The information contained here is from my research on Essential Oils and how they are used currently and where they came from in the past. If you reside in the York, PA area, I am available as a speaker at any church events. My talk includes Biblical references to the oils and how they were used during those times.
Oils were used in the Old Testament to increase spiritual awareness, as a way of moving into their own space for meditation and connection with God. Many ancient peoples, including the Egyptians and our own Native Americans believed that the fragrance of the oils and incenses helped us to be in closer touch with our Creator. It is thought that the oils that were used to embalm the Egyptian mummies were used partially to leave a fragrance trail for the soul to use as a path back from the spirit world. In Christian belief, whenever Mary the mother of Christ appears as a vision there is the scent of roses left in the air.
As written testament of the value of the ancient oils, Israel’s King Hezekiah kept “the spices, and the precious ointment” (2 Kings 20:13) together with silver and gold in the royal treasure chamber. Pliny the Elder documented the security measures taken in the processing of frankincense at Alexandria – “Good heavens! No vigilance is sufficient to guard the factories…before [the workers] are allowed to leave the premises they have to take off all their clothes”
God mandated that the anointing oil be fragrant when He instructed Moses to add spices and fragrant oils to the base of pure olive oil. The "recipe" for the Holy Anointing oil is in Exodus 30:22-33. And of course the consequences for those you used it improperly immediately follows. Those oils used are identified vs 23-24 as myrrh (balsam sap), cinnamon (bark of the cinnamon tree, a species of laurel), cane (pith from the root of a reed plant) and cassia (made from dried flowers of the cinnamon tree).
Webster defines anoint as “to apply oil to as a sacred rite, esp. for consecration” Consecration is to be set apart for special purposes in God’s kingdom. People and objects were anointed.
The Holy Incense is described in Exodus 30:34-38 - Those oils used identified in 30:34 as gum resin (a powder taken from the middle of hardened drops of myrrh--rare and very valuable), onycha (made from either mollusk shells or a plant - see explanation later) and galbanum (a rubbery resin taken from the roots of a flowering plant that thrives in Syria and Persia).
Why were the oils so holy that God would give directions for a holy anointing oil? The holy anointing oil and incense where to be used in those places where God would meet with and talk to the ancient people, why then is it not important that we use them in the same ways now? The ritual use of incense represented God’s power over life and death as in Number 16:46-48 where the High Priest Aaron walks through the congregation with it, stopping a deadly plague.
The following 12 oils are identified by Dr. Young and grouped into a kit called 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture:
Aloes/Sandlewood (santalum album) John 19:39 – He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
high in sesquiterpenes (A compound that stimulate the limbic region of the brain – emotion seat) and has been researched in Europe for its ability to oxygenate a part of the brain known as the pineal gland, the seat of our emotions, responsible for releasing melatonin, a powerful hormone that enhances deep sleep. It is similar to frankincense oil in its support of nerves and circulations. Was used traditionally for skin revitalization and meditation. Has been found to help remove negative programming from the cells.
Cassia (cinnamomum cassia) Psalm 45:8 – All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.
was part of the Egyptian mummification rituals – imported from the far east to Egypt – not native to Egypt. An ingredient of the sacred oil (Ex 30:24) Cassia was mixed into the holy anointing oil of the tabernacle and was a valuable trade product (Ezek 27:19). Oldest of the known oils, stimulates immune functions - one of the most antiseptic of essential oils – anti-bacterial, Cassia oil is distilled from the plant’s leaves and twigs.
Cedarwood (cedrus atlantica) 1 Kings 4:33 – He (Solomon) described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls.
recognized historically for its calming, purifying properties and for being beneficial to the skin and tissues near the surface of the skin. Also helps calm nervous tension, Used for cleansing lepers and people who touched dead bodies - to preserve, protect from decay, mummification, Cedar was noted for its incorruptibility; and in ancient times, clothing was anointed with cedar to protect it from humidity.
Cypress (cupressus sempervirens) Isaiah 44:14 – He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
one of the oils most used to support the circulatory system, trees are known for their durability, may have been the gopher wood for the ark, decongestant for veins, lymphatic system, support nervous system, pancreas and circulatory system.
Frankincense (olibanum – boswellia carteri) Song of Solomon 3:6 – Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense made from all the spices of the merchant?
considered a holy anointing oil in the Middle East and has been used in religious ceremonies for thousand of years. It was well known during the time of Christ for its anointing and healing powers. It is now being researched and used therapeutically in European hospitals. High in sesquiterpenes, it is stimulating and elevating to the mind and helps in overcoming stress and despair as well as supporting the immune system. Wealth was classified by the amount you had, was used to cure everything and an antecdote for all poisons
Galbanum (ferula gummosa) Exodus 30:34 – was used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes. It is recognized for its antiseptic and body-supporting properties. When combined with other oils, such as frankincense or sandalwood, the electrical frequency of the compound increases dramatically. Galbanum also functions as an antispasmodic - Powerful to elevate spiritual awareness
Hyssop (Hyssopus offincinalis) Psalms 51:7 – Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
is noted for its antiseptic properties and has been studied for its effects on opening the respiratory system - used in ritual cleansing – used in the cleansing of lepers
Myrrh (commiphor myrrha) (stacte) Proverbs 7:17 – I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. (King Solomon)
The Arabian people used it for many skin conditions, such as wrinkled, chapped and cracked skin. It has one of the highest levels of sesquiterpenes, (natural antibiotics) a class of compounds that has direct effects on the hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdale, the seat of our emotions. it is widely used today in oral hygiene products. was given to Jesus on the cross (mark 15:23), used for embalming, sas used for a variety of skin conditions.
Myrtle (myrtus communis) Nehemiah 8:15 – Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths
has been researched by Dr. Daniel Penoel for it effects on hormonal imbalances of the thyroid and ovaries, it has also been researched for its soothing effects on the respiratory system. May help with chronic coughs and respiratory tract ailments. a symbol of peace and justice
Onycha (styrax benzoin) Exodus 30:34 - A component of the sacred perfume,
Possibly made from the shells of a species of mussel, possessing an odor, comforting, soothing used on the skin for complexion - The great Jewish scholar Rashi said that it is a kind of root, while the Talmud states it came from an annual plant, Dr. Young believes that styrax benzoin may be the plant source for onycha. Like frankincense and myrrh, benzoin is a resin.
Rose of Sharon/Cistus (Labdanum-cistus ladanifer) Song of Solomon 2:1 – I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley
Cistus comes form a rose that has a soft honey-like scent. has been studied for its effects on the regeneration of cells, used to stop bleeding in ancient times
Spikenard or just nard (nardostachys jatamansi) John 12:3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
is highly regarded in India as a perfume, medicinal herb, and skin tonic, highly prized at the time of Christ, it was used by Mary of Bethany to anoint the feet of Jesus before the Last Supper - this relaxing, soothing oil helps nourish and nourish the skin, very expensive, sealed in alabaster boxes, used to anoint guests and used at burials to anoint the dead