Manners & Customs: Anointing
Anointing in ancient Bible times
Anoint in Easton's Bible Dictionary
The practice of anointing with perfumed oil was common
Hebrews. (1.) The act of anointing was significant
consecration to a holy or sacred use; hence the
anointing of the
high priest (Ex. 29:29; Lev. 4:3) and of the sacred
30:26). The high priest and the king are thus called
anointed" (Lev. 4:3, 5, 16; 6:20; Ps. 132:10).
Anointing a king
was equivalent to crowning him (1 Sam. 16:13; 2 Sam.
Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chr.
105:15). The expression, "anoint the shield" (Isa.
to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the
shield so as
to make it supple and fit for use in war.
(2.) Anointing was also an act of hospitality (Luke
It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to
themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or
their bodies (Deut. 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 14:2;
etc.). This custom is continued among the Arabians
(3.) Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It
to the sick, and also to wounds (Ps. 109:18; Isa.
6:13; James 5:14).
(4.) The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed
14:8; Luke 23:56).
(5.) The promised Deliverer is twice called the
Messiah (Ps. 2:2; Dan. 9:25, 26), because he was
the Holy Ghost (Isa. 61:1), figuratively styled the
gladness" (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9). Jesus of Nazareth is
anointed One (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2, 3; 18:5,
Messiah of the Old Testament.
Anoint in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
"To put oil on the head or body"; a practice common in the
E. (Rth 3:3). To cease anointing was a mark of mourning (2
Samuel 14:2; Daniel 10:3; Matthew 6:17). A mark of respect
to a guest so common that to omit it implied defective
hospitality (Luke 7:46; Psalm 23:5); Heb., "Thou hast made
fat," or "unctuous" (John 11:2; John 12:3). A body was
prepared for burial with unguents (Mark 16:1; Mark 14:8).
Metaphorically, "anointed with oil" means successful, joyous
(Psalm 92:10; Ecclesiastes 9:8). "Anointing with the oiler
gladness" (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9) expresses spiritual joy,
such as Messiah felt and shall feel in seeing the blessed
fruit of His sufferings (Isaiah 61:3). Anointing prevents
excessive perspiration in the hot and arid E., gives
elasticity to the limbs, and acts as clothing in both sun
The ordinary clothing is thin, and the heat and sand
produce weariness and irritation, which the oil relieves.
Oil was used as a medicament for the sick, and liniment for
bodily pain (Isaiah 1:6), so that it was used as a symbol in
miraculous cures (Mark 6:13). The usage which Christ
practiced Himself (John 9:6; John 9:11) and committed to His
apostles was afterward continued with laying on of hands as
a token of the highest faculty of medicine in the church.
Rome vainly continues the sign, when the reality, the power
of miraculous healing, is wanting. Rome's "extreme unction"
is administered to heal the soul when the body's life is
despaired of. James's (James 5:14-15) unction was to heal
the body. The sacred use of oil was for consecrating things
or persons to God. So Jacob anointed for a pillar the stone
which had been his pillow at Bethel (Genesis 28:18).
The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and as
applied to things gave them a ceremonial sacredness, fitting
them for holy ministrations. As applied to prophets (1
Chronicles 16:22; 1 Kings 19:16), priests (Leviticus 4:3),
and kings (Isaiah 45:1), it marked their consecration to the
office, and was a symbol of the spiritual qualification
divinely imparted for its due discharge (Exodus 30:29-30). 1
Samuel 10:1,6: King Saul. 1 Samuel 16:13-14; David thrice
anointed: first to the right; then over Judah; then actually
over the whole nation. Isaiah 61:1; Messiah, twice so
designated in the Old Testament (Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:25-26),
at once Prophet, Priest, and King, the Center of all
prophecy, the Antitype of all priesthood, and the Source and
End of all kingship (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38). He
was anointed with the Holy Spirit from the womb, then at His
baptism (John 1:32-33-41).
Hereby the New Testament marks Him as the Messiah of
the Old Testament (Acts 9:22; Acts 17:2-3; Acts 18:5; Acts
18:28.) What He is His people are, Messiahs or "anointed
ones" by union with Him (Zechariah 4:14), having the unction
of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20). Though
priests in general were at first anointed, afterward
anointing was restricted to the high priest, called "the
priest that is anointed:" the perfume used was of stacte,
onycha, and galbanum, with pure frankincense, and it was
death to imitate it. Antitypically, to Christ, the true high
priest alone, belongs the fullness of the Spirit, which it
is blasphemy to arrogate.
"The Lord's anointed" was the ordinary phrase for
the theocratic king (1 Samuel 12:3; Lamentations 4:20).
"Anointing the shield" was to make the hide of which it was
made supple and less liable to crack (Isaiah 21:5).
"Anointing the eyes with eyesalve" expresses imparting of
spiritual perceptions (Revelation 3:18). "The yoke shall be
destroyed because of the anointing" (Isaiah 10:27), i.e.,
the Assyrian oppression shall be taken away from Judah,
because of the consecration that is upon the elect nation,
its prophets, priests, kings, and holy place (Psalm 105:15);
the Antitype to all which is Messiah, "the Anointed" (Daniel
9:24). It is for Messiah's sake that all their deliverances
are vouchsafed to His people.
Anointing in Naves Topical Bible
Of the body
De 28:40; Ru 3:3; Es 2:12; Ps 92:10; 104:15; 141:5;
27:9,16; Ec 9:8; So 1:3; 4:10; Isa 57:9; Am 6:6; Mic
2Ch 28:15; Lu 7:46
-Of the sick
Isa 1:6; Mr 6:13; Lu 10:34; Jas 5:14; Re 3:18
-Of the dead
Mt 26:12; Mr 14:8; 16:1; Lu 23:56
-Of Jesus, as a token of love
Lu 7:37,38,46; Joh 11:2; 12:3
-Omitted in mourning
2Sa 12:20; 14:2; Isa 61:3; Da 10:3
-God Preserves those who receive
Ps 18:50; 20:6; 89:20-23
Isa 61:3; 1Jo 2:20
OF HIGH PRIESTS
Ex 29:7,29; 40:13; Le 6:20; 8:12; 16:32; Nu 35:25;
Ex 28:41; 30:30; 40:15; Le 4:3; 8:30; Nu 3:3
1Sa 9:16; 10:1; 15:1
1Sa 16:3,12,13; 2Sa 2:4; 5:3; 12:7; 19:21; 1Ch 11:3
1Ki 1:39; 1Ch 29:22
1Ki 19:16; 2Ki 9:1-3,6,12
2Ki 11:12; 2Ch 23:11
OF THE TABERNACLE
Ex 30:26; 40:9; Le 8:10; Nu 7:1
Ex 30:26-28; 40:10; Le 8:11; Nu 7:1
Ex 30:27,28; 40:9,10; Le 8:10,11; Nu 7:1
JACOB'S PILLAR: at Beth-el
Ge 28:18; 31:13; 35:14
Of Christ's kingly and priestly office
Ps 45:7; 89:20; Isa 61:1; Da 9:24; Lu 4:18; Ac 4:27;
10:38; Heb 1:9
Of spiritual gifts
2Co 1:21; 1Jo 2:20,27
Ex 40:13-15; Le 8:12; 1Sa 16:13; 1Ki 19:16
Mt 26:7-12; Joh 12:3-7
Anointing in Smiths Bible Dictionary
in Holy Scripture, is either, I. Material--with oil--or II.
Spiritual--with the Holy Ghost. I. MATERIAL.--
1. Ordinary. Anointing the body or head with oil was
a common practice with the Jews, as with other Oriental
nations. De 28:40; Ru 3:3; Mic 6:15 Anointing the head with
oil or ointment seems also to have been a mark of respect
sometimes paid by a host to his guests. Lu 7:46 and Psal
2. Official. It was a rite of inauguration into each
of the three typical offices of the Jewish commonwealth. a.
Prophets were occasionally anointed to their office, 1Ki
19:16 and were called messiahs, or anointed. 1Ch 16:22; Ps
105:15 b. Priests, at the first institution of the Levitical
priesthood, were all anointed to their offices, Ex 40:15; Nu
3:3 but afterwards anointing seems to have been specially
reserved for the high priest, Ex 29:29; Le 16:32 so that
"the priest that is anointed," Le 4:3 is generally thought
to mean the high priest. c. Kings. Anointing was the
principal and divinely-appointed ceremony in the
inauguration of the Jewish Kings. 1Sa 9:16; 10:1; 1Ki
1:34,39 The rite was sometimes performed more than once.
David was thrice anointed. d. Inanimate objects also were
anointed with oil, in token of their being set apart for
religious service. Thus Jacob anointed a pillar at Bethel. (
Ge 31:13; Ex 30:26-28
3. Ecclesiastical. Anointing with oil is prescribed
by St. James to be used for the recovery of the sick. Jas
5:14 Analogous to this is the anointing with oil practiced
by the twelve. Mr 6:13 II. SPIRITUAL.--
1. In the Old Testament a Deliverer is promised
under the title of Messiah, or Anointed, Ps 2:2; Da 9:25,26
and the nature of his anointing is described to be
spiritual, with the Holy Ghost. Isa 61:1 see Luke 4:18
In the New Testament Jesus of Nazareth is shown to
be the Messiah, or Christ or Anointed, of the Old Testament,
Joh 1:41; Ac 9:22; 17:2,3; 18:4,28 and the historical fact
of his being anointed with the Holy Ghost is asserted and
recorded. Joh 1:32,33; Ac 4:27; 10:38 Christ was anointed as
prophet priest and king.
2. Spiritual anointing with the Holy Ghost is
conferred also upon Christians by God. 2Co 1:21 " Anointing
"expresses the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit
upon Christians who are priests and kings unto God.
Anointing in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
a-noint'-ing: A distinction was made by the ancient Hebrews
between anointing with oil in private use, as in making
one's toilet (cukh), and anointing as a religious rite
1. Ordinary Use:
(1) As regards its secular or ordinary use, the native olive
oil, alone or mixed with perfumes, was commonly used for
toilet purposes, the very poor naturally reserving it for
special occasions only (Ruth 3:3). The fierce protracted
heat and biting lime dust of Israel made the oil very
soothing to the skin, and it was applied freely to exposed
parts of the body, especially to the face (Ps 104:15).
(2) The practice was in vogue before David's time, and
traces of it may be found throughout the Old Testament (see
Dt 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam 12:20; 14:2; 2 Chron 28:15; Ezek
16:9; Mic 6:15; Dan 10:3) and in the New Testament (Mt 6:17,
etc.). Indeed it seems to have been a part of the daily
toilet throughout the East.
(3) To abstain from it was one token of mourning (2 Sam
14:2; compare Mt 6:17), and to resume it a sign that the
mourning was ended (2 Sam 12:20; 14:2; Dan 10:3; Judith
10:3). It often accompanied the bath (Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam 12:20;
Ezek 16:9; Susanna 17), and was a customary part of the
preparation for a feast (Eccl 9:8; Ps 23:5). One way of
showing honor to a guest was to anoint his head with oil (Ps
23:5; Lk 7:46); a rarer and more striking way was to anoint
his feet (Lk 7:38). In Jas 5:14, we have an instance of
anointing with oil for medicinal purposes, for which see
2. Religious Use:
Anointing as a religious rite was practiced throughout the
ancient East in application both to persons and to things.
(1) It was observed in Canaan long before the Hebrew
conquest, and, accordingly, Weinel (Stade's Zeutschrift,
XVIII, 50 ff) holds that, as the use of oil for general
purposes in Israel was an agricultural custom borrowed from
the Canaanites, so the anointing with sacred oil was an
outgrowth from its regular use for toilet purposes. It seems
more in accordance with the known facts of the case and the
terms used in description to accept the view set forth by
Robertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, 2nd ed., 233, 383
ff; compare Wellhausen, Reste des arabischen Heidenthums,
2nd ed., 125 ff) and to believe that the cukh or use of oil
for toilet purposes, was of agricultural and secular origin,
and that the use of oil for sacred purposes, mashach, was in
origin nomadic and sacrificial. Robertson Smith finds the
origin of the sacred anointing in the very ancient custom of
smearing the sacred fat on the altar (matstsebhah), and
claims, rightly it would seem, that from the first there was
a distinct and consistent usage, distinguishing the two
terms as above.
(2) The primary meaning of mashach in Hebrew, which is borne
out by the Arabic, seems to have been "to daub" or "smear."
It is used of painting...
Anointing Scripture - Exodus 40:9
And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the
tabernacle, and all that [is] therein, and shalt hallow it,
and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
Anointing Scripture - Exodus 29:21
And thou shalt take of the blood that [is] upon the altar, and
of the anointing oil, and sprinkle [it] upon Aaron, and upon
his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his
sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and
his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
Anointing Scripture - Exodus 30:25
And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment
compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy
Anointing Scripture - Exodus 35:15
And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil,
and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the
entering in of the tabernacle,
Anointing Scripture - Exodus 40:15
And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father,
that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for
their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood
throughout their generations.
Anointing Scripture - Leviticus 21:10
And [he that is] the high priest among his brethren, upon
whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is
consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his
head, nor rend his clothes;
Anointing Scripture - Leviticus 21:12
Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the
sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of
his God [is] upon him: I [am] the LORD.
Anointing Scripture - Leviticus 8:30
And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which
[was] upon the altar, and sprinkled [it] upon Aaron, [and]
upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons'
garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, [and] his garments,
and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
Anointing Scripture - Numbers 18:8
And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee
the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things
of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by
reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for
Anointing Scripture - Numbers 4:16
And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest
[pertaineth] the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and
the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, [and] the
oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein [is],
in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.
Anointing with the Alabaster Flask
The Bible mentions an alabaster flask or box or more accurately "an alabastron", a small contaner which was filled with costly spikenard (perfumed oil). Mary came to the house of Simon the leper to anoint Jesus by breaking the jar and pouring the spikenard on his head in Mark 14. In the ancient world one of the purposes for anointing the head was to show respect and honor to the person receiving it. Alabaster was a soft stone resembling marble, and many of these jars came from Egypt. Alabaster jars contained many interesting colors, some were translucent with veins of yellow, brown, and red. The alabaster jar usually contained olive oil, or a costly ointment or perfume. It had a long neck designed to restrict the flow and prevent waste. Mary broke the top in order to pour out the spikenard. [Life of Jesus]
Olive Oil in Bible Times
The wide use of olive oil in Bible lands. Olive oil was considered to be one of the great sources of wealth in the days of King Solomon (cf. I Kings 5:11; II Chronicles 2:10). Solomon gave to Hiram each year in return for services rendered by his men, among other things, twenty thousand baths of oil, one bath being about seven and one-half gallons.
The prophets Ezekiel and Hosea make mention of the exporting of oil to other lands (Ezekiel 27:17; Hosea 12:1). Oil has been used for a great variety of purposes in the Orient. It largely took the place of butter in eating, and for cooking purposes it was used in place of animal fat.
Ezekiel mentions three important items of diet of which oil is one, and flour and honey are the other two (Ezekiel 16:13). And olive oil was used almost exclusively for light in lamps. The most famous example of this is "the ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom" (Matthew 25:1). Also oil is used today in Bible lands in the manufacture of soap, and it is quite likely that it was so used in Bible days. And oil was often used for anointing the body.
Naomi told Ruth, "Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor" (Ruth 3:3).
Then oil was many times used in various religious ceremonies. It formed a part of the meal offering (Leviticus 2:1). The prophet was anointed with oil when he took over his duties (I Kings 19:16). The priest was also anointed with oil when he took over his duties (Leviticus 8:12). And the king was anointed either by a prophet or by the priest (I Samuel 16:13; I Kings 1:34).
In New Testament times the sick were anointed for the healing of their bodies (Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Rams Horn to Carry Oil
Rams' horns. The horns of the rams are considered to be of great value. In many Western lands, growers of sheep have endeavored to develop a hornless breed, but in the East the horns are thought of as an important part of the animal. The ram's horn has been used chiefly as a vessel in which liquids have been carried. For carrying purposes a wooden plug is driven into the large end of the horn so as to close it, and sometimes it is covered with raw hide to hold it in place. The small part of the pointed end of the horn is cut off, and the opening closed with a stopper. The ram's horn was used in Bible times to carry oil.
Samuel was told to take his horn of oil and anoint David to be the future king (I Samuel 16:1). Solomon was anointed king by the oil in the horn of Zadok the priest (I Kings 1:39). Reference has already been made to the shepherd's use of oil with his sheep, and this was carried in a ram's horn.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The symbolic use of the olive. The olive tree has been thought of as a symbol of peace, ever since the dove sent out by Noah from the ark came back, and "Lo, in her mouth an olive leaf plucked off" (Genesis 8:11). Throughout the Bible, oil is often used symbolically of the HOLY SPIRIT. And when the Apostle John speaks of the "anointing which ye have received" (I John 2:27), he means by it the enduement with power of the HOLY SPIRIT. Also oil was considered a symbol of abundance (Deuteronomy 8:8), and a lack of it was a symbol of want (Joel 1:10). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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