What was engagement in biblical times

Keyword: engagement

The engagement between men and women became legally valid in biblical times.

Like marriage, it could only be dissolved by a letter of divorce.

The essential element of this act was the payment of the bridal gift. In the ancient Orient it was customary for the father to choose the bride for his son (cf. Genesis 38: 6). The marriage contract, in which the amount of the bride price was fixed, was concluded between the fathers of the bride and groom. The fiancée continued to live with her family until the wedding.

The duration of the engagement period was neither legally defined nor generally binding. The marital union only began after the bride had been brought home by the groom (i.e. after the wedding).

The same rules of loyalty applied to betrothed as to married couples (cf. Deuteronomy / Deuteronomy 22: 23-24), so a betrothed who was unfaithful had to expect the same punishment as an adulteress. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to be regarded as an adulteress because of her pregnancy during the engagement period. Joseph would have had the right to accuse them of what might have meant the death sentence for them (cf. Deuteronomy / Deuteronomy 22: 20-21).

According to Jewish law, a man had to issue a so-called divorce certificate to his wife if he wanted to separate from her.
Sexual intercourse outside of wedlock of married persons.
Greek name form of the Hebrew name Yeshua.