Ancient Practices, Customs, and Traditions of Israel

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Ancient Hebrew Practices and Customs
ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: MARRIAGE COVENANT AND BRIDE PRICE
When a young man desired to marry a young woman in ancient Israel, he would prepare a contract or covenant to present to the young woman and her father at the young woman's home. The contract showed his willingness to provide for the young woman and described the terms under which he would propose marriage. The most important part of the contract was the bride price, the price that the young man was willing to pay to marry the young woman.

This payment was to be made to the young woman's father in exchange for his permission to marry. The bride price was generally quite high. Sons were considered to be more valuable than daughters since they were physically more able to share in the work of farming and other heavy labor. The bride price compensated the young woman's family for the cost to raise a daughter and also indicated the love that the young man had for the young woman -- the young woman was very valuable to the young man! The young man would go to the young woman's house with the contract and present his offer to the young woman and her father.

ANCIENT BURIAL PRACTICES: ANCIENT JEWISH LAWS CONCERNING THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD Ancient Jewish practices concerning the dead instructed that the individual be buried and not cremated, a law still in observance today. This is because cremation is believed to be a punishment that is reserved for idols, criminals and enemies of the Jewish faith. According to Jewish law, burial of the deceased had to occur within 24 hours of the individual’s death (Deuteronomy 21:23), because of climate factors, in order to maintain ritual purity.

Soon after death, family members of the deceased would mourn and prepare the body for burial. The deceased body was washed and anointed with various oils and spices. The body was then wrapped in unique linen clothing that contained spices and placed on a stone shelf that was carved into the bedrock wall of a the tomb. After the body was prepared, it was carried to the cemetery in a procession of lamentation and grief. The body was to be buried soon after death and the burial was required to take place outside of the village where the individual lived, according to a Jewish law still in practice today. The grieving period lasted from three to seven days.

WOMEN’S BURIAL
According to Jewish law, in the absence of and documentation outlining the woman's wishes, such as a will, if both husband and father want a woman to be buried on their distinct properties, the woman is to be buried on her father's property (not her husband's) provided she has not had any sons. However, if she provided her husband with sons , the woman is to be buried on her husband's property.

A woman had the right to determine her eternal burial, regardless of and other consideration. If a woman wrote in a will where she wanted to be buried, that is where she was buried. For instance, if a woman put in a will that she wanted to be buried in her son's tomb, the was where she would be buried.

CRIMINAL BURIAL
Unlike upstanding citizens, though, criminals in the eyes Jewish law would not be allowed to be buried in a family tomb. Instead they would be buried in a common burial place for the despised. Thus executed criminals would be given prompt burial, but not in a sacred place like the family tomb. CIRCUMCISION

Every Jewish baby boy is circumcised during the day on the eighth day of his life (even if this day falls on the Shabbat or Yom Kippur) in a ritual known in Hebrew as the brit milah, "the Covenant of Circumcision". The circumcision is performed by a mohel, a man trained to carry out the small operation. According to Jewish belief, only circumcisions performed by a mohel can reflect the significance of the eternal covenant between God and Israel. Circumcision rituals are celebrated with a festive meal.

REDEMPTION OF THE FIRST-BORN
The second ritual for...
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