In response to my previous blog entry "Mary Did You Know?", Anne Bundy has graciously written this explanation to me of the Jewish Wedding Ceremony especially as practiced during Biblical times.
There were three cups drunk. (1) The first was between the groom's father (or the groom) and the bride's father. They would push their cups to one side to signal that they wished to negotiate. (In modern Bedouin practice, whether wine, other alcohol, or just coffee, cups are pushed to one side during any negotiations.) When an agreement was reached, the cups were (are) brought forward to be drunk. (You'll notice that in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, the betrothal agreement is broken, and the jilted groom-to-be angrily exclaims, "We drank on it!") (2) At the betrothal ceremony, bridegroom and bride share a covenant cup to seal the betrothal. No kissing is done publicly, so this might be compared to our practice of having bride and groom kiss to seal their marriage before witnesses. They are now husband and wife, though there is no exchange of any physical affection before the wedding. (3) At the wedding, bridegroom and bride again share a covenant cup, which is probably an allusion Jesus makes when He says He will not drink from the vine again until He drinks it with us in His Father's Kingdom.
One of the ancient customs was to break sacred vessels after an offering to the Lord was made, so that they could never again be used for a common purpose. I've never actually researched the history of contemporary Jewish weddings smashing the glass covenant cup (I really need to take time for that!), but I strongly suspect it is connected.
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