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Girls were usually engaged to be married between ages 13 and 17 in Bible times. Their suitors were generally young men around 17 or 18 years old.

Marriages were usually arranged by the parents. It was customary for a son's mother and father to choose his wife. If both families agreed with the arrangement, and if the son's family could pay the dowry (bride-price), a wedding took place.

The amount of the dowry depended upon what the bride was worth and how much the family could afford. Gold or silver was typical, but it could also be paid in jewelry, animals, good or services (1 Sam. 18:22-25; Gen. 34:12). Fifty shekels was the usual price for a new bride. A widow or divorced woman was worth only half that amount.

There were several stages in a Middle Eastern wedding.

Betrothal. One year before a man and woman wed, they promised themselves to one another. This promise was similar to today's engagement. It was a binding, legal arrangement with the terms in writing. Gifts were given to the bride-to-be and sometimes to her mother. The dowry could be paid at this time. Joseph and Mary were betrothed when they learned about Jesus' coming birth.

Procession. The bride waited for the groom to arrive. Her attendants lit clay oil lamps so the house stayed bright as evening approached. The bridegroom and his friends walked to the bride's home carrying the torches. Together, they led a joyful procession through the village with musicians playing drums and tambourines, torchbearers, dancers, family and friends.

Wedding. Both the bride and groom wore fine linen embroidered with gold thread. Her hair was often braided with jewels. The headdress was adorned with gemstones, gold ornaments, and later with gold and silver coins. Some wore a crown of flowers. Guests wore special clothes or wedding garments.

An ongoing celebration was held at the bridegroom's house, and the new couple was blessed by their parents. Some feasts lasted between 7 to 14 days, depending upon the wealth of the families. Most weddings took place in the fall when the full harvest was in. Entire villages were often invited. It was considered very rude to turn down an invitation to a wedding.

Source: The Bible Almanac For Kids by Terry Hall.
Excerpt permission granted by White Stone Books

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Harrison House
Web site: Harrison House
In November 1975, Buddy and Pat Harrison launched Harrison House Publishers, releasing their first titles in 1976. Since then, Harrison House has published and distributed more than 100 million books in 42 languages and in more than 175 countries. Since Dr. Harrison's homegoing in November of 1998, Harrison House has continued to publish the uncompromised Word of God.

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