The Overlooked Spiritual Meaning of Cinnamon in the Bible

Cinnamon is referenced several times in the Bible, yet its deeper spiritual meaning is often overlooked. By analyzing key passages, we can uncover the symbolic significance of this fragrant spice in scripture.

In both Old and New Testaments, cinnamon is associated with sacred ritual, divine anointing, and the transcendent realm of the holy. Tracing cinnamon’s appearances reveals enlightening spiritual insights.

Cinnamon References in the Bible

The first mention of cinnamon is in Exodus 30, where it is a main ingredient in the sacred anointing oil used to consecrate the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, and the holy vessels. God gives specific instructions for formulating this oil, indicating cinnamon’s spiritual potency.

Later, in Proverbs 7:17, cinnamon is used to perfume a bed, alluding to the spice’s connection with intimacy and the bridal chamber. Song of Songs mentions “sprays of myrrh and cinnamon” among the lovers’ fragrances, linking cinnamon to eros and the bliss of union.

In Revelation 18:13, St. John lists cinnamon among Babylon the Great’s commodities, conveying its earthly value and trade associations. Yet juxtaposed with “incense, perfumes, and ointments,” cinnamon points symbolically to the sacred.

Appearances in Moses’ Tabernacle

Moses’ Tabernacle, constructed by Bezalel according to God’s instructions, required anointing oil containing cinnamon for all worship-related items. Scholars believe cinnamon oil distilled from the bark of the cinnamon tree native to Sri Lanka.

This holy oil perfumed sacred objects, setting them apart for divine service. Cinnamon marked items as spiritually significant, sanctified implements of worship and service.

Mention in the Song of Songs

In the Song of Songs’ sensuous poetry, the woman describes herself as “an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants, nard and saffron, reed and cinnamon.” Here, cinnamon conveys eroticism and indulgence.

As one of the many poetic metaphors for feminine beauty and sexuality, cinnamon suggests the intoxicating nature of desire. Yet it also hints at transcendence through intimate union, as true lovers taste divine rapture.

Symbolism of Cinnamon in Scripture

What spiritual meanings can we infer from these biblical references? As an ingredient of sacred anointing oil and incense, cinnamon symbolizes:

  • Holiness and consecration
  • Divinity and the numinous presence of God
  • The redolence and beauty of worship
  • Transcendence of the temporal through ritual

Cinnamon’s alluring scent elevates both sacred and profane spheres. It sanctifies objects and flesh for divine service. Yet it also conveys eros and earthly pleasures.

Association with Ritual Purity

Since Moses’ cinnamon oil was integral to consecration rites, we can associate cinnamon with ritual purity, sanctification, and spiritual anointing. Like frankincense and myrrh, cinnamon prepared items and spaces for divine presence.

God commanded specific cinnamon use to instill holiness. Thus cinnamon points to realms beyond the mundane. It signifies our longing for mystical union with the Absolute, hinted in sexual rapture.

Heightening Spiritual Receptiveness

Cinnamon may also symbolize heightened spiritual awareness and receptiveness. As it sensitizes our senses with sweet stimulation, cinnamon’s scent elevates consciousness for divine encounters. Biblical references associate cinnamon with rarified states.

The Song of Songs depicts cinnamon intertwined with sexuality and ecstatic love. In worship ceremonies, cinnamon helped transform mentalities for participating in the holy. Cinnamon signals spiritual awakening.

Cinnamon as a Spiritual Offering

Spices like cinnamon were valuable trade commodities in biblical times, especially for temple offerings. Exodus and Leviticus describe cinnamon’s usage in anointing oil, incense, and other ceremonial contexts:

  • Moses’ sacred anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-33)
  • The holy incense (Exodus 30:34-38)
  • The consecration ram offering (Exodus 29:21)
  • The ceremonial grain offering (Leviticus 2:1)

Ancient peoples offered spices as gifts to honor deities and kings. Thus cinnamon’s value and pleasant aroma made it a worthy offering. Its rarity from distant lands amplified its prestige.

Signaling Reverence

We can interpret cinnamon offerings as signals of reverence. Presenting valuable cinnamon expressed devotees’ honor and worship. In holy incense and anointing oils, cinnamon’s sweetness ascended heavenward, metaphorically conveying prayers.

God’s insistence on cinnamon in ceremonies also indicates the spice’s sanctity. When we willingly offer our “cinnamon,” or gifts and talents, we grow closer to the divine.

Portraying Christ’s Sacrifice

From a Christological perspective, cinnamon’s use in grain offerings prefigures Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Like wheat, cinnamon was crushed and ground down for sacred purposes.

Jesus’ death mirrored the sacrifice of temple offerings. He surrendered his life fully to atone for human sins. Thus cinnamon’s sacrificial burning foreshadows Christ’s passion and resurrection.

The Anointing Power of Cinnamon

Clearly, much of cinnamon’s spiritual symbolism derives from its presence in Biblical anointing rites. As holy oil, cinnamon sanctified objects and people for divine service. Anointing’s transformational power appears throughout scripture:

  • Priests like Aaron were anointed for leadership roles (Exodus 40:13)
  • Kings like David were chosen and empowered to rule (1 Samuel 16:13)
  • The sick were anointed for healing of body and spirit (Mark 6:13)

Consecration for Spiritual Roles

Sacred anointing oils infused with cinnamon consecrated priests and kings for spiritual offices. Their anointing marked them as set apart and sanctified for service.

Likewise, cinnamon’s presence in these oils suggests its properties prepare hearts for holy work. Inhaling cinnamon seems to unlock spiritual gifts for glorifying God.

Receiving Divine Blessings

Beyond consecration for ministry, anointing with cinnamon oil invites God’s blessings. The oil’s soothing and healing effects evoke divine favor. As Psalm 133:2 says, “It is like precious oil poured on the head …flowing down on the beard of Aaron.”

Like loving communion, anointing crowns us in grace and mercy. Cinnamon oil opens us to gifts of renewal. Where cinnamon’s fragrance spreads, so do the Spirit’s gifts and fruits.

Lessons from Cinnamon in the Bible

What spiritual wisdom can we gain from examining cinnamon’s symbolism? Here are key lessons to apply to our faith:

  1. Offer your gifts to glorify God
  2. Prepare your heart as a sanctuary for the divine presence
  3. Pursue ritual practices to grow holiness
  4. Invoke all your senses in worship
  5. Imbue even profane domains with sacred significance

Sanctifying Our Lives

Like cinnamon, we too have the power to sanctify aspects of life for divine purposes. As we infuse our work, creativity, and relationships with spiritual awareness, even mundane domains become sacred.

Cinnamon reminds us that transformative encounters with holiness require preparatory rituals–fasting, prayer, worship–that attune us to the sublime in our midst.

Cinnamon also exemplifies Christ-like virtues to cultivate. Like its fragrance rising heavenward, the spice signifies living sacrificially for God’s glory. Beyond material offerings, we can surrender our very lives to manifest Jesus’s love.

And in anointing others with compassion, wisdom, and care, we spread cinnamon’s blessings wherever we go. Our Spirit-filled service consecrates the world for new life.