Olive Oil

Part of the beauty of the Olive Tree consists in its greenness, it is always green; few trees that bear fruit are like the Olive in this respect. (5)

Olive Tree in Garden of Gethsemane

Olive oil is produced by growing olive trees [see graphic above], harvesting the olives (at around September time frame), crushing them with an oil press, and collecting the golden juice. This process started about 5000 years ago, and its popularity and worth have increased ever since. Olive oil was used as cooking oil, food, lighting fuel, soap making, religious ceremonies, and medicinal use.  Its production was one of the major sources of income in Israel over thousands of years, including in modern times when olive oil is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, the number of oil presses was in the thousands; many farmers had their own private installations, and larger public industrial complexes generated a huge amount of olive oil. (3)

“The olive oil production process was based on two major steps. The first step involved crushing the olives using a crushing stone and then collecting them into a basket. The second step is done on another installation: the basket is pressed with force, extracting the oil out of the crushed olives and collecting the juice into a storing vat. There were different types of machines that were used to crush the olives and then press the oil out of the crushed olives. They differed in their size, method of operation, use of human or animal power, infrastructure, and capacity. Most of the oil presses had a single crushing stone and basin, and one or two pressing devices.” (3)

The olive crusher (graphic above) used a large rolling stone to crush the olives.  The stone was held upright by an axis, which was connected to a long handle. The handle was pushed by humans or animals. The mashing stone rolled along a cavity on the circumference of the base, crushing the olives. The crushed olives would then be collected into a basket and then further processed by the olive press. (3)

The olive press device was the second step in the olive oil production, where the crushed olives were pressed with force in order to extract their juice. (3)


“This is a typical lever-based oil press (see graphic above) which was in use in the Biblical periods. Later the oil press evolved into other types of machines. In this oil press, a stone weight was tied to the edge of the wooden lever, pushing the lever down. The use of a lever exerts a large force over a small distance. The force of the lever pushed a flat stone down on a basket, which contained the olives. The stone squeezed the basket, extracting the precious olive oil unto the round grooves of a basin stone. The juice flowed down along these grooves, out through an outlet in the basin, and down into a collecting vat. The olive juice contained water and oil. After a few days, the lighter oil in the juice floats above the water, and it is then collected and stored in jars.” (3)

In biblical times there were three pressings of olives during this process each with a unique application:  

  • First Pressing Oil – Used in lamps of the temple to provide light (Exodus 27:20), the anointing oil (Exodus 30:24, James 5:14), and for meal offerings (Leviticus 2:4-10),
  • Second Pressing Oil – Used as a medicine for healing (Isaiah 1:6, Luke 10:34),
  • Third Pressing Oil – Used to make soap, by mixing with an alkali, for cleansing (Job 9:30. Jeremiah 2:22. Malachi 3:2).

Typological Meaning of Olive Oil in the Menorah

As we enter the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of Moses, we see on our left along the Southside of the tabernacle stands a lamp stand (1) (aka, Menorah) formed out of one piece of pure beaten gold. Therefore, it is the only piece of furniture in the Tabernacle that is solid gold. The pure gold represents the holiness of God who is Lord. It consists of an upright shaft with three branches extending from each side with a lamp atop each branch (Exodus 25:31-40).  These lamps provide the only light in the Holy Place and burn continuously with pure olive oil supplied by the priests morning and evening (Exodus 27:20).

The central shaft and branches are decorated with golden bowls or cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms (Exodus 37:17-24). The one central shaft representing God who is one (Deuteronomy 6:4. Mark 12:29) and who is the vine (John 15:1). And then, coming out on either side are three branches on one side and three branches on the other side representing the church composed of Jew and Gentile Christians, totaling six which is the number of mankind (John 15:5). Also pictured is man and God in perfect union and when you have man and God together, the combination of the human and Divine (six plus one), you have seven, which is the number for perfection.

The knops, the bowls, and the flowers speak of the bud, the flower, and the fruit that grows on a branch and a very special kind of fruit: almonds. In the Near East, the almond tree is called the “wakeful tree,” or, “the tree that awakens first.” The almond tree blossoms very early in the season flowering as early as January in Israel. The flowers are of a pinkish color and are produced before the leaves making them very conspicuous. (4)

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:11,12 ESV)

This hastening of the period of flowering of almonds also represents God watching over His word to perform it.

So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each leader, according to their tribes—twelve staffs; the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. Then Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the testimony. On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony—and the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded almonds! (Numbers 17:6–8 NET)

Aaron had a staff or rod that he used in the desert to strike at snakes, herd the sheep, lean upon which was simply deadwood. However, after being before the Lord, now there are leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit! All of this is a type, a picture, of life out of death. That is, it typifies, it pictures, resurrection. In the Golden Lamp Stand (Menorah), we see the same thing. We see the bud, the flower, and the fruit. It speaks to us of Christ, our life. It speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! (4)

Jesus is the one who gives life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NET)
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4–5 ESV)

The life of Jesus is the light for mankind.

Jesus said,

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5 NET)

Jesus also said,

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 NET)

Now, how do we become the light of the world? I am so glad you asked! We stay attached to Jesus, who is the light of the world. It is straightforward, “I am the light of the world.” “You are the light of the world.” Why? Because the Golden Lamp Stand was of one solid piece of gold. Only as these six branches, representing Jew and Gentile Christians, abide in that central branch could they bear forth the light. Again, the seven lamps provided the only light in the Holy Place and burn continuously with pure olive oil given by the Israelites (Exodus 27:20) and re-supplied to the Menora by the priests morning and evening. This pure oil represents the Holy Spirit. 

Typological Meaning of Olive Oil in the Anointing

Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. Next he sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and so anointed the altar, all its vessels, and the wash basin and its stand to consecrate them. He then poured some of the anointing oil on the head of Aaron and anointed him to consecrate him. (Leviticus 8:10–12 NET) 

Aaron the high priest, when he was sanctified, getting ready to be a high priest, had olive oil poured on his head. That pictures the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Aaron the high priest. Furthermore, it pictured more than the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Aaron the high priest, for it symbolized the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the Lord Jesus Christ and upon the Church. That is, the anointing oil represents the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the pure oil energizing the head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and the body of the church composed of Jew and Gentile Christians. (4)

Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. And while he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.” (Luke 3:21–22 NET)
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Hebrews 1:9 NET)
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, (Luke 4:1 NET)
”So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time. Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the surrounding countryside. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:13 NET)
Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16–19 NET)
with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:38 NET)

This is the way that Jesus Christ did His work: in the power of the Holy Spirit. And what a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful lesson it is for us, that the very same power that Jesus Christ used in His life is available to all Christians! And the very thing that caused Jesus to be a bright and shining light, and caused Jesus to be the light of the world, causes us to be the light of the world. Hallelujah!

Furthermore, the branches abiding in that central shaft that produce light are covered with buds and flowers, and fruit. That is, just as we abide in Him, and we bear light, when we abide in Him, we bear fruit.

Jesus said,

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 ESV)

Jesus also said,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me - and I in him - bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. (John 15:5 NET)

And that is all: that is the only business we have in the world is to bear light and to bear fruit. We are not generators producing light. We just bear light – that is all. And we are not the vine; we are just the branch. We don’t produce the fruit; we just bear the fruit. (1) And so there is only one thing necessary for us to do – and that is to abide in Jesus. Jesus is our Lord, our Life, and our Light! (4)

On the Day of Pentecost (1), when the Holy Spirit (1) was poured out, there sat upon every man’s head what? Cloven tongues of fire. You see, the Lord, when He poured out the oil, He lit the fire (Matthew 3:11). That is what it is all about, that we are to be the light of the world. We are those six branches, now unified with that one central branch, making perfection. And so all you have to do, dear hearts is to abide and shine; all you have to do is abide and bear fruit. You never saw a lamp trying to burn; it just burns. You never saw a branch trying to bear fruit; it just bears fruit, when it abides in the vine. Jesus said, “You abide in me, and I in you, and then you’re going to bring forth much fruit” (John 15:5). (4)

If this had been a candle, the candle will burn itself out in a while. And the candle gives of its own waxy substance, but the lamp stand burns the oil. Is it not time we started burning the oil and stop trying to be a candle? You see, you will not make nearly as much smoke, and you will burn a lot longer. What a beautiful fire it will be when you stop burning the wick and start burning the oil! Again, the oil is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. (4)

Typological Meaning of Olive Oil in the Meal Offering

Olive oil was also used for incense in the Hebrew sacrificial and offering ceremonies (see table below).

Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant

The bread dough for a Meal Offering (1) was to be mixed with olive oil, beaten and pounded (1) into the desired shape, and then baked in an oven.

If it was an unleavened “cake,” it was to be “mixed with oil”.  If it was an “unleavened wafer”, it was to be “anointed” with oil.

  • “Mixed with oil” is a picture of Jesus who was born without sin and filled to all fullness with the Holy Spirit.
  • Smeared with oil is a picture of Jesus “anointed with oil,” upon coming up out of the waters after being baptized by John. At that time, The Holy Spirit rested ON HIM (poured over Him as oil) without measure! 
You love justice and hate evil. For this reason God, your God has anointed you with the oil of joy, elevating you above your companions. (Psalm 45:7 NET)
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Hebrews 1:9 NET)
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NET)

The very same force that energized Jesus and gave Him life can energize us and give us life; the very same force that caused Jesus to be fruitful can cause us to be fruitful, as long as we abide in the vine and receive the oil. What a wonderful wonderful lesson! (4)

Feasts, Festivals, and Important Occasions of the Old Covenant Series:

(Peace, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.



(4) Rogers, A. (2017). Study of the Tabernacle #5. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Ex 25:31–37). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

(5) Keach, B. (1856). Tropologia: A Key to Open Scripture Metaphors (p. 680). London: William Hill Collingridge.

Hal has been teaching the Bible for over three decades. Presently, He desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.

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