Espouse (properly (אָרִשׂ, aras', 2Sa 3:14, to betroth, as elsewhere rendered; μνῃστεύομαι, Mt 1:18; Lu 1:27; Lu 2:5; less correctly for חֲתֻנָּה, chat thunnah', Song 3:11, nuptials; בּלוּלוֹת, keluloth', Jer 2:2, the bridal state, i.e., condition of a bride before marriage; ἁρμόζομαι. 2Co 11:2, to cause to be married, i.e., negotiate the match). Espousal was a ceremolny of betrothing, or coming under obligation for the purpose of marriage, and was a mutual agreement between the two parties which usually preceded the marriage some considerable time. SEE MARRIAGE. The reader will do well carefully to attend to the distinction between espousals and marriage, as espousals in the East are frequently contracted years before the parties are married, and sometimes in very early youth. This custom is alluded to figuratively, as between God and his people (Jer 2:2), to whom he was a husband (21:32), and the apostle says he acted as a kind of assistant (pronuba) on such an occasion: "I have espoused you to Christ" (2Co 11:2); have drawn up the writings, settled the agreements, given pledges, etc., of your union (compare Isa 54:5; Mt 25:6; Re 19). SEE BETROTH.