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Anointing a king
To anoint the king with oil was a significant part of coronation ceremonies in ancient Israel and in the ancient Near East generally. The Bible records the anointing of six kings: Saul, David, Solomon, Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz. Indeed, the name-title Messiah, which was used to refer to several of the kings of Israel, means "anointed," no doubt referring to the rite of anointing the king during his installation in office.
The Hittites, northern neighbors of the Israelites, also had a ceremony that included anointing the king with oil. Moreover, although there is no clear evidence that the Egyptian king was anointed when he became king, he was apparently anointed every morning before entering the temple to perform daily chants.Following his address and the people's renewal of the covenant, Benjamin "consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people" (Mosiah 6:3). The context does not indicate whether this "consecration" included anointing. However, some ritual act was evidently involved since almost the beginning of Nephite history, for Jacob mentioned a coronation that included anointing. He reported that his brother Nephi, the first king, "began to be old, and he saw that he must soon die; wherefore, he anointed a man to be a king and a ruler over his people now, according to the reigns of the kings" (Jacob 1:9). "According to the reigns of the kings" clearly refers to the pattern of kingship in Judah, with which Nephi was personally familiar.
- Stephen D. Ricks, "Converging Paths: Language and Cultural Notes on the Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Book of Mormon," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 12, references silently removed—consult original for citations.