Arrhae or Arre Sponsalitia

Arrhae Or Arre Sponsalitia (also Arrhabo, Arrabo) was earnest-money on betrothal. The practice of giving such pledges of espousal, of which traces are to be found in all parts of the world, has its root evidently in the view, common yet to many savage races, of marriage as the mere sale of a wife, to which betrothal stands in the relation of contract to delivery. Among 'the Jews, betrothal was strictly a contract of purchase for money or money's worth (although two other forms were also admitted), the coin used being, however, the smallest that could be had. The earnest was given either to the wife herself or to her parents. It could not be of forbidden things or things consecrated to priestly use, or things unlawfully owned, unless such as might have been taken from the woman herself; but' a lawfully given earnest was sufficient to. constitute betrothal without words spoken. The first legal reference among the Romans to the arrha on betrothal, and the only one in the Digest, belongs to the 3d century, i.e. to a period when the Roman world was already to a great extent permeated by foreign influences, at this time chiefly Oriental. About eighty years later, however, at a time when the Northern barbarians had already given emperors to Rome, the arrha appears in full development. Julius Capitolinils, who wrote under Constantine, in his Life of Maximinus the Younger (killed 313), says that he had been betrothed to Junia Fadella, who was afterwards married to Toxotius, "but there remained with her royal arrhae, which were these, as Junius Cordus relates from the testimony of those who are said to have examined into these things: a necklace of nine pearls, a net of eleven emeralds, a bracelet with a clasp of four jacinths, besides golden and all regal vestments, and other insignia of betrothal." Ambrose, indeed (A.D. 346-397), speaks. only of the symbolical ring in relating the story of St. Agnes, whom he represents as replying to the governor of Rome, who wished to marry her to his son, that she stands engaged to another lover, who has offered her far better adornments, and given her for earnest the ring of his affiance. To a contemporary of Ambrose, pope Julius I (336- 352), is ascribed a decree that if any shall have espoused a wife or given her earnest, his brother or other near kinsman may not marry her. About a century later, the word arrha is used figuratively in reference to the Annunciation considered as a betrothal by Peter Chrysologus, archbishop of Ravenna in 433., In the days of Justinian we see from the Code that the earnest-money was a regular element in Byzantine betrothal. The reason of this development of the arrha within the Roman or Byzantine world of the 6th century is to be sought-in some foreign influence. Among the barbarian races which overran the empire from the end of the 4th century, we find. almost everywhere the prevalence of that idea, of wife-buying, which is the foundation of-the betrothal earnest. In the earlier writers there is nothing to connect the betrothal earnest with a religious ceremony; and, indeed, the opinion has been strongly held that church betrothals did not obtain before the 9th century. While pope Nicolas recognises the practice of betrothal by arrha, symbolized through the ring, yet the only benediction which he expressly mentions is the nuptial, not the sponsal. SEE BETROTHAL;

 
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