Christ’s culturalized references (in Matthew 9:14-17) to a bridegroom, cloth, and new wine all held spiritual significance, but the understanding of those symbols was grounded in the practical, commonsense life of an ancient Israelite. Consider these everyday insights from Bible historian, Craig S. Keener:

  • A wedding celebration, when the bridegroom was present, was an extended affair that “required seven days of festivity.”
  • “One was not permitted to fast or engage in other acts of mourning or difficult labor during a wedding feast. Jesus makes an analogy about the similar inappropriateness of fasting in his time.”
  • “Older clothes would have already shrunk somewhat from washing.” Thus, putting a new, unshrunk patch on pre-shrunk clothing would’ve been a waste of resources. After washing, the unshrunk patch would shrink and tear away, making a bigger hole.
  • Wine was usually kept in either jars or leather wineskins. “Old wineskins had already been stretched to capacity by fermenting wine within them; if they were then filled with unfermented wine, it would likewise expand, and the old wineskins, already stretched to the limit, would burst.”

 

Works Cited:

[BBC, 70]

 

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