Ancient Jewish Weddings (The Betrothal)
PART TWO: Eyrusin And here began the second stage of the marriage, the betrothal. From Genesis 24:22, rings were used as currency in the Middle East before there were coins, and were a sign of a person's wealth. The giving of a betrothal ring was first practiced in ancient times when the groom purchased his bride. The size of the ring showed the wealth of the family.
The ring itself was a symbol of unending love, since the ring has no beginning and no end. This is reminiscent of the Holy Spirit quickening in a believer's heart the call to belief, presenting the pure gold of the gospel, the unending love of God and of eternal life.
Think about how the Bible talks about Jesus purchasing us with something far more valuable than even gold – His own life. Rebekah accepted these gifts as the servant worshiped God for the success of his mission.
Genesis 24:28-31a "Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, 'Thus the man spoke to me,' he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. He said, 'Come in, O blessed of the LORD.'" [English Standard Version (ESV)]
A lawful marriage required an act of kinyan: that the bride be given -- and that she accept -- something of nominal value from the groom. Laban understood that Rebekah had just accepted, however tacitly, a proposal from the servant, so he ran out to invite him into their home to wash his feet, be fed and hopefully describe a little more fully what he proposed, while the camels and the rest of his company were taken care of. In the east you never talk business until after you've eaten.
So it was very unusual for the servant to refuse food until he had delivered the story of his mission. He left nothing out, but was forthright and candid. He began by talking about the glories of Abraham, telling about all his wealth, flocks, herds, silver and gold, servants, camels and donkeys.
Genesis 24:35 "'The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys.'" (ESV)
Why? Genesis 24:36 "To him he has given all he has." Because this would be the inheritance of Isaac, Rebekah's future husband.
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.