About 2 thousand years ago how was a new marriage registered among Hebrew people? Was it registered at all? How did a man and a woman officially become married? Was it just a kind of public announcement and a feast, after which it would be absolutely legal for them to start living together or did they have to somehow "authenticate" their marriage at the synagogue, perhaps, with the help of a priest?

(Please, note that this question is different from another question of mine on marriage that I asked 2 years ago)

  • I don't know about "official" registration with the "authorities", but the ketuba/marriage contract was a crucial part of the process. Several marriage contracts from the late 1st century/early 2nd century were found in the Dead Sea area...the contract wording is VERY similar to today's, amazingly enough. I don't have any handy links for you, but googling "Babatha archive" should get you to a translation/facsimile of one set of them.
    – Gary
    Nov 22, 2015 at 1:34
  • @Gary, a k'suba is a prenup.
    – msh210
    Nov 22, 2015 at 3:18
  • 1
    @msh210 - okay, sorry! It didn't seem to have much of a "pre" part to it for us--we looked it over and signed it with the witnesses just before the ceremony--I thought it was the "official wedding contract". When the wife growls or jokes n points to it on the wall it doesn't seem to be much a "pre" thing either....more like a binding contract, with me being the bound one...
    – Gary
    Nov 22, 2015 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


Jewish law dictates that there be a marriage ceremony. The ceremony entails erusin, also known as kidushin, and nisuin. The former designates the wife to the husband and the latter starts their life together. This was true two millennia ago and remains true today. See e.g. Wikipedia or Judaism 101.


Another answer addressed how marriages became officialized. The question also asked about registration, so I'll address that.

There was no official registration of a marriage. There were various forms of testimony which could be used to substantiate the claim that a man and woman were married, such as the marriage document (kesuba), witnesses of the engagement (kiddushin) [Isurei Biah 1:23]or marriage (nisuin) ceremonies, or even witnesses that they had been living together and conducting themselves as husband and wife (Isuri Biah 1:21). However, there was no central list of marriages that one could consult to check if someone was married.

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