What is a ketubah?

The Historical Roots of the Ketubah

The origins of the ketubah date back to Biblical times. Back then, when a man agreed to his daughters engagement, he lost a valuable member of his household. To compensate for this loss the grooms family paid a financial settlement called a mohar. The groom also gave wedding gifts known as mattan to his bride.

The oldest known ketubah dates from approximately 440 B.C.E. It was discovered in Egypt and written on papyrus. This document recorded the financial settlement and contributions to the dowry. It designated the wife as the beneficiary if the husband died.

The text of the ketubah was first formalized in the 1st century B.C.E. by the Sanhedrin (the political and judicial council). Despite changes over time, today's Orthodox ketubah text is similar to the one from two thousand years ago. Written in Aramaic, it remains a vital part of many Jewish weddings.

Contents of the Ketubah

The ketubah includes several important sections. It records details like the wedding date and the names of the bride and groom. It also lists the grooms obligations to his bride. These obligations are both financial and conjugal.

In traditional communities the ketubah states the grooms responsibilities. These include financial support and marital duties. It also specifies what happens in case of divorce or the husbands death.

In modern communities the ketubah can be more flexible. The couple can decide together what they will promise each other. This makes the ketubah similar to wedding vows. It reflects their mutual commitment and love.

The Modern Ketubah

Today, couples keep the ketubah as a key part of their Jewish wedding. Modern ketubahs include texts that resonate personally and are often in English. There are also texts available relating to a particular denominations.

Couples may include multiple languages to honour both families. Some couples choose to write their own text. This can include personal vows or your favourite poetry.

The ketubah has evolved to reflect modern values while preserving a beautiful tradition. It remains a meaningful and cherished part of the wedding ceremony.

How to Choose Your Ketubah

Choosing a ketubah is an exciting part of wedding planning. Start by deciding on a design that reflects your taste as a couple. Consider which style and size is most suitable for your home. Next think about which text is suitable for you as a couple.

Many couples choose to add their own vows or meaningful quotes. Ketubata offers a wide range of customizable texts and designs to fit your unique vision.

Remember your ketubah is not just a document. Its a keepsake and a cherished piece of art to remind you of your wedding day. Take your time to choose one that you will cherish forever.


A traditional illustrated ketubah (Jewish marriage contract)
A traditional illustrated ketubah (Jewish marriage contract). Likely from Isfahan, Iran. Date: before 1911