ISRAEL PHOTOS IV -- Pilgrimage

 A Jar of Ointment

Mark 14 (ASV)

3  And while he was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster cruse of ointment of pure nard very costly; and she brake the cruse, and poured it over his head.
4  But there were some that had indignation among themselves, saying, To what purpose hath this waste of the ointment been made?
5  For this ointment might have been sold for above three hundred shillings, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6  But Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
7  For ye have the poor always with you, and whensoever ye will ye can do them good: but me ye have not always.
8  She hath done what she could; she hath anointed my body beforehand for the burying.
9  And verily I say unto you, Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

Early Roman Glass Unguentarium -- Smithsonian Collection, Washington DC

These type of Roman era glass bottles were found in tombs from the first through third centuries in Israel.  They were called unguentarium or ointment vessels.  Beginning in Greek time there were alabaster ointment/perfume vials made of alabaster called alabastron.  In the times of Jesus they were more commonly of ceramic or glass origin although they were called alabastron.  The dead were anointed with the perfume or sweet smelling ointment and the bottles were left in tombs. 

During 1873-1874 a French Semitic scholar named Clermont-Ganneau excavated some Herodian era tombs in the Wadi Yasul and Wadi Beit Sahur areas in the vicinity of Jerusalem.  He found some lamps and clay bottles left behind.  These shapes resembled some of the glass bottle shapes in the photo above.  Since the Jews thought corpses were unclean and anything in a tomb was unclean they had to leave the vessels they took to the burial sites in the tombs.  The use of alabastron during those days was consistent with the Gospel account.

Harvard Semitic Museum web page about alabastron:

Nazareth Synagogue
Churches of the Annunciation
Latin Tradition -- Mount of Precipitation
Nazareth Aerial View
Museum of the Basilica
Hot Springs at Tiberias
Stone Water Jars at Capernaum
A 1909 Galilee Fishing Description
The Giant Mustard Plant
Kursi and the Gadarene Demoniac
Jar of Ointment
Wheat and Tares

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