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Holman Bible Dictionary


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describes the procedure of rubbing or smearing a person or thing, usually with oil, for the purpose of healing, setting apart, or embalming. A person can anoint himself, be anointed, or anoint another person or thing. While olive oil is the most common element mentioned in the Bible for use in anointing, oils produced from castor, bay, almond, myrtle, cyprus, cedar, walnut, and fish were also used. In Esther 2:12 , for example, the oil of myrrh is used as a cosmetic.

The Hebrew verb mashach (noun, messiah ) and the Greek verb chrio (noun, christos ) are translated “to anoint.” From ancient times the priests and kings were ceremonially anointed as a sign of official appointment to office, and as a symbol of God's power upon them. The act was imbued with an element of awe. David would not harm King Saul because of the anointing the king had received (1 Samuel 24:6 ). Likewise, Israel (Psalm 89:38 ), and even Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1 ) are called God's anointed because of God's working through them. Israel came to see each succeeding king as God's anointed one, the messiah who would deliver them from their enemies and establish the nation as God's presence on the earth.

In the New Testament anoint is used to speak of daily grooming for hair (Matthew 6:17 ), for treating injury or illness (Luke 10:34 ), and for preparing a body for burial (Mark 16:1 ).

Christians see Jesus as God's Anointed One, the Savior (Acts 10:38 ). The same symbolism as in the Old Testament is employed in this usage: God's presence and power are resident in the anointing. Likewise, the Christian is anointed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:27 ) for the tasks of ministry.

Mike Mitchell

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Anoint'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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