What is anointing?
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
At Exodus 29:29, we find that Aaron and his sons were to be ‘anointed’ as Priests of God and that this action would make them ‘holy’ or clean. They were thereafter ‘anointed’ by having holy oil poured over their heads, which was a sign to all the onlookers that they had been chosen to this office by God Himself.
Note that in Leviticus, when we read of the ‘Anointed’ Priest, the reference seems to indicate just one of the Priests that had been chosen for the special office of what later became known as the High Priest. However, all the sons of Levi were anointed to be priests (small p) and all the sons of Aaron were anointed to be Priests (large P). For more information, see under the subheading ‘Priests that May Have Been Types of Heavenly Life,’ in the commentary God’s Promise of an Inheritance.
The word in the Greek (Septuagint) text that we have translated as anointed, is chriseis. And note that this word can also properly be translated as Christ (it’s just a conjugation of Christos), since christ and anointed both come from the same root… which is Greek for olive oil, because olive oil is was what was use to anoint them. So, Jesus wasn’t the first or the only person to be correctly referred to as a ‘christ’ in the Bible.
Was the anointing oil just pure olive oil? No, fragrant herbs were usually (but not always) added to the oil to make it special and to give it a pleasing odor. The exact formula for the anointing oil is found at Exodus 30:34, where it tells us that it was to be made from:
‘sixteen pounds of choice myrrh flowers, eight pounds of sweet-smelling cinnamon, eight pounds of sweet-smelling calamus, sixteen pounds of cassia, and a gallon of olive oil.’
This physical anointing with oil also appears to have pictured such ones receiving God’s Holy Breath, which made them ‘holy.’
This was what happened to Jesus; he was anointed with God’s Holy Breath immediately after his baptism, which was a sign that he had been chosen as God’s High Priest and the king of His Kingdom.
Therefore, we must assume that the ‘anointing’ of the ancient priests and kings really pictured what would eventually happen to Jesus.