Did Jesus Use Essential Oils to Anoint With?
Did Jesus Use Essential Oils to Anoint With?
The Scriptures fail to mention whether Jesus anointed anyone with a healing oil whether it was olive oil or an aromatic essential oil. But could it be that anointing was just so commonplace among rabbis that mentioning it would have been redundant? The question is a good one. However, the Scriptures do tell us that he sent his disciples-the seventy-out to heal and anoint all those who were sick in body and mind. Hmmm. Well if he sent the disciples out in twos into the towns and villages to anoint, then the anointing must have been an important part of the healing. We see no evidence that the disciples questioned Jesus on how to do this anointing so we can presume that Jesus taught them the proper way of using a healing aromatic oil-what we call today-an essential oil.
Rabbinic Sources Say Essential Oils Were Prescribed for Healing
As a Jewish rabbi, Jesus would have known how rabbis used oils. Rabbinic sources from that period prescribe the use of oil in an everyday context for the treatment of sciatic pains, skin afflictions, headaches, and wounds. And there are several examples in Jewish literature that prescribed ritual anointing for exorcism of demons and as part of the process for the healing and release of the bewitched. Therefore, it is quite plausible that Jesus used oils in his everyday encounters with those who were sick. And we know that since he sent his disciples out with clear instructions on anointing, he must have taught them not only how to anoint but when to anoint and what part of the body to anoint.
What Oils Were Used for Healing?
The next question might be “What kind of oil did he use?” This we do know-it was not solely with cooking or lamp oil which would have been their olive oil. The rabbis used healing oils which today we know as therapeutic essential oils. Oils that would have been readily available, although expensive, were oils like frankincense, myrrh, cedarwood, spikenard, balsam, and many more. These oils would have been produced in various ways, all labor intensive through crude distillation or in some cases, immersing the plant material in a heavier oil like olive oil until the essence of the plant oozed out infusing the olive oil with its healing qualities. In this case, the olive oil would have acted like a “carrier” containing the healing properties of the essential oil. But these oils likewise would have been costly. Even more expensive were custom-made blends. A blend referred to in the Gospels was Nard. Jesus was anointed by a woman in all of the Gospel stories with a substance referred to as “Nard.” This is actually a blend of spikenard and myrrh and would have been blended as by the perfumer. Spikenard does not have a pleasant fragrance but rather smells more like ‘dirty socks’ being in the valerian family of plants. The myrrh would have tempered the fragrance making it a much more pleasing aroma. The story tells us that this oil was contained in an alabaster jar and worth a year’s wages. In today’s money value, that would amount to approximately $35,000! These alabaster jars would have taken upwards of a year to carve and would have stood about 18 inches high with a slender neck filled with a wax to keep the precious oil or ointment inside for many years. Similar alabaster jars were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, en Egyptian Pharaoh and still contained precious oils of frankincense, myrrh or balsam.
How Did Jesus and the Disciples Afford Expensive Healing Oils?
The next question might be-“how did Jesus, an itinerant preacher and his disciples who were fishermen, tax collectors and housewives, afford these expensive oils?” Again, the Scriptures give us a clue. They tell us that the “women saw to the needs of the ministry.” These were not just poor women-they were women of substance and they provided for whatever was needed for Jesus’ ministry to go forward. From this we can deduce that they purchased the expensive aromatic oils for the healing ministry of Jesus.
How can we learn today the ancient art of healing with aromatic essential oils? Educational courses that are Christian-based can help us reclaim our rightful role in healing and anointing. The courses offer on this website and The Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy does just that. To learn more about our course, The Ancient Art of Biblical Healing, please click here.
Read more about our fascinating history of healing in Christianity and how we can reclaim it today in my books: Called Into Healing, Reclaiming our Judeo-Christian Legacy of Healing Touch, and Healing Oils Healing Hands, Discovering the Power of Prayer, Hands On Healing and Anointing. You can find them on my web site at http://www.ISHAhealing.com/HealingStore/HealingBooks/tabid/356/Default.aspx From Linda L. Smith, Director of the Institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy, Inc.
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