THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR

Posted by & filed under Anointing, Bible Symbolism, Esoteric Christianity, Harlotry, Idolatry, Pharisees, Sacred Feminine, What is Bible about, where in the Bible, Woman with the Alabaster Jar.

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In Luke’s gospel a Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. Luke uses the word “Pharisee” to represent narrow-minded religious bigots who have lost sight of the inner spiritual meaning of religious rules and customs, and perform religious obligations simply as a way to enhance their own ego. The word also applies to that place in ourselves that thinks, feels and acts this way.

And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with the tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Here we have a virtual fountain of priceless symbolism. 

Women of the Middle East would often carry ointments and perfumes in alabaster jars, and this is not the only time that Jesus will be anointed by a woman who uses a fragrant balm that she keeps in an alabaster jar. Anointing, as well as bathing one’s feet and kissing, were common signs of hospitality at this time. But in this case, these customary gestures are performed with an uncustomary extravagance. 

Oil is the fuel of fire, and ‘anointing with oil’ is an ancient symbol for the ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit entering the soul. In fact, the word Messiah (Moshiach in Hebrew) means ‘the anointed one’. 

Anointing the head with oil is a symbol for confirming and strengthening the Mind, and it is the ritual which many ancient traditions, including Judaism, have used to empower a King. In many traditional mythologies, this anointing would be done by a woman, the bride of the king. 

But in this story it is the feet that are anointed. ‘Feet’ symbolize the foundation and support of our physical life, but through the act of walking they also symbolize the soul’s efforts to advance. ‘Tears’ are a symbol of the soul’s suffering in the pursuit of divine Truth, its remorse when looking squarely at its bondage to external life, and its compassion for those who remain asleep and enslaved. Hair’ sits at the apex of the Mind, and is a symbol of the highest qualities of the physical realm reaching upwards to touch God. A woman’s hair in particular is a symbol of the pure feminine receptivity which alone allows Divinity to enter the world. Lastly, a ‘Kiss’ symbolizes love and union, such as the ‘kiss of heaven and earth’.

Naturally, this woman with the alabaster jar was a sinner, just as we all are sinners at our level of Being — mistaking the illusory for the real, worshipping wealth, power and fame (the Bible calls this Idolatry), and doing anything necessary to achieve them (the Bible calls this Harlotry). She, however, has changed.
But the Pharisee within us, the hypocrite who swells with pride while observing empty religious formalism, who obeys rules technically but not spiritually, and who constantly worries about how he looks in other people’s eyes, could only feel disgust and say to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.” 

Jesus, of course, heard what was in his heart, and he said to the Pharisee: “I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.” 

All of this demonstrates quite clearly, Jesus continues, that this is a woman who is full of love, a woman who “loves much”. The necessary karmic response is that her many sins have been forgiven. The Pharisee, on the other hand, has loved but little, and his sins have not been forgiven.

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Anonymous says:

How very beautiful all these loving symbols! thank-you! :)Ja-Len Jones