liquid fat, but chiefly vegetable, was far more extensively used among the ancient Hebrews for a variety of purposes than in Occidental and Northern climates. In the following account we follow largely the ancient information with modern illustrations. SEE BUTTER; SEE FAT; SEE GREASE.
I. Name. — The following are the words so rendered in the A. V.:
1. Usually שֶׁמֶן, she'men, prop. pressed juice (Sept. ἔλαιον; Vulg. oleum), from . שָׁמִן, "to become fat" (Gesen. Thes. p. 1437); sometimes joined with זִיַת (ἔλαιον ἐξ ἐλαιῶν, oleum de. olivetis), distinguishing olive-juice from oil produced from other sources. Also sometimes in A. V. "ointment" (Celsius, Hierob. 2:279).
2. Yitshar, יַצהָר (πιότης, ἔλαιον, oleum), from צָהִר, "to shine" (Gesenius, p. 1152), clear olive-oil (Nu 18:12; De 7:13; De 11:14; De 12:17; De 14:23; De 18:4; De 28:51; 2Ki 18:32; 2Ch 31:5; 2Ch 22:12; Ne 5:11; Ne 10:37,39; Ne 13:5,12; Jer 31:12; Ho 2:8,22; Joe 1:10; Joe 2:19,24; Hag 1:11; Zec 4:14).
3. Chald. משִׁח, meshach' (ἔλαιον, oleumn), an unguent (only in Ezr 6:9; Ezr 7:22).
II. Manufacture. — Of the different substances, animal and vegetable, which were known to the ancients as yielding oil, the olive-berry is the one of which most frequent mention is made in the Scriptures. The numerois olive-plantations in Palestine made olive-oil one of the chief and one of the most lucrative products of the country: it supplied an article of extensive and profitable traffic with the Tyrians (Eze 27:17; comp. 1Ki 5:11); and presents of the finer sorts of olive-oil were deemed suitable for kings. There is, in fact, no other kind of oil distinctly mentioned in Scripture; and the best, middling, and inferior oils appear to have been merely different qualities of olive-oil. It is well known that both the quality and the value of olive-oil differ according to the time of gathering the fruit, and the amount of pressure used in the course of preparation. These processes, which do not essentially differ from the modern, are described minutely by the Roman writers on agriculture, and with their descriptions the few notices occurring both in Scripture and the Rabbinical writings which throw light on the ancient Oriental method nearly correspond. Of these descriptions the following may be taken as an abstract: The best oil is made from fruit gathered about November or December, when it has begun to change color, but before it has become black. The berry in the more advanced state yields more oil, but of inferior quality. Oil was also made from unripe fruit by a special process as early as September or October, while the harder sorts of fruit were sometimes delayed till February or March (Virg. Georg. 2:519; Palladius, R. R. 12:4; Columella, R. R. 12:47, 50; Cato, R. R. p. 65; Pliny, N. H. 15:1-8; Varro, R. R. 1:55; Hor. 2 Sat. 2:46). SEE OLIVE.
Of the substances which yield oil, besides the olivetree, myrrh is the only one specially mentioned in Scripture. Oil of myrrh is the juice which exudes from the tree Balsamodendron Myrrha, but olive-oil was an ingredient in many compounds which passed under the general name of oil (Es 2:12; comp. Celsius, u. s. 3:10, 18, 19; Pliny, 12:26; 13:1, 2; 15:7; Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2:23; Balfour, Plants of Bible, p. 52). SEE MYRRH.
1. Harvesting the Oil-crop. — Great care is necessary in gathering the olive not to injure either the fruit itself or the boughs of the tree, and with this view it was either gathered by hand or shaken off carefully with a light reed or stick. The "boughing" of De 24:20 (פָּאִר) probably corresponds to the "shaking" (נֹקֶŠ) of Isa 17:6; Isa 24:13, i.e. a subsequent beating for the use of the poor (see Mishna, Shebiith, 4:2; Peah, 7:2: 8:3). After gathering and careful cleansing, the fruit was either carried at once to the press, which is recommended as the best course, or, if necessary, laid on tables with hollow trays made sloping, so as to allow the first juice (amurca) to flow into other receptacles beneath, care being taken not to heap the fruit too much, and so prevent the free escape of the juice, which is injurious to the oil, though itself useful in other ways (Colum. u.s. 12:50; Aug. Civ. Dei, 1:8, 2). If while the berries were yet green, instead of being thrown into the press, they were only beaten or squeezed, they yielded the best kind of oil. It was called ophacinum, or the oil of unripe olives.
2. Pressing. — In order, however, to make oil in general, the fruit was either bruised in a mortar, crushed in a press loaded with wood or stones, ground in a mill, or trodden with the feet. Special buildings used for grapepressing were used also for the purpose of olive-pressing, and contained both the press and the receptacle for the pressed juice. 'Of these processes, the one least expedient was the last (treading), which perhaps answers to the "canalis et solea" mentioned by Columella, and was probably the one usually adopted by the poor. The "beaten" oil of Ex 27:20; Le 24:2; Ex 29:40, and Nu 28:5, was probably made by bruising in a mortar. There were presses of a peculiar kind for preparing oil called גת שׁמן, gath-shemen (whence the name Gethsemane, or "oil-press," Mt 26:36: Joh 18:1), in which the oil was trodden out by the feet (Mic 6:15). SEE GETHSEMANE. The first expression of the oil was better than the second, and the second than the third. Ripe olives yielded the least valuable kind of oil, but the quantity was more abundant. These processes, and also the place and the machine for pressing, are mentioned in the Mishna. Oilmills are often made of stone, and turned by hand. Others consist of cylinders enclosing a beam, which is turned by a camel or other animal. An Egyptian olivepress is described by Niebuhr, in which the pressure exerted on the fruit is given by means of weights of wood and stone placed in a sort of box above. Besides the above-cited Scripture references, the following passages mention either the places, the processes, or the machines used in olive-pressing (Joe 2:24; Joe 3:13; Isa 63:3; La 1:15; Hag 2:16; comp. the Talmud, Menach. 8:4; Shebuth, 4:9; 7:6; Terum. 10:7; Shabb. 1:9; Baba Bathra, 4:5; Vitruvius, 10:1; Cato. R. R. p. 3; Celsius, Hierob. 2:346, 350; Niebuhr, Voy. 1:122, pl. 17; Arundell, Asia Minor, 2:196; Wellsted, Trav. 2:430). SEE OIL-PRESS.
3. Keeping. — Both olives and oil were preserved in jars carefully cleansed; and oil was drawn out for use in horns or other small vessels. SEE CRUSE. These vessels for keeping oil were stored in cellars or storehouses; special mention of such repositories is made in the inventories of royal property and revenue (1Sa 10:1; 1Sa 16:1,13; 1Ki 1:39; 1Ki 17:16; 2Ki 4:2,6; 2Ki 9:1,3; 1Ch 27:28; 1Ch 2
Chronicles 11:11 32:28; Pr 21:20; comp. Shebiith, v. 7; Celim, 2:5; 17:12; Colum. 1. c.). A supply of oil was always kept at hand in the Temple (see Josephus, War, v. 13, 6), and an oil treasury was among the stores of the Jewish kings (2Ki 20:13; comp. 2Ch 32:28).
Oil of Tekoa was reckoned the best (Menach. 8:8). Trade in oil was carried on with the Tyrians, by whom it was probably often re-exported to Egypt, whose olives do not for the most part produce good oil. Oil to the amount of 20,000 baths (2Ch 2:10; Joseph. Ant. 8:2, 9), or 20 measures (cors, 1. Kings 5:11), was among the supplies furnished by Solomon to Hiram. Direct trade in oil was carried on between Egypt and Palestine (1Ki 5:11; 2Ch 2:10,15; Ezr 3:7; Isa 30:6; Isa 57:9; Eze 27:17; Ho 12:1; comp. Jerome, Com. in Osee, iii,.12; Joseph. Ant. 8:2, 9, War, 2:21, 2; Strabo, 17, p. 809; Pliny, 15:4, 13; Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2:28, sm. ed.; Hasselquist, Trav. p. 53, 117). SEE COMMERCE.
III. Use. — Besides the consumption of olives themselves as food, common to all olive-producing countries (Horace, 1 Od. 31:15; Martial, 13:36; Arvieux, Trav. p. 209; Terumoth, 1:9, 2:6), the principal uses of olive-oil may be thus stated:
1. As food. — The use of oil is general throughout Western Asia at the present time, as it was in primitive ages. Oil was much used instead of butter and animal fat at meals and in various preparations of food (comp. Eze 16:13). SEE FOOD. In such uses oil, when fresh and sweet, is more agreeable than animal fat. The Orientals think so, and Europeans soon acquire the same preference. The Hebrews must have reckoned oil one of the prime necessities of life (Sirach, 39:31; comp. Jer 31:12; Jer 41:8; Lu 16:6 sq.). It is often mentioned in connection with honey (Eze 16:13,19; Eze 27:17), and its abundance was a chief mark of prosperity (comp. Joe 2:19). Dried wheat, boiled with either butter or oil, but more commonly the former, is a common dish for all classes in Syria. Hasselquist speaks of bread, baked in oil as being particularly sustaining; and Faber, in his Pilgrimage, mentions eggs fried in oil as Saracen and Arabian dishes (comp. Jerome, Vit. S. Hilarion, ch. 11, vol. ii, p. 32; Ibn-Batuta, Trav. p. 60, ed. Lee; Volney, Trav. 1:362, 406; Russell, A leppo, 1:80, 119; Harmer, Obs. 1:471, 474; Shaw, Trav. p. 232; Bertrandon de la Brocquiere, Early Trav. p. 332; Burckhardt, Trav. in A
rab. 1:54; Notes on Bed. 1:59; Arvieux. 50:c.; Chardin, Voy. 4:84; Niebuhr, Voy. 2:302; Hasselquist, Trav. p. 132; Faber, Evagatorium, i' 197; 2:752, 415).
It was probably on account of the common use of oil in food that the "meat-offerings" prescribed by the Law were so frequently mixed with oil (Le 2:4,7, 15; 8:26, 31; Nu 7:19 sq.; De 12:17; De 32:13; 1Ki 17:12,15; 1Ch 12:40; Ezra, 16:19). This was certainly not for the purpose of aiding the burning of the sacrifice; nor is it likely that any symbolic idea was connected with the oil. SEE SACRIFICE. The rite of sprinkling with oil, as a libation, does not occur in the Law, but seems to be alluded to in Mic 6:7. SEE OFFERING.
2. Cosmetic. — As is the case generally in hot climates, oil was used by the Jews for anointing the body, e.g. after the bath, and giving to the skin and hair a smooth and comely appearance, e.g. before an entertainment. Whether for luxury or ceremony, the head and beard were the parts usually anointed (De 28:40; 2Sa 14:2; Ps 23:5; Ps 92:11; Ps 104:15; Lu 7:46); and this use of oil, which was especially frequent at banquets, became at length proverbially common among the Israelites (Pr 21:17; comp. Catull. 6:8; Curt. 9:7, 20). To be deprived of the use of oil was thus a serious privation, assumed voluntarily in the time of mourning or of calamity (Ru 3:3; 2Sa 12:20; Da 10:3; Isa 61:3; Am 6:6; Sus. 17). At Egyptian entertainments it was usual for a servant to anoint the head of each guest as he took his seat. Strabo mentions the Egyptian use of castor-oil for this purpose (18:824). The Greek and Roman usage will be found mentioned in the following passages: Homer, II. 10:577; 18:596; 23:281; Od. 7:107; 6:96; 10:364; Horace, 3 Od. 13:6; 1 Sat. 6:123; 2 Sat. 1:8; Pliny, 14:22; Aristoph. Wasps, 608; Clouds, 816; Roberts, pl. 164. Butter, as is noticed by Pliny, is used by the negroes and the lower class of Arabs for the like purposes (Pliny, 11:41; Burckhardt; Trav. 1:53; Nubia, p. 215; Lightfoot,. Hor. Hebr. 2:375; see De 33:24; Job 29:6; Ps 109:18). SEE OINTMENT.
The use of oil preparatory to athletic exercises customary among the Greeks and Romans can scarcely have had place to any extent among the Jews, who in their earlier times had no such contests, though some are mentioned by Josephus with censure as taking place at Jerusalem and Caesarea under Herod (Horace, 1 Od. 8:8; Pliny. 15:4; Athenaeus, 15:34, p. 686; Horner, Od. 6:79. 215; Joseph. Ant. 15:8, 1; 16:5, 1; see Smith, Diet. of Antig. s.v. — Aliptae). SEE GAME.
3. Funereal. — The bodies of the dead were anointed with oil by the Greeks and Romans, probably as a partial antiseptic, and a similar custom appears to have prevailed among the Jews (Homer, II. 24:587; Virgil, En. 6:219). SEE BURIAL.
4. Medicinal. — As oil is in use in many cases in modern medicine, so it is not surprising that it should have been much used among the Jews and other nations of antiquity for medicinal purposes. Celsus repeatedly speaks of the use of oil, especially old oil, applied externally with friction in fevers, and in many other cases. Pliny says that olive-oil is good to warm the body and fortify it against cold, and also to cool heat in the head, and for various other purposes. It was thus used previously to taking cold baths, and also mixed with water for bathing the body. Josephus mentions that among the remedies employed in the case of Herod, he was put into a sort of oil-bath. Oil mixed with wine is also mentioned as a remedy used both inwardly and outwardly in the disease with which the soldiers of the army of AElius Gallus were affected, a circumstance which recalls the use of a similar remedy in the parable of the good Samaritan. The prophet Isaiah alludes to the use of oil as ointment in medical treatment; and it thus furnished a fitting symbol, perhaps also an efficient remedy, when used by our Lord's disciples in the miraculous cures which they were enabled to perform. With a similar intention, no doubt, its use was enjoined by St. James, and, as it appears, practiced by the early Christian Church in general. Nothing is said in the Bible of the internal use of oil mingled with wine (comp. e.g. Dio Cass. 53:29). An instance of cure through the medium of oil is mentioned by Tertullian. The medicinal use of oil is also mentioned in the Mishna, which thus exhibits the Jewish practice of that day. See, for the various instances above named, Isa 1:6; Mr 6:13; Lu 10:34; Jas 5:14; Josephus, Ant. 17:6, 5; War, 1:33, 5; Talm. Shabb. 13:4; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 11, 526; Mosheim, Eccl. Hist. 4:9; Corn. a Lap. on James 5; Tertull. Ad Scap. c. iv; Celsus, De Med. 2:14, 17; 3:6, 9, 19, 22; 4:2; Horace, 2 Sat. 1:7; Pliny, 15:4, 7; 23:3, 4; Dio Cass. 53:29; Lightfoot, I. H. 2:304, 444; Jerome, 1. c. SEE UNCTION.
5. For light. — The oil for "the light" was expressly ordered to be olive-oil, beaten, i.e.made from olives bruised in a mortar (Ex 25:6; Ex 27:20-21; Ex 35:8; Le 24:2; 2Ch 13:11; 1Sa 3:3;
Zec 4:3,12; Mishna, Demai, 1:3; Menach. 8:4). The quantity required for the longest night is said to have been .5 log (13.79 cubic in. = .4166 of a pint [Menach. 9:3; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 159]). SEE CANDLESTICK. In the same manner the great lamps used at the Feast of Tabernacles were fed (Succth, v. 2). Oil was used in general for lamps; it is used in Egypt with cotton wicks twisted round a piece of straw; the receptacle being a glass vessel, into which. water is first poured (Mt 25:1-8; Lu 12:35; comp. Lane, Modern Egyptians, 1:201).
6. Ritual. —
a. Oil was poured on or mixed with the flour or meal used in offerings.
1. The consecration offering of priests (Ex 29:2,23; Le 6:15,21).
2. The offering of "beaten oil" with flour, which accompanied the daily sacrifice (Ex 29:40).
3. The leper's purification offering (Leviticus 14:10-18 21, 24, 28), where it is to be observed that the quantity of oil (1 log =.833 of a pint) was invariable, while the other objects varied in quantity according to the means of the person offering. The cleansed leper was also to be touched with oil on various parts of his body (Le 14:15-18).
4. The Nazarite, on completion of his vow, was to offer unleavened bread anointed with oil, and cakes of fine bread mingled with oil (Nu 6:15).
5. After the erection of the Tabernacle, the offerings of the "princes" included flour mingled with oil (Numbers 7).
6. At the consecration of the Levites, fine flour mingled with oil was offered (Nu 8:8).
7. Meat-offerings in general were mingled or anointed with oil (Le 7:10,12).
On the other hand, certain offerings were to be devoid of oil: the sin- offering (Le 5:11) and the offering of jealousy (Nu 5:15).
The principle on which both the presence and the absence of oil were prescribed is, clearly, that as oil is indicative of gladness, so its absence denoted sorrow or humiliation (Isa 61:3; Joe 2:19; Re 6:6). It is on this principle that oil is so often used in Scripture as symbolical of nourishment and comfort (De 32:13; De 33:24; Job 29:6; Ps 45:7; Ps 109:18; Isa 61:3).
b. Kings, priests, and prophets were anointed with oil or ointment. SEE ANOINT.
7. As so important a necessary of life, the Jew was required
a to include oil among his first-fruit offerings (Eze 22:29; Eze 23:16; Nu 18:12; De 18:4; 2Ch 31:5; Terum. 11:3). In the Mishna various limitations are laid down; but they are of little importance except as illustrating the processes to which the olive-berry was subjected in the production of oil, and the degrees of estimation in which their results were held.
b. Tithes of oil were also required (De 12:17; 2Ch 31:5; Ne 10:37,39; Ne 13:12; Eze 45:14).
8. Shields, if covered with hide, were anointed with oil or grease previous to use. Shields of metal were perhaps rubbed over in like manner to polish them. See Thenius on 2Sa 1:21; Virgil, AEn. 7:625; Plautus, Mil. 1:1, 2; and Gesenius, Thes. p. 825. SEE SHIELD.
9. Oil of inferior quality was used in the composition of soap.
OIL, which is the purest lighting material obtained from the innocent vegetable kingdom, has ever been a sacred symbol, possessing healing properties and ameliorating all suffering from wounds. Oil represents in Christian symbolism the divine mercy. There seems however, to have entered also into its use in the Christian cultus the ancient practice of the pagan gladiators, who anointed themselves with oil before entering upon a contest. Thus oil came to be used for anointings at baptism and confirmation, and on the death-bed (the last anointing), at ordination of priests, and the consecration of kings. SEE ANOINT. The double sense of the performance was probably that it secures to the subject, first, a share of divine mercy, and, secondly, a strengthening for life's severe combats. In the Romish Church there are three kinds of holy oils: (1) holy oils strictly so called; (2) chrism oil; and (3) sick men's oil. These oils are consecrated by the bishop on Maundy-Thursday annually for all the churches of his diocese. Pure olive-oil only is used, with balsam ( balm) for the chrism. Three metal vases are usually provided and covered with silk, on one of which are engraved the words "Oleum, Infirmourum" (=oil of the infirm) or the initials "O .I.;" on another, "Oleum Catechumenorum" (=oil of the catechumens) or "O. C.;" on the third, which is larger than the others, and is covered with white silk, 'Sanctum Chrisma" (-holy chrism) or "S.C." Some balsam is mixed with a little of the oil from the third vase, and this compound the bishop puts into the vase and stirs up with the rest of the oil there. The ceremony, which consists of exorcisms, prayers, chantings, making the sign of the cross with the hand and with the breath, etc., occupies sixteen pages of the Pontificale Romanum, and eight or ten in the "Ceremonial of the Church." The old oils, consecrated the year before, if any have remained in the vases, are put in the church-lamps before the holy: sacrament, to be burned; and those which remain in pyxes and boxes are burned with the old silk. Every priest must obtain from the bishop a supply of these consecrated oils for his church. The oil of the infirm is used in extreme unction; the oil of catechumens in baptism; the holy chrism in baptism, confirmation, etc. SEE HOLY OIL; SEE PYX. The ceremony of oil consecration as recently witnessed in a Romish church in New York City is thus narrated in the New York Tribune:
"In the sacristy three large jars were filled with the purest oil and set apart, carefully covered with veils. When the archbishop descended from the altar, and took his seat at the table, the archdeacon cried aloud, 'Oleum Informorum.' Then one of the seven acting as subdeacons went, with two acolytes, to the sacristy, and returned with the Oil for the Sick, which he delivered to the archdeacon, saying 'Oleum Informorum.' The archdeacon, repeating the same words, presented it to the archbishop, who, rising up, first solemnly exorcised the oil, and then blessed it in the solemn words of the Church. The oil was then removed to the sacristy and carefully guarded. The archbishop, after washing his hands, reascended the altar and continued the mass as usual, until that part of it known as the Ablutions, when he again descended to the table to consecrate the remaining oils. A procession of all the clergymen, acting as deacons and subdeacons, was formed and proceeded to the sacristy. They returned in the same manner, bearing the oils and chanting the verses of the hymn 'O
Redemptor.' Much the same ceremony as already described was then gone through. The archbishop breathed over the oil, in the form of a cross, and all the priests taking part in the consecration did the same. On his knees he saluted the chrism with the words Ave Sanctum Chrisma, pronounced three times with increasing emphasis. The priests did the same, and the consecration of the Oil of the Catechumens followed in the same manner." The Church of Constantinople has likewise three different kinds of oil: (1) the oil of catechumens, which is simply blessed by the priest in the baptismal office; (2) the εὐχέλαιον, or prayer-oil, for the visitation of the sick, blessed in the sick man's house by seven priests; (3) the ἃγιον μύρον, solemnly consecrated by the bishop on Thursday in Holy Week. Of these two latter kinds there is enough said in the article CHRISM SEE CHRISM ; on the first, SEE CATECHUMENS. The Greeks have besides two other kinds of holy oil:
(1) that which is used for the lamps before the images of saints, and which is blessed by the priest in the office of benediction of the loaves. "It was the custom that in certain festivals the brethren in monasteries should be anointed with this oil; and it was in some instances mixed with the water blessed on the Epiphany, and used for sprinkling olive-yards or vineyards, for the purpose of freeing them from blight.
(2) Oil of the holy cross, which appears, for the matter is doubtful, to have been originally taken from the lamps which burned in the Church of the Resurrection at Jerusalem before the true cross, and afterwards to have been consecrated by the immersion in it of a piece of the same cross." See Barnum, Romanisnm, p. 473 sq.; Neale, Hist. Eastern Church, Introd. p. 966; Siegel, Christl. Alterthumer, 4:125; Menzel, Symbolik, 2:166 sq.; Burnet, The Thirty-nine Articles, p. 353, 378, 379, 381, 382, 384; Coleman, Ancient Christianity, p. 369, 371,432. .