Cannabis and the Bible

How was cannabis used in Biblical times and lands?

There are no obvious references to cannabis in the Bible. However, the neighbouring Assyrians are known to have used cannabis widely for a variety of medicinal purposes. Cannabis was administered orally for the treatment of impotence and depression, topically for bruises and by inhalation for a disease assumed to be arthritis. The drug was also used in various forms to ward off evil. Until the late seventh century before Christ, the Jewish and Assyrian peoples were in close contact  and because of their geographical proximity it is most unlikely that the Jews were unaware of the existence of cannabis. Mechoulam has speculated that following the decline of the Assyrian civilisation, Jewish kings such as Josiah may have sought to purge their culture of Assyrian influences which may have been seen as pagan or immoral by the orthodox. Any existing references to cannabis in the Old Testament could have been removed at this time. Despite this, Mechoulam cites one instance where the ancient word for cannabis might have been preserved in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel mentions trade in a product called pannag.

Judah and the cities in what was once the Kingdom of Israel sent merchants with wheat, minnith and pannag, and with honey, oil and balm. (Ezekiel, Ch. 27 v. 17)

The letters ‘p’ and ‘b’ are often interchangeable in Hebrew, and pannag or bannag is thus very similar to the Sanskrit word for cannabis bhanga, the Hindu bhang and the Persian bang. It has even been speculated that some of the more vivid personal experiences, or revelations, recounted in the Bible may have been descriptions of cannabis intoxication. Examples include the madness of King Saul, and the almost psychedelic visions of the prophet Ezekiel (Creighton, 1903). Cannabis was certainly in use in Jerusalem during the later stages of Roman occupation. The remains of a fourteen year old girl and a full-term baby were found near Jerusalem in 1993 (Zlas et al., 1993). These were dated to the 4th century AD by coins buried with the bodies. The remnants of burned cannabis were also found, leading to speculation that drug fumes may have been inhaled as an aid to childbirth— either as an analgesic or to aid uterine contractions. But this interpretation has been questioned (Prioreschi and Babin, 1993). The burning of cannabis might equally have represented part of the burial ritual, or simply a popular habit amongst the indigenous people.

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The debate how religion should view marijuana has raged on for years. Just because there are no bible verses that speak directly about marijuana, we think some words could have been referencing weed.

*All of these bible verses are being taken out of context…. or maybe not. 

Isaiah 18:4-5

I will take my rest and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs. For afore harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches.

Genesis 1:11-12

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

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Deuteronomy 32:2

My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.

Genesis 2:8-9

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden…

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Matthew 13:32

Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Ephesians 4:16

…every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

2 Kings 4:41

But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast [it] into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

2 Kings 12:3

But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

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Psalm 68:2

As smoke is driven away, [so] drive [them] away: as wax melteth before the fire.

Job 41:20

Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as [out] of a seething pot or caldron.

Leviticus 6:13

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

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