anointing of persons and objects with oil was widespread in ancient Israel and
its environment for both practical and symbolic reasons.
Anointing was used to inaugurate kings, consecrate priests, and for the
rehabilitation of lepers. The
Hebrew root word for anointing is MShCh, and throughout the Bible it implies
that the anointment came from God. The
attribute MAShIACh ("anointed") came to designate the king and high
priest and, by extension, other divinely appointed functionaries who were not
anointed at all (e.g., prophets, the patriarchs, and even foreign kings).
Israel, anointment conferred upon the king the "RU'ACH of YHVH"
("the spirit of Yahweh"), i.e., his support, strength, and wisdom.
The king absorbed divine attributes through unction, a phenomenon
attested nowhere else. On the other
hand, the anointment of the high priest served an entirely different function.
It conferred neither RU'ACH nor any other divine attribute.
figurative use of MShCh is not a later development since it is already attested
in Ugaritic. Eventually it was
applied to the messiah (the very word being taken from the Hebrew MShCh
"anointed"). The Greek
translation of MShCh is CHRISTOS, as it applies to the "anointed one."
The New Testament English translators always transliterate the Greek word
as "CHRIST." In view of
the word's Hebrew or Greek meaning, every king, priest, and prophet of Israel
was a "christ."
Christian theology developed and a multitude of questions arose concerning the
identity and role of Jesus as his original designation, "Jesus the Anointed
One," changed to Jesus Christ. "Christ" became the word exclusively linked to
Jesus in the New Testament.
Interestingly, none of Jesus' original followers would have known who Jesus
Christ was. In his world he would have been called Yeshua HaMaShiach --
Yeshua the Anointed One, i.e., Yeshua the Messiah.
continue to the next part of this study click on Messiah.
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Jim Myers & Ike Tennison
Discovering the Bible by email - Click
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