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according to the law of Moses and of the Israelites; and I give thee as
a dowry the sum of two hundred suzims, as it is ordered by our law. And
the said D hath promised to be his spouse upon the conditions aforesaid,
which the said A doth promise to perform on the day of marriage. And to
this the said A doth hereby bind himself and all that he hath, to the
very cloak upon his back; engages himself to love, honor, feed, clothe,
and protect her, and to perform all that is generally implied in
contracts of marriage in favor of the Israelitish wives."
The verbal agreement was made in the presence of a sufficient number of
witnesses, by the man saying to the women, "Take this money as a pledge
that at such a time I will take thee to be my wife." A woman who was
thus betrothed or bargained for, was almost in every respect by the law
considered as already married.
Before the legislation of Moses, "marriages among the Jews," say the
Rabbies, "were agreed on by the parents and relations of both sides.
When this was done, the bridegroom was introduced to his bride. Presents
were mutually exchanged, the contract signed before witnesses, and the
bride, having remained sometime with her relations, was sent away to the
habitation of her husband, in the night, with singing, dancing, and the
sound of musical instruments."
By the institution of Moses, the Rabbies tell us the contract of
marriage was read in the presence of, and signed by, at least ten
witnesses, who were free, and of age. The bride, who had taken care to
bathe herself the night before, appeared in all her splendor, but
veiled, in imitation of Rebecca, who veiled herself when she came in
sight of Isaac. She was then given to the bridegroom by her parents, in
words to this purpose: "Take her according to the law of Moses." And he
received her, by saying, "I take her according to that law." Some
blessings were then pronounced on the young couple, both by the parents
and the rest of the company.
The blessings or prayers generally run in this style: "Blessed art thou,
O Lord of heaven, and earth, who has created man in thine own likeness,
and hast appointed woman to be his partner and companion! Blessed art
thou, who fillest Zion with joy for the multitude of her children!
Blessed art thou who sendest gladness to the bridegroom and his bride;
who hast ordained for them, love, joy, tenderness, peace and mutual
affection. Be pleased to bless not only this couple, but Judah and
Jerusalem, with songs of joy, and praise for the joy that thou givest
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