When a young Jewish man had his eye on a bright-eyed Jewish girl, he went with his father to her father. At that meeting, the groom-to-be was expected to present some sort of payment for the bride. A cow or two, some currency of the day, or a promise of labor. If the father of the girl found the payment acceptable, he agreed that the young man could have his precious daughter if he first prepared a home for her.
Off the young man went to grab his hammer and some lumber. He built a separate home if he could afford it. If not, he added a special section to his father’s home for himself and his new bride. During the time that this young man was building, the bride had a special job to do; she was expected to wait. Oh, not just going about her everyday chores and thinking about her groom-to-be. No, she was expected to be waiting.
She was expected to have as lovely a dress as she could make. She was to be cleaned and covered in aromatic oils. She was to be telling friends of her groom’s one-day arrival. At night, she was expected to have an oil lamp burning as a sign that was faithfully waiting. The lamp should never go out.
Her groom returned the moment he finished their home. There would be no delay; if it was 3:00 in the morning, so be it. He would sneak into her home with his friends, first checking to see if the oil lamp was burning. Then he awoke her and carried her through the streets shouting and rejoicing that she was ready and he could provide for her. That night would be one of solitude for the new couple to consecrate their marriage, and then the weeklong celebrations began.
“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Ephesians 5:32 NKJV
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