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Proponents of a rapture sometimes say that Jewish weddings staged a mock kidnapping of the bride, which is a symbol for the future rapture of the church. For example another answer quotes Nancy Missler who writes

The second part of the Jewish marriage was called the nissuin or the marriage ceremony itself. The groom often surprised his bride by his unexpected or early return.

All Jewish brides were said to be “stolen, caught up, or snatched up by surprise.” The bride was then led to the groom’s house by a wedding procession of women carrying lighted lamps, similar to the Parable of the Ten Virgins

This aspect of rapture theology would make a lot of sense if it were true. There would be a strong multi-stage parallel between the Jewish wedding custom and the history of the Church:

  • an initial betrothal
  • the departure of the groom for a time to build a house (John 14:2-3), while the bride prepares herself (Rev 19:7)
  • the surprise return of the groom who snatches away the bride for a short time
  • the public wedding ceremony and banquet with the families and community (many passages use a wedding banquet as a symbol for the afterlife)

The surprise return of the groom is easy to see in, for example, the parable of the ten virgins/bridesmaids (Matt 25:1-13), but I'm sceptical of the staging of a mock kidnapping of the bride. I haven't seen rapture proponents give any reliable references to ancient Jewish sources describing such a custom.

So is there evidence of such a custom? Or should I conclude that it was made up by rapture proponents?

  • There is a case of snatching brides in Judges 21:21. The sources about the holiday that is supposed to commemorate it don't mention snatching – b a Dec 23 '18 at 9:23
  • @ba Good thinking. It's an exceptional event, but could be the source of this idea. – curiousdannii Dec 23 '18 at 9:44
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Given that Judaism does not believe Jesus was the Messiah or that there is going to be a rapture of the Christian Church, then I think it is safe to say that any comparison between what happens at a Jewish wedding and the Christian view of the rapture has been made by Christians.

However, from the information you provided at section (2) in this link http://www.khouse.org/articles/2011/987 I get a distinct impression that the phrase “All Jewish brides were said to be “stolen, caught up, or snatched up by surprise” is not intended to be taken literally, but is simply a figure of speech. It illustrates how the bride, who has been waiting for her future husband to return (and who might turn up early and unexpectedly) to her father’s house in order to complete the legalities, would then whisk her away after the contract had been signed to commence her new life as his wife. I doubt Jewish weddings staged a mock kidnapping of the bride.

However, the comparison between the structure of a Jewish wedding and the “Bride of Christ” and the rapture of His Church, is pleasing to those of us who believe in a future rapture.

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