After certain preliminary arrangements among the Hebrews, legal marriage took place in two successive ceremonies, the betrothal and the wedding itself. The betrothal was a legal marriage contract. Hence a betrothed woman was already a wife, her betrothed husband could send her a bill of divorce, and if he died, she was considered his widow. By betrothal, the couple were made husband and wife. It was the simplest of ceremonies, needing only the presence of two witnesses. Generally a girl was betrothed when she was 12 or 13 and sometimes a little earlier. Hence at the time of her marriage she would be 13 or 14. A man was usually betrothed between the ages of 18 and 24.

The celebrations surrounding the homecoming, which is what the wedding was, were a very different matter and involved every relative and friend that either of them had. The great day began with the bridegroom and his friends going in procession with lights and music to bring the bride from her house to his with the gay banter of the excited girls who would walk in the bridal procession. At the bridegroom's house there would be feasting, more or less luxurious according to his wealth or poverty. With the rich, the feast sometimes lasted for days.

The couple continued to live each with his respective family for a period. This was usually a year if the bride was a virgin and a month if she was a widow; and it was spent in preparing the new home and its furnishings. The wedding took place after this lapse of time, and consisted of the bride's solemn reception into her husband's home. Then the legal formalities were over and they lived together publicly as man and wife.

The event at Cana was the Jewish ceremony of the wedding, not the betrothal. The feast that accompanied it was certainly the most solemn occasion in the whole life of folk in the lower or even the middle classes, and it could last for several days. When the bride emerged from the industrious ministrations of her relatives and friends, she was decked in gay and elegant finery. She wore a crown on her head, her face was made up and her eyes were bright with collyrium. Her hair and nails were tinted, and she was laden with necklaces, bracelets, and other jewels, most of which were counterfeit or borrowed. The groom also wore a crown and was surrounded by the "friends of the groom."
[318, 347, 324, 386]

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