Weekly Drash - Yitro
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
Yitro - יתרו : “Jethro”
Friend of the Bridegroom
Thought for the Week:
At Mount Sinai, God officially proposes to Israel, offering to make them His people if only they will obey Him and keep His covenant. It is like a proposal of marriage. In rabbinic literature, Exodus 19 is often spoken of as the betrothal. God is compared to the suitor and bridegroom. Israel is the bride. The Torah is their ketubah. Moses, in his role as liaison between God and the people, is sometimes described as the “friend of the bridegroom.”
In Jewish wedding customs, the friend of the bridegroom was the intermediary between the couple. It was the friend’s job to present the bride to the groom. Moses filled this role by leading the people to Mount Sinai and conducting the negotiations between God and Israel. When at last the LORD descended on Mount Sinai, Moses led the people out of the camp and to the foot of the mountain, presenting them to God:
As the friend of the bridegroom, Moses was responsible for negotiating the match. He brought the bridegroom’s proposal to the girl. Through Moses, God offered to make Israel His own possession among all the peoples, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
In the gospels, John the Immerser spoke of himself in a similar way. Once, his disciples came to him, warning him that Yeshua was gaining in popularity, and His disciples were baptizing. John’s disciples felt as if Yeshua was infringing upon their ministry. John corrected them, pointing out that he was only the forerunner of Messiah. Just as the friend of the bridegroom gets out of the way, relinquishing the girl in his charge to the bride, so too John needed to relinquish his ministry to Yeshua. It seems that he may have alluded back to the Mount Sinai betrothal by comparing the people of Israel to a bride, himself to a friend of the bridegroom and Yeshua to the bridegroom. John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27–30)
By calling Israel to repent, John was preparing the people to meet the bridegroom, just as the friend of the bridegroom led the bride to her husband.
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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