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

Jacob and Laban’s Daughters

Genesis 29:1-30

In our society today, we have scientists who look for animals that are extinct. We also have archeologists who look for old artifacts that will prove certain things about our history. However, there is no one that looks for the things in life that have faded away and are no longer practiced, like love.


The reasons for stating that you love someone in our society today have changed.


Now that we have colleges that focus our careers on one certain area of expertise, the climb up the corporate ladder has become our focus and has changed how most people look at their lives. Most people work 70-80 hours per week and some work even more. However, there is one thing to remember, it is not the colleges that are changing the marriages today, it is the greedy expectation that the higher learning will bring a larger paycheck. The thing that gives you the higher paycheck is the number of hours that you work. Because the man and woman work so many hours, they don’t have time to properly date and get to know one another.

During the riots and demonstrations in the 1960s, the world adapted a motto of “practice love, not war.” Unfortunately, the love they were talking about was sex, not love.

When it comes to marriage today, society has changed the wedding ceremony and now couples write their own promises and vows. The vows do not contain the promises of fidelity they once did. The cost of the wedding today has climbed to an unusually high cost. The prices have soared and range from an average of $175.00 (per guest) in Alabama to $356.00 (per guest) in Hawaii.


The reasons for getting married today are a large variety of things.

  1. It is the next logical step.
  2. It is the next step in the corporate ladder.
  3. We both like all the same things.
  4. We just don’t have time for the dating scene.
  5. We just want to enjoy each other, we don’t need a piece of paper

I am sure you could probably multiply this list by 100 and you would still not get them all. But when you look at things through God’s eyes, the reason for getting married is the same today as it was the day, He created Adam and Eve, Love.

What we are going to look at today is not a feeling a couple has about each other, but a life of helping each other. Love has always been spread over a life together.

The scripture we are using is about How Jacob came to have both Leah and Rachael, who are sisters, as his wives.


When this scripture took place, the way to get a wife was to barter her from her father. Laban was Leah and Rachael’s father. Jacob had taken a job tending the fields and caring for the flock. When he had been there a short while, he met Rachael and they fell in love.

To do the right thing, Jacob approached Laban and promised to tend the fields and flocks for 7 years in exchange for Rachael for his wife. The marital ceremonies would take place in the presence of Laban.

During the time this took place, it was customary for the woman to build a hut for the couple to live in after the consummation of their affections. You see, the only ceremony God cares about takes place in the heart.

Jacob loved Rachael so much, 7 years would be a short time.

When the 7 years were up, Jacob was told by Laban that when he finished work, he could join his new wife in the hut that she had built.

Laban knew that if he allowed his youngest daughter to marry first, he would take the chance that his older daughter would never be married. It would look to others that he loved the youngest daughter the most and would do the most for her.

When Jacob woke in the morning and looked beside him, there was Leah, not Rachael.


Holding back his contempt for Laban, Jacob went to him and demanded the opportunity to have Rachael for his wife. He and Laban came to a compromise. Jacob would work another 7 years for Rachael, and he would keep both daughters for his wives. Both Rachael and Laban agreed. Jacob worked the 7 years and received Rachael as his wife also.

Jacob set an example that should still inspire us today. He had every right to be angry and probably was a little. But what he did proved his love for Rachael. Jacob forgave Laban for deceiving him and that allowed him to be open to the compromise and allowed him to have what he really wanted in the end.

Even today, we as Christians can turn to this scripture when people take money or damage our belongings or even insult or embarrass us in public. Without the forgiveness that removed the contempt and anger from Jacob’s heart, there would have been no room for the love he had for Rachael, and in the end the love for Leah also.

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

 nor give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)

We can see that Jacob and Rachael had reason to be angry, but that didn’t give them the right to sin. If they had dwelled on the deceit given them by Laban, they would have allowed malice to enter their hearts and that would lead to sin. Instead they both chose to get rid of the anger through forgiveness. Once we forgive someone for what they have done to us or to others around us, it gives us the opportunity to love that person as well as others.

It doesn’t matter whether you look at this situation through the eyes of Jacob, Leah or Rachael, the answer is still the same, Forgiveness is the prelude to love.

Another thing we must remember is that someone else may not be the person that needs the forgiveness, sometimes we are required to forgive ourselves for one reason or the other. A bad thought about someone is not a sin, but if we allow that thought to become contempt in our heart, then we must forgive them. Remember, for God to forgive us, we must first forgive others.

To have God’s Love in our heart, we must forgive at least once each day.