Origins of Anointing Oil

Classic Unscented

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over, (psalm 23:5)

Garden of Gethsemane
Well known to Jesus and the Twelve disciples, Gethsemane, a garden situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem would be forever remembered in history as the place Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before His crucifixion. “He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”, (Mark 14:35-36).
 
In the Psalm of David, the Lord anointing ones head with oil holds a deep symbolic meaning, for the use of olive oil to anoint kings, priest and restoration of health, strikingly exemplifies the prophecy that Jesus would carry the burdens and sufferings of mankind in no other place than the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Intercession, prophecies fulfilled, confessing the Way the Truth and the Life

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These gifts represented our Lords role as King Prophet and Priest. Undeniably Daniel’s promise of the coming King (Daniel 9:24-27), David’s promise of the coming Priest (Psalm 110:4), and Moses’s promise of the coming Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15) was realized.

 

(1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13; Psalm 89:20) Samuel anoints Saul and later David to be king over Israel. In 1 Kings 19:16 Jehu the son of Nimshi is anointed king over Israel, Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah is anointed as a prophet. This is in congruence with historical accounts of Priest Kings and Prophets being anointed in divine oil, of which the main ingredient was often myrrh. Psalm 45 makes mention of myrrh as a kingly anointing oil, a eulogy suggestive of the coming Messiah. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia (Psalm 45:7-8)

 

Studies have long suggested that furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and curzarene a compound found in myrrh may interact with opiod receptors in the brain, an implication of an analgesic property.  In the New Testament according to Mark, myrrh is offered to Jesus to alleviate His suffering, but Jesus refuses.  “And they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it”. (Mark 15:22-23). The Lords refusal to sooth his suffering before death is in direct correlation with His rightful role as the one and only Mediator between God and men, whom can present us unflawed in the presence of God’s glory.

 

According to John, myrrh was later used in the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial.  “And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:39-40)

 

In the Old Testament, the High Priest served as an intermediary between man and God, Frankincense was placed on the inner Alter of the Tabernacle burning throughout the day sending a pleasing scent to God, however with the birth of the Lord, the gift of Frankincense and Myrrh is suggestive of the Magi’s understanding of Moses and David’s promise. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)”

 

The symbolism of Frankincense to the infant Christ therefore speaks of His role as a High Priest, an intercessory, and a confession that He Is the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

Hyssop

Seeking spiritual cleansing, purification and protection through the Almighty Father

David makes a strong plea asking God to cleanse him with hyssop, with the understanding that only the refining power of the Almighty can purify.

 

Hyssop was used throughout the Bible for the purposes of cleansing and purification, often with both spiritual and symbolic implications.  In Exodus 12, God instructs Moses to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in to the blood of the sacrificial Passover lamb, representing the future Son of God, and using the hyssop to strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood, this insured that the Lord would pass over their doors not allowing the destroyer to strike, a clear example of Abba protecting the faithful.

 

In the books of Leviticus and Numbers, priest used hyssop in numerous ceremonies. In Numbers 18-19, Moses instructs that “a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.  The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.” Moses grippingly associates hyssop with cleansing and purification.

 

In John 19 interestingly the last Biblical use of hyssop is illustrated when the Lamb of God Jesus thirsts “ After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30)

 

As we recall the use of hyssop in the founding of Passover, the sacrificial and cleansing ceremonies of the Old Testament and David’s plea to be purged with hyssop and purified of his sins, we acknowledged that the final Biblical reference of the hyssop branch used to quench the thirst of the sacrificial Lamb of God, indeed is symbolic that the ultimate cleansing and purification had been realized

Pomegranate

Embracing life, abundance and the fruit of the Spirit

The LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel, (Numbers 13:1)”. This was a direct commandment from Abba to Moses, to send spies from the wilderness of Paran to Canaan. Witnessing the fertility and abundance of God’s Promised Land, pomegranates were among the seven species spies brought back to Moses. A land of Wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey (Deuteronomy 8:8).

 

Highly esteemed as a symbol of righteousness and fruitfulness, the numerous seeds, or arils, observed in the pomegranate often correspond with each 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. In the Book of Exodus, the Me’il or Robe of the Ephod, a sacred and intricately designed robe of the High Priest is described as having pomegranates embroidered on the hem, “They made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen around the hem of the robe, (Exodus 39:24)”.

 

In what would become Jerusalem’s first temple, pomegranates played an intricate part in the design of Jachin and Boaz, the two bronze pillars standing in front of King Solomon’s temple; “So he made the pillars, and two rows of pomegranates above the network all around to cover the capitals that were on top; and thus he did for the other capital” (1 King 7:18). “The capitals on the two pillars also had pomegranates above, by the convex surface which was next to the network; and there were two hundred such pomegranates in rows on each of the capitals all around”(1 King 7:20).

 

As the “fruit of the spirit”, pomegranates are truly a symbol of life and abundance.

Spikenard

Finding strength and Joy at the feet of Jesus

Carrying an alabaster flask, of an extravagant and costly oil of spikenard, Mary of Bethany breaks it open and anoints the head and feet of Jesus and wipes His feet with her hair.

 

The essence of spikenard escaping the alabaster flask filling the whole house, was undeniably a symbolic fragrant of affection, sympathy, joy and peace that spoke of a life poured out in devotion and a profound act of worship that truly pleased our Lord.

Latter Rain

Obedience rewarded, receiving the outpouring of the Holly Spirit

​In the first biblical reference of the “latter rain”, Moses is instructing the children of Israel on what is expected of them.  We learn that through loving the Lord and serving the Lord with all our heart and our soul, it is God’s desire to bless all of us abundantly. “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil”. Deuteronomy 11: 13-14

Lilly of the Valley

Arrayed in righteousness, accepting our Heavenly Father’s immeasurable love

A fragrance that permeates a sweet pleasing scent, the biblical lily refers to a large range of flowering plants that normally spreads its beauty throughout fields and valleys. While beautifully arrayed, its bell shaped blossoms characteristically hang low, truly emblematic of our Lord’s humility.

 

As an example to all of us, Jesus lived a humble life; spiritually, humility along with absolute trust in our Lord, is essential in our Christian development. Jesus tells us “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11) When we commit to Christ, we are given an ability to cast aside our anxieties. Helping us in understanding the immeasurable love of our Heavenly Father for those who trust Him, Jesus tells us to reflect upon the lilies in the field, “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)

Rose of Sharon

Redeemed and consoled in our Bridegroom’s full beauty and glory

Once considered a picturesque luxuriant plain between Joppa and Mount Carmel of Israel, Sharon was perhaps most notable for its exuberant flowers.  Our Savior, perfect in all His ways is symbolically referred to as the “Rose of Sharon”, what Biblical scholars concur to be the naturally beautiful cistus or rockross, a truly glorious sight along the plains of Sharon.

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