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Update

I have been researching this and it appears that the whole matter hangs on the definition of "the sons of the bridechamber" which is not obvious to me:

KJV Luke 5:34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?

mGNT Luke 5:34 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς μὴ δύνασθε τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ νυμφῶνος ἐν ᾧ ὁ νυμφίος μετ’ αὐτῶν ἐστιν ποιῆσαι νηστεῦσαι

It appears that "bridalchamber" is only from Tobit:

νυμφών nymphōn, n.c., bride’s chamber. 4× +NT +AF English Gloss bridal chamber (3): Tob 6:14; Tob 6:14 (var.), 17 (var.) brides chamber (1): Tob 6:17 (2012). The Lexham Analytical Lexicon of the Septuagint. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

I found nothing in the Jewish Encyclopedia to suggest that "sons of the bridal chamber" is a thing.

"Sons of the bridechamber" seems to be unique to the gospels. So what does it actually mean?

So before answering the original question, one would have to establish what a "son of the bridechamber" actually is!

Original question

Jesus refers to the Twelve as "the children of the bridechamber":

[Luke 5:33-35 KJV] 33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise [the disciples] of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

Thayers has this:

...οἱ υἱοί τοῦ νυμφῶνος (see υἱός, 2), of the friends of the bridegroom whose duty it was to provide and care for whatever pertained to the bridal chamber, i. e. whatever was needed for the due celebration of the nuptials: Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34 ((Winer's Grammar, 33 (32)); Tobit 6:13 (14), 16 (17); ecclesiastical writings; Heliodorus 7, 8);

Am I correct that such a designation precludes the designees from being the bride herself?

Possibly related:

CSB 2 Corinthians 11:29 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband ​— ​to present a pure virgin to Christ.

  • I can say that up until Jesus went to the cross, they were called 'friends' rather than 'sons'. So when Jesus was talking to them they couldn't really be called the bride yet. After the cross, they could choose to be though. – Peter Carpenter Nov 17 '18 at 0:27
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    Very insightful. Get back to you asap. – user26950 Nov 17 '18 at 16:19
  • The foolish virgins (and the wise virgins) were 'virgins' not 'brides'. The 'disciples' are 'children of the bridechamber' not 'brides'. The bride of Christ is the totality of the redeemed : individuals are associated with the wedding, but not named 'bride' as such. For they are, as yet, individuals, not the totality. – Nigel J Nov 18 '18 at 5:54
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John the Baptizer identified himself as "the friend of the bridegroom" but to my mind, we might have called him the "best man":

[John 3:29 KJV] 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

He, like the "sons of the bridechamber" is not one of the people being married but is instead the trusted friend of the groom who rejoices in his friend's marriage and would grieve in his being "taken away" (though in fact John was murdered first).

According to this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia the wedding party was called "the sons of the canopy" - and included the groomsmen and the fathers of both the bride and groom:

...The wedding party was called "bene ḥuppah," and could dispense with the performance of other religious obligations, such as sitting in the sukkah (Yer. Suk. ii. 53a). To it belonged, besides the groomsmen ("sushbinim"), the respective fathers of the bride and bridegroom...

One of the duties that fell to the groomsmen was that of bearing witness that the bride had not been with any other than the groom for seven days and that the blood on the tokens of her virginity were fresh blood from her hymen:

...Outside the ḥuppah (in former times inside) the groomsmen and bridesmaids stood as guards awaiting the good tidings that the union had been happily consummated with reference to Deut. xxii. 17 (see Yer. Ket. i. 25a; Tan., Ḳoraḥ, ed. Buber, p. 96; Pirḳe R. El. xii.), while the people indulged in dancing, singing, and especially in praises of the bride (comp. John iii. 29; Matt. xxv. 1-13). The bride had to remain in the ḥuppah for seven days, as long as the wedding festivities lasted (Judges xiv. 15); hence the name of these festivities, "the seven days of her" or "of the ḥuppah" (Pesiḳ. 149b)...

[Deu 22:17 KJV] 17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech [against her], saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these [are the tokens of] my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

This appears to be behind Paul's comment:

[2Co 11:2 KJV] 2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

If so then Paul is acting as a groomsman. Christ is the groom and the Corinthians are the bride.

So this suggests to me that Paul and the Twelve were, as in the parable of the Ten Virgins ancillary. The virgins in the parable are charged with bearing torches so the bride doesn't get attacked (human or animal), trip or get lost en route.

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