(usually מָשִׁח, mashach', χρίω). The practice of anointing with perfumed oils or ointments appears to have been very common among the Hebrews, as it was among the ancient Egyptians. SEE UNGUENT. The practice, as to its essential meaning, still remains in the East; but perfumed waters are now far more commonly employed than oils or ointments (q.v.). See PERFUME. It is from this source that the usage has extended to other regions. Among the Greeks and Romans oil was employed as a lubricator for suppling the bodies of the athletes in the games (q.v.), and also after the bath (q.v.).
I. In the Scriptures several kinds of anointing are distinguishable (Scacchi, Myrotheca, 3, Romans 1637).
1. Consecration and Inauguration. — The act of anointing appears to have been viewed as emblematical of a particular sanctification, of a designation to the service of God, or to a holy and sacred use. Hence the anointing of the high-priests (Ex 29:29; Le 4:3), and even of the sacred vessels of the tabernacle (Ex 30:26, etc.); and hence also, probably, the anointing of the king, who, as "the Lord's anointed," and, under the Hebrew constitution, the viceroy of Jehovah, was undoubtedly invested with a sacred character. This was the case also among the Egyptians, among whom the king was, ex officio, the high-priest, and as such, doubtless, rather than in his secular capacity, was solemnly anointed at his inauguration. SEE UNCTIONS (of Christ).
As the custom of inaugural anointing first occurs among the Israelites immediately after they left Egypt, and no example of the same kind is met with previously, it is fair to conclude that the practice and the notions connected with it were acquired in that country. With the Egyptians, as with the Jews, the investiture to any sacred office, as that of king or priest, was confirmed by this external sign; and as the Jewish lawgiver mentions the ceremony of pouring oil upon the head of the high-priest after he had put on his entire dress, with the mitre and crown, the Egyptians represent the anointing of their priests and kings after they were attired in their full robes, with the cap and crown upon their heads. Some of the sculptures introduce a priest pouring oil over the monarch (Wilkinson's Anc. Egyptians, 4, 280). It is from this that the high-priest, as well as the king, is called "the anointed" (Le 4:3; Le 5:16; Le 6:15; Ps 133:2). In fact, anointing being the principal ceremony of regal inauguration among the Jews, as drowning is with us, "anointed," as applied to a king, has much the same signification as "crowned." It does not, however, appear that this anointing was repeated at every succession, the anointing of the founder of the dynasty being considered efficient for its purpose as long as the regular line of descent was undisturbed (Jahn, Bibl. Archaol. § 223); hence we find no instance of unction as a sign of investiture in the royal authority, except in the case of Saul, the first king of the Jews, and of David, the first of his line; and, subsequently, in those of Solomon, Joash, and Jehu, who ascended the throne under circumstances in which there was danger that their right might be forcibly disputed (1Sa 19:24; 2Sa 2:4; 2Sa 5:1-3; 1Ch 11:1-2; 2Ki 11:12-20; 2Ch 23). Those who were inducted into the royal office in the kingdom of Israel appear to have been inaugurated with some peculiar ceremonies (2Ki 9:13). But it is not clear that they were anointed at all; and the omission (if real) is ascribed by the Jewish writers to the want of the holy anointing oil which could alone be used on such occasions, and which was in the keeping of the priests of the temple in Jerusalem. The private anointing which was performed by the prophets (2Ki 9:3; comp. 1Sa 10:1) was not understood to convey any abstract right to the crown, but was merely a symbolical intimation that the person thus anointed should eventually ascend the throne.
The following species of official anointing appear to have prevailed among the Jews:
(a.) Prophets were occasionally anointed to their office (1Ki 19:16), and are 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, the sons of Aaron as well as Aaron himself (Ex 40:15; Nu 3:3); but afterward anointing seems not to have been repeated at the consecration of ordinary priests, but to have been especially reserved for the high-priest (Ex 29:29; Le 16:32); so that "the priest that is anointed" (הִמָּשִׁיחִ הִכֹּהֵן, Le 4:3) is generally thought to mean the high-priest (Sept. ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς ὁ κεχρισμένος; comp. verses 5, 16, and c. 6, 22 ).
(c.) Kings. The Jews were familiar with the idea of making a king by anointing before the establishment of their own monarchy (Jg 9:8,15). Anointing was the divinelyappointed ceremony in the inauguration of their own kings (1Sa 9:16; 1Sa 10:1; 1Ki 1:34,39); indeed, so pre-eminently did it belong to the kingly office, that "the Lord's anointed" was a common designation of the theocratic king (1Sa 12:3,5; 2Sa 1:14,16). The rite was sometimes performed more than once. David was thrice anointed to be king: first, privately by Samuel, before the death of Saul, by way of conferring on him a right to the throne (1Sa 16:1,13); again over Judah at Hebron (2Sa 2:4), and finally over the whole nation (2Sa 5:3). After the separation into two kingdoms, the kings both of Judah and of Israel seem still to have been anointed (2Ki 9:3; 2Ki 11:12). So late as the time of the captivity the king is called "the anointed of the Lord" (Ps 89:38,51; La 4:20). Besides Jewish kings, we read that Hazael was to be anointed king over Syria (1Ki 19:15). Cyrus also is called the Lord's anointed, as having been raised by God to the throne for the special purpose of delivering the Jews out of captivity (Isa 45:1).
(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); and, at the introduction of the Mosaic economy, the tabernacle and all its furniture were consecrated by anointing (Ex 30:388). The expression "anoint the shield" (Isa 21:6; Sept.
ἑτοιμάσατε θυρεούς; Vulg. arripite clypeum) refers to the custom of rubbing oil into the hide which, stretched upon a frame, formed the shield, in order to make it supple and fit for use. (See the treatises in Latin, on the priestly anointing, by Clasing [Lemgon. (1717]; Schwarz [Viteb. 1755]; Ziegra [Viteb. 1682]; Zoega [Lips. 1680]; on the royal anointing, by Weymar [Jen. 1629]; and among other nations, by Eschenbach [Jen. 1687]; Speckner [Viteb. 1716]).
2. As an Act of Hospitality. — The anointing of our Savior's feet by "the woman who was a sinner" (Lu 7:38) led to the remark that the host himself had neglected to anoint his head (ver. 46); whence we learn that this was a mark of attention which those who gave entertainments paid to their guests. As this is the only direct mention of the custom, the Jews are supposed by some to have borrowed it from the Romans at a late period, and Wetstein and others have brought a large quantity of Latin erudition to bear on the subject. (See the treatises, on this instance, in Latin, by Baler [Altdorf. 1722]; Goetze [Lips. 1687; and in Menethii Thesaur. 2, 200- 204]; Jaeschke [Lips. 1700]; Krackewitz [Rost. 1703]; Polchow [Jen. 1755]; Ries [Marb. 1727]; Sonnuel [Lond. 1775, 1794]; Trautermann [Jen. 1749].) But the careful reader of the O.T. knows that the custom was an old one, to which there are various indirect allusions. SEE HOSPITALITY. The circumstances connected with feasts and entertainments are, indeed, rarely intimated; nor would the present direct reference to this custom have transpired but for the remarks which the act of the woman in anointing the feet of Jesus called forth. (See Walde, De unctionibus Vett. Ebreoeorum convivialibus, Jen. 1751.) Such passages, however, as Ps 23:5; Pr 21:7; Pr 27:9; Wisd. 2:7; as well as others in which the enjoyments of oil and wine are coupled together, may be regarded as containing a similar allusion. It is, therefore, safer to refer the origin of this custom among the Hebrews to their nearer and more ancient neighbors, the Egyptians, than to the Romans or the Greeks, who themselves had probably derived it from the same people. Among the Egyptians the antiquity of the custom is evinced by their monuments, which offer in this respect analogies more exact than classical antiquity or modern usage can produce. With them "the custom of anointing was not confined to the appointment of kings and priests to the sacred offices they held. It was the ordinary token of welcome to guests in every party at the house of a friend; and in Egypt, no less than in Judaea, the metaphorical expression 'anointed with the oil of gladness' was fully understood, and applied to the ordinary occurrences of life. It was customary for a servant to attend every guest as he seated himself, and to anoint his head" (Wilkinson's Anc. Egyptians, 4, 279; 2:213). SEE SPIKENARD. It is probable, however, that the Egyptians, as well as the Greeks and Jews, anointed themselves at home, before going abroad, although they expected the observance of this etiquette on the part of their entertainer. That the Jews thus anointed themselves, not only when paying a visit, but on ordinary occasions, is shown by many passages, especially those which describe the omission of it as a sign of mourning (De 28:40; Ru 3:3; 2Sa 14:2; Da 10:3; Am 6:6; Mic 6:15; Es 2:12; Ps 104:15; Isa 61:3; Ec 9:8; Song 1:3; Song 4:10; also Judith 10:3; Sus. 17; Ecclus. 39:26; Wisd. 2:7). One of these passages (Ps 104:15, "oil that maketh the face to shine") shows very clearly that not only the hair but the skin was anointed. In our northern climates this custom may not strike us as a pleasant one; but as the peculiar usages of most nations are found, on strict examination, to be in accordance with the peculiarities of their climate and condition, we may be assured that this Oriental predilection for external unction must have arisen from a belief that it contributed materially to health and cleanliness. Niebuhr states that "in Yemen the anointing of the body is believed to strengthen and protect it from the heat of the sun, by which the inhabitants of this province, as they wear but little clothing, are very liable to suffer. Oil, by closing up the pores of the skin, is supposed to prevent that too copious transpiration which enfeebles the frame; perhaps, too, these Arabians think a glistening skin a beauty. When the intense heat comes on they always anoint their bodies with oil." SEE OIL.
3. Anointing the Sick. — The Orientals are indeed strongly persuaded of the sanative properties of oil; and it was under this impression that the Jews anoint. ed the sick, and applied oil to wounds (Ps 109:18; Isa 1:6; Lu 10:34; Revelations 3:18). Anointing.was used in sundry disorders, as well as to promote the general health of the body. It was hence, as a salutary and approved medicament, that the seventy disciples were directed to "anoint the sick" (Mr 6:13); and hence also the sick man is directed by the apostle (Jas 5:14) to send for the elders of the Church, who were "to pray for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." The Talmudical citations of Lightfoot on Mt 6:16, show that the later Jews connected charms and superstitious mutterings with such anointings, and he is therefore probably right in understanding this text to mean, "It is customary for the unbelieving Jews to use anointing of the sick, joined with a magical and enchanting muttering; but how infinitely better is it to join the pious prayers of the elders of the Church to the anointing of the sick." Niebuhr assures us that at Sana (and doubtless in other parts of Arabia) the Jews, as well as many of the Moslems, have their bodies anointed whenever they feel themselves indisposed. Analogous to this is the anointing with oil practiced by the twelve (Mr 9:13), and our Lord's anointing the eyes of a blind man with clay made from saliva, in restoring him miraculously to sight (ἐπέχρισε, Joh 9:6,11). SEE MEDICINE.
4. Anointing the Dead. — The practice of anointing the bodies of the dead is intimated in Mr 14:8, and Lu 23:56. This ceremony was performed after the body was washed, and was designed to check the progress of corruption. Although, from the mode of application, it is called anointing, the substance employed appears to have been a solution of odoriferous drugs. This (together with the laying of the body in spices) was the only kind of embalmment in use among the Jews. SEE BURIAL; SEE EMBALMING.
5. Spiritual. —
(1.) In the O.T. 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 Lu 4:18). As anointing with oil betokened prosperity, and produced a cheerful aspect (Ps 104:15), so this spiritual unction is figuratively described as anointing "with the oil of gladness" (Ps 45:7; Heb 1:9). In the N.T. Jesus of Nazareth is shown to be the Messiah or Christ, or Anointed of the O.T. (Joh 1:41; Ac 9:22; Ac 17:2-3; Ac 18:5,28); and the historical fact of his being anointed with the Holy Ghost is recorded and asserted (Joh 1:32-33; Ac 4:27; Ac 10:38).
(2.) Spiritual anointing with the Holy Ghost is conferred also upon Christians by God (2Co 1:21), and they are described as having an unction (χρίσμα) from the Holy One, by which they know all things (1Jo 2:20,27). To anoint the eyes with eye-salve is used figuratively, to denote the process of obtaining spiritual perception (Revelations 3:18).
6. Religious Significance of the Act. — It is somewhat remarkable that the first Biblical instance of anointing — that of Jacob's unction of his pillow at Bethel (Ge 28:18) — has reference to an inanimate object; yet the sacred import of the ceremony is obvious, and must have been derived from primeval custom. At a later date, the formal agreement noticed by Sir G. Wilkinson, between the use of oil among the Egyptians and the Israelites in consecrating to an office, may undoubtedly be regarded as evidence that the Mosaic prescription was framed with some regard to the observances in Egypt; for by the time the former was instituted, the Israelitish people had been long habituated to the customs of Egypt; and it was the part of wisdom, when setting up a better polity, to take advantage of what existed there, so far as it could be safely employed. The king so anointed was solemnly recognised as the guest and protege of the lord of the temple; the statue was set apart for, and so far identified with the god it represented, and both were stamped as fit for their respective destinations. But in the true religion something more and higher was involved in the act of consecration. The article or subject was brought into contact with the holiness of Jehovah, and was made a vessel and instrument of the Spirit of God. Hence, anointing with oil in the times of the old covenant was always a symbol of the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit-in the case of inanimate objects imparting to them a ceremonial sacredness, so as to fit them for holy ministrations; and in the case of persons, not only designating them to a sacred office, but sealing to them the spiritual qualifications. needed for its efficient discharge. SEE CONSECRATION.
II. Modern. —
1. In the Romish Church the custom of anointing priests is still continued. The ordaining bishop anoints with the holy oil called chrism (q.v.) the palm of both hands, the thumb, and the forefinger of the person to be ordained; and thus, according to the expression in the ritual of ordination, the hands receive power to bless, to consecrate, and to make holy. If a clergyman is excommunicated these spots are rubbed off. This custom, like many others, is a perversion of the sacred ceremony by which the Jewish priests and kings were inducted into office.
2. The history of extreme unction (q.v.) in its present form can be traced back no further than the twelfth century. When the ceremony of anointing is mentioned at an earlier period, the reference is to the offices of baptism and confirmation. There is no mention of extreme unction in Justin Martyr, Irenveus, Tertullian, or Cyprian, or in any of the writers of the first three centuries. In the fourth century Epiphanius makes no mention of it. It is not found in the "Apostolical Constitutions," a work in which all church forms are minutely described, nor in the biographies of the first six centuries. After the twelfth century it was universally adopted in the Western Church.
3. The only occasion on which anointing is used in the Church of England is at the coronation of the sovereigns, when the archbishop solemnly anoints the king or queen, after the ancient practice of the Hebrews.
ANOINTING OIL. The "oil of holy ointment" prescribed by divine authority (Ex 30:23-25) for the consecration of the Jewish priests and kings was compounded of the following ingredients:
Hebrew weight. English weight.
lb. oz. dwt. gr.
Pure myrrh 500 shekels= 18 11 13 13 2/3
Sweet cinnamon 250 shekels= 9 5 16 18 1/24
Sweet calamus 250 shekels = 9 5 16 18 1/24
Cassia 500 shekels = 18 11 13 13 2-3
Olive oil, 1 hin=5 quarts 35 ½ shekels= 13 4 0 0
Total 1851 ½ shekels= 70 8 0 15 1/4
The shekel is here estimated at 9 dwts. and 2 4-T grains (Troy).
Under the law persons and things set apart for sacred purposes were anointed with this "holy ointment" (Ex 29:7), which appears to have been a typical representation of the communication of the Holy Ghost to the Church of Christ (Ac 1:5; Ac 10:38). Hence the Holy Spirit is called an unction (q.v.), whereby believers were divinely inspired and guided into all truth (2Co 1:21; 1Jo 2:20,27). The profane or common use of the holy ointment was expressly forbidden, on pain of being excommunicated (Ex 30:33; Eze 23:31). It was commanded to be kept by the Hebrews throughout their generations; it was therefore laid up in the most holy place. Prideaux observes that it was one of those thinys which was wanting in the second temple. There is an allusion to the ingredients of this sacred perfume in Ecclesiastes 24:15. The use of aromatics in the East may be dated from the remotest antiquity. "Ointment and perfume," says Solomon, "rejoice the heart" (Pr 27:9). They are still introduced, not only upon every religious and festive occasion, but as one essential expression of private hospitality and friendship. SEE OINTMENT.
THE ANOINTED. The prophets, priests, and kings were anointed at their inauguration; but no man was ever dignified by being anointed to hold the three of, fices in himself, so no person ever had the title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, but Jesus the Savior. He alone is king of kings and lord of lords: the king who governs the universe, and rules in th', hearts of his followers; the prophet, to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and the great high-priest, to make atonement and intercession for the whole world. Of him, Melchizedek, Abraham, Aaron, David, and others were illustrious types; but none of these had the title of "The Anointed of God." This does, and ever will, belong exclusively to Jesus the Christ, who was consecrated in our nature by the anointing of the Holy Ghost (Ps 2:2; Isa 61:1; Da 9:24; Mt 3:16-17; Lu 4:18-21; Ac 4:27; Ac 10:38). SEE MESSIAH.