Anointing with Oil

An Orientalism:
A Custom or Mannerism in the Bible Times

Read Time: 10 Minutes

Genesis 28
:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning,
    and took the stone that he had put for his pillows,
    and set it up for a pillar,
    and poured oil upon the top of it.

To realize the significance of the pouring on of oil or anointing with oil will bring this and related verses alive for us. Bishop K. C. Pillai teaches that, in the eastern culture, oil is used as a symbol of the presence of God.

In Genesis God had given Jacob a vision that God would take care of him and bless him so that his seed would be as the dust of the earth and God would never leave him. Jacob then said in verse 16 ". . . Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not." Because of this Jacob poured oil upon the stones that he had used for a pillow and declared that this place was God's house and to commemorate God's promises. (Gen 28:22) The easterner oil indicates the presence of God.

The anointing a person with oil is also a sign that God wants that person set apart. In the following verses oil is used liberally; this record is of God setting up the priesthood of Aaron and his sons.

Exodus 28
:1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them,
        to minister unto me in the priest's office:
    Take one young bullock,
    and two rams without blemish,
:2 And unleavened bread,
    and cakes unleavened tempered with oil,
    and wafers unleavened anointed with oil:
        of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.
:3 And thou shalt put them into one basket,
    and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.
:4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
    and shalt wash them with water.
:5 And thou shalt take the garments,
    and put upon Aaron the coat,
    and the robe of the ephod,
    and the ephod,
    and the breastplate,
    and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:
:6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head,
    and put the holy crown upon the mitre.
:7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil,
    and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
:8 And thou shalt bring his sons,
    and put coats upon them.
:9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles,
        Aaron and his sons,
    and put the bonnets on them:
    and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute:
    and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.

God had oil poured upon Aaron to anoint him, set him apart, and indicate the presence of God. Notice also the cakes of unleavened bread tempered with oil and unleavened wafers anointed with oil that are to be used. There are other places in God's Word where cakes are used as offerings but without oil. When offerings are made to God in giving of thanks or peace offerings the cakes are mingled with oil. When offerings are made for sin or jealousy oil must be omitted.

Anointing is significant; God had Samuel anoint Saul with oil when He chose him to lead Israel and bring them back to Him.

I Samuel 10
:1  Then Samuel took a vial of oil,
    and poured it upon his [Saul's] head,
    and kissed him, and said,
        Is it
not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

When Saul got tricked and his heart turned away from God He had Samuel anoint David. Saul became insanely jealous and pursued David to kill him. Several times David had the chance to kill Saul but he wouldn't because:

I Samuel 24
:6 And he [David] said unto his men,
    The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master,
        the LORD's anointed,
    to stretch forth mine hand against him,
    seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.

I Samuel 26
:11  The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD?S anointed:
        but, I pray thee,
            take thou now the spear that is at his bolster,
            and the cruse of water, and let us go.

To be anointed of God is to be set apart and no one has any right to raise their hand against God's anointed.

According to Bishop K. C. Pillai the high cast people in the east bathe daily, but on Saturday for men and Friday for women they have a special ceremonial bath using linseed oil and coconut oil. They take very good care of the body, teeth, and hair because they believe that they are stewards of their bodies and God dwells within. During the oil bath the head is messaged first with oil and then the neck, shoulders, and body; the oil drips down upon the beards and skirts of the garments (towels around their waists). 

After the oil bath they find a place with flowing water like a waterfall or shower to bathe using soap made from ground soap nuts. Afterwards they eat and rest. This is very refreshing and peaceful, all their cares are washed away. Consider the state of mind and body after this treatment, take a moment and think about it. Now . . .

Psalm 133
:1  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
:2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head,
    that ran down upon the beard,
Aaron's beard:
    that went down to the skirts of his garments;

  David compares the fellowship with unified brethren to this ceremony, refreshing and peaceful.

Philippians 2
:2   Fulfil ye my joy,
    that ye be likeminded,
        having the same love,
of one accord,
        of one mind.

When we dwell together in unity there is peace and refreshment.

Jesus Christ was anointed with oil (Luke 7:28), and chosen of God, set apart to be the payment for our lives. We, as God's people, can also participate in this blessing:

II Corinthians 1
:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ,
    and hath anointed us,

We are also anointed, set apart, chosen of God, as if anointed with oil.

Another record in the Gospels is understood better now that we know about the significance of oil representing the presence of God.

Matthew 25
:1  Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,
    which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
:6 And at midnight there was a cry made,
        Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
:8 And the foolish said unto the wise,
        Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
:9 But the wise answered, saying,
        Not so
; lest there be not enough for us and you:
        but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came;
    and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage:
    and the door was shut.
:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying,
        Lord, Lord, open to us.
:12 But he answered and said,
        Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
:13 Watch therefore,
    for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

The easterners understand the underlying meaning of this verse; now is the time to believe God and make Jesus Christ lord in you life and believe that God has raised him from dead. Now is the time take God as His Word and do His will for Christ could return at any moment to raise the dead and gather us together unto him and we shall meet him in the air.