We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

Marriage

Source:
The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

    Read More About…

    Marriage

    Ancient Israel.

    The institution of marriage is intimately related to kinship in the Hebrew Bible. There are indications that marriage was thought of as an extension of kinship through an informal or written covenant or agreement. Language that is used in connection with the covenant, such as “love” and “hate” (for the latter, see Deut. 24.3 [NRSV “dislike”] Judg. 15.2 [NRSV “reject”]), is also used of the marriage relationship and its dissolution. From at least the eighth century BCE onward, the covenantal relationship between Yahweh and Israel is likened to a covenanted marriage; this analogous usage begins in Hosea 1–3 and continues in later materials (e.g., Jer. 3.1–5). By analyzing the analogy we can deduce some of the ideals concerning marriage in ancient Israel, at least for those who produced the texts. Two characteristics may be noted. First, the relationship was monogamous. Israel had only one God, and God had chosen Israel over all other peoples. Second, mutual fidelity was expected. Adultery was accepted as grounds for dissolving the relationship (see Divorce). Hosea implies that the relationship should be one of mutual love, respect, and fidelity (2.19–20), and that the wife would call her husband “my man” and not “my master (Hebr. baʿal)” (2.16).

    The status of women in ancient Israel is an important factor in understanding the institution of marriage. A woman seems always to have been under the authority and protection of her nearest male kin; for the wife, this was the husband. Some texts may imply that the status of women changed for the better over time.

    Although monogamy may have been the ideal, polygamy was accepted and practiced throughout Israel's history (see Deut. 21.15), although to what extent we cannot be sure, since the sources for the most part are derived from and describe the elite ruling and upper classes. The patriarchs took more than one wife, and the kings of Israel and Judah maintained harems, of which Solomon's was the most notorious (1 Kings 11.1–8). By the Roman period, monogamy seems to have been the common practice.

    Endogamy and exogamy.

    Endogamy is marriage within one's group, however that may be defined, and exogamy is marriage outside it; both are attested in the Bible. In the ancestral narratives, endogamy was apparently the dominant practice; for example, in Genesis 24 Abraham sends his servant back to Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son Isaac from among his own kin (see also Gen. 28.1–2, 9). Yet exogamy is also reported, as by Esau (Gen. 26.34) and Joseph (Gen. 41.45). Exogamy was practiced by the kings of Israel and Judah, such as David, few of whose marriages were endogamous (beginning with Michal, Saul's daughter; see also 2 Sam. 3.2–5; 1 Chron. 3.1–9), Solomon, and Ahab.

    The Deuteronomic view of exogamy was hostile, expressly because of a fear of apostasy (Deut. 7.1–6; 1 Kings 11.1–8; 16.31–32), a view also found in postexilic literature (Ezra 9–10; Neh. 10.28–30; 13.23–27). The book of Ruth, on the other hand, has been interpreted as espousing a position in which exogamy is acceptable.

    New Testament.

    No detailed teaching concerning marriage is found in the Gospels; we may infer from discussions concerning divorce and other passages (see John 2.1–12) that Jesus viewed it positively, with monogamy as the ideal. Paul's views are more developed, and more controversial. The most detailed discussion is in 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul argues that marriage is an antidote to sexual immorality, but that celibacy is preferable. As v. 26 makes clear, in part this view was due to Paul's belief in an imminent second coming of Christ, but other factors no doubt were also at work, including Paul's own unmarried state (v. 8). The “household codes” (see Ethical Lists) of the post‐Pauline letters exhibit a conventional view of marriage, and the subordinate position of women within it (see, e.g., Col. 3.18–19; Titus 2.3–5; 1 Pet. 3.1–7).

    As in the Hebrew Bible, the marriage relationship is used in the New Testament to describe the bond between the community and God, in this case expressed as the church and Christ (Eph. 5.21–33; cf. Rev. 21.2).

    See also Sex; Weddings

    .

    Russell Fuller

    • Previous Result
    • Results
    • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
    • Highlight On / Off
    • Next Result
    Oxford University Press

    © 2022. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice