Dowry and Bride Price Are Not the Same Thing

Categories: Ethics, Sexuality & Family, Sociology

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Jason Staples Substack

An old song randomly came up on my iPhone the other day that brought my attention to an extremely common mistake, one I have heard repeated even by those who should know better: the idea of a “dowry” as a price paid by the bridegroom (groom/husband to be) in order to acquire his wife. This error can lead alternately to a misunderstanding of older cultures as overly misogynistic (“buying” women like chattel) or to romantic notions of an older time when all husbands-to-be would purchase their brides at great price, with the parents overseeing the transaction. The lyrics were as follows (from the perspective of the bride):

Like the color that comes creeping to my face
It is such sweet embarrassment to see the dowry that you paid for my cold embrace

As stated above, the problem is that the song confuses the dowry with a wholly other concept and transaction—that of the bride price. This is an easy mistake to make, given that Westerners no longer practice either transactional tradition; most folks today think that men “bought” their wives in the past but that we’ve gotten beyond such patriarchal and misogynistic practices. Popular though it may be, this conception is quite simply false.

**Now I’m not suggesting that women have never been purchased or treated as chattel; unfortunately, that still happens (and with shocking frequency) today. What I am suggesting, however, is that most of the actual legal paradigms we find from the ancient world put things like the bride price and the dowry into place as protection for women, to ensure that they were taken care of rather than taken advantage of. (And yes, I just dangled two prepositions. So shoot me. It’s an artificial grammatical rule that doesn’t work for English anyway.) And before anyone protests, there is no question that women have always needed (and continue to need) special legal status and protection—the simple fact that women can get pregnant and men can’t puts women in a far more vulnerable social position than men. It’s an unavoidable biological reality, so any cries for “equal treatment” or resistance of such legal “favoritism” are simply the result of willful ignorance. But any suggestion that past civilizations were systemically misogynistic and hostile towards women but that we have grown past such things is wrong on both counts. In reality, most societies of the past typically did their best to protect female citizens, and modern society—for all its best efforts—has most certainly not eliminated major (and large-scale) abuses of women (as the link above makes painfully clear).**

Before I continue, I should also add the disclaimer that these practices have by no means been universal or uniform across cultures throughout history. Some cultures have practiced one and not the other, many cultures have practiced both, and some (like today) practice neither. This post merely seeks to show the difference between the two and address a few issues related to each.

Dowry vs. Bride Price

Bride Price (or Bridewealth)

So what is the difference between the dowry and the bride price? The bride price is what it sounds like—a specific price (property, money, etc.) paid by the bridegroom (or his family) to the bride’s parents. Depending on the society and the period, this could be either a set price for all brides (virgins having a higher price) or a negotiated price based on the perceived worth of the girl (beautiful or especially industrious women being more highly valued). In the biblical Torah, the former (a set price) seems to be assumed (cf. Ex 22:16–17; Deut 22:28–29), though this certainly does not rule out negotiation. In Classical Greece, it appears to have been a matter of negotiation, as indicated in the Odyssey. The practice continues today in various forms in many (usually Eastern) countries. (EDIT: As a commenter below who knows more than I do about this pointed out, I should probably have mentioned that the common anthropological term for this is “bridewealth,” not “bride price,”which was abandoned some time ago in the scholarly literature due to its implication of “buying a bride.” I chose instead to stick with the more common popular term for simplicity’s sake, while pointing out that it didn’t equate to buying a bride as chattel.)

In a large amount of anthropological and feminist literature, the bride price has been interpreted as a “market transaction,” recouping the woman’s family/kin group for the loss of her fertility and ability to work within the family unit, but I think this interpretation is significantly flawed in most cases (especially in societies that practice the dowry, as will be explained below). A better interpretation of the bride price is that it is a means for the bridegroom to prove his worthiness as a suitor, that he is capable of adequately providing for his bride. This is especially the case in those societies that practice a set bride price—often a nominal, quite attainable price. (Given that most Western women are expected to be capable of providing for themselves, this explanation also accounts for why the practice would be unnecessary in the West.) So, in effect, the bride price is the groom’s way of demonstrating his suitability as a provider for his wife. In modern (but still relatively conservative) terms, this would be the equivalent of a young woman’s family requesting that a young man get a job and have some financial stability before marrying their daughter—the bride price would be an agreed-upon attainable sum (perhaps a few thousand dollars) to be presented to the young woman’s family as a demonstration of this financial stability.

(A few problems have crept up with the institution of the bride price in some cultures over the years. On the one hand, some, usually poorer, parents have exploited the bride price as a means to attain wealth, asking for astronomical sums. An additional problem has been that as young men are not able to provide the bride price, it has often led to “marriage by abduction,” in which the girl/woman is kidnapped and sometimes raped in an attempt to force the parents to reduce the bride price and agree to the marriage—incidentally, this is one of the very problems Deut 22:28–29 attempts to address. Another problem is that women can come to be treated as “merchandise” to be bought or sold; this is not necessarily an inherent problem, but it can certainly accompany the practice.)

Ironically, for all the criticism the practice of the bride price receives from many modern people who regard it as a misogynistic practice, the now nearly ubiquitous Western practice of buying a woman an expensive diamond engagement ring serves as the modern equivalent to the bride price—only the money goes to De Beers instead of to the parents. So instead of “keeping it in the family,” the money is paid to the gods of consumer culture. Which practice is better, again?


The dowry, on the other hand, is the wealth a woman brings to her husband as a part of the marriage. The dowry has usually been provided by the woman’s family at the time of the marriage; the idea behind the dowry is to aid the beginning of the new household, aiding the new husband in the provision for his wife. Interestingly, the dowry has usually been greater than the bride price in those cultures practicing both traditions, suggesting that the concept of “buying” a wife misunderstands the reasoning behind such transactional marriages. Consider the following scenario: a young man must pay a bride price of $10,000 to the bride’s parents before he marries his choice of a bride. When he marries her, she brings a dowry of $25,000 from her parents as “seed money” for the new marriage. How exactly would this work as “buying a wife”? That would certainly be the best mail-in rebate I’ve ever seen!

In addition to helping the young marriage start off well, the dowry also aimed to provide for a young woman in the event of her husband’s untimely death or a divorce (generally the dowry would need to be returned by the husband, making it financially difficult to divorce—modern “alimony” payments derive from this concept and the related concept of the “dower,” which was sort of like an ancient pre-nuptial agreement). Also, since in many past societies, women did not receive an inheritance from their parents, the dowry served as a substitute for the woman’s inheritance. Upon the death of a woman, the value of her dowry was to be divided only among her children—it was not to go to any of her husband’s other children, if he had any.

The practice of the dowry continued in Western culture significantly longer than the bride price, continuing until around the dawn of the Industrial Age. It features prominently in the novels of Jane Austen, for example; in Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet girls’ small dowries make them less attractive to suitors, while Darcy’s young sister is nearly the victim of an insincere and profligate suitor who wants access to her substantial dowry. In more modern times, at least in the USA, the wedding registry has taken the functional place of the dowry, with the friends and family of both bride and groom providing gifts to help better establish the new home.

(As with nearly any legal or traditional practice I can think of, dispensation of the dowry has also led to some abuses, such as bride burning and dowry death.)


So, let no reader of this blog make this mistake again: the dowry and the bride price are entirely different things, though each has an eye toward improving the success of the fledgling marriage. The bride price was paid by the groom to the bride’s parents, while the dowry was brought into the marriage by the woman, usually through the provision of her parents.

Tags: antiquity, feminism, history, Marriage, patriarchy, traditions, weddings

60 Comments. Leave new

  • Stephen C. Carlson
    May 7, 2010 1:33 pm

    Agreed that there is much confusion about this. I think people have this impression that the dowry is sexist, so they naively equate it with buying a bride, when the real problem is more pernicious, where some poor families in the world get rid of their daughters because they cannot afford the dowry.

  • Fascinating stuff. I think I learned a lot from this.

  • Thanks for this intriguing article. Certainly an interesting read from my perspective here in India working with (mainly) girls from lower castes.

  • Hi there,
    i find you a great writer and am very intrigued and fascinated by your ideas and thoughts. i happened to click on this link as i was researching for my test (on gender studies). i would, if you don’t mind that is, like to trade emails with you, on certain subject matters. Please let me know if you would be free to do so.

    Eagerly awaiting,

  • I completely agree with your main point that dowry and “bride-price” are not the same. No anthropologist or social historian would dispute that there is a major difference. However, I am sorry to say that this post falls far short in elucidating these practices. First, no anthropologist today would use the term “bride-price.” In fact, Evans-Pritchard suggested the term “bridewealth” more than 60 years ago–a term that long ago became accepted in anthropological circles–because this marriage gift is not actually a price; women are not bought in societies that give the so-called “bride-price.” Also, your explanations of this gift do not reflect the abundance of research done on bridewealth-giving societies over the past century. I discuss these matters at great length in my book, Marriage Gifts and Social Change in Ancient Palestine: 1200 BCE to 200 CE, published by Cambridge University Press; see particularly the intro and chapter three. While I certainly don’t expect every Bible blogger to be an expert on these matters, I am surprised that a doctoral student at UNC would post such a simplistic and inaccurate treatment on what is a very complex issue.

    • Thanks for your comments. A few brief comments in response:

      1) Given that the majority of my readership will have no knowledge of the term “bridewealth,” I stuck to the more popular term in common parlance. Yes, the technical term in anthropology is “bridewealth,” but those for whom I was writing—those who think the dowry involves the husband paying the father—will obviously have never heard such a term. (Even Wikipedia redirects “bridewealth” to “bride price,” illustrating which is the more commonly used term outside of scholarship; since this is not intended to be a scholarly article but a popular one addressing a different issue it made more sense to me to use that term.) I suppose it would be reasonable for me to introduce it parenthetically, however, so I might as well add that into the post.

      2) This was intended to be a simplistic—even over-simplistic—post to correct a larger problem that had come up in conversation a couple times: the idea that the old practice of giving a dowry involves the purchase of a woman (as chattel) by her husband. So long as I managed to accurately represent that this is by no means the case, I achieved my aim. By no means did I intend to attempt a more comprehensive look at the underlying complexities of these systems/issues. I briefly flirted with addressing just the rabbinic changes/discussions of these points in the first few centuries CE (e.g. the move to the ketubah) but quickly decided that was simply too complicated for this sort of blog post. I also wanted to make a somewhat tongue-in-cheek point about the dowry tending to be larger than the dower/bridewealth in those cultures practicing both.

      I was serious when I posted the disclaimer at the start of the article to the effect that I wasn’t even touching the complexity underlying these terms and practices: “Before I continue, I should also add the disclaimer that these practices have by no means been universal or uniform across cultures throughout history. Some cultures have practiced one and not the other, many cultures have practiced both, and some (like today) practice neither. This post merely seeks to show the difference between the two and address a few issues related to each.” Perhaps you missed the disclaimer, but I’d suggest it should alert the reader that this piece was by no means intended to scratch the surface of these issues.

      3) In terms of your criticism of my explanations of the bridewealth, I supposed I’d have to take a glance at your book to see what you’re pointing to, but I think I reasonably summarized at least the most dominant explanation: that the bridewealth is basically a “market transaction” involving an exchange of goods, as Bell and Song assert in Cultural Anthropology 35.3 (1994): “The logic of everyday economic rationality offers no alternative to the consideration of bridewealth as an advance payment for services or as a lease of the service provider whereby wife takers experience benefits that exceed cost” (311–312). But I’m by no means a cultural anthropologist specializing in bridal practices, so perhaps you could indicate where I was “inaccurate,” as I’ll happily correct it. (As for being surprised that I, as a doctoral candidate at UNC, would be responsible for such a simplistic piece, don’t be: your book hasn’t ever come up

      Better still, I’d be happy to have you write a guest post on dowry, bridewealth (you’d have to introduce the term for an Internet audience, obviously), etc. I’d be glad to provide a link to your book and give you an avenue for a little advertising if you’d like. And I could benefit by learning a bit outside my area in the process. Let me know if you’d like to do it.

  • Jason,

    Your comments are fair. What can I say? Spending years writing a dissertation and book on marriage gifts has perhaps made me overeager to correct misconceptions about bridewealth. I wouldn’t mind writing something up, but it would have to wait a couple of months, unfortunately. But, I will at least say that I find Bell and Song’s approach extremely unconvincing. I would have thought refutations of Spiro’s purely economistic treatment of marriage gifts would have precluded this kind of analysis, but I guess not. As Goody has so convincingly argued, bridewealth and dowry are related to the overall structure of a society, its inheritance patterns, levels of social stratification, and modes of reproduction. Bell and Song assume bridewealth must relate to a desire to accumulate, but various anthropologists have shown that many African societies were not (at least in the past) structured around this value. Nor do even capitalist societies make marital decisions based just on this desire. They also say very little (in this article; they may elsewhere, I don’t remember) about female agricultural labor. Considering their economistic approach, how can female work be a topic of secondary concern? On the face of it, I don’t disagree with them that bridewealth could relate to patterns of dominance, but this is not so different from what Meillassoux argued decades ago–and for which he was accused of oversimplification. Granted, he was more concerned with political machinations *within* groups. Also, dowry much more clearly relates to negotiations of status, but this just brings one right back to the question of why give bridewealth versus dowry? Anyway, I am rambling, and really need to go back to grading student exams.


    • No problem—I know full well how it works when one has spent a long time on a given project. As it stands, it looks as though I’d agree with pretty close to your whole argument (if not all of it). I only brought the economistic perspective represented by Bell and Song (and others) into play because it seems to be along the lines of public thinking about such things and needs to be opposed. My own points in the post were oversimplified and trying to show how such a thing would function in a modern, western society more than doing a true historical reconstruction (which takes a lot more time and effort, as you would know). I’d very much enjoy having you do a guest post whenever you’re able. Enjoy the holidays once you’re done grading those exams. Now back to some grading of my own…

  • A final note: while dated, The Meaning of Marriage Payments, ed., Comaroff, remains useful. Also, Goody’s work on this topic is abundant and persuasive. Bell and Song’s ideas are not the most influential on this topic.

  • Man, u have really clarified me all u have said abt d different btw bride price and dowry is what it means in my tradition.but I want to ask if once bride price is paid,is d person married?

  • What about marriage expenses. Who has to bear it?
    In India marriage expenses are a lot. Costs something like 5 to 10lakhs.
    Marriage expenses are due to clothing, jewellery , marriage celebration, guest comforts etc etc .. etc.
    Both the girls side and the boys side wants to show off the wedding.
    Who has to bear this expenses?
    The boy?
    The girl ?
    or both?
    If the girl takes a loan and comes to her husband for these expenses to showoff and to make her parents happy.
    Is this the right way?

    • There’s a lot of variation across different cultures in who foots the marriage expenses. As a result, it’s really hard to declare any one way “the right way.” I think it’s generally best for the two sides to agree on what is best in their specific case, which may differ depending on circumstances. I do think “showing off” is not necessarily the best motivation for additional expenditures and would tend to advise towards keeping things simple.

    August 22, 2011 1:14 pm


  • I think that this offered a fantastic explication of the differences between Bride price and Dowry. I am writing a paper on the practice of both dowry and bride price and began my research knowing nothing about either topic. I have been struggling with this idea that many people thing that industrialized states are free from such practices. However, when reading out of my text book it pointed out that in American culture traditionally for the father to pay for his daughter wedding… Is this a sub-group of dowry? Id love to hear your thoughts!

    • That’s a good question. I suppose one might consider payment for a wedding a sort of substitute for a dowry (much like an engagement ring is a sort of bridewealth paid to de Beers), especially given the absurd amount of money often spent on weddings. Obviously, they’re not exactly the same things, but your point is a valid one.

  • this is not only educative, fascinating, revelational but also liberative. Good job, please keep it up. If i can get a link with you, i will hold it in high esteem. I have some relative materials to share and if possible on your website. Thanks.

  • Did women who were the subject of the dowry have any say in how the dowry was used? The provisions made? The secure storage of said funds? Who would dole it out to her upon the husband’s death?

    • Yes, the women often had full say over the use of the dowry. The marriage contracts at Elephantine and from some of the Judaean caves (not from Qumran but in nearby caves) indicate that women could actually wield a relatively high degree of property power in those periods at least.

  • Nezhat Derakhshan
    December 4, 2013 5:22 am

    Dowry is given to the bride herself to engage in trade during her marriage or after divorce .Example is the virtuous woman who buys a field in the Book of Proverbs .The bride price is for the parents of the bride. Example is that the blood of Jesus christ was shed and given to Satan (owner of humanity) as the bride price of the church (members ) .The bride has to be pure in both cases of the dowry and the bride price ,so I think there may not have been a bride price or dowry for second marriages neither were there a white dress.In the case of the church members,they are purified as soon as they belive and then they get baptized in the expressed name of Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit. In this case the Holy Spirit is the dowry given to the bride herself or the church (members) to get involved in the trade of bringing more converts (more equity).The dowry is the evidence of the wealth of the groom as it was explained by the Apostle Paul that Jesus Christ FILLS the believers with the Holy Spirit as a down payment of the promise of the eternal life. Also Paul said that a Christian man ought not to keep a concubine because it befrauds another man (the father of the bride who in this case does not receive the bride price or compensation for bringing up the girl).
    The dowry and bride price were practiced from Jerusalem to Japan among the Semites or children of Shem since Asia ,North America, South America ,and the islands nearby were given to Shem at the time of Peleg! As we see the name of Shem over towns and cities throughout Asia like Ezmir,Shemiran ,or Samiram and all of them mean from the loin of Shem or from the thigh of Shem since people were polite in the old time.The father of the groom also paid for the ceremony and the feast attended by invited guests as we see in the wedding in the city of Cana attended by Jesus Christ and his family. In Asia all cultures were bound to keep the brides to be or girls pure as it was pronounced by Noah: Blessed be God of Shem.
    As for the Gentiles,they are prone to fornication by nature (as they were called foolish Gentiles in the Old Covenant since they also did not cover themselves properly) and therefore the father of the bride does not gaurrantee the purity of the bride so they are given away.That is why in the West in the churches we hear that the priests say at the altar at the time of the ceremony of marriage :Who is going to give away this bride?The father of the bride also pays for the ceremony and the feast.Some parents make the deal sugar coded by giving money to the groom also.It is also noticable in the Book of Acts where James,the brother of Jesus Christ says that the Gentiles should not be burdened by the combersome laws of the Old Covenant but only to keep four laws .Three of them were dietary and the last one was to abstain from fornication ! Parts of this material are revelations.

  • Thanks! I’m reading a book, and the mention of a bride price confused me, since previous books (and this one as well) had mentioned dowries. This made no sense to me, since I knew a dowry was the opposite of what the phrase “bride price” implied.

    (Incidentally, the author, Tamora Pierce, did use both terms correctly. It was just my unfamiliarity with bride prices that confused me.)

  • What are the biblical terms for ‘bride-price’ and ‘dowry’?

  • Thanks for this article. As much a I enjoyed and relish clarification. There’s no doubt in my mind that the idea of bride price and dowry have been perverted even with the society they have been used. I still have relatives who speak about my female relatives in ‘worth’ with actual amounts with sexist comments following after. And movies that focus on modern women and how parents deny her choice of husband just because another is willing to pile X amount into a wedding but show zero filial desire- with of course viewers opting for man x over the more sincere one who is working hard. Regardless, this article was very informative and I enjoyed it.

  • Thank you for this. I am preparing a children’s address to be presented at my church in December, where the word ‘dowry’ appears in a movie involving Mary and Joseph’s marriage & the annunciation. Your blog clarified things for me.

  • I think cultures vary, but I personally liked the difference between dowry and brideprice mentioned earlier. Those things happened, they are just changing because of so called civilization, secondly, civilized cultures have assumed their cultures are better and healthier than others thus recommending them to drop their culture and practice the civilized one which doesn’t make sense at all to me anyway. Let people practice what suites them, every culture is right where ever it is practiced, but thanks Jas.

    • It is most certainly not true that every culture is right wherever it is practiced. Female genital mutilation, honor rapes, and other similar practices are abhorrent despite being acceptable in certain cultures. Cultures that accept such things should change.

  • Jonathan, Ayibanimiworimi
    January 22, 2016 6:50 am

    Write your comment here…Hi Jason. I’m motivated by your responses.More so because of the biblical background.I think any marriage ceremony, irrespective of culture that gives no place to bride price/wealth under the guise e of civilisation is fallen short of God’s standard. It is simply celebrating sexual immorality(fornication). Whats your take?

  • In southern Nigeria,Africa the bride’s family in addition to the money paid by the intended groom is expected to give other items like drinks,goats,wears to bride parents,house hold item etc.does this constitute bride price,looking at your explanation of bride price.

    • I’m not especially familiar with the marriage practices of southern Nigeria, so I don’t know for sure. Based on your explanation, it sounds like both are practiced—a bridewealth paid by the groom and then a dowry given by the bride’s family. But again, I am only going off your description.

  • I really appreciate the simplistic approach for those of us who have to learn to walk before we run so to speak. Thank you

  • Sarah Nwokolo
    March 13, 2016 3:05 pm

    Hi if a traditional marriage was done in April 2015 & my family returned the bride price back in December 2015 but now my ex partner is begging for me to come back how does one go about this? I was born in the Uk to Nigerian Igbo parents. Can anyone help? Thanks.

  • AbiolaTimothy Tunde
    March 27, 2016 9:07 pm

    I really appreciate each precept of the explanation between Dowry nd Brideprice. But today marriages goes along way with only brideprice carried out without dowry in execution. What should we do to such practices, especially among Nigeria expect Northern people.

  • Erik Dubasak
    April 6, 2016 10:36 am

    I am curious to verify an assertion that I have come across many times, but I have been able to confirm. I have heard some teachers mention that in ancient Jewish culture that when the bride price was offered as part of the betrothal that the girl was brought out to either accept or reject the proposal. As it goes, the way she accepted the proposal was by being offered a cup of wine, and if she accepted the proposal she would drink from it. This is portrayed in the film The Nativity Story as well. Anyhow, I am wondering if this was actually a practice, and if it has any implications to what Jesus is doing at the Last Supper by offering the cup to His disciples. In other words, is Jesus making a “proposal” to His bride?

    • We don’t have a great deal of evidence about early Israelite culture in this regard, but later Jewish culture did involve giving the woman the right of refusal in many cases.

      That does not, however, have any implications about Jesus offering the cup to his disciples, as the common meal in which they were engaging seems to have involved drinking from a common cup.

  • So for a real Christian, especially in African settings, Nigeria to be precise; is a marriage without traditional, court or church wedding said to be complete? I mean only the bride price has being paid.

  • joel diederich
    October 15, 2016 6:19 am

    Interestingly, Pentecost totally correlates with “50” the exact same amount of the scriptural [50 shekels of silver]. The outpouring of Ruah in Acts 2, and comparing the earnst of the Ghost bestowed upon believers seems to be quite evident[seeing we are “His bride”].

  • Vivien Douglas
    October 21, 2016 5:48 am

    Thank you Jason.
    Your article, though brief laid credit to an on going argument ‘Scarpping of bred price’


    January 25, 2017 7:03 am


    sir do you really think the issue of bride price or whatever is part of the gospel of Jesus? I am an African-Nigeria to be precise. Africans generally practices the African Traditional Religion (ATR)… its root was never Christ. Now that we have seen the light of the gospel, shouldnt we be separated away from our old ways instead of Christianizing those dark ways? For even the law of moses was considered faulty seeing that it could save no man.

    Most of the apostles of old died preaching the total gospel of – accepting Jesus and forsaking your old way”. they died because they understood that christianizing the old ways was not the gospel any more.

    we should stick to the law of the spirit… liberty to serve God in spirit and reconcile the world to God on a free course without traditional hindrances.. dont you think so? Africas darkness is powered by its traditions

  • john mborah donkoh
    March 31, 2017 4:21 am

    Tanks for this wonderful distinction.

  • Articulate argument but i find not corresponding Biblical support on the part of dowry.

  • Hi, this is really interesting, I am reading Jane Austen and I do not understand, if the man is looking for a rich heiress, it must be that he can control her money (dowry) after marriage, how did the wife protect herself for avoiding him to spend the money?

    • There were different legal strictures attached to how the money was controlled in Austen’s era. And it’s not the case that a gold-digging man must be able to control her money if he marries her. Rather, even if not able to control that money, he would benefit by proxy and their children would be better provided for.

  • Allan Lombola
    June 27, 2017 12:34 am

    One problem I have seen like in Africa they no longer view bride price or dowry as a means to help the new couple get established but they are using it as a means for gaining wealth at the expense of the young man some are very heartless in that they want you to meet there demand of an astronomical price and looking at some economies of some of the African countries it’s a had thing to raise the amount of money they demand and if you can’t afford to meet there demand they forbid you to marry there daughter which is so an kind and an considerate. They don’t care about the character of the young man but what matters to them is money if he can afford to pay then is the right candidate but what will keep the marriage going is not money but the love which the couple have for each other. Do not despise the umble beginnings

  • Thanks for this insightful and well researched article!

  • Where is it ever mentioned in the Torah of a woman bringing a dowry to her new marriage. Please provide scripture. Don’t just mention things and not provide scripture. I have done my research and there is no such practice found amongst the Israelites. This may have been practised by pagans back then including now and look at the disaster it causes amongst Indian pagan families. Until you can prove with precept upon precept from the BIble, both Old and New, please correct your article and do not teach man made culture to be The Most High’s ordained way to marriage.


    • There are examples of a woman bringing a dowry into a marriage in the Torah and numerous examples elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.

      Rebekah’s dowry was female slaves from her father’s household (Gen 24:59–61). Laban gave similar gifts to Leah and Rachel as their dowry (Gen 29:24–29).

      Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, Caleb gives a field of springs as his daughter’s dowry upon her marriage to Othniel (Judg 1:15). Pharaoh’s daughter came to Solomon with a city for a dowry (1 Kings 9:16). Etc.

  • AbdulFatah Kadigun
    December 5, 2018 1:18 am

    Thanks and I enjoued your writing. However,the words/directions of The Almighty God in the qur’an is very simple and straight forward. Only DOWRY needs to be paid or observed by men. Man is responsible to take care of his wife with his money. Please vosit the qur’am 4;4.

  • Blaire Baron
    May 14, 2019 11:01 am

    Thanks Jason. I just returned from Botswana where I lived inside a village for two months, attending all customs, including weddings and funerals – while teaching theatre at a tiny village school. I sat in on a “BRIDE PRICE” negotiation and celebration. And though the woman in this thread (who has pitched her own book) begs to differ on the terminology in “anthropology circles”, the people who PRACTICE it, call it Bride Price, though they know it is more complicated and textured than that term. The couple was very much in love and the families were close and the celebration of marriage a much happier one than I have seen – maybe ever – in the hundred plus weddings I have attended stateside. I feel fortunate to be inside this culture and know the people and children of this village. I won’t quote biblical text here, just have to chime in from my own personal experience. That’s all that matters in the end, at least for me. And I feel privileged to be on the inside. 🙂

  • Timothy Shichet Dodo
    June 4, 2019 9:57 am

    Thanks for the exegeses on dowry and bride price (bride wealth) – by going down history lane. I’ve added knowledge on these two concepts. I know now they’re different entirely. My culture (Atyap culture in Nigeria) actually practices both dowry and bride wealth right from ancient antiquity and still in force, just that modernization have influenced it a bit. E.g, valuable items or wealth is being used today as bride price instead of manual labour by he groom to be as practiced in the ancient times. Keep the good work churning out!

  • caleb turner
    July 25, 2019 6:31 pm

    Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that the biblical cases that in the English word “dowr”y or hebrew word “mohar” is mentioned, like in genesis 34:12, exodus 22:17, 1 samuel 18:25 it is indeed refering to the price paid by the man to the womans family. Perhaps this article wasnt meant to necessarily be biblically based which why in your explanation of “dowry” you didnt give any scriptures.

  • […] Jacob arranges with Laban to marry Rachel and work for him for seven years to pay her bride price. […]

  • I believe as another commentator said. That bride prices in a non-Christian culture helps to save the lives of baby girls. Unaffordable dowries unfortunately disincentives keeping daughters and raising them.

    If India replace all dowry with bride price. No doubt their sex ratio would be greatly fixed as many baby girls would be saved alive to grow up to become women.

  • Thank you for this clarification, many other articles on this subject did not make this distinction. If anything, Western society seems to be under the impression a man is the only one to bring wealth into the marriage. Especially agree with the engagement ring reference… touché! Lol

  • I’m intrigued by your note, “Interestingly, the dowry has usually been greater than the bride price in those cultures practicing both traditions.” Can you provide any sources for further information on that? Thanks!

  • Sir. A wonderfu, enlightening and enjoyable article. I Loved the engagement ring example, paying De Beers VS paying the bride to be’s parents, that was eye opening.


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