It's been a tradition of my family and friends to anoint a home with oil when a family moves in. I understand the significance of praying and dedicating the space as God's, used for His purposes and will - and my interpretation of anointing has mostly been along the lines of prayer in this manor.

However is there a biblical reason or basis for the practice of anointing a physical object? Were does this originate and what Christian traditions practice it?

  • Thanks for your edit, Caleb. I have seen this tradition in Charismatic circles, Assemblies of God & Pentecostal cultures.
    – David C.
    Jun 8 '13 at 18:32

Anointing an object certainly appears in the Bible, and is part of ancient Jewish practice:

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

Exodus 30:22–29 [NIV]

It's also part of the Catholic liturgy for consecrating an altar Reference. The oil of chrism which is used is a fragrant oil rather like that described in Exodus.

However this use of oil is part of the consecration, the setting-apart, of the object to God's use. The objects would not be put to any other use whatsoever. Whether a house is set apart in quite the same way may be open to question, and most house-blessings (such as the one I was involved with recently) would involve sprinkling1 holy water.

1 Sprinkling is a technical term, which refers to splashing water around with a brush or some sort of shaker. It's not usually a delicate operation!

  • "The object would not be put to anything but God's use..." Sticks out to me in your answer, Andrew. I'll chew on this. Thanks for responding.
    – David C.
    Jun 8 '13 at 13:56
  • @DavidC. Your comment to Caleb should possibly be part of the question. Some traditions will certainly be different from my Catholic tradition (which I would have made more obvious if it had been evident that could be important). Jun 8 '13 at 19:04
  • Andrew: certainly. I'm learning my way around the stacks here, so thanks for your patience. I actually appreciate your answer from Catholic perspective bc that is part of my background as well. I enjoy this site because of the comprehensive look at Christianity without denominational overtones. Hopefully that is in line with the values of this site...
    – David C.
    Jun 8 '13 at 19:33

I'm surprised only one perspective was shared. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints only use oil for anointing individuals, though we also perform dedications of buildings for worship (such as chapels, tabernacles, and temples) as well as other locations (such as homes and graves).

@Andrew Leach gave a great reference for dedicating the tabernacle in his previous answer.

In terms of anointing in general, the very act points to Jesus the Anointed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.