The practice of anointing with perfumed oil was common among the Hebrews.
(1.) The act of anointing was significant of consecration to a holy or sacred use; hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26). The high priest and the king are thus called "the anointed" (Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 6:20; Psalm 132:10). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4, etc.). Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:15). The expression, "anoint the shield" (Isaiah 21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.
(2.) Anointing was also an act of hospitality (Luke 7:38, 46). It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2; Psalm 104:15, etc.). This custom is continued among the Arabians to the present day.
(3.) Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Psalm 109:18; Isaiah 1:6; Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
(4.) The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mark 14:8; Luke 23:56).
(5.) The promised Deliverer is twice called the "Anointed" or Messiah (Psalm 2:2; Dan. 9:25, 26), because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Isaiah 61:1), figuratively styled the "oil of gladness" (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9). Jesus of Nazareth is this anointed One (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2, 3; 18:5, 28), the Messiah of the Old Testament.