Friend of the Bridegroom

On the day of the revelation at Mount Sinai, the Almighty brought his bride, the nation of Israel, under the chuppah.


Yitro

Regular Shabbat Readings

* Note: On Jewish holidays, special readings often interrupt the regular cycle.

  • Yitro (יתרו | Jethro)
  • Torah: Exodus 18:1-20:23
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
  • Gospel: Matthew 6:1-8:1

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Exodus 18:1 | Jethro's Advice
    • Exodus 19:1 | The Israelites Reach Mount Sinai
    • Exodus 19:9 | The People Consecrated
    • Exodus 20:1 | The Ten Commandments
    • Exodus 20:22 | The Law concerning the Altar
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 6:1 | A Vision of God in the Temple
    • Isaiah 9:1 | The Righteous Reign of the Coming King

Portion Summary

The seventeenth reading from the Torah is named Yitro (יתרו), which is the literal Hebrew behind the name Jethro. The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which says, "Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people" (Exodus 18:1). The portion tells the story of Jethro's visit to the camp of Israel, then relates the great theophany at Mount Sinai, where God gives Israel the Ten Commandments and invites the people to enter a special covenant relationship with Him.


At Mount Sinai, God officially proposed to Israel (so to speak) offering to make them His people if only they would obey Him and keep His covenant. The rabbis compared it to a betrothal. In that metaphor, the Holy One, blessed be He, came to Israel as a suitor proposing marriage to His beloved.

The Almighty was the bridegroom. Israel was the bride. The Torah was their wedding contract (ketubah). Moses played the role of the “friend of the bridegroom” as a liaison between God and the people.

In Jewish wedding customs, the friend of the bridegroom served as an intermediary between the suitor and the woman. In the wedding, he presented the bride to the groom. As the friend of the bridegroom, Moses was responsible for negotiating the match. He brought the bridegroom’s proposal to the girl, and he carried messages back and forth between the two parties. Finally, Moses led the people to the foot of the mountain and presented them to God:

And Moses went forth and came to the camp of the sons of Israel, and he aroused the children of Israel from their sleep, saying to them, “Arise from your sleep, for behold, your God desires to give the Torah to you. Already the bridegroom wishes to lead the bride and to enter the bridal chamber.” … And the Holy One, blessed be He, also went forth to meet them like a bridegroom who goes forth to meet the bride. So the Holy One, blessed be He, went forth to meet them to give them the Torah. (Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 41)

In the Gospels, John the Immerser played a similar role. Once, his disciples came to him, warning him that Yeshua of Nazareth was growing in popularity and that His disciples were baptizing people. John’s disciples felt as if Yeshua’s ministry infringed upon their ministry. John corrected them, pointing out that he only came as the forerunner of Messiah. Just as the friend of the bridegroom gets out of the way, relinquishing the girl under his charge to the groom, so too, John needed to relinquish his ministry to Yeshua. John seems to have alluded back to the story of Moses at Mount Sinai by comparing the people of Israel to a bride, Yeshua to a groom, and himself to a friend of the bridegroom:

John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

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Adapted From:

Shadows of the Messiah

An eye-opening, year-long discovery of Messiah in the books of Moses. Learn to see Messiah on every page of Torah! Great source material for personal study, riveting sermons, and small group bible studies!

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