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English Bible Dictionary



Of the numerous substances, animal and vegetable, which were known to the ancients as yielding oil, the olive berry is the one of which most frequent mention is made in the Scriptures.

  • Gathering,--The olive berry was either gathered by hand or shaken off carefully with a light reed or stick.

  • Pressing: In order to make oil the fruit, was either bruised in a mortar crushed in a press loaded with wood or stones, ground in a mill, or trodden with the feet. The "beaten" oil of (Exodus 27:20; 29:40; Leviticus 24:2; Numbers 28:6) was probably made by bruising in a mortar, It was used:

  • (1) As food. Dried wheat, boiled with either butter or oil, but generally the former, is a common dish for all classes in Syria. (Exodus 29:2)

  • (2) Cosmetic. Oil was used by the Jews for anointing the body, e.g. after the bath, and giving to the skin and hair a smooth and comely appearance, e.g. before an entertainment.

  • (3) Funereal. The bodies of the dead were anointed with oil, and you can find more about that here on on other commentaries and dictionary entries. (2 Samuel 14:2)

  • (4) Medicinal. Isaiah alludes to the use of oil in medical treatment. (Isaiah 1:6) see also Mark 6:13; Jame 6:14

  • (5) For light. The oil for "the light" was expressly ordered to be olive oil, beaten. (Matthew 25:3)

  • (6) Ritual. Oil was poured on or mixed with the flour or meal used in offerings. (Leviticus 8:12) Kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil or ointment.

  • (7) In offerings. As so important a necessary of life, the Jew was required to include oil among his firstfruit offerings. (Exodus 22:29; 23:16; Numbers 18:12) Tithes of oil were also required. (12:17) [Olive]


* See also: Oil Tree.                     Divider of Saint TaklaHaymanot's website فاصل - موقع الأنبا تكلاهيمانوت

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