Updated: Jul 10, 2022
I have often wondered why it is traditional for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold on their wedding night. What could possibly be the origin of this custom, and why was it practiced? My newly wed husband carried me over the threshold some 37 years ago but I never realized, until recently, the significance. What does it have in common with Passover? Surely the two cannot be related? Let's take a closer look and examine some ancient customs regarding the “threshold”.
In ancient oriental cultures the home was viewed as a temple with the leader of the home acting as priest. The household deity, worshiped by the family, was believed to protect the home and to look out after the household members. The deity was often referred to as a hearth god – most usually a goddess. Sacrifices were offered to the goddess at the hearth.
In addition, sacrifices were made to the goddess at the entrance to the home, at the threshold. Ancient thresholds were designed with a trough that held blood. The animal would be sacrificed, to the hearth god or goddess, and it's blood poured out into the trough in the threshold. This threshold rite was well known and practiced in ancient oriental cultures; which would have included Egypt. Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, acknowledges in his writings that the ancient Egyptians practiced this rite. The nation of ancient Israel would also have known about the practice.
In addition, door and cornerstone were all threshold covenant language. Ancient structures were built upon foundations of blood, and it was at the “door” that the threshold covenant was enacted. More often than not human sacrifices, instead of animal sacrifices, were offered upon the foundation of a home or temple when it was being built, especially the blood of firstborns.
The idea of the threshold covenant, with the blood of the sacrifice being poured out into the trough, symbolized that the dwelling was dedicated to and therefore protected by the god/goddess and only that deity was welcome into the home. Where there was no welcome the deity considered that household his enemy, and that would result in death (H. Clay Trumbull “ The Threshold Covenant, first published 1896 – downloaded for free at project Gutenberg).
Hatred was shown to the deity when someone refused to step over the threshold. Instead they would “trample or stomp” on the threshold of the person's home. This was trampling on the god of the home (Hebrews 10:26-29). Those who did not honor or make threshold covenant with their god, with his house or the foundation of a city, that house or city was not protected by the deity and it was believed that the angry deity would take the life of the firstborn or the first person to cross a bloodless threshold.
The custom of the groom carrying the bride across the threshold of their home signifies that he takes on the responsibility of her protection and care as well as for their offspring. It is equivalent to the ancient blood/threshold covenant.
Yah did not create something new and unheard of when He told the Israelites to put the blood of the Passover lamb upon their doorposts so that the death angel would pass over them. He was using a custom already familiar to them. The blood of the Passover lamb would have been poured into the trough of the threshold and then taken from the trough and smeared onto the doorway posts and lintel. This signified that the home was dedicated to YHVH and to no other god, and that only Yah was welcome. As proof of that welcome Yah would protect those who were inside the dwelling. God uses this last plague to let Pharaoh and His people know that He is the only deity.
Exodus 12:22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin (threshold – H5592 Strong's), and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin (threshold), and you, none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. (TS2009)
The word passover actually means “leap over” (H6452). As described above those entering the home would not step or trod on the blood of the threshold but would “leap over” (pass over) or step over the threshold when entering the house. In Egypt, those who welcomed Yah were to prepare a threshold sacrifice/covenant.
We have now made a threshold covenant if we accept the blood of the Messiah Yeshua, our Passover Lamb. He will be our protector – our redeemer.
There is much more to this threshold covenant than what I have covered but hopefully, as we enter this Passover season, one can see yet another understanding of this redemption season.
Chag Sameach Pesach,