Was a custom in general use among the Hebrews and other oriental nations, and its omission was one sign of mourning, Isaiah 61:3. They anointed the hair, head, and beard, Psalms 104:15 133:2. At their feasts and rejoicings they anointed the whole body; but sometimes only the head or feet, Psalms 23:5 Matthew 6:17 John 12:3. It was a customary mark of respect to guests, Luke 7:38,46. The use of oil upon the skin was thought to be conducive to health. Anointing was then used, and is still, medicinally, Mark 6:13 James 5:14; but the miraculous cures thus wrought by the apostles furnish no warrant for the ceremony just before death called "extreme unction." The anointing of dead bodies was also practiced, to preserve them from corruption, Mark 14:8 16:1 Luke 23:56. They anointed kings and high priests at their inauguration, Exodus 29:7,29 Leviticus 4:3 Judges 9:8 1 Samuel 9:16 1 Kings 19:15,15, as also the sacred vessels of the tabernacle and temple, Exodus 30:26. This anointing of sacred persons and objects signified their being set apart and consecrated to the service of God; and the costly and fragrant mixture appointed for this purpose was forbidden for all others, Exodus 30:23-33 Ezekiel 23:41.
The custom of anointing with oil or perfume was also common among the Greeks and Romans; especially the anointing of guests at feasts and other entertainments.