Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Hebrew verb משׁח (mashaḥ, pronounced ma-SHAḤ, with a strong guttural rasp on the final "h" sound to reflect the final Hebrew letter ḥet), means "to pour, smear, anoint." It is used when a substance is poured and/or smeared on another object, as in Exodus 29:2: "And unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread (משׁחים) with oil."

Of course, the word משׁח (mashaḥ) is best known in the context of anointing someone—a process where oil is poured and smeared on the head of a new king, priest, or prophet to denote divine sanction. For example, a king is anointed in 1 Kings 1:39: "There the priest Zadok took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed (וימשׁח) Solomon." In Exodus 28:41, a priest is anointed: "You shall put them on your brother Aaron, and on his sons with him, and shall anointמשׁחת) them and ordain them and consecrate them, so that they may serve me as priests." In 1 Kings 19:16, a prophet is anointed: "You shall anointמשׁח) Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place."

In any case, the one who is anointed becomes the "anointed one," or messiaḥ (משׁיח), a noun form of the verb משׁח (mashaḥ).