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Frankincense, Myrrh, and the Other Sacred Oils of History
Why were essential oils considered as valuable as the gold? For thousands of years, these rare plant essences have been highly prized in the Holy Land for their healing and spiritual properties. They are mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, and were so valuable that in Isaiah 39:2 and 2nd Kings 20:13, Hezekiah displayed them as part of his treasure trove.
Essential oils were used in “anointing,” which is the process of rubbing or massaging oils onto a person’s feet or head for the purpose of healing or for showing reverence. Usually, in Biblical times, olive oil was mixed with other oils and resins, including cinnamon, peppermint, myrtle, cypress, cedar, frankincense, and myrrh. In Exodus 30:22-26, God prescribes a holy anointing oil made of the oils and spices myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia, mixed with olive oil. Psalms 89:20-26 says that this sacred oil was used to anoint King David, who said “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Isaiah 61:1 says that the Prophet was anointed with oil by the Spirit of the Lord to do spiritual work in the world.
In Biblical times, essential oils also were commonly used for healing, both physical and spiritual. In Matthew 6:17-18, Jesus says to use anointing oil when fasting. Mark 6:13 says; “They anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” In Luke 10-13, Jesus tells a parable in which bandage wounds are soaked with oil to help them heal. And in Revelation 3:18, John tells of a vision of Jesus saying metaphorically to use essential oils in a “salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” James 5:14 says of the healing power of essential oils; “Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.“