The period of engagement preceding marriage; betrothal was a binding contract established between two families and sealed by the exchange of gifts. During this period the couple did not live together; sexual relations with each other at this stage was regarded as equivalent to adultery. Betrothal describes the relationship between God and his people and between Jesus Christ and the church.
Betrothal and the choice of a spouse
Betrothal following the couple’s wishes Jdg 14:1-4 Sometimes the man chose a prospective bride and his parents negotiated the marriage. See also Ge 34:1-4; Ge 24:57-58; Ge 26:34-35 Esau chose a bride against his parents’wishes.
Betrothal preceded marriage
An exchange of gifts accompanyed betrothal
The bride-price Ge 34:11-12 This gift, which was given by the groom to the bride’s family as compensation, sealed the marriage contract. See also Ge 24:53; Ge 29:18,27; Ex 22:16-17; Dt 22:28-29; 2Sa 3:14
Betrothal was treated as marriage
Dt 22:23-24 Though there were no sexual relations within the betrothal period, the commitment was regarded almost as seriously as marriage and infidelity of a betrothed partner was treated as adultery. See also Ge 19:14 The men betrothed to Lot’s daughters are described as his “sons-in-law”; Mt 1:18-20 Mary’s pregnancy during betrothal left her open to the charge and consequences of unfaithfulness.
Betrothal portrays the relationship between God and his people