It’s the weed with roots in Scripture.
Cannabis oil is mentioned in the Bible, scientists say.
Cannabis has long been associated with Eastern religions. And marijuana is certainly central to Rastafarianism.
But research has long pointed to a sacred weed in the Bible. Not only is cannabis mentioned in Judeo-Christian scriptures, some scholars claim, but it is also a sacred gift from God.
Sula Benet, a Polish etymologist, was the first to write in 1936 that the word cannabis had an early root in Hebrew: kaneh-bosm.
According to an article in Cannabis Culture by scholar Chris Bennett, the root “can” means “reed” or hemp, and “bosem” translated into English means “aromatic.”
“Kaneh-bosm” appears in the book of Exodus, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, according to Bennett. But don’t look for the word in the Bibles that are near pews.
In contemporary translations of the Bible, calamus (meaning “sweet sugarcane”) is used instead of “kaneh-bosem.”
Benet, Bennett, and others attribute this confusion to a mistranslation of the Hebrew word qaneh, meaning a reed or stalk.
That’s how qaneh became calamus, in modern translations of the Old Testament, some scholars believe.
“Calamus,” states Bennett, is actually kaneh-bosm. Later translations have also spelled this new translation as kaneh boseom, keneh bosem, kaniebosem, and q’neh bosm.
Evidence for cannabis in the Bible does not come solely from language distortions. There are also Old Testament references to hemp as part of religious celebrations and as an intoxicant.
The first biblical mention of kaneh-bosm is in Exodus. Moses is instructed by God to anoint a type of sacred tent called a tabernacle with specially prepared oil.
A properly translated version of Exodus 30:28, Bennett wrote, should read:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half the fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of kaneh-bosm, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the holy shekel – and a doe of olive oil. Make of it a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer.”
This repetition of kaneh-bosm does not necessarily lead to the word ‘cannabis’, a Latin word borrowed from the Greek.
But as Hebrew scholars point out, kaneh later changed to the post-biblical usage kanavos, literally hemp.
That to some is proof that God’s holy oil is suitable for a dab rig. But there are skeptics.
David J. Stewart, editor of the online publication Jesus-is-Savior, is incredulous at what he sees as deliberate perversion of the Bible.
“The 48 King James translators were well-trained men and knew what they were doing. They were extremely proficient in the Hebrew and Greek languages,” wrote Stewart, who believes that references to sweet calamus are just that — references to the common plant known. by Chinese herbalists as “sweet flag.”
“The calamus was mixed with cinnamon and myrrh to form an oil for anointing purposes,” Stewart added. “It’s ridiculous to twist the Word of God to justify smoking weed!”
Carl Ruck, professor of classical studies and linguist at Boston University, disagrees. He points to other contemporary cannabis references to bolster the Bible’s claim about weed.
Shamanism was common in ancient religions. And drugs were often the way to spirituality.
“The main ingredient in the anointing oil is a huge amount of cannabis,” says Ruck, relying on Benet’s translation of the Bible.
“It is used to anoint the priest and all the objects in the tabernacle,” he says. This was, he said, “for a sacred purpose”—and only a sacred purpose. Not to party.
“Whoever makes perfume like it, and whoever puts it on anyone but a priest must be cut off from his people,” says Exodus 30:33.
This, according to Bennett, amounted to a death sentence in the ancient world.
Attention Bible fanatics: In the Old Testament, cannabis was the most sacred of all.
The Hebrews did not learn the ways of kaneh-bosm alone. Someone passed a historic joint.
The Scythians were nomads known for their trade, but they also practiced a tradition many cannabis enthusiasts know today.
They were floats.
The Scythians burned cannabis oil in their tabernacles, Ruck says. “It was to change the consciousness of the divine presence,” for an “orgasmic, ecstatic union with a deity.”
That practice spilled over into other ancient traditions, and it may be that kaneh-bosm came to the Bible in the first place.
Cultural crossover was common on trade routes, and the early Israelites practiced a tradition similar to that of the Scythians.
Priests had a special room, an inner sanctuary. There they burned kaneh-bosm-infused oils. Smoke would rise and induce waking dreams.
“In that environment, the priest has a mystical vision,” Ruck says. And the origin of that vision, coming from the ‘closed space’, is well known.
That priest is “hotboxing,” Ruck says.
From the smoke of cannabis came messages from God. But this was not a unique practice.
Using drugs to channel the divine “was the common experience of ancient religions of having direct intercourse with a deity,” Ruck says of drug channelling.
But in modern times, the ancient religious ties to cannabis have been eroded.
Cannabis oil is no longer preached from the pulpit these days. But holy oil can be found in the Bible Belt, where “kanneh-bosm” is enjoying a resurgence as a medicine.
Back in the Bible Belt
Legislators and parents in evangelical Christian states are warming to marijuana oil, which patients across the country claim solves ailments like epilepsy and cancer.
Texas, of all places, may be close to legalizing an oil low in THC but high in CBD or cannabidiol.
That’s thanks to sick kids like 9-year-old Alexis Bortell, who uses CBD-rich cannabis oil to treat her seizures. Her parents saw the CNN documentary of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “Weed 2”, and took their daughter to Colorado to get her meds.
Soon, she may be able to get that same drug close to home—just like patients elsewhere in the Bible Belt.
Some red states have already legalized CBD oil, or its research, including Utah, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Iowa, Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky.
A search of the Bible makes at least one thing clear: cannabis oil is not a purely secular phenomenon.
It’s a saint.