Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
In most cases the oil that the Bible mentions is olive oil. Olive trees were grown extensively in Palestine, and Israel exported oil to other countries (1 Kings 5:11; Ezekiel 27:17; Hosea 12:1). Other fruits and plants were also a source of oil. Workers obtained the oil by crushing the fruit, flowers or leaves. This was sometimes done through grinding the substance, using either a thick stick in a bowl or a stone roller in a hollowed out rock. Sometimes the oil was trodden out in a press, other times squeezed out from a sack by twisting it with sticks (Exodus 27:20; Deuteronomy 33:24; Micah 6:15).
People used oils in the preparation of food (Exodus 29:2; Leviticus 2:4; 1 Kings 17:12-14), as fuels for lamps (Exodus 27:20; Zechariah 4:2-3; Zechariah 4:12; Matthew 25:3-4), as medicines and ointments (Isaiah 1:6; Luke 10:34), as cosmetics (2 Samuel 14:2; Esther 2:12; Psalms 104:15; Song of Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 5:5) and for rubbing on the body to bring soothing and refreshment (Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20; Amos 6:6; Luke 7:37-38; John 12:3). The use of oil in anointing the sick may have had some medicinal purpose, but its chief significance may have been symbolic, demonstrating faith (Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
The custom of anointing a person’s head with oil was an ancient way of showing the person honour (Mark 14:3). This was particularly so when a host welcomed a special guest (Psalms 23:5). On festive occasions anointing contributed to the joy and merriment of the occasion. As a result oil, like wine, became a symbol of rejoicing (Psalms 45:7; Psalms 104:15; Isaiah 61:3; Joel 1:10).
Besides being widely used in Israel’s everyday life, oil was frequently used in its religious rituals. It was part of some sacrifices (Exodus 29:2; Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 8:26; Numbers 6:15; Numbers 7:19), was offered as both firstfruits and tithes (Exodus 22:29; Deuteronomy 12:17), was used as fuel for the tabernacle lamp (Exodus 27:20) and was put on people in certain ceremonies (Leviticus 14:10-18).
Oil was used to anoint priests, kings and at times prophets, to symbolize their setting apart for God’s service and their appointment to office (Exodus 28:41; 1 Samuel 10:1; Psalms 89:20-21; 1 Kings 1:39; 1 Kings 19:16; Zechariah 4:11-14). It was used also to anoint things that were set apart for sacred use, such as the tabernacle and its equipment (Exodus 40:9-11). The oil used to anoint the priests and the tabernacle was prepared according to a special formula, which was not to be used for any other purpose (Exodus 30:23-33; cf. Psalms 133:2). (See also ; .)
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Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Oil'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/o/oil.html. 2004.