I recently heard on Focus on The Family ( 99.5 FM California or www.focusonthefamily.com) that when God in Exodus, secured His relationship with Moses and His people, he was actually marrying Himself to them. The guest speaker said it could be seen in a traditional Jewish wedding, which was patterned after these three thing God gave Moses:
1. The people were asked to purify themselves: a Jewish woman before her wedding is to purify herself according to the custom of dipping herself in water several times by another woman appointed over her.
2. The Lord promised to cover and protect His people: a man and woman getting married stand under a canopy, or chuppah, which is symbolic of this covering.
3. God gave 10 commandments, or wedding vows of promises to His people:
a. you shall not have any other lovers
b. you shall not have pictures/images of any other lovers nor worship them
c. you sall not misuse my Name and its truth/character
d. I know you’re busy, so date me once a week
The Jewish wedding ceremony has two parts, kiddushin “sanctification” or “dedication”, is actually a betrothal ceremony, a bonding of two souls into one with each other and with God. The bride and groom establish an exclusive relationship. The second part of the wedding ceremony, nisuin, the nuptials, completes the marriage. Because the two parts of the ceremony, kiddushin and nisuin, were historically separated, the ketubah is read aloud before the nuptials as a way of clearly separating the two halves. The text is usually read aloud in Aramaic, often repeated in English. The ketubah is then stored away for safe keeping, or it may be displayed on an easel for guests to inspect.
The nisuin begins with the seven blessings, sheva b’rachot, and ends with yichud, or seclusion, after the ceremony. In addition to a blessing over the wine, there is praise for God as creator of the world and of men and women; a prayer for the newly married couple and of the ten degrees of rejoicing. The blessings also include a prayer that Jerusalem will be fully rebuilt and restored with the Temple in its midst and the Jewish people within her gates, showing wishes not only for the individuals but the community in which they live. The couple then drinks from the second cup of wine. The Rabbi pronounces the couple officially husband and wife.