In the Bible, Exodus Chapter 30, Verse 22
gives the ancient recipe for holy anointing
The passage describes combining 9 pounds of
a mysterious herb known as “Kaneh Bosm”
with olive oil and spices like myrrh and cinnamon.
The concoction would cure pains and illnesses
where all other methods failed. For millennia,
scholars have assumed this miracle ingredient
kaneh-bosm was calamus, a common herb used
to make perfumes during Jesus’ lifetime.
But recent research suggests this couldn’t
be further from the truth.
Writer Chris Bennett claims the herb was actually
cannabis, and that the healer Jesus liberally
used the now-illegal drug.
Cannabis, or marijuana, is the most common
illegal drug in the world. According to a
2012 UN report, there are around 224 million
regular cannabis users worldwide. The Food
and Drug Administration classifies it as a
Schedule 1 Drug, meaning that it “has no
currently accepted medical use and a high
potential for abuse.” Under the law, it
is considered more dangerous than crystal
meth and cocaine.
The drug contains an active ingredient called
THC. This can produce a feeling of euphoria,
alter your sense of time and make sounds and
visuals more vivid.
Chris Bennett argues that in the Bible, after
Jesus performed miracles, his followers displayed
very similar reactions to the effects of cannabis.
He notes that the people Jesus “healed”
were “”literally drenched in this potent mixture…
Although most modern people choose to smoke
or eat pot, when its active ingredients are
transferred into an oil-based carrier, it
can also be absorbed through the skin.””
Boston University Classical Mythology Professor
Carl Ruck says that this is because cannabis
was used by Jesus in his healing ceremonies.
Ruck notes, “There can be little doubt about
a role for cannabis in Judaic religion…
the long-established tradition of cannabis
in early Judaism would inevitably have included
it in the [Christian] mixtures.”” It is quite
possible that Jesus used the cannabis-based
ointment described in the Old Testament: it
may be why they called him Christ or the Messiah
– both of which mean “the anointed one”
The miraculous properties of cannabis are
well known. In 2013 CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Dr Sanjay Gupta gave a televised apology for
reporting that cannabis was not medically
useful. Gupta claimed he had been “systematically
misled” on its healing properties.
His shocking u-turn was caused by the case
of Charlotte Figi. The 5 year old suffered
from Dravet’s Syndrome, a type of epilepsy
that induces 300 extreme seizures a week.
Charlotte Figi still suffered these despite
undergoing “cutting edge” medical treatment
that left her unable to walk, talk or eat.
When her parents treated her with cannabis
products her fortunes completely reversed.
Giving Figi a dose of non-psychoactive cannabis
oil instantly stopped her seizures. With continued
cannabis use her seizures reduced from 1200
a month to 2 a month.
Cannabis has now been proven to ease symptoms
of a number of chronic health conditions,
including glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,
Crohn’s Disease and anxiety disorders. Its
incredible medical properties have led to
27 American states legalising the drug, including
9 states where it legalised for recreational
use too. This means that 20% of Americans
can now smoke a joint without requiring a
Ancient remains suggest that its medical use
stretches back to the time of Jesus. The buried
corpse of a girl from 1,623 years ago found
in Bet Shemesh in Israel contained the drug.
Archaeologists found 6.97 grams of cannabis
in her stomach. They said, “We assume that
the ashes found in the tomb were cannabis,
burned in a vessel and administered to the
young girl as an inhalant to facilitate the
This is not the only proof of weed’s ancient
beginnings. In 1997 a rope dating to 26,900
BC was discovered in the Czech Republic. Under
analysis the rope was discovered to be made
from hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant.
Journalist Bryan Hill says this shows that,
“For thousands of years marijuana was not
only legal, but an important crop among cultures
throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal,
and spiritual value.”
In 1936 Polish etymologist Professor Sula
Benet analysed the origins of the word “cannabis”,
which had long been thought to originate within
the ancient Scythian community. Benet says
that actually, the word comes from Kaneh-bosm
– a mix of the Hebrew word “kan” meaning
hemp, and “bosm” translating as “aromatic”.
This is the same word used in the Bible.
Benet claims the reason that the word Kaneh-bosm
is now translated as calamus, instead of cannabis,
is because it was mistranslated in the third
century Greek version of the Old Testament,
called the Septuagint. Subsequent versions
used this same translation, so the error endured
to this day.
Scientists like physician Dr Yosef Glassman
believe that ancient Jewish groups in the
Middle East used cannabis. The first known
record of cannabis use comes from the Chinese
Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 BC; from there it
was imported into the Middle East between
2000 and 1400 BC.
While there is no hard proof that the drug
was available in Jerusalem during Jesus’
time, Dr Glassman believes that scripture
does refer to cannabis in ancient Jewish rituals.
In this case, the drug would have been around
in the same place, at the same time, for the
same purpose that Jesus intended.
However, most evidence for this theory comes
from comparing cannabis’ incredible medical
qualities to Jesus’ healing powers. Neither
the historical nor biblical evidence definitively
proves Jesus used cannabis.
Lytton John Musselman, a Professor of Botany
at Old Dominion University, says there is
absolutely no evidence that any herbs mentioned
in the Bible refer to marijuana. He says the
argument is “so weak I would not pursue
Musselman also says that the main argument
against Kaneh-bosm being calamus – that it
is too weak to have the effects described
in the Bible – is deeply flawed, as consuming
the herb can actually produce very powerful
But even this cannot be proven. The lack of
ancient sources means that the evidence for
Kaneh-bosm being calamus is just as scant
as the evidence for it being cannabis.
There is a lot of evidence that human civilisations
have been using cannabis for millennia. But
there is very little proof to directly link
the drug to Jesus or his early followers.
Nevertheless, the possibility remains that
Jesus did use some kind of mind-altering drugs
to heal the sick.
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