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DOWRY (dou'rē). The price paid by the suitor to the parents of the prospective bride; also the portion that the bride brought to her husband. Gen.30.20; Gen.34.12; Exod.22.17; and 1Sam.18.25 (kjv) illustrate various uses of the word. NIV renders “gift,” “bride-price.”

DOWRY, three Heb. words are so tr. in the Eng. VSS. 1. מֹ֣הַר, “purchase price,” “purchase money” (KJV) DOWRY, (RSV) MARRIAGE PRESENT. The actual meaning of the word is in effect “bride-price,” a sum paid the father of the bride for her economic loss to the family. This could be paid in service (Gen 29:18). It is used specifically in the sense of money paid the father for the bride (Gen 34:12; Exod 22:16; 1 Sam 18:25). It is therefore incorrect to consider this type of payment a dowry.

2. שִׁלֻּחִ֔ים, “gifts given to a daughter on her leaving for marriage.” Although a rather clumsy definition, it is clear enough in the two texts where it occurs (1 Kings 9:16; Mic 1:14 [KJV], “present” [RSV], “dowry”).

3. זֵ֣בֶד, “endowment,” “gift” (Gen 30:20). The relative scarcity of such terms in the OT demonstrates that although common in the Near Eastern cultures around them it was not customary among the people of Israel; in fact, three of the less than ten references are in contexts concerning Gentiles. See Marriage.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)