A Biblical Look at Old Testament “Oil”

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Proverbs 21:20

As we all know, there are many different translations of the Bible. In the King James and New American Standard Versions, the word “olive” is omitted in front of the word “oil” in Proverbs 21:20. This has led many people to believe this verse is referring to an infused oil. However to understand this verse in context, we must take a deeper look.

The Hebrew word for oil used here in Proverbs is “shemen” and is used 193 times in the Bible. Simply translated, “shemen” means fat, olive oil, oil, or ointment and is derived from the root word “shaman”, meaning to be or become fat.

It is more likely the use of the word “shemen” in Proverbs 21:20 is not referring to the healing oils we will be discussing in this study, but rather olive oil which had four different uses in the Bible:

1) Food

2) Ointment

3) To illuminate a lamp

4) Soap

As you may know, olive oil was a staple in biblical times because it was so incredibly useful. And, those who were wise used their resources, in this case olive oil, well. (See Matthew 25:1-13 – also specifically referring to olive oil.)

In the Old Testament, when the Bible refers to healing oils (what we use today as essential oils) the oils were either called by name, (Myrrh, Frankincense, Cassia, etc) or there was an additional noun in front of “shemen”.

The Hebrew noun “tôb”, means “precious” and when used in front of “shemen” signifies expensive or valuable oil.

“Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious (tôb) oil (shemen) and the house of his armor and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 2 Kings 20:13 (NAS)

When nouns “mishchâh” or “moshchâh” are used in front of “shemen”, this signifies holy or anointing oil.

“Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid MYRRH, half as much of fragrant CINNAMON, 250 shekels of fragrant CALAMUS, 500 shekels of CASSIA – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing (mishchâh) oil (shemen), a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing (mishchâh) oil (shemen).” Exodus 30:23-25

The Holy Anointing Oil

Up Next: New Testament Anointing Oils: Murou

Essential Oil Steam Distillation

Since the oils used in the Bible were infused oils, I’d like to share with you the process of extracting essential oils from steam distillation, so we can better understand the differences between the two.

While there are quite a few different ways to steam distill essential oils, I will be concentrating on the methods used by doTERRA International. While there are other great companies, I chose to become a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA because they provide pure essential oils that have worked amazingly for our family.

Most essential oils are extracted through a low-heat steam distillation process. During this process, steam passes through the plant material. With a combination of steam and just the right amount of pressure, the essential oils are released. As the oils are released, the vapor mixture flows through a condenser, cools down, and the water and oils naturally separate leaving two layers. The essential oil rises to the top and is separated from the water, much like a bottle of Italian dressing separates when not being used. This allows the oil to be collected in its purest form.

Fun Facts

While there are many people who still practice the art of infused oils, the potency in essential oils is so much greater and has a much longer shelf life! Just one drop of essential oil contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. This number is mind-blowing when you understand that our bodies only have 100 trillion cells. Therefore, ONE drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our bodies with 40,000 molecules. So, you can see why even a small amount of pure essential oil can have profound effects on the body, brain, and our emotions.

Next Up in the Healing Oils, Plants, and Spices in the Bible Series: “Shemen” – coming July 28th

Infused Oils Vs. Essential Oils

Over the next 2-3 months I will be rolling out a new Bible Study Series: Healing Oils, Plants, and Spices in the Bible. Over the last 6 months, I have spent hours researching and diving deep into the world of essential oils, as these oils have been life-changing for our family. Roughly 2 months ago, I heard so many friends talk about different “essential oils” used in the Bible, that I decided to research it for myself. What I uncovered ROCKED my world and fired up a new excitement and passion within me!

Essential oils as we know them today were not used in biblical times. In fact, the current popular method of extracting oils by steam distillation was likely centuries away from being used when Jesus walked this Earth. Healing oils of the biblical age were INFUSED oils, made largely from softening, mashing, pressing, crushing, grinding, or soaking plant matter in olive oil, palm oil, or fat.

To infuse something simply means to transfer the scent, flavor, and healing or therapeutic properties of one object to another. In medical science, we see a variety of infusion processes, including medicine given through an IV, blood transfusions, intramuscular injections, epidurals, or even skin or bone grafts! We also see infused products all over our grocery stores shelves with flavored cooking oils, vinegars, herbal teas, coffees, and all those yummy flavored chocolate bars.

Did you know you can even make infused oils in your own home? All you need is some olive oil and plant material to whip up your own special blends.

How to Infuse OilWhile we have plenty of ways to crush and grind our own material now, in Numbers 11:8 we are given a glimpse into how the plant material may have been crushed in biblical times when God gave the Israelites manna.

“The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin.The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil.” Numbers 11:8

What is interesting to me is that slave women were normally the ones using the hand mills and mortar to crush the wheat, barley, grain, and in this case the manna. (Exodus 11:5) This was a very laborious job given to someone as a condemnation and considered the lowest employment in the house.

This makes me think of Jesus… “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. In this verse, Isaiah is prophesying the death of Jesus Christ who was condemned to die for our sins, in order to bring healing to the world.

And yet, when the material was changed from wheat and barley to plants, spices, and olive oil, the responsibility of making perfume and anointing oils became one of honor and held high esteem for the best perfumer in the trade.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices – gum resin, onycha and galbanum – and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred.” Exodus 30:35

It is important for us to understand that the infused oils used in biblical times were very different and less concentrated than the essential oils we use today. That being said, the Bible does provide many examples where even these less potent, infused oils were used for amazing purposes. Over the next couple of months we will not only discover the oils, plants, and spices used in the Bible, but we will uncover a beautiful love story of God’s plan of redemption. Please be sure to enter your email address to receive all new posts by email so you don’t miss this study!

Q. Do you use essential oils?  If so, what is your favorite oil to use?

3 Keys to Understanding Grief

boxing-gloves-400x400How many of you have ever gotten into a fight with someone? Perhaps you’ve had a disagreement with a spouse, family member, or best friend.

If we are being honest, we all have! BUT… have you ever been in the middle of an argument when you stop, pause, look at the other person in total confusion and whisper, “Hey real quick, can you remind me what are we fighting about?”

The subject matter has changed so many times you have no idea what the original offense was anymore. So many little issues have been building, and building, and building, because they never got dealt with when they were small. And now, you are an active volcano spewing everything and anything from your memory bank.

The same goes with grief. Little hurts and losses, combined with big hurts and losses can compound if they are not dealt with, until the grieving person doesn’t even know who or what they are grieving anymore. You just know you are broken, and you cry, and there is not always a tangible reason.

Here are three keys to understanding grief:

1. Understand the onset of any trauma will bring up past hurts and unresolved conflicts.

Sometimes the loss itself can bring up repressed memories, childhood hurts, conflict from broken relationships, self-esteem issues, unresolved past trauma or sins, unspoken words of forgiveness or closure (that may be too late), feelings of regret, and any abuse a person has previously, or is currently experiencing. This leads to a lot of confusion and sometimes displaced emotions because these feelings seem unrelated to the current circumstances. And most often, the grieving person is completely unprepared to know how to deal with these emotions.

2. Understand the fear of the unknown is terrifying.

“How do I even begin to start my life as a widow?”

“Will I ever be able to have children?”

“What if the cancer doesn’t kill me, but the chemo does.”

Two days before my first chemo infusion, I wrote goodbye letters to my husband and children. Not only did I do my best to tell them how much I loved them, but what I wanted for their lives. I was terrified of leaving my family and had to face this fear. Little did I know I would have an anaphylactic response to the chemo and very well could have died. The fear of the unknown can have a powerful grip on someone who is grieving, because their world has been shaken and they do not know how to survive in their new identity.

3. Understand your loved one has no idea how you can help them.

At the onset of our losses, people would ask, “What do you need?”

My response? I would shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know!” I was dealing with first time emotions that were new to me, and had no clue what would help ease my pain.

So, our loved ones would say, “Okay, well, call if you need anything!”

And, I would nod along, but did I ever call? Nope! Therefore, in their mind, our loved ones perceived our family didn’t need help because we aren’t asking for anything. But, what they did not always realize was that while we needed something, we didn’t know what that something was!

Therefore, anticipate the needs of people who are grieving. Instead of saying, “What can I do to help?” – offer a tangible solution.

For instance:

  • “Can I bring a meal over on Thursday?”
  • “Can my son mow your lawn this weekend?”
  • “I’m running to the store, can I pick up some groceries for you?”
  • “Can I keep the kids for you on Saturday so you can rest?”
  • “We are having a ladies night out this weekend and already have child care taken care of. Will you come with us?”

Q. Tell me. What do you wish people would understand about grief? Please leave a comment below.

Take Heart

Nearly 7 years ago our daughter died. And, in the last few days her short 80-minute life has reached over 10,000 people through The Un-Happy Mother’s Day post. God does not promise we will never endure difficult times. In fact, He says just the opposite in John 16:33-34.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

You may be in a situation right now that is daunting and traumatic.

You may be angry at God.

You may be angry at anything and everything.

You may not be ready to hear how God will bring good out of your pain. I certainly felt this for YEARS – and it is OKAY to feel this way!!

If this is you today, let me implore you not to shut out the world. We were built for relationships and desperately need each other. Reach out and allow others to love you. In this moment, I know you don’t believe this (just as I didn’t 7 years ago), but there will come a day where the sting fades, where the pain doesn’t tighten your chest anymore, and where the tears are shed less often.

Take heart dear friends – whether you feel it or not right now – our God loves you and He is with you!