Section 1 of the contract called for a combined family history of the bride and groom, with a detailed family tree and a few stories and details about the families.
Section 2 called for a personal and family history of the bride only, also with a detailed family tree, but this time of the bride only.
Section 3 called for a personal and family history of the groom only, along with a detailed family tree of only his family.
Section 4 described the story of how the bride and groom met, and it would generally contain a few stories about that process.
Section 5 was the meat and potatoes of the contract, since it described the responsibilities that would need to be fulfilled by the bride and groom, both before and after the wedding. These responsibilities were not necessarily limited to the bride and groom, but could also extend to various family members if they too were stipulated in the contract. The ancient Hebrew marriage was truly a ‘family’ affair.
Finally, seven signatures were required on the contract to make it legally binding, and they included the following;
1) The Bride
2) The Groom
3) The Bride’s Father
4) The Groom’s Father
5) The Scribe/Rabbi
6) 1st Witness
7) 2nd Witness
On the surface, this process seems simple enough and doesn’t seem to ring any scriptural bells. But this contract has an interesting construction that is reflected in scripture, specifically in the 'Torah', the first five books of the Old Testament. With Jesus as the groom and Israel as His intended bride, the five sections of the Ketubah are nicely represented in Genesis through Deuteronomy;
Section 1 called for a general combined family history of the bride and groom, with a detailed family tree and a few stories. Well, that is precisely what we find represented in the 1st book of the Torah, the book of Genesis, as the early history of man and his relationship with his Creator is described.
Section 2 called for a personal and family history of the bride only, also with a detailed family tree. This focus on the bride is what we discover in the book of Exodus, since by this point the 12 tribes of Israel are the focus, as the Lord attempts to bring Israel back into a covenant relationship that would utlimately lead to marriage.
Section 3 called for a personal and family history of the groom only, along with a detailed family tree of his side. Ironically enough, the focus on God’s family of priests, the Levites, is what we read about in the 3rd book of the Torah, the book of Leviticus. But more than that, many of the passages in this book prophetically point to Jesus as the groom.
Section 4 described the story of how the bride and groom met, and it would generally contain a few stories about that process. So it’s no surprise that the 4th book, the book of Numbers, outlines that process as Israel is formally introduced to her groom during the Exodus and it's aftermath.
Section 5 described the responsibilities that the bride and groom would need to fulfill, both before the wedding and afterwards. So it’s no surprise that we find this concept applied to the book of Deuteronomy, where the law and duties governing God’s relationship with Israel were proclaimed.
In short, we have the first five books of the Bible corresponding to the first five sections of the ancient Ketubah. This clearly suggests divine design, and is not accidental. It's merely one of the many signatures of God that we find in the Bible.
The Seven Signatures
Finally, the 'signatures' portion of the contract creates some very interesting symbolism that is not apparent on the surface. We know that seven different parties would sign a ketubah during any given betrothal, but in the case of God's biblical Ketubah, whose signatures would we find on this document? Or can they even be know? Well, this is one of those ‘hidden treasures‘ in scripture that is not apparent on the surface, and yet reveals some incredible insight once the correlations are made. We have to think of who the logical candidates would be throughout recorded history, and scripture gives us all the clues we need.
I would also mention that these names will have additional meanings and correlations as we proceed through the Revelation, particularly with regard to the ‘Letters’ to the churches, but also in regard to the ‘Seven Seals’. But for now, let‘s see who these signatures on the Revelation Ketubah may belong to;
1) The Bride is the first signatory on the document, however the entire bride of Christ (church/synagogue) obviously can't sign, so we need one representative to handle that for us. Well, how about King David, who was called "God‘s beloved"? Let’s just plug him in for now, and you’ll see where we’re heading with this in a moment.
2) The Groom in this document can only be Jesus Christ, the ‘bridegroom’ of the Revelation, and of all scripture. I doubt anyone will argue with that.
3) The Bride’s Father must seemingly be Jacob, since Jacob fathered the 12 tribes of Israel that constitute the intended bride of Christ. And yes, we Gentiles will be grafted in also, as part of the bride.
4) The Groom’s Father would undoubtedly be Abraham, the father of Nations, and the father of all Israel. No one else could seemingly qualify.
5) The Scribe that dictated the Ketubah would likely be Moses, who also dictated the Torah. Since the Torah was structured as an integral part of the ‘Ketubah’ itself, Moses would be the only logical choice.
6) A 1st Witness to this document’s signing would be Adam, the first man, and the reason will become apparent very shortly.
7) A 2nd Witness to this document would be Noah, which will also become apparent as we continue. In fact, the reasoning behind all of these signatories becomes apparent in the "Letters" to the seven churches.
The ‘Letters to the Churches’
Although a detailed analysis of the seven ‘Letters to the Churches’ will not be discussed yet in this lesson, we’ll pick out a few key phrases from each of them so you can see how the Ketubah signatures relate.
1) Ephesus - If you read the Letter to the Church at Ephesus, you’ll notice that to the overcomer God said “….I will give the right to eat from the tree of life..” Well, notice that the right to eat from the tree of life is what was specifically denied to Adam once he had sinned in the garden. But in the Millennium age, it becomes the promise to the bride. Adam is tied to this church, and he is the first witness.
2) Smyrna - In the Letter to the Church at Smyrna, one of the sentences includes the statement “….who died and came to life again…” Okay, we can agree that this is precisely what happened to the world during the days of Noah, and so Noah is tied to this church in some way. He is the second witness.
3) Pergamum - The letter to this church contained a promise to the overcomer to be given “…a white stone, with a new name written on it..”. Again, I think we can all agree that this is essentially what happened to Abram, when he was given the new name of Abraham.
4) Thyatira - To this church Jesus promised that “I will give authority over the nations.". That very promise was also given to the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob was the father of Israel.
5) Sardis - The overcomer in the church of Sardis was promised that God would “never blot out his name from the book of life.” That very same promise was made to Moses after God threatened to blot out all Israel from the book of life. Moses interceded on their behalf, and God relented.
6) Philadelphia - This letter contained the statement that Jesus held “the key of David”, which is a rather direct reference to King David, and so David is apparently linked to the Church at Philadelphia in some way.
7) Laodicea - Finally, the overcomer from the church of Laodicea was promised by Jesus that they would be given “the right to sit with me on my throne.” So Jesus is obviously in view in this letter. Nobody else can make or deliver this promise, and Jesus is clearly linked to this church.
Hopefully this wets your appetite a bit and gives you a new perspective on the 'Seven Letters'. And of course, there is much more to be said once we get to that portion of the Revelation. But for the moment we’re going to leave this symbolism right here in order to finish the study of the betrothal and marriage process. But it will re-emerge many times in subsequent portions of this study.
The Bride Price
When the Ketubah had been completed and signed by all parties, the ‘bride price’ was now paid by the father of the groom to the father of the bride. While this sounds a bit like a purchase rather than a marriage, this price was generally used to defray the significant costs of putting on a wedding feast and wedding ceremony, which the bride’s family was generally charged with. So in reality it was quite a practical measure. If you remember our studies of the Hebrew language this past summer, even the language itself was quite concrete and practical, as it was a reflection of their way of life. The bride price is simply another of these practical traditions.
If you’ve studied the Gospels for any length of time, then it’s probably no surprise that the bride price during Christ’s ministry was 30 Shekels, the same price for which he was betrayed by Judas as described in Matthew 27:3-7;
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.
It’s also quite interesting that the precise bride price of that day, as well as the reference to the potter’s field, were both recorded by the prophet Zechariah in the following verse;
And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter. (Zec 11:13)
This is merely one of the countless examples of New Testament fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy. With regard to the life of Jesus, the commentaries on these occurrences could fill a library.
The Groom Prepares a Home
The next milestone to take place was probably the most difficult for the groom, as he would now have to build a home for himself and his bride. This was described in the last lesson, so there’s no point in dwelling on it here (no pun intended). But it’s worth noting again that the father alone determined when the home was ready. As we relate this to Jesus as our groom, He has been preparing a home for us for almost 2,000 years now, but only the Father in heaven will determine when He can return for his bride;
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mt 24:36)
The last milestone in this process was for the bride’s family to make wedding preparations. Even though this day was generally many months away, if not a year or more, there was no time to waste. A wedding location would have to be arranged, guests would need to be contacted, provisions for the feast would need to be arranged, and the list goes on. The responsibilities were quite daunting, and if you’ve ever arranged a wedding for a daughter, then no further explanation is necessary.
The Time is Near
When the groom had completed their home and was close to fulfilling all of his responsibilities as outlined in the wedding contract, the father would make it known that the time was near where the groom would come for his bride. His arrival would then traditionally occur within the next two weeks. The news would filter through the community and eventually make it to the bride’s household, allowing them just enough time to make final preparations for the feast and the wedding ceremony.
Upon hearing the news, all bridesmaids would then buy enough oil to keep their lamps lit for up to 2 weeks, because they had a specific obligation in this process. It was their job to keep watch for the groom and his groomsmen, and their lamps would literally light the way for him and his groomsmen when they set out for her home. Since the groom would traditionally arrive at the bride’s home between the hours of 6:00 PM and midnight, this lighting ceremony became traditional, and quite necessary.
At this point a few bells are probably ringing in your head, since Christ spoke a parable that is directly related to this tradition. It is the Parable of the Ten Virgins;
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Mt 25:1-13)
Although the proper context for this parable is not well known, it simply describes the role of the brides ‘attendants’ at the future ‘Wedding Supper of the Lamb’. Obviously, some of the attendants made it to the wedding, but those who did not remain vigilant did not. But in either instance, these attendants are not themselves part of the ‘bride’. Instead, they are there to serve the bride. They will attend the wedding, yes, and they will have a position of honor, yes, but they will not be the bride.
The reasons for this will also become more clear a bit later in this study on the Revelation, and all the groundwork that is being laid in these earlier sections will come together in a logical fashion.
Okay, we’ll leave it right here with the bridesmaids for this week. Next week, we’ll continue by describing the ‘groomsmen’ of the Lord - all 144,000 of them - and also who will attend the celebration of the wedding party that will occur before the actual wedding can take place.