The Hebrew word for “anoint” is mashach, which means to smear, rub, cover, or massage with oil, and in some cases it means “to pour oil over the head or body.” Interestingly, the English word for “massage” is quite similar in meaning and pronunciation. Our English word “anoint” is derived from the ancient Latin word inunctus, which means to smear with oil. It shares the same root as the ancient Hebrew word mashiach for “Messiah” and the ancient Greek word kristos for “Christ” which literally means “anointed one.” In the New Testament, the Hebrew word Messiah only appears twice in John 1:41 and John 4:25, while the Greek word kristos or “Christ” which means “anointed one” is used 361 times. Other words and phrases used in the Scriptures such as anointing oil, ointment, spices, incense, perfumes, odors or sweet savors, aromas, or fragrances, all imply essential oils.
Yeshua (Jesus) was more accurately referred to as Jesus, the Anointed One, by his followers. In Acts 4:26 (NIV) it reads, “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.”
In Jesus’ first public reading of the Torah recorded in Luke 4:18, he quoted Isaiah 61:1 in declaring Himself as the Messiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
Other Hebrew words commonly used in reference to anointing include meshach which means oil, mishchah which means anointed or ointment and moshchah which means consecrated portion. The New Testament Greek words for “anoint,” arechrio, means to smear or rub with oil, and by implication, to consecrate for office or religious service, while andaleipho means to anoint.
Other terms such as anointing and ointments are also interchangeably used throughout scripture further obscuring its meaning. For instance, in Song of Solomon 1:3, the Hebrew word for anointing is shemen, which means fat or oil, as a staple, medicament or unguent, and for anointing. However, the King James Version translates the Hebrew word shemen as ointment: “Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.”
As stated earlier, to be anointed, among other things, is to be set apart and made sacred or consecrated – which is to be dedicated to God for service. It also means to be imparted with grace and enabled with gifts for His divine purpose. The words anoint, anointed, and anointing appear over 156 times in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Another term frequently used in scripture to describe oil for anointing was “precious ointment.” 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.” The words “precious ointment” indicate that this was not just olive oil but pure essential oils such as those used in the holy anointing oil.
Anointing My Head
“Thou anointest my head with oil…” Psalm 23:5
David probably wrote these words while resting beneath a palm as he watched his sheep. A common practice in the Middle East among shepherds like David was to pour an aromatic oil made of olive oil and other gum resins on the sheep’s head to keep lice and other insects and parasites from getting into the sheep’s wool. If they got near the sheep’s head, the insects could burrow down into the animal’s ears and kill them. The anointing oil protected the sheep by causing their wool to become slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep’s ears. David understood this and hence, the reason for anointing becoming symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
The Bible dictionary mentions two types of anointing: with oil or by the Holy Spirit. This, in turn, has caused some confusion and misunderstanding of what anointing is, because many Bible translators used the words anoint and oil interchangeably as synonymous verbs. For example, in Isaiah 21:5 it reads in the King James Version:
Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
While in the New International Version, Isaiah 21:5 reads:
They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers, oil the shields!
Many readers do not realize how anoint and oil are integrally related and go hand in hand. Dr. Dominic N. Allotey, author of The Mystery of the Anointing Oil writes, “There is a powerful connection between the anointing oil and the anointing of the Spirit.” He states that anointing with oil serves as a strong weapon to obliterate yokes and heavy burdens, and empowers people to prosper and walk in victory. He adds, “The anointing oil is the medium through which the power of the Holy Spirit is released. When this is done, the oil ceases from its natural use, for supernatural and spiritual purpose.”
When an individual is anointed with oil, they are set apart for victory, favor, success, greatness and supernatural increase. And, it is the anointing oil that makes this difference. Through scripture, it is the act of anointing with oil that demonstrates this.
In passages of the Bible that refer to being anointed by the Holy Spirit, the act of anointing with oil was most likely practiced. The usage of anointing by the Spirit is mentioned ten times throughout scripture in the following passages:
- Psalm 2:2
- Lamentations 4:20
- Ezekiel 28:14
- Habakkuk 3:13
- Zechariah 4:14
- Luke 4:18
- Acts 4:27
- Acts 10:38
- 2 Corinthians 1:21
- 1 John 2:27
Anointing oil is empowered by the Holy Spirit and is the tangible manifestation of the presence of God that should be respected. For those who desire the power of God in their life and want to see oppression, sickness, or disease destroyed, being anointed with oil will restore health where there was once sickness, wealth where there was once poverty, and freedom from bondages such as addictions so that they can live a victorious life.
Anointing oil, however, should not be considered a “magic bullet.” A person cannot expect positive results from being anointed with oil if they are not living a consecrated life. This doesn’t mean perfect, but one that is striving toward growth and maturity. If you have expectation for great things, there are many different situations and circumstances for using anointing oil. Every facet of your life can be impacted by using anointing oil.
Dr. Allotey states, “There is something mystical about the anointing oil that cancels out man’s natural limitations and inabilities and catapults him into a realm of limitlessness and unparalleled excellence. The anointing can take someone who is experiencing stagnation and serious financial setbacks, and mold him into a champion, and a mighty man of wealth and power. The ministry of the anointing oil empowers you to the extraordinary, so that which is impossible becomes possible with little human efforts.”