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Shemot/Exodus 40:9 And you shall take the anointing oil, and you shall anoint the Tabernacle ... and you shall consecrate it ... and it shall be holy.
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Four rather similar sounding root verbs are involved in the process of sanctifying the Tabernacle by anointing it - and all contents and furniture - with the holy anointing oil: , to take, , to smear, anoint or consecrate, , to rest, dwell or inhabit, and , to be holy or sacred. The first word of the verse is the first root; is the Qal affix 2ms form of the root , in a vav-reversive construction to make it future: "and you shall take". The second root, , appears as two consecutive words: the noun , "the anointing oil", and the verb , the Qal affix 2ms form, also with a vav-reversive, "and you shall anoint". Like the first, the third root - - is only present once; , the noun 'tabernacle', with a definite article, 'the Tabernacle', formed by adding a prefix to the root denoting the place where the verb's action happens:HaShem's presence dwells in the Tabernacle. The fourth root, , like the second, is present twice: as the verb , the Pi'el or intensified 2ms form, with yet another vav-reversive, "and you shall consecrate", and as the adjective , 'holy'. This concentration of verbs means that the Torah is making a strong point: anointing is very significant!
Moshe's obedience to this command is only sketched in this account, with the all encompassing, "This Moshe did; according to all that the L-RD commanded him, so he did" (Shemot 40:16, ESV) before "the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the L-RD filled the tabernacle" (v. 34, ESV). It is related as part of the narrative leading up to the installation of Aharon and his sons as priests - "Then Moshe took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them" (Vayikra 8:10, ESV) - and appears again as the context for the gifts brought by the tribal chieftains: "On the day when Moshe had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils" (B'Midbar 7:1, ESV). This is essentially a one-off exercise; although some of the furniture goes through an annual 'atonement' process, they are only anointed and consecrated this one time. Once holy, they remain holy and they make anything that touches them holy. As Nahum Sarna explains, "The act of anointing consecrates for divine service. Henceforth, the holiness is contagious."
Ten chapters earlier, Moshe is given the formula for the anointing oil: myrrh, a gum or resin extracted from trees native to Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Ethiopia; fragrant cinnamon, native to Sri Lanka, but cultivated elsewhere in Asia; aromatic cane, mentioned later in the Bible as "sweet cane from a distant land" (Jeremiah 6:20, ESV); and cassia, the bark of an evergreen tree originating in southern China. These items, in their proper proportions are to be expertly blended and mixed with olive oil. Sarna comments that, "spices and perfumes were rare, highly prized commodities in the ancient world. These products were costly due to the huge amounts of raw materials need to manufacture the desired quantity and to the great distances they had to be transported by land caravan or by sea from distant locations in Arabia, Somaliland, India and even China. Finally, the highly specialised art of perfumery demanded a high level of skill and experience."
This act of anointing was very costly. Consecrating the Tabernacle and all its contents for use in the divine service was expensive, requiring a high financial investment and the deployment of significant skills. Maintaining a supply of the anointing oil - for inducting the priests and so on - needed an ongoing high level of commitment and resources. The ingredients needed to be kept on hand and fresh - as all aromatics lose something of their oils or essential quality over time - so would need to be regularly traded and bought. Spices were among the gifts brought by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon (1 Kings 10:10) and were a treasure displayed by Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:13). It is significant that myrrh, which was also used for burial anointing and embalming in the ancient world, and frankinsence were two of the gifts brought by the magi from the east to Yeshua: "opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Matthew 2:11, ESV). Myrrh comes again when Yeshua is buried: Nicodemus brings "a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy five pounds in weight" (John 19:39, ESV) so that he and Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Yeshua's body "in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews" (v. 40, ESV).
Anointing declares something to be set apart for G-d, to become holy and consecrated. And that anointing, that holiness, is meant to be contagious. Anything that touches or comes into contact with something that is holy itself acquires a degree of holiness and is drawn towards contact or relationship with G-d. HaShem tells Samuel to "Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for Myself a king among his sons" (1 Samuel 16:1, ESV). Samuel anoints David and the text tells us that "the Spirit of the L-RD rushed upon David from that day forward" (v. 13, ESV). The anointing with oil was the external sign of what G-d had done and was about to do - He had chosen David and He was about to fill him with the Ruach, His Spirit. The anointing was costly for Samuel to do, because his life was in danger from King Saul; it was costly for David who was also to spend years on the run from Saul and took a hit from sibling rivalry with his brothers in the meantime. Being chosen and anointed by G-d is expensive!
When Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile Roman centurion in Caesarea, to share the news about Yeshua with him and his household, he recapped for them the story of Yeshua and His ministry: "you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how G-d anointed Yeshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for G-d was with Him" (Acts 10:37-38, ESV). Here the anointing is not with anointing oil, but with the Spirit, who had "descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove" (Luke 3:22, NASB) at His baptism by John at the Jordan. And Yeshua had promised the indwelling of the Spirit to the disciples, which had been visibly manifested on the day of Pentecost as they waited in Jerusalem: "There came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance" (Acts 2:204, NASB). Peter hadn't even finished telling the story to the crowd in Cornelius' house in Caesarea, when G-d moved on Cornelius: "While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God" (10:44-46, ESV). This is the fulfillment of the promise G-d gave through the prophet Joel: "I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind" (Joel 2:28, NASB).
Rav Sha'ul confirms this to the Corinthians when he tells them: "it is G-d who establishes us with you in Messiah, and has anointed us, and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, ESV). We can read the same thing in John's letters: "you have been anointed by the Holy One" (1 John 2:20, ESV). This is not just a first-century Jewish church thing; this should be a normal part of every Yeshua-believer's experience: the anointing with the Ruach. And this anointing is for the same reasons as for Aharon, the Tabernacle, David and Yeshua: so that we might be holy and set apart for G-d; that our holiness should be contagious, drawing others towards holiness and an encounter with G-d; for power and wisdom; to do good and bring healing. These are the "good works, which G-d prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10, NASB).
So here's the question for us today, on whichever side of the spiritual gifts argument you find yourself, have you been anointed? Are you living a holy life, drawing people into encounters and relationship with G-d, doing good and bringing healing - however you interpret that - in a life of kingdom power?
Further Study: Psalm 20:6-9; Luke 4:18-19; 1 John 2:27
Do you know the power of G-d at work in your life and depth of anointing that
the Scriptures seem to describe? No? Then cry out to G-d to fulfill His
promises of empowerment and enabling in your life and ministry today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2017
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© Jonathan Allen, 2017
Your turn - what do you think of the ideas in this drash ?Like most print and online magazines, we reserve the right to edit or publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.