Kiddushin is devoted chiefly to discussion of the various modes of betrothal and the conditions which must be fulfilled to make a marriage valid. "Kiddushin" is the rabbinical term for betrothal, because the wife becomes thereby the sacrosanct possession of the husband.
Ch. i.: The husband obtains his wife in three ways: by money, however small the sum; by a written announcement; by sexual intercourse; the wife becomes free by divorce or the death of her husband (§ 1). This leads to a discussion of the acquisition and emancipation of Jewish and heathen slaves of both sexes (§§ 2-3), of the acquisition of cattle (§ 4) and real or personal property (§§ 4-6), and of the distinctions between man and woman regarding fulfilment of the laws, those pertaining only to a definite time not being binding on a woman (§§ 7-8); laws dealing with real estate apply only to Palestine (§ 9). Ch. ii.: Rules and conditions for marriage by proxy. A man may wed through a representative; so may a woman (§ 1); but any error or fraud on the part of either invalidates the union (§§ 2-3, 5-6); so does any failure of the proxy to follow exactly his instructions (§ 4). In case the marriage is effected by the gift of some article of value, it must be an object the use of which is not forbidden (§§ 8-10). Ch. iii.: Further rules and conditions for marriage by proxy (§§ 1-7); regulations for cases in which a father betroths one of his daughters while they are yet minors, but without stating definitely which one (§ 9), or in case either the man or the woman denies that a marriage ceremony has been performed (§§ 10-11); circumstances under which the custody of the child is granted to the man (or the woman), or under which the child is regarded as illegitimate (§§ 12-13). Ch. iv.: Enumeration of the ten families of diverse origin that removed from Babylonia to Palestine, and as to which of them may intermarry (§§ 1-3); the tests by which purity of lineage is proved (§§ 4-5); rules for the attestation of marriages contracted in distant lands (§§ 10-11). Ethical injunctions: a man must not remain alone with a woman (§§ 12-13); a father must teach his son one of the honorable trades enumerated and discussed, though the preeminence of the study of the Law over every other occupation is emphasized (§ 14). Special interest attaches to the exclamation of Simeon b. Eleazar: "The beasts, created to serve me, find nourishment easily; therefore I, created to serve God, should find nourishment still more easily; yet, for my sins, it is hard for me to gain my food." The chapter closes with the statement that Abraham had observed all the precepts of the Torah even before it was revealed.In the Tosefta this treatise is divided into five chapters. Particularly noteworthy are the eulogy of craftsmanship (i. 11) and the assertion which was made by Akiba that the Biblical prohibition against intermarrying with certain nations even after conversion to Judaism (see Deut. xxiii. 4-9) had been abrogated, since the conquests and deportations by the Assyrian kings (comp. II Kings xvii.) had so dispersed the peoples that none of them remained in its original abode (v. 4). The Gemara has numerous interesting comments and maxims, of which the following specimens may be cited: "Who teacheth not his son a trade teacheth him robbery" (29a); "Rewards for good deeds come not in this world" (39b); "It is the duty of a father to have his son instructed in the Scriptures, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, as well as in halakot and haggadot." The ancients were called "Soferim" because they counted the letters of the Torah; they said that the "waw" in the word (Lev. xi. 42) divided the letters of the Torah into two equal groups, as does the "'ayin" in the word (Ps. lxxx. 14). The word (Lev. x. 16) divides the words, and Lev. xiii. 43 the verses, of the Pentateuch in half, while Psalm lxxvii. 38 plays a similar part in the Book of Psalms (30a). [From JE, s.v. Kiddushin]