According to the Jewish view of marriage, marriage is a contractual agreement between two people with legal rights and obligations. A Ketubah is a marriage contract that explains the basic material, conjugal and moral responsbilities of the husband to his wife. It is signed by the groom, as well as two witnesses, and given to the bride during the wedding ceremony.
The purpose of the Ketubah is to protect the woman’s rights during the marriage and in case she is divorced or widowed. Historically, the Ketubah marked a great leap forward in the thinking about the rights of women.
The Ketubah used today was written by Simeon ben Shetach in 80 B.C.E. and is in Aramaic, the language used by Jews during that period. At the wedding, under the Chuppah, parts of the Ketubah are paraphrased and read out loud.
It is forbidden for Jewish couples to live together without a Ketubah. If the Ketubah is lost, a new one must be written.
It has become traditional, since at least the fourteenth century, to decorate the Ketubah as artwork and hang it in the home as a keepsake.