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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Anointing, Anointed

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ANOINTING, ANOINTED . 1 . The Hebrews distinguished between anointing with oil in the sense of its application to the body in ordinary life ( suk ), and anointing by pouring sacred oil on the head as a rite of consecration ( mâshach ). As regards the former, olive oil, alone or mixed with perfumes, was largely used in the everyday toilet of the Hebrews, although among the poor its use would be reserved for special occasions ( Ruth 3:8 ). To abstain from anointing in this sense was one of the tokens of mourning ( 2 Samuel 14:2 ), its resumption a sign that mourning was at an end ( 2 Samuel 12:20 ). Honour was shown to a guest by anointing his head with oil ( Psalms 23:5 , Luke 7:46 ), and still more by anointing his feet ( Luke 7:38 ). For medicinal anointing see Oil.

2 . Anointing as a religious rite was applied to both persons and things. Kings in particular were consecrated for their high office by having oil poured upon their heads, a practice which seems to have originated in Egypt. Though first met with in OT in the case of Saul ( 1 Samuel 10:1 , cf. David, 2 Samuel 2:4 ; 2 Samuel 5:3 , Solomon, 1 Kings 1:39 etc.), the rite was practised in Canaan long before the Hebrew conquest. By the pouring of the consecrated oil upon the head (see 2 Kings 9:3 ), there was effected a transference to the person anointed of part of the essential holiness and virtue of the deity in whose name and by whose representative the rite was performed. By the Hebrews the rite was also believed to impart a special endowment of the spirit of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ( 1 Samuel 16:13 , cf. Isaiah 61:1 ). Hence the sacrosanct character of the king as ‘the Lord’s anointed’ (Heb. meshiach [ Jahweh ], which became in Greek messias or, translated, christos both ‘Messiah’ and ‘Christ,’ therefore, signifying ‘the anointed’). The application of this honorific title to kings alone in the oldest literature makes it probable that the similar consecration of the priesthood ( Exodus 29:7 ; Exodus 40:13-15 , Leviticus 8:1-12 ) was a later extension of the rite. Only one exceptional instance is recorded of the anointing of a prophet ( 1 Kings 19:16 Isaiah 61:1 is metaphorical).

In the case of inanimate objects, we find early mention of the primitive and wide-spread custom of anointing sacred stones (Genesis 28:18 etc., see Pillar), and in the Priests’ Code the tabernacle and its furniture were similarly consecrated ( Exodus 30:29 ff; Exodus 40:9 ). For 2 Samuel 1:21 see War. See also Mary, No. 2 .

A. R. S. Kennedy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Anointing, Anointed'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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