The first stage, usually at a young age, of the nuptial event: Gen. describes the betrothal and marriage of Rebecca and Rachel; the women were transposed from the custody of the father to a husband—chattels at the disposal of men. And a wedding feast duly follows (Gen. 29:22) for ‘all the men’! In the 1st cent. CE betrothal was still a transitional period but was binding and could only be terminated by a legal divorce. In Judaea sexual experience in this stage was common. According to Matt. and Luke Joseph was taken by surprise by Mary's pregnancy and he naturally suspected her of adultery, for which in theory the Deuteronomic law specified death by stoning. Joseph generously resolved on a private annulment in order to spare Mary publicity and penalties, but an angel intervened to assure Joseph that the condition was ‘by the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 1:20).
The modern custom of unmarried couples living together and intending future marriage has been likened to NT betrothal.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • Betrothal — • In the Catholic Church, a deliberate and free, mutual, true promise, externally expressed, of future marriage between determinate and fit persons Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Betrothal     Betrothal …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Betrothal — is a formal state of engagement to be married. Historically betrothal was a formal contract, blessed or officiated by a religious authority. Betrothal is no longer common beyond some Arab cultures, in Judaism and in Islam. In Jewish weddings the… …   Wikipedia

  • Betrothal — Be*troth al, n. The act of betrothing, or the fact of being betrothed; a mutual promise, engagement, or contract for a future marriage between the persons betrothed; betrothment; affiance. The feast of betrothal. Longfellow. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • BETROTHAL — (Heb. שִׁדּוּכִין, shiddukhin). Definition In Jewish law shiddukhin is defined as the mutual promise between a man and a woman to contract a marriage at some future time and the formulations of the terms (tena im, see below) on which it shall… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • betrothal — (n.) 1844, from BETROTH (Cf. betroth) + AL (Cf. al) (2). Earlier in same sense were betrothment (1580s), betrothing (14c.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • betrothal — [n] marriage affiancing, betrothing, engagement, espousal, plight, promise, troth, vow; concept 297 Ant. divorce, separation …   New thesaurus

  • betrothal — [bē trôth′əl, bē trōth′əl, bi trôth′əl, bi trōth′əl] n. a betrothing or being betrothed; mutual pledge to marry; engagement …   English World dictionary

  • betrothal — /bi troh dheuhl, traw theuhl/, n. the act or state of being betrothed; engagement. Also, betrothment. [1835 45; BETROTH + AL2] * * * ▪ marriage custom       promise that a marriage will take place. In societies in which premarital sexual… …   Universalium

  • betrothal — n. 1) to announce a betrothal 2) a betrothal to * * * [bɪ trəʊð(ə)l] a betrothal to to announce a betrothal …   Combinatory dictionary

  • betrothal — UK [bɪˈtrəʊð(ə)l] / US [bɪˈtroʊð(ə)l] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms betrothal : singular betrothal plural betrothals an old word meaning engagement to get married …   English dictionary

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