What Is the Anointing Oil of Esther?

by Shaun McGonigal

In the holy book of Esther, Esther prepares herself to see the King by anointing herself with myrrh oil. Queen Esther oils are now sold by various retailers to Christians as a means of anointing women as a religious ritual.

The Book of Esther

Esther 2:12: "And when each maiden's turn arrived to go to King Ahasuerus, after having been treated according to the practice prescribed for the women, for twelve months, for so were the days of their ointments completed, six months with myrrh oil, and six months with perfumes, and with the ointments of the women." While most references to oil in the Bible involve olive oil, in this case myrrh oil is specified. In this case the myrrh oil is used as an anointing oil used to purify maidens in this ancient cultural context.

Myrrh

Myrrh refers to a resin used as an incense as well as used as an ingredient in various perfumes and ointments according to ancient texts. This resin is derived from two species of plant, the Commiphora myrrha and the Commiphora gileadensis which are native to modern-day Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Jordan among others.

Theological Significance

The ritual of anointing can be found throughout the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Exodus 30:22-25 refers to a specific combination of ingredients in order to make an oil for anointing kings or prophets, although this seems to differ from the oil used in the book of Esther. The term 'christ' or 'messiah' means "one who has been anointed." The Christian significance of anointing with the oil used in the book of Esther is an attempt to draw oneself closer to Jesus Christ through this symbolic anointing. Using the symbol of the king (Ahasuerus) in from the book of Esther as a metaphor for God, who is commonly referred to as a 'king' or as 'Lord.' Thus to prepare oneself for the presence of God, a Christian may anoint themselves in the same way as Esther anointed herself in preparation for meeting Ahasuerus.

Modern-day marketplace

Many modern-day Christians view the ritual of anointing as an integral part of their religious lives. Thus, many retailers, both online and elsewhere, produce and/or sell variations of this anointing oil for consumption. These oils are used either for personal or community use in rituals, for perfume, or simply as collector's items. The items are often referred to as "Esther anointing oil," "Queen Esther oil," or "anointing oil."

Ingredients

There does not seem to be a unified set of ingredients in such modern-day oils. Because the verse in the book of Esther is not specific as to which "perfumes" and "ointments" were used, There seems to be some leeway as to how the anointing oil of Esther can be produced. Myrrh is used, but many varieties often include olive oil, sandalwood, as well as other ingredients.

About the Author

Having a unique academic and social upbringing in Philadelphia where he lived for more than 30 years, Shaun now resides in Atlanta, Ga. Shaun received his master's degree in philosophy, has written a science fiction novel and has been writing online since the 1990s for such websites such as eHow.com, rawstory.com, and his own blog.

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