fragrant balsam oil was used. (Ex. 25:1, 2, 6; 35:8, 28) It seems reasonable to presume that the perfume agencies used in making the holy ointment were powdered and then cooked in the oil (compare Job 41:31), after which it was allowed to settle before the oil was drawn off and filtered.
Making the anointing oil and perfumed incense was not a matter of trial and error, for at the outset Jehovah said: “In the heart of everyone wise of heart I do put wisdom, that they may indeed make . . . the anointing oil and the perfumed incense for the sanctuary.” (Ex. 31:6-11; 35:10-15; 37:29; 39:33, 38) Thereafter certain ones of the priests were delegated to be ointment makers for the compounding of these materials and also to take the oversight of the supply of such items. (1 Chron. 9:30; Num. 4:16) However, when Israel fell away from pure worship, Jehovah ceased to take pleasure in the making or using of these special ointments and incenses.—Ezek. 8:11, 12, 17, 18.
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF OINTMENTS AND PERFUMES
Ointments, perfumes and incense were not limited to the holy products used in the sanctuary. By Solomon’s day there were “all sorts of perfume” and fragrant powders available for scenting houses, garments, beds and bodies of royalty and others who could afford them. (Esther 2:12; Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song of Sol. 3:6, 7; 4:10) Nor was the making of these preparations restricted to the Levitical priesthood. Even women were sometimes skilled ointment makers, and in Nehemiah’s day there was a trade group to which members of the ointment mixers belonged.—1 Sam. 8:13; Neh. 3:8.
The public interest in perfumed products created commerce and trade in the ancient world, not only in such consumer items, but also in the raw materials needed to make the same. Besides myrrh especially for ointments, and frankincense for incense, other materials including spikenard, saffron, cane, cinnamon, aloes, cassia, and various spices, gums and aromatic plants were often transported long distances before reaching the pots and perfumeries of the ointment makers.—Song of Sol. 4:14; Rev. 18:11, 13.
[Heb., za·qenʹ; Gr., pre·sbyʹte·ros].
These terms are not only used of persons of advanced age (Gen. 18:11; Deut. 28:50; 1 Sam. 2:22; 1 Tim. 5:1, 2), or the older of two persons (Luke 15:25), but also apply in a special way to those holding a position of authority and responsibility in a community or nation. The use of these terms in this latter sense by far predominates in both the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures.
The elderly man customarily was held in esteem from ancient times forward, respected for his experience and knowledge and for the wisdom and sound judgment that such may bring. Elihu reflected this respectful attitude in saying to Job’s three companions: “Young I am in days and you men are aged. That is why I drew back and was afraid to declare my knowledge to you men. I said, ‘Days themselves should speak, and a multitude of years are what should make wisdom known.’” (Job 32:6, 7; compare Job 12:12, 20.) In the Law covenant, God gave the command: “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man, and you must be in fear of your God. I am Jehovah.” (Lev. 19:32; compare Proverbs 20:29.) Jehovah God himself is referred to as “the Ancient of Days,” for, though ageless in the sense of being eternal, he has lived longer than any other in the universe.—Dan. 7:9, 13, 22; Ps. 90:2; Hab. 1:12.
Recognizing the advantage of the older man over the younger man, people of many nations submitted themselves to the direction of their older men, either those who were the elder members of family lines or those who were more notable for their qualities of knowledge and wisdom. As a result the expression “older man” had a double sense, applying either in a physical sense or as a designation of position or office. Thus, the Arabic word sheikh, the Latin senator, and the Anglo-Saxon alderman all basically mean “older man” but were used beyond their ordinary meaning to serve as designations of those who exercised headship among the people. So, too, the context in the Bible indicates that the references to the “older men [“dignitaries,” JB] of the land of Egypt,” “the older men of Moab and the older men of Midian,” do not embrace every aged male of those nations but apply to those serving as a council for directing and guiding national affairs; they were the “princes [sa·rimʹ; “chieftains,” AT]” of those nations.—Gen. 50:7; Num. 22:4, 7, 8, 13-15; Ps. 105:17, 21, 22; compare Joshua 9:3-6, 11.
In the same way the expressions “older men of Israel,” “older men of the assembly,” “older men of my people,” “older men of the land,” are used in this official sense, not applying to every single aged man of the nation of Israel. (Num. 16:25; Lev. 4:15; 1 Sam. 15:30; 1 Ki. 20:7, 8) In the relatively few cases where zeqe·nimʹ (“older men”) appears without some qualifying words, the context must be relied upon to determine whether the application is merely to aged males or to those in the official capacity of headmen.
OLDER MEN OF ISRAEL
In Egypt, Jacob’s descendants became very numerous, evidently reaching into the millions. (See EXODUS, page 543.) Already prior to the Exodus the people had representative members, their “older men,” who presented matters to them, acted as their spokesmen and reached decisions. Moses was instructed to present his commission to these “older men” when returning to Egypt, and these, or at least the principal ones among them, accompanied him when he went in before Pharaoh. (Ex. 3:16, 18) Obviously this did not include all the elderly Israelite men in a physical sense. (Compare Exodus 12:21; 18:12.) Illustrating the distinction between the physical and the official sense is God’s command to Moses: “Gather for me seventy men of the older men of Israel, whom you do know that they are older men of the people and officers of theirs,” in order that God might take some of the spirit that was upon Moses and place it upon the seventy. (Num. 11:16, 17, 24, 25) When Moses, as God’s representative, presented the Law covenant to the nation it was the official “older men” who represented the people in entering that covenant relationship with Jehovah. (Ex. 19:3-8) Seventy of such “older men,” along with Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, witnessed a vision of Jehovah’s glory in connection with the inauguration of that covenant.—Ex. 24:1-11; Deut. 5:23.
References to “all Israel, its older men and its heads and its judges and its officers” (Josh. 23:2; 24:1), “the older men of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chieftains of the paternal houses” (2 Chron. 5:2), do not mean that the “heads,” “judges,” “officers” and “chieftains,” were distinct from the “older men” but, rather, indicate that those named in such specific way held singular offices within the body of older men.—Compare Exodus 18:24-27; 2 Kings 19:2.
It appears that the scope of authority of the “older men” varied, even as in the wilderness there were “chiefs” of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. (Ex. 18:25) Once located in Canaan, bodies of “older men” functioned in each city. (Josh. 20:4; Judg. 8:14, 16) Doubtless, not all of these served as “older men” for the tribes (Deut. 31:28; 1 Sam. 30:26; 2 Sam. 19:11) or for the nation as a whole. Those serving on a national basis may be designated by the expressions “older men of Israel” (1 Sam. 4:3; 8:4), “older men of the land” (1 Ki. 20:7), “older men of the assembly” (Judg. 21:16), or, after the division of the kingdom, “older men of Judah and