“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:
3) To illuminate a lamp
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
Up Next: New Testament Anointing Oils: Murou