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ANOINT [Easton's Bible Dictionary]

The practice of anointing with perfumed oil was common among the Hebrews.

  • The act of anointing was significant of consecration to a holy or sacred use; hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26). The high priest and the king are thus called "the anointed" (Leviticus 4:3,5,16; 6:20; Psalms 132:10). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him (1 Samuel 16:13; 2Sam 2:4, etc.). Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15). The expression, "anoint the shield" (Isaiah 21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.
  • Anointing was also an act of hospitality (Luke 7:38,46). It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2Sam 14:2; Psalms 104:15, etc.). This custom is continued among the Arabians to the present day.
  • Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Psalms 109:18; Isaiah 1:6; Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
  • The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mark 14:8; Luke 23:56).
  • The promised Deliverer is twice called the "Anointed" or Messiah (Psalms 2:2; Daniel 9:25,26), because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Isaiah 61:1), figuratively styled the "oil of gladness" (Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9). Jesus of Nazareth is this anointed One (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2,3; 18:5,28), the Messiah of the Old Testament.

  • ANOINTING [Smith's 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. ( 28:40; Ruth 3:3; Micah 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. (Luke 7:46) and Psalm 23:5

    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, (1 Kings 19:16) and were called messiahs, or anointed. (1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15) b. Priests, at the first institution of the Levitical priesthood, were all anointed to their offices, (Exodus 40:15; Numbers 3:3) but afterwards anointing seems to have been specially reserved for the high priest, (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 16:32) so that "the priest that is anointed," (Leviticus 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. (1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1; 1 Kings 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. ( (Genesis 31:13; Exodus 30:26-28)

    3. Ecclesiastical . Anointing with oil is prescribed by St. James to be used for the recovery of the sick. (James 5:14) Analogous to this is the anointing with oil practiced by the twelve. (Mark 6:13)


    4. In the Old Testament a Deliverer is promised under the title of Messiah, or Anointed, (Psalms 2:2; Daniel 9:25,26) and the nature of his anointing is described to be spiritual, with the Holy Ghost. (Isaiah 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, (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2,3; 18:4,28) and the historical fact of his being anointed with the Holy Ghost is asserted and recorded. (John 1:32,33; Acts 4:27; 10:38) Christ was anointed as prophet priest and king.

    5. Spiritual anointing with the Holy Ghost is conferred also upon Christians by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21) " Anointing "expresses the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit upon Christians who are priests and kings unto God.

    ANOINT, ANOINTED [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

    a-noint', a-noint'-ed (aleipho, chrio):
    Refers to a very general practice in the East. It originated from the relief from the effect of the sun that was experienced in rubbing the body with oil or grease. Among rude people the common vegetable or animal fat was used. As society advanced and refinement became a part of civilization, delicately perfumed ointments were used for this purpose. Other reasons soon obtained for this practice than that stated above. Persons were anointed for health (Mark 6:13), because of the widespread belief in the healing power of oil. It was often employed as a mark of hospitality (Luke 7:46); as a mark of special honor (John 11:2); in preparation for social occasions (Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2; Isaiah 61:3). The figurative use of this word (chrio) has reference strictly to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the individual (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38). In this sense it is God who anoints (Heb 19; 2 Corinthians 1:21). The thought is to appoint, or qualify for a special dignity, function or privilege. It is in this sense that the word is applied to Christ (John 1:41 m; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Hebrews 1:9; compare Psalms 2:2; Daniel 9:25).
    See also ANOINTING .

    Jacob W. Kapp

    ANOINTING [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]


    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 (mashach).

    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 Palestine made the oil very soothing to the skin, and it was applied freely to exposed parts of the body, especially to the face (Psalms 104:15).

    (2) The practice was in vogue before David's time, and traces of it may be found throughout the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20; 14:2; 2 Chronicles 28:15; Ezekiel 16:9; Micah 6:15; Daniel 10:3) and in the New Testament (Matthew 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 Samuel 14:2; compare Matthew 6:17), and to resume it a sign that the mourning was ended (2 Samuel 12:20; 14:2; Daniel 10:3; Judith 10:3). It often accompanied the bath (Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20; Ezekiel 16:9; Susanna 17), and was a customary part of the preparation for a feast (Ecclesiastes 9:8; Psalms 23:5). One way of showing honor to a guest was to anoint his head with oil (Psalms 23:5; Luke 7:46); a rarer and more striking way was to anoint his feet (Luke 7:38). In James 5:14, we have an instance of anointing with oil for medicinal purposes, for which see OIL .

    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 a ceiling in Jeremiah 22:14, of anointing a shield in Isaiah 21:5, and is, accordingly, consistently applied to sacred furniture, like the altar, in Exodus 29:36 and Daniel 9:24, and to the sacred pillar in Genesis 31:13: "where thou anointedst a pillar."

    (3) The most significant uses of mashach, however, are found in its application, not to sacred things, but to certain sacred persons. The oldest and most sacred of these, it would seem, was the anointing of the king, by pouring oil upon his head at his coronation, a ceremony regarded as sacred from the earliest times, and observed religiously not in Israel only, but in Egypt and elsewhere (see Judges 9:8,15; 1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1; 2 Samuel 19:10; 1 Kings 1:39,45; 2 Kings 9:3,6; 11:12). Indeed such anointing appears to have been reserved exclusively for the king in the earliest times, which accounts for the fact that "the Lord's anointed" became a synonym for "king" (see 1 Samuel 12:3,5; 26:11; 2 Samuel 1:14; Psalms 20:6). It is thought by some that the practice originated in Egypt, and it is known to have been observed as a rite in Canaan at a very early day. Tell el-Amarna Letters 37 records the anointing of a king.

    (4) Among the Hebrews it was believed not only that it effected a transference to the anointed one of something of the holiness and virtue of the deity in whose name and by whose representative the rite was performed, but also that it imparted a special endowment of the spirit of Yahweh (compare 1 Samuel 16:13; Isaiah 61:1). Hence the profound reverence for the king as a sacred personage, "the anointed" (Hebrew, meshiach YHWH), which passed over into our language through the Greek Christos, and appears as "Christ".

    (5) In what is known today as the Priestly Code, the high priest is spoken of as "anointed" (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 4:3; 8:12), and, in passages regarded by some as later additions to the Priestly Code, other priests also are thus spoken of (Exodus 30:30; 40:13-15). Elijah was told to anoint Elisha as a prophet (1 Kings 19:16), but seems never to have done so. 1 Kings 19:16 gives us the only recorded instance of such a thing as the anointing of a prophet. Isaiah 61:1 is purely metaphorical (compare Dillmann on Leviticus 8:12-14 with ICC on Numbers 3:3; see also Nowack, Lehrbuch der hebraischen Archaologie,II , 124).


    Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Anointing"; BJ, IV, ix, 10, DB, article "Anointing," etc.

    George B. Eager

    ANOINTED [Thompson Chain Reference]
    Anointed One
        * (Christ the Anointed One)
              o Psalms 45:7
              o Isaiah 61:1
              o Daniel 9:24
              o Luke 4:18
              o Acts 4:27
              o Acts 10:38
              o SEE Christ; King 
        * Of Objects set apart for Sacred Uses
              o Exodus 29:36
              o Exodus 30:26
              o Exodus 40:10
              o Leviticus 8:11
              o Numbers 7:1
        * Examples of Persons Anointed in Consecration
              o Leviticus 8:30
              o 1 Samuel 10:1
              o 1 Samuel 16:13
              o 1 Kings 1:39
              o 1 Kings 19:16
              o 2 Kings 9:3
              o 2 Kings 11:12
              o 2 Kings 23:30
        * Of Guests
              o 2 Chronicles 28:15
              o John 12:3
              o SEE Social Life
        * General References to Application of Oil to the Body
              o Ruth 3:3
              o Psalms 92:10
              o Ecclesiastes 9:8
              o Isaiah 57:9
              o Amos 6:6
        * Figurative
              o 2 Corinthians 1:21
              o 1 John 2:20
              o 1 John 2:27
        * Application of Oil as a Remedy
              o Isaiah 1:6
              o Mark 6:13
              o Luke 10:34
              o James 5:14
              o Revelation 3:18 

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