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Alabaster is a soft, easily-worked mineral substance, a variety of gypsum, that during Bible History was used to make small vessels for holding perfume (as well as for decorations and statues). The Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece and Between The Testaments) originated the name from Alabastron, a city in Egypt where such vials and boxes were made from the stone found there. References to alabaster in The Holy Bible are found only in the New Testament, both involving a woman and Jesus Christ.


Martha and Mary In the days just prior to His crucifixion, a woman at Bethany (see The Place Of Christ's Ascension And Return) anointed Jesus Christ with the contents of an alabaster flask:

"When Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said to His disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified." Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they said, "Not during the Feast, lest there be a tumult among the people."

"Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as He sat at table."

"But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor."

"But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this Gospel [see Godspell] is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (Matthew 26:1-13 RSV)

Another woman anointed Jesus Christ with the contents of an alabaster flask while He was at the house of a Pharisee, an incident used by the Messiah to illustrate how forgiveness is granted unto the truly repentant, not to those who merely put on a show of self-righteousness (i.e. Hypocrites):

"One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with Him, and He went into the Pharisee's house, and took His place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment."

"Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

"And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."

"And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" [see Rabbi]

"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?"

"Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more."

"And He said to him, "You have judged rightly."

"Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."

"And He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

"Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:36-50 RSV)

Fact Finder: How does the woman with the alabaster flask at Bethany serve as a lesson about Prophecy?
See A Prophecy To You

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