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Bible Q

Is cannabis mentioned in the Bible?

No. This claim was made by a Polish folk anthropologist Sula Benet in 1936 based on the superficial resemblance of the Hebrew term qaneh bosom (aromatic cane, sugar cane) to the Ancient Greek word for hemp κάνναβις (kánnabis).  Neither of which terms meant cannabis. Benet was not a qualified linguist or Hebraist and her claim has been thoroughly investigated and rejected by Hebraists – although the actual claim based on superficial resemblance between later meanings of two words in different language families has enormous visual appeal to people with no knowledge of either language.  

There is a second more realistic question which can also be asked – and that is were the writers of the Bible at any point aware of cannabis, marijuana as a drug?

Again the answer surprisingly appears to be No. The Bible while recognising alcoholic wine as a legitimate drink (1 Timothy 5:23), is repeatedly full of warnings against drunkenness. Under such circumstances common sense indicates that if mind-altering and addictive drugs such as marijuana were available in Bible times as freely as today the Bible would be full of warnings and prohibitions.

The burning of hemp seeds on altars is documented. But only in pagan context [1]. The religious purpose of the presumed Judahite shrine at Tel Arad is not fully known, and being outside Jerusalem could have been either to idols or related to syncretic worship, such as of the golden calf or similar. But even here the evidence is only of altar incense [2].

[2] SCIENCE ADVANCES The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs 12 Jun 2019 Vol 5, Issue 6 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1391
From Abstract “The practice of smoking or inhaling cannabis fumes in ritual and recreational activities was documented in Herodotus’ fifth-century BCE The Histories (13) and was supported by the discovery of carbonized hemp seeds in burials from a handful of sites in Eurasia (1, 14, 15)”

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