I thought the Torah says that the holy anointing oil is only for anointing priests. Is it the same oil that Samuel used to anoint Saul?

Originally, the oil was used exclusively for the priests and the Tabernacle articles but was later extended to include prophets and kings (I Samuel 10:1). It was forbidden to be used on an outsider (Exodus 30:33) or to be used on the body of any common persons (Ex. 30:32a) and the Israelites were forbidden to duplicate any like it for themselves (Ex. 30:32b).


If it's indeed the holy anointing oil, what justify Samuel's use on Saul?

  • 1
    This question would be stronger if you would edit in citations for where the Torah says that anointing oil is only for priests and where it's recorded that Samuel used it to anoint Saul.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Note that in I Shmuel 10:1

וַיִּקַּח שְׁמוּאֵל אֶת פַּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶן וַיִּצֹק עַל רֹאשׁוֹ וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר הֲלוֹא כִּי מְשָׁחֲךָ יְהֹוָה עַל נַחֲלָתוֹ לְנָגִיד:

And Samuel took the vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him. And he said, "Indeed, the Lord has anointed you to be a ruler over His inheritance.

This implies that it was the special anointing oil.

Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 1:7 says

Halacha 7

When a king is appointed, he is anointed with oil reserved for this purpose, as I Samuel 10:1 states: 'And Samuel took the cruse of oil and poured it over his head. Then, he kissed him.'

However,once David Hamelech was anointed, the special oil was only used for the Davidic kings and only if there was a dispute as to who would be the king.

Halacha 10

Kings of Israel are not anointed with the special anointing oil, but with Afarsimon oil. Only a descendent of David may be appointed as king in Jerusalem. And only descendents of David are anointed with the special anointing oil.

Halacha 12

A son who succeeds his father as king is not anointed unless he assumes his position amid a dispute over the inheritance or during a civil war. Under these circumstances, he should be anointed in order to remove all disagreement.

Therefore, they anointed Solomon because of the claim of Adoniyahu, Jehoash, because of the usurpation of Atalyah, and Jehoachaz, because of [the claim of his brother, Jehoyakim.


The 'Holy Anointing Oil' used in the Temple for the vessels and Kohen Gadol was made from olive oil and various herbs and spices. It is explained in Shemot 30:22-25.

It is not the same oil used for anointing Kings of Israel. This oil is called 'Shemen Afarsimon',which is mentioned in the Tosefta on Sheviyit and also in Yerushalmi Sheviyit.

(תוספתא, שביעית פ"ז ה"י; ירושלמי, שביעית פ"ט ה"ב; לח ע"ד)

Here is a link in Hebrew which gives a good explanation of Shemen Afarsimon.


According to the Roman botanist, Paulinus, the Afarsimon tree had a unique oil and only grew in the territory of Yehuda. This would suggest why Shmuel was directed to the Afarsimon oil for anointing Kings of Israel. Kingship was intended to lay only with Yosef and Yehuda.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .