John 2:1-11 tells the account of the first miracle of the Lord in a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee, where He turned water into wine.
In an article, I have read that there are four phases in the Jewish marriage ritual:
1. Matchmaking- We can see this in Genesis 24 when the servant of Abraham looked for a match for Isaac. At this point, the matchmaker and the father of the prospective bride arrange the dowry and prepare the statement of marriage vows.
2. Betrothal- If the man agrees to the match, they will arrange a dinner at the prospective bride’s house. They would bring the statement of marriage vows. The man makes a marriage proposal by pouring wine into a glass and offers it to the woman. If she accepts the wine and drinks from the glass, she accepts the proposal. It would then start a one-year engagement period. Only a writ of divorce could nullify it. Mary and Joseph were in this period of betrothal when she has conceived the Lord Jesus. Then, the man would build a room for the wife in his father’s house but only the Father of the groom would decide when it would be finished.
3. Return of the groom & time alone together- When the groom’s father gives the nod, the groom and groomsmen set off to the bride’s house, usually unexpectedly at night, He would blow a ram’s horn before entering the house to fetch his bride with her bridesmaids. We can see this in Matthew 25, the Parable of the Ten Virgins. They watch and wait for the groom probably for several days, or weeks after he has completed the bridal chamber. The groom would take the bride to the chamber, with the wedding party accompanying them through the streets. The group waits as the bride and the groom spend time alone together. The “groom’s friend” and other witnesses wait for a signal from the groom (one source says it takes several minutes up to nearly an hour). The couple does not necessarily consummate, they just take the opportunity to be together for the first time. After the grooms’ signal, celebration begins.
4. Week of celebration- It is customary in this part of a Jewish wedding that the couple and their families would invite everyone who would want to celebrate with them. It is a joyous and festive atmosphere.
The account in our text has happened during the fourth phase: the weeklong festival of joy!
to be continued…
Image info: Painting by Veronese, Paolo- (b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia) 1563, Oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris [www.wga.hu]