshua HaMashiach. In the present coronavirus turmoil, the world may seem chaotic. But, God has planned everything for us from the foundation of the world. Every detail is known by Him, and nothing is left to chance. If Yeshua’s first coming could be woven into the Jews’ marriage ceremony, think what details God will reveal to us in time (Isaiah 46:9b-10): [God said] “For I am God– there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me– declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.” Shalom and Maranatha.