In the first century, when a Jewish man decided to get married, his life was choreographed quite specifically for the next few years.
First, the young man would tell his father of the woman he wished to marry, and his father would arrange to pay the bride price and establish the New Covenant, a marriage covenant, between the man and the woman. The man would accompany his father but would not stay with his bride-to-be very long. Instead, the groom would return to his father’s house and begin construction on the new home he and his bride would share. This construction would be the building of a room off of his father’s house and it was here that the new couple would live. While the groom was building the room, he would not see his bride, and depending on the time, ability, and help the groom would spend on the project, this time period could be up to a year or more.
Once the building project was finished, the groom would clean himself up, gather his groomsmen, and go to get his bride. This would traditionally happen at night, and the groom, it was said, would come “like a thief in the night” for his new bride. The bride, prepared for this moment along with her bridesmaids, would then accompany the groom back to the house where they would consummate the marriage and commence with a week-long feast, during which the bride would primarily remain closeted in her bridal chamber. This meant that the bridesmaids would have to stand sentry for the bride every night once the coming of the groom was immanent. If their lamps ran out of oil and the groom came while they were “off duty”, they were likely to miss the wedding ceremony.
“In my father’s house are many rooms… and I am going to prepare a place for you…. I will come back and take you to be with me.”