Cosmetics biblical times

After bathing, the woman applied to her skin softened an lift x contra indicação aromatic oil. Then open a box where he keeps beautifully decorated a collection of small bottles, jugs and jars made of glass, ivory, shells or stone. The containers contain various oils and perfumes with delicate aromas of balsam, cinnamon, cardamom, frankincense, honey, myrrh, and the like.

Woman out of the box several spoons, saucers and bowls of beautiful designs that used to mix the products you have chosen for the day.Looking into a bronze mirror, carefully continued her beauty routine.

Everything indicates that from the earliest times women have worried about being cuter. In the paintings of the tombs, in the frescoes and mosaics in ancient times it can be seen that the use of cosmetics was common among the peoples of Mesopotamia and Egypt. For example, overly made-up eyes almond shaped seen in the paintings of Egyptian women were much admired.

And what of ancient Israel? ¿Women were using cosmetics? And if they did, what type? Although there is no tomb paintings or frescoes that can serve as reference, certain passages of Scripture-and several archaeological artifacts discovered in the lands bíblicas- allow us an idea about using beauty products at the time.


Limestone palettes for mixing cosmetics (Israel)

In excavations throughout Israel have found countless related to the use of cosmetics and perfumes objects: stone bowls and palettes for grinding and mixing products, perfume bottles cylindrical jars of alabaster ointment, mirrors of polished bronze, and even ivory spoon carved palm leaves on one side of the handle and on the other, a woman’s head surrounded by pigeons.

Among rich people, seashells were very popular for cosmetic containers. Archaeological sites in Egypt and Canaan have also found spoons applying cosmetics made of ivory or wood, some carved in the form of girls swimming and other complex designs. This shows that it was very common for women of the time employed beauty products.


The Bible reveals that the name of one of the daughters of Job was Querén-hapuc, which in Hebrew possibly means “Horn of Painting [Eye] Negra”, ie a container or box for storing cosmetics such as kohl, or eye makeup ( Job 42:14 ). The name may allude to the beauty of the girl, but is also proof that cosmetics were familiar.

 Interestingly painting biblical references eyes are always linked with women of ill repute, as the scheming Queen Jezebel prostitute or as asymbol of unfaithful Jerusalem mentioned by Jeremiah and Ezekiel ( 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40 ). Judging by the large number of glass or stone containers found containing wands for applying kohl eyeliner as it is obvious that many women in apostate Israel-particularly those of royalty and class pudientes- had adopted the habit of makeup too with eyeliner and other cosmetics.

Scented oil for sacred use and other

Production and use of perfumes based olive oil was common in ancient Israel. The Bible book of Exodus contains a formula for making the sacred perfumed oil a mix of cinnamon, myrrh and other plants used aromáticas- priests in their services at the temple ( Exodus 30: 22-25 ). Archaeologists in Jerusalem have discovered what appears tobe a workshop of the  first century dedicated to make perfumes and incense for use in the temple. There are many Biblical references to perfumed oil, which was used in both sacred services and everyday life ( 2 Chronicles 16:14; Luke 7: 37-46; 23:56 ).

Terracotta jar for perfume (Israel)

In this part of the world ‘s scarce water so aromatic oils were highly appreciated complement of daily hygiene. Not only used to protect the skin in dry weather, but also for its beautifying properties ( Ruth 3: 3; 2 Samuel 12:20 ). Jewish virgin Esther received before being taken into the presence of King Ahasuerus, a beauty treatment that lasted a year, six months with oil of myrrh massage six with balsamic oil ( Esther 2:12 ).

The value of perfumes or fragrance oils was similar to that of silver or gold. When the queen of Sheba (Saba) made ​​his famous journey to visit King Solomon, he brought valuable gifts included gold, precious stones and balsam oil ( 1 Kings 10: 2,  10 ). And when King Hezekiah showed the treasures of his house to envoys from Babylon, he was proud “the balsam oil and the good oil”, along with silver, gold and its arsenal ( Isaiah 39: 1, 2 ).

Of the various types of flowers, fruits, leaves, resins, or bark extract could be only minimal amounts of oil or perfume. The Bible mentions a variety of aromatic plants such as aloe, saffron, balsam, bdellium, calamus, cinnamon, cassia, frankincense, myrrh and nard. Some were originating in the Jordan Valley, others were imported through the famous incense trade routes coming from India, South Arabia and elsewhere.

The mysterious balsam oil

As already indicated, the balsam oil mentioned in the Bible in the accounts about Queen Esther, the queen of Sheba and King Hezekiah.In 1988, the discovery of a small jar of oil in a cave near Qumran, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, led to much speculation. Perhaps it was the last existing sample of the famous balsam oil? Researchers do not have a definitive answer. And until today, horticulturists still trying to recover the precious balsam plants.

Ivory cosmetic container (Israel)

Apparently, balsam oil which the Bible speaks was obtained around En-gedi. The excavations have brought to light furnaces, jars , and various metal and bone objects century  VI BC that resemble those used elsewhere to make perfumes.Many scholars believe that the balsam tree or bush originally came from Arabia or Africa.Fragrance came from the resin plant. The balsam oil reached such a high price that production and cultivation methods were kept secret.

Balsam was even used as a bargaining chip in political maneuvering.For example, the historian Josephus says Marco Antonio offered a whole grove of this valuable plant as a gift to the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. The Roman historian Pliny that in the first century Jewish warriors tried to end all balsam plants to prevent the Roman conquerors take.

Thanks to the Biblical references and archaeological discoveries we can get a small idea of the art of cosmetic between the peoples of biblical times. The Scriptures do not condemn the use of cosmetics and ornaments, but stand to be used sensibly and modestly ( 1 Timothy 2: 9 ). The apostle Peter pointed out that what is “of great value in the eyes of God” is “the quiet and mild spirit”. Since the styles and fashions are always changing, Christian women, young and old, do well to follow that advice ( 1 Peter 3: 3, 4 ).

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