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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(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 (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3), and even of the sacred vessels of the tabernacle (Exodus 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

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Anoint'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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