After olives had fully ripened and turned a dark purple they were picked by shaking the olive tree until they fell to the ground. They were then placed into a large bowl shaped stone. A large millstone with a pole running through the middle of it would be pushed around the inside of the bowl by a donkey or ox. This would result in the olives and their seeds being crushed into a paste.
The paste was then placed in bags made of ropes and place on a large stone. A wooden beam was placed over the bags and weights would be added one at a time. This stone is on the far right in the picture below.
The oil that came out of with the first weight was called "virgin oil." This was the finest oil and was used for cooking and anointing. The oil that was pressed out after the second weight was added was used for light and for medicinal purposes. Finally what came out with the third weight, or press, contained large amounts of lye and was used to make soap.
Now here's where things go from boring to awesome. The Hebrew word for olive press is "Gat Shemanim" if you have ever been to an Easter Service I'm sure you know that after the "last supper" Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray. Gethsemane was located at the base of the Mount of Olives and the Greek word Gethsemane means "olive press." So Jesus went to an olive oil factory to pray. Reading the crucifixion story I can not help but draw the parallel between the olives being crushed until the oil flowed freely and our Savior being beaten until his precious blood flowed just as freely. A few more parallels with the olive press and Christ can be seen. The first press or the virgin oil was used for anointing and the title Christ is derived from the Hebrew Messiah and means literally; covered in oil, anointed. The second press was used for light and medicinal purposes; Jesus is both the light of the world and the Healer of our brokenness. Finally, the third press was used for cleansing and Christ's blood was poured out to cleanse us of our sins. Just some things to think about this Easter.
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.