Essential Oils in the Bible – Anointing Oil

Anointing Oil pouringThere are many instances where the Bible mentions anointing the body or head with an anointing oil. What exactly was “Anointing Oil?” What was in this essential oil mixture?

A description of the make-up of anointing oil is found in Exodus 30:22-25.  The oil consisted of Myrrh, Cinnamon, Aromatic Cane, Cassia and olive oil.  According to Bible scholars, Aromatic Cane (Andropogon aromaticus) is a grass, not the sugar cane as one might think.  Experts say the grass gives off a strong aroma when bruised and tastes a little like ginger. When processed, Aromatic Cane produces an essential oil called ginger grass which is similar to the essential oil we know today as lemongrass.

The account in Exodus describes the amount of each essential oil in shekels.  A shekel was a standard of both weight and

Anointing Oil Recipe
Anointing Oil Recipe

value among the Hebrews.  When referring to weight, a shekel was about 220 grains, or a little more than a half-ounce.  This chart shows what we estimate one ‘batch’ of Anointing Oil would make.  When complete, one would have 930.2 ounces which is approximately 29 quarts or about 7.25 gallons.

in Psalms 45:7-9 the anointing oil was used in making clothing fragrant.  Emotionally, each of the oils that make up Anointing Oil help promote an overall feeling of well-being.  They also help kill bacteria which would be helpful in healing ceremonies.

Anointing Oil Properties

Properties of the essential oils in Anointing Oil
So, what would a mixture of this oil smell like?  If you wanted to make your own Anointing Oil, here are the ingredients in a more manageable quantity…

  • 1 Tablespoon Fractionated Coconut Oil (or another liquid carrier like Olive Oil)
  • 2 drops myrrh
  • 1 drop cinnamon
  • 1 drop of cassia (if unavailable, use 2 drops of Cinnamon)
  • 2 drops lemongrass (for the sweet reed calamus)
  • 1 drop frankincense (for good measure!)

The antimicrobial and immune effects, fragrance, and connection to sacred rituals of long ago make it a perfect combination to carry you through your day healthy and at peace.  Diffuse periodically or apply topically.

Anointing the body or head with the oil was common in the Bible.  Anointing one’s head seems to be a mark of respect in both the Old and New Testaments (Psalms 23:5 and Luke 7:46).  Prophets, Priests, and Kings were anointed with oil.  So was Jesus.  However, the Bible describes the substance used on Jesus as an expensive perfume, not the “Anointing Oil” described in the Old Testament.

In Exodus, God told Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons with the Anointing Oil to “consecrate” them so they could serve as priests.  The oil was not to be imitated or poured on any ordinary citizen (Exodus 30:30-32).  What a great honor it must have been to be anointed with this fabulous oil mixture.