Who Was Anointed in the Bible?

During biblical times, an individual was anointed with oil to signify God’s blessing or call on that person’s life. A person or an object was anointed for a special purpose – whether it be a king, a prophet, or an instrument used in the sanctuary. As a public act with witnesses gathered, an anointing makes a clear distinction of the one “called” for a specific purpose.

In the case of priests, they were anointed to carry out the duties in the care of the Temple, while prophets were anointed with boldness in order to carry out the great commission in proclaiming God’s word. Kings were anointed to lead the people. Other anointings mentioned in scripture included the sanctification of utensils and objects and for healing the sick.

Listed below are examples of those anointed in scripture:

  • Priests (Exodus 40:13) – carry out duties of worship and sacrifice
  • Prophets (1 Kings 19:16) – proclaim God’s word
  • Kings (1 Samuel 16:3) – rule and lead
  • Sick (Mark 6:13) – restoration
  • Guests / Hospitality (Ecclesiastes 9:8) – enjoyment and pleasure
  • Objects (Leviticus 8:10) – set apart for holy service
  • Deceased / Burial (Mark 14:8)  – preparing the body
  • People of God (Ecclesiastes 9:8) – joy and gladness


In Exodus 28:41, the Lord instructs Moses that Aaron and his sons are to be anointed, consecrated, and sanctified as holy priests that they may minister unto Him. In Exodus 28:41 it says, “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”

This anointing called for using a specific recipe designated as the Holy Anointing Oil prescribed in Exodus 30:23-24, that was used to set apart the priests who would carry out the duties of worship and sacrifice in the Tent of Meeting. Whenever a priest was anointed, it always employed the use of this aromatic holy anointing oil. There are over 30 incidents of priests being anointed in the Bible.

Aaron was anointed as Israel’s High Priest with the anointing oil. In Exodus 40:13 it says, “And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”

In Exodus 29:7, Moses is instructed to take the anointing oil and pour it over his head, unlike what many pastors in churches do today by placing a dab of oil on the tip of the finger and symbolically making the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead. Instead, the scripture states:

“Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.”

Further down in verse 21, he continues with instructions to anoint Aaron and his sons’ garments. Exodus 29:21 says, “And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.”

And finally, in Exodus 29:29, the scriptures states that the holy garments that Aaron and his sons shall wear should be anointed and ordained for service. It reads, “And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.”

Psalm 133:2 describes the anointing of Aaron with “precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”

Interestingly, David compares harmonious unity and brotherhood to the fragrant anointing oil that ran down the head of Aaron, over his beard, to the fringe of his garments. Psalm 133:1-2 says:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”

David’s comparison of people coming together in one accord is no doubt a reference to the four spices of the Holy Anointing Oil, which like the foundation of any perfume together forms a “synergy” with an extraordinary fragrant bouquet. Myrrh, one of the key ingredients of the Holy Anointing Oil, is well known in the perfume industry as a “servant” oil or fixing oil that serves to bind the other fragrances together in one accord. David’s reference to this oil that runs down the beard of Aaron demonstrates there is no lack – it is in abundance and overflowing. In contrast, when there is no oil, friction and sparks fly from conflict and there is strife when personalities clash. Oh, how smooth and pleasant it is when the oil of unity flows down profusely!