Weekly Word Definition – Betroth

To promise “by one’s truth.” Men and women were betrothed when they were engaged to be married. This usually took place a year or more before marriage. From the time of betrothal, the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed (Deut 28:30; Jdg. 14:2, 8; Mat 1:18-21). The term is figuratively employed of the spiritual connection between God and his people (Hos 2:19, 20). Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

To promise to marry, to give in marriage. Merriam-Webster

On betrothal as a social custom see MARRIAGE. Hosea, in his great parable of the prodigal wife, Of course we know of a greater Teacher’s parable of the Prodigal Son, uses betrothal as the symbol of Yahweh’s pledge of His love and favor to penitent Israel (Hosea 2:19-20). In Exodus 21:8-9 the Revised Version (British and American) renders “espouse” for the “betroth” of the King James Version, the context implying the actual marriage relation. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Betrothal (also called espousal) is a formal state of engagement to be married.

In Jewish weddings during Talmudic times, the two ceremonies of betrothal (erusin) and wedding usually took place up to a year apart; the bride lived with her parents until the actual marriage ceremony (nissuin), which would take place in a room or tent that the groom had set up for her. Since the Middle Ages the two ceremonies have taken place as a combined ceremony performed in public. The betrothal is now generally part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, accomplished when the groom gives the bride the ring or another object of at least nominal value. As mentioned above, betrothal in Judaism is separate from engagement; breaking a betrothal requires a formal divorce, and violation of betrothal is considered adultery.

Typical steps of a match were the following:

Negotiation of a match, usually done by the couple’s families with bride and groom having varying levels of input, from no input, to veto power, to a fuller voice in the selection of marriage partner.

This is not as widely practiced as it was historically, although it is still common in culturally conservative communities in Israel, India, Africa, and Persian Gulf countries, although most of these have a requirement that the bride be at least allowed veto power.

Negotiation of bride price or dowry

In most cultures evolved from Europe, bride prices or dowries have been reduced to the engagement ring accompanying the marriage contract, while in other cultures, such as those on the Arabian Peninsula, they are still part of negotiating a marriage contract.

Blessing by the parents and clergy. Exchange of Vows and Signing of Contracts Wikipedia