Wedding Vows At Mount Sinai
The Ten Commandments
Are the Ten Commandments a list of do’s and don’ts? A list of rules to follow? Was the gathering at Mt. Sinai where the Hebrews placed themselves under a burdensome yoke? Perhaps, perhaps not. Let us examine this gathering from a different perspective; the perspective of a marriage and the taking of wedding vows.
After four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, Yahweh began to prepare the Hebrews to leave Egypt. To do so, he first vanquished ten of the Egyptian gods (Exodus Chapters 7 to 12):
1. Exodus 7:14-24 – HAPI, the god of the Nile. The Nile turns to blood.
2. Exodus 8:1-5 – HEQIT, Frog-headed bringer of fertility and goddess of fruitfulness. Frogs everywhere.
3. Exodus 8:16-19 – LEL, god of the Earth. Gnats everywhere.
4. Exodus 8:20-32 – KHEPERA, Beetle god in the form of a beetle. Flies everywhere.
5. Exodus 9:1-7 – APIS/HATHOR Apis was the god of cattle, and Hathor a cow-headed goddess. The cattle die.
6. Exodus 9:8-12 – NUT – goddess of Heaven. Boils appear on the Egyptians.
7. Exodus 9:18-35 – IRIS – god of Water. Hail covers the land, kills many people, plants, and livestock.
8. Exodus 10:12-20 – SERAPIA/SEBEK – Serapia, the protector from Locusts; Sebek the god of Insects. The locusts eat everything in sight.
9. Exodus 10:21-29 – RA or RE, The Sun god. Darkness covers all of Egypt except Goshen, the residence of the Hebrews.
10. Exodus 12:1-36 – PHARAOH, Considered to be a son of the gods. Death of all of the firstborn sons.
After vanquishing the Egyptian gods, Yahweh next performs numerous miracles:
1. Exodus 14 – The Hebrews walk through the Red Sea on dry land, but the Pharaoh and his army drowns.
2. Exodus 15 – The bitter water at the well of Marah is turned into sweet water.
3. Exodus 16 – Manna and quail are provided for the grumblers to eat.
4. Exodus 17 – Water from the rock is provided for the grumblers.
Exodus 19:5 – “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples.”
Finally the Hebrews arrive at Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb or Jebel al-Lawz. This mountain, contrary to many who place it in the Sinai peninsula, is in Midian, or Saudi Arabia, the land of Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 3:1). It is here that the actual wedding ceremony takes place.
The Four Necessary Items
At every Jewish wedding there are several items that are part of that ceremony: a mikvah (or mikveh), a chuppah, a ketubah, and a sign. We find these four items at Mount Sinai:
1. A Mikvah מקווה, a place of ceremonial cleansing – Yahweh commands the people to cleanse themselves and make themselves ready for the marriage (Exodus 19:10-14).
2. A Chuppah חוּפָּה, a place of covering, a canopy – not only does Yahweh cover the entire mountain with a cloud, but Hebrew scripture can literally be translated “they stood under the mountain” (Exodus 19:17).
3. A Ketubah כְּתוּבָּה, a written contract or marriage agreement – the two copies of the Ten Commandments; one copy for the husband, one for the wife. Yahweh trusted his bride so fully both copies were given for her to hold and to keep (Exodus 20:1-17).
4. A Sign אוֹת, a visible, tangible expression of the love – Yahweh institutes the Sabbath as a weekly sign that he and his bride belong to each other and enjoy each other’s presence (Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 31:16-17).
The Wedding Vows
The first seventeen verses of Exodus Chapter 20 give us the Ketubah – the marriage contract. Are the Ten Commandments a list of do’s and don’ts? A list of rules to follow? Yes, they are all of that, but are also much more. Each commandment is also an expectation of the behavior that describes a person’s behavior once they are married. An interpretation of these “commands” as wedding vows is below:
Commandment One: Yahweh has just vanquished all of the Egyptian gods, whom he calls “other lovers”, then brings the Hebrews out to Mount Sinai, and says in effect: “Remember what I’ve done for you. Put me first. Have no other lovers (gods) before me, for I have taken you to be my bride.” (More on this commandment below).
Commandment Two: Yahweh then says in effect: “Now that I’m your number one lover, don’t dwell on your former lovers. In fact, don’t make statues of them, don’t keep paintings of them on your walls, don’t listen to them, don’t even talk about them!”
Commandment Three: Yahweh then says in effect: “When you take my name as your name, don’t do it lightly or in vain.”
Commandment Four: Yahweh then says in effect: “Spend quality time with me. Let’s meet together every Sabbath and get to know each other more intimately.”
Commandment Five: Yahweh then says in effect: “Have respect your parents and each other.”
Commandment Six: Yahweh then says in effect: “Don’t murder each other. Life is precious and is not to be taken.”
Commandment Seven: Yahweh then says in effect: “Don’t take other lovers. I am your true husband.” (More on this commandment below).
Commandment Eight: Yahweh then says in effect: “Don’t take each other’s belongings. I will supply all your needs.”
Commandment Nine: Yahweh then says in effect: “Don’t lie or tell each other tall tales. Speak only the truth.”
Commandment Ten: Yahweh then says in effect: “Don’t crave another’s spouse, possessions or servants. I will supply all your needs.”
The Bridegroom and The Bride
Isaiah 54:5 – “For your creator is your husband – His name is: the LORD of hosts; the Redeemer; the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth.”
Yahweh is clearly described as the Hebrew’s true husband. In the same way, Yeshua is the true husband of the Bride of Christ.
Jeremiah 2:2 – “I remember the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothal, your following me in the wilderness.”
The Hebrews are clearly described as taking Yahweh as her husband at Mount Sinai.
Hosea – Hosea, Chapter Two, is an unhappy comment on the Hebrew’s harlotry at Mount Sinai and afterward. She has chased other lovers of whom she says have given her “my bread and my water” (2:5), but it is only Yahweh who really gives her the bread and water.
“Taking” a Wife
The expression, “took . . . to be his wife”, is used throughout scripture to describe a marriage and the attendant ceremony and taking of vows. A few samples are listed below:
Genesis 11:29 – Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. Abram’s wife was Sarah, and Nahor’s wife Milcah.
Genesis 21:21 – Ishmael took a woman from Egypt to be his wife.
Genesis 24:67 – Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and he loved her.
Genesis 26:34 and 28:9 – Esau took women as wives from the Hittites and from the Ishmaelites.
Genesis 29:21-28 – Jacob took both Leah and Rachel to be his wives.
2 Samuel 11:27 – David took Bathsheba to be his wife.
The same expression “took . . . to be his wife”, is used to describe Yahweh taking the Hebrews as his wife:
Exodus 19:5-6 – “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then I shall take you to be My Cĕgullah among all the peoples.” Yahweh will take as his wife (his Cĕgullah – his peculiar treasure) those who obey their wedding vows. They become a kingdom of priests, exactly the same expression used in Revelation 1:6 to describe the Bride of Christ!
“When you take my name as your name, don’t do it lightly or in vain.”
In a Jewish wedding ceremony, once the groom had established and paid the purchase price for the bride he would then offer the Cup Of Covenant to his prospective bride, thereby pledging his life to and for his bride. If the bride accepted this promise, she would then drink of the cup confirming that she, too, would pledge her life to and for her betrothed. This was never done lightly or frivolously – from this point on the bridegroom and bride-to-be were considered married, and all the covenants, privileges, and duties of a fully married couple applied.
Genesis 2:24 –“A man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
In Matthew Chapter 22, Mark Chapter 12, and Luke Chapter 20, Yeshua is questioned about a woman who had had seven husbands, all of whom had died. The question is asked, “In the resurrection, who’s wife will she be?” To which Yeshua replies, “She will be the wife of no one, but will be like the angels in Heaven who are neither given nor taken in marriage.” The angels have only one “husband”, the Lord God Almighty, Adonai.
When we are resurrected, we will have only one “husband” as well. It is only in this physical life that Yahweh allows a man to have a wife and a woman to have a husband. In essence, the seventh commandment states: “I, Yahweh allow each man to have only one woman as his lover until your physical body becomes a spiritual body. Likewise, women, I allow each woman to have only one man as her lover until your physical body becomes a spiritual body.” Once we are resurrected, and are given our spiritual, immortal, incorruptible bodies, we are no longer given nor taken in marriage.
Even in this physical dimension, there are those who are neither given nor taken in marriage and who belong solely to their true husband, the Lord God Almighty, Adonai:
Matthew 19:12 –“For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Isaiah 56:4-5 – “For thus says Adonai: ‘To the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off ’.”
Those who are eunuchs are not to consider themselves to be a dry tree with no children and no future (Isaiah 56:3).
The Ten Commandments, are indeed a list of do’s and don’ts, a set of rules to live by, but are not a burden to bear. Just the opposite – they are a written testimony to the sacrament of marriage and are a joy and a gift of love from a husband to his wife, and from a wife to her husband.
The event at Mount Sinai was clearly a wedding ceremony. That the Hebrews were called to be Yahweh’s bride is attested to in many scriptures. Yahweh called the Hebrews to be his bride and he is their only true husband. After the Millennial Reign of Yeshua, the marriage between Yahweh and the Hebrews will be finalized. It is Yahweh who gave the Hebrews bread and water in the wilderness. It is Yahweh who calls the Hebrews his peculiar treasure, his Cĕgullah, a kingdom of priests.
In heaven, after the resurrection, there will be no marriage between humans, just as there is no marriage between angels even now. Yeshua has called upon us to be his bride and he is our only true husband. The marriage between Yeshua and his bride will be finalized, and the marriage supper will be celebrated at his second coming. Yeshua is our living bread and our living water. Yeshua calls his bride a peculiar treasure, his Cĕgullah, a kingdom of priests.
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