An alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment (alabastron murou barutimou). The flask was of alabaster, a carbonate of lime or sulphate of lime, white or yellow stone, named alabaster from the town in Egypt where it was chiefly found. It was used for a phial employed for precious ointments in ancient writers, inscriptions and papyri just as we speak of a glass for the vessel made of glass. It had a cylindrical form at the top, as a rule, like a closed rosebud (Pliny). Matthew does not say what the ointment (murou) was, only saying that it was "exceeding precious" (barutimou), of weighty value, selling at a great price. Here only in the N.T. "An alabaster of nard (murou) was a present for a king" (Bruce). It was one of five presents sent by Cambyses to the King of Ethiopia (Herodotus, iii. 20). She poured it upon his head (kateceen epi th kepalh autou). So Mark ( Mark 14:3 ), while John ( John 12:3 ) says that she "anointed the feet of Jesus." Why not both? The verb kateceen is literally to pour down. It is the first aorist active indicative, unusual form.