3 Bride Prices In The Bible

My dear fellow Proverbs 31 women in progress,

As an African woman, I am always astonished by the existence of some customs that still exist in Africa, despite the Christianisation of the society.

Though I live in France, I often heard about this issue and all the controversies raised by this issue.

Indeed, some say that paying a bride price is outdated and degrading because women are purchased like things.

Others say that in the contrary, paying the bride price is a way to show respect to the family and shows the high value of the bride.

Having said that, what does the Bible say about the bride price? Do we have examples of bride price in the Bible?

Well, when you read the three stories that I’ll share with you, you’ll be quite surprised as I was…

Is Bride Price explicitly addressed in the Bible?

Yes and no. The Lord has not commanded to pay the bride’s family to marry her, except in case of rape.

Indeed, in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, it is said:

If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

Here the bride price is pre-determined by the law, as the price of the virginity of the young girl, since her virginity represents her honour.

Now that we have presented this, let’s examine three stories of bride price in the Bible

Classic Bride Price: Isaac & Rebekah

The story of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah is told in Genesis 24. I’ve already addressed their marriage in another post here.

Abraham’s servant offered jewelry and precious clothing to Rebekah. But it is said that he also gave precious gifts to Rebekah’s mother and brother, Laban. We’ll talk about Laban later for our second marriage.

We have the classic bride price, with expensive presents to the family.

Unusual Bride Price: Jacob & Rachel

The story is told in Genesis 29. This time, Jacob wants to marry Rachel, for which he had love at first sight.

Laban agreed to give Rachel’s hand in marriage but there was one problem: Jacob didn’t have money to buy expensive gifts to his uncle and future father-in-law.

To circumvent this situation, Laban found a compromise: Jacob would work seven days to pay his bride price. Jacob willingly complied.

However, when the time of marriage came, Jacob was given Leah instead, because of the traditions of the country which prevented from giving away the younger daughter before the elder daughter.

So, Jacob had to work seven more years to pay his bride price for Rachel. Total: 14 years of work. As for Leah, she was married for nothing.

Poor Leah…

Extreme Bride Price: David & Mikal

The story of David and Mikal can be found in 1 Samuel 18.

After defeating Goliath, David became more and more popular, and provoked the jealousy of King Saul.

The King wanted to ensnare David and eliminate him. So, he offered his elder daughter’s hand in marriage, but she finally married someone else.

Afterwards, it was reported to King Saul that his daughter Mikal fell madly in love with David. So he sent his servants to tell David that he was willing to give his daughter’s hand in marriage.

David was sensitive to the interest the King had in him. However, he felt that he couldn’t marry a princess because he came from a humble family and wasn’t rich.

King Saul told him that he didn’t want expensive gift from him. But, as a bride price, he wanted one hundred foreskins of Philistine men, to get revenge of his enemies.

David was courageous and the Lord was with him. So, he rose, killed two hundred Philistine men (overachiever!) and brought their foreskins to the King.

Just imagine the picture of King Saul and his servants counting two hundred private parts that were cut off from corpses…

This is the weirdest bride price ever… but I guess the Bible also has this kind of interesting facts!

Finally, we can say that if we exclude the case of the raped virgin, there is no explicit commandment from God to pay a bride price to her family.

However, we can also say that it was probably a cultural norm that was widely observed; so it’s not prohibited either.

And for my African sisters, if your future husband complains about the bride price or says that it is too expensive, just kindly remind him that he does not have to cut off private parts like King David!

Well, that’s all for today! What do you think of bride price in the Bible?

Please share your point of view in the comments below!

Stay blessed!

Read also:

Worthy Women Series #3: Rebekah

Worthy Women Series #5: Leah

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God bless you all!


28 comments

  1. Castle says:

    it is very sad to hear what goes on in some countries and communities around the world. Sadly it isn’t just Africa where these things are happening. We all have a moral obligation to stand up and be counted when it comes to the rights of these young women. Unless we do the situation will just get worse.

    • angelce says:

      Thanks!

    • Ling Tse says:

      I like when reading your post with Bible quotes and stories, and shown that if Bride Price is still acceptable or not. I knew that sounds like ridiculous, because people should not make such price in respect of women. But unfortunately, there are still some places in the world, that it still exist, especially in China, Philippines, and some countries in Africa. Due to the traditional minded, this still exist and upper generation believe that it should be maintained. Thank you for your post and let people to know more about Bride Price in the Bible.

      • angelce says:

        You’re welcome!

      • Lucie says:

        Hello Angelce, Thank you for the fascinating read! I have read most of the Old Testament, but it still continues to fascinate me. We have to look at all the stories from the perspective of their times, customs and culture. As you say, there are communities who want to adhere to old customs at any cost. My personal opinion is that if every single member of the community willingly agrees to honour the old customs, that they should be free to do so. But as soon as the customs go against a person’s wishes or interfere with anyone’s dignity, it should serve as a call for a change. Thanks again for a highly intriguing article!

        • angelce says:

          You’re welcome Lucie! And thank you for your nice comment!

        • Imelda says:

          A very interesting article,

          This is a fresh prospective on brides and prices for old cultural traditions which stem back from a number of years. I have always enjoyed the stories in the bible ever since I was a child and found that they were useful through my growing up days. However, I never quite thought about the implications of some of the marriages due to traditions and getting ahead in the world. Love never seemed to be part of the picture at all and women were somehow just used for what families could gain. I know that this happened also with Royalty and people marrying to bring countries unity together. 

          Definitely provoked a lot of thought as well written and interesting.

          Thank you 

          • angelce says:

            Hello Imelda,

            Thanks for appreciating my article!

          • Teboho Lekhanya says:

            Hi,

            Thanks very much for a unique and very interesting article! 😊👏🏾👏🏽👏🏿👏🏽

            It’s sad when material things are brought into the whole equation of L💓ve. I recently questioned on Facebook, “those who have turned l💟ve into a financial transaction, do they think Adam gave Eve money💰? If so, where was the money coming from, and where was it going to?”

            I agree with people who say that in ORIGINAL African culture, the purpose of a bride price was not so much of a purchase, a reward or even a compensation. It was rather a token of appreciation. It was on of several marriage traditions meant to tie or glue the two families together. But with time, things eroded. An increasing number of people used the noble custom to enrich themselves.

            There are many other instances where people have (inappropriately) commercialised traditions or religious practices. CHRISTMAS is a classic example. In the next few days, Xmas signs are going to go up in shops and supermarkets across the Christian and funny enough, the non-Christian world!!

            Warmest wishes!

            • angelce says:

              Wow, thank you for your comment! I really appreciated! Yes, it’s true that this tradition was devoid in Africa because of poverty.

            • Lucas Moore says:

              Thank you for sharing this.  the bride
               price has been interpreted as a “market transaction,” recouping the 
               woman’s family/kin group for the loss of her fertility and ability to
               work within the family unit, but I think this interpretation is
               significantly flawed in most cases. but then i learn that the dowry is the wealth a woman brings to her husband as a part of the marriage.

              • angelce says:

                I agree ! Thanks for your nice comment !

              • Jbryce says:

                If I’m gonna be sincere, this is the first time I’m reading about the 3 bride prices in the bible and it has really being a very good and exciting privilege fore to come across this article. It’s always good to have the opportunity to read through details like this that’ll help with spiritual development and growth. Thanks for sharing

                • angelce says:

                  You’re welcome!

                • DarmiMaddie says:

                  Thank you so much for sharing here with us and it is really great to see this here in all honesty, what you shared here is the very best that I could ever see and I am so grateful that you have shared here with us. Thank you and God bless for sharing this with us. If I can,I will definity try to ensure I pass this to other women to learn from too

                  • angelce says:

                    Thank you!

                  • philebur says:

                    Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoyed going through your article as it contains valuable informations one needs to be aware of. I do agree with you on this, pride price is not a commandment from God so i do not see why it is a must especially in African.

                    • angelce says:

                      Thanks for sharing your point of view. Yes, a bride price is not a commandment from God but traditions are hard to get rid of, especially in Africa. So if you want to marry a woman there, please plan to give at least some money to her family…LOL!

                    • Sophie says:

                      Hello there! Thank you for sharing this article on 3 bride prices in the Bible. I find it very interesting to read because it holds facts and it’s very detailed as well. I’ve always found it weird why people would accept bride price in exchange of their daughters, it is rampant in African countries and China. It is clearly not allowed even in the Bible and it’s strange that people go ahead with it. We really have to do something about it. Thank you for sharing this

                      • angelce says:

                        Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, traditions in Africa and China are hard to end…

                      • Kelvin says:

                        Thanks for writing this article to address the issue of bride price, most especially in Africa. Bride price is one of the major issues in Africa when talking about marriage rites. You have really offered enough beneficial knowledge about the 3 bride prices in the Bible in this article, and I think they are quite interesting and surprising. I, for one, has learnt something from this article, and I hope other readers will too.

                        • angelce says:

                          You’re welcome!

                        • ReeceMichael says:

                          Hello Angelce,

                          There are custom and tradition and there is Religion. I haven’t seen any part where religion actually says do not follow your customs. Paying of bride price has been around a long time and it’s all over the world. You are asked to provide certain things and the woman becomes your wife. It’s not necessarily a buying and selling game. 

                          • angelce says:

                            Hello,

                            Thanks for sharing your comment. I agree with you to some extent. Yes, religion and tradition are different but they sometimes mingle. Also, I clearly say in the article that bride price was clearly established as a custom in Israel as many Biblical heroes paid for it – Isaac and David just to name a few. Bride price was supposedly here to show that you respect the value of your wife and that you can provide for her.

                          • Aluko kolawole says:

                            Hi,

                            From my online findings 3 bride prices in the bible it is in Hebrew Bible mention the practice of paying a bride price to the father of a virgin, an unmarried young woman. Exodus 22:16-17 states CEV Exodus 22:16-17, suppose a young woman has never had sex and isn’t engaged. If a man talks her into having sex, he must pay the bride price and marry her. Classic Bride Price – Isaac & Rebekah, Unusual bride price, Jacob & Rachel Extreme bride price – David & Mikal.

                            Thank you.

                            Aluko.

                            • angelce says:

                              Thanks!

                            • Julai says:

                              Woww, that a very interesting read about bride prices. I love Bible stories and especially the story of Jacob and how he works hard to marry the love of his life and the deception that went along ! And I understand if there are still races practicing this since it’s tradition. But personally, I believe that everyone should be able to marry the person they love without having to pay for it.