Essential Oils Used in the Bible

by Susan King

There are many references to essential oils in the Bible. Precious oils were used to anoint and heal the sick throughout the Bible. The Three Wise Men, or Magi, brought essential oils as a gift to the Christ child. These oils have healing, therapeutic properties and were often used as medicine in Biblical times.

Types

There are many types of oils in the Bible and each was used for specific purposes. Decongestive oils such as myrtle and hyssop were used to help with healing congestion. Spikenard, aloes and myrrh are oxygenating oils that carry oxygen to the body on a cellular level. Soothing oils like Rose of Sharon, cedarwood and galbanum were used to bring peace to the heart and skin. Frankincense and onycha are aromatic oils that were prized for their pleasant, lasting smell.

Benefits

There are many benefits to using essential oils. In Biblical times, oils were used to soothe and repair aging skin. Antiseptic and antibiotic oils were used for healing and cleansing. Oils were used to help the sick with muscle and joint pain, general body systems such as the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as constipation. Oils were used for skin and hair health, as well.

Uses

Essential oils had a variety of uses in the Bible. Oils were given as gifts or offerings. Women used oils as cosmetics to soften and smooth the skin. Those fasting were instructed to use oil to maintain their complexion. Oils were used in anointing ceremonies, such as bestowing power on leaders or healing the sick. Leftover residue from pressing olives was used as fertilizer as well as crushed olive pits for fuel. Olive oil residue was also used as an insect and mouse repellent in storing food.

Symbolization

The most common usage of oil in the Bible was to symbolize the Holy Spirit. It was used to portray the blessings of God and his power. Oil was used to anoint the sick, leaders and as a blessing when Jesus washed the disciples' feet and rubbed them with oil. Another reference is the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for their bridegrooms. The virgins are in the church and the bridegroom is the coming of the Lord. The five virgins who had taken enough oil to keep their lamps lit until midnight were the members of the church who had enough faith and spirit to wait as long as necessary. The oil symbolized their faith.

How Oils Were Made

Oils were collected by distilling, a process of steaming raw materials and collecting the oil from the water vapor or by pressing the leaves and nuts. Pressing was done over a 24-hour period and each batch was pressed three times. The first pressing yielded the most valuable, pure oils. Second and third pressings presented usable oils but not as valued. Oils were kept covered in earthenware jars.

About the Author

Susan King is a teacher with 27 years experience with all ages, grade levels and ability levels, including teaching in China. She has written a book, "The Road to Rebecca," about adopting from China. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She also has a ThM from Colorado Theological Seminary in Christian Counseling and recently received her PhD.

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