Is Really Marijuana in the Bible?

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016

There are some who claim cannabis (marijuana) was used in the Temple service and therefore it is perfectly fine to use it today. They refer to Exo 30:23 which lists the ingredients and recipe for making a set-apart anointing oil. This ingredient can also be found in Son 4:14 and Eze 27:19. However, is this what the Scripture really says? In order to answer this question, let us examine the Hebrew text of Leningrad Codex.

Take thou also unto thee the chief spices, of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty, (Exo 30:23 JPS)

There are actually two Hebrew words, not one, translated as sweet calamus in Jewish Publication Society (JPS), קְנֵה־בֹשֶׂם kaneh bosem, which (according to the proponents) is the Hebrew for cannabis (marijuana). And we have to admit there are some similarities in the pronunciations. However, it is very common for borrowed foreign words to change their pronunciations when they enter the recipient language.

In order to solve the linguistic issue, this time we will refer to LXX, the Septuagint translation of the Tanak in Greek. The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Tanak into Koine Greek, as the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Greek Old Testament. We will use the Greek translation of the Hebrew words in question: קְנֵה־בֹשֶׂם kaneh bosem.

The Greek words in LXX behind sweet calamus are κάλαμος ἀρωματικός, calamos aromaticos (Gr.), or calamus odoratus (Lat.), and mean “scented calamus” and calamus has nothing to do with cannabis (marijuana). Cannabis aka cannabis sativa (scientific name for marijuana) is a strong-smelling plant, not sweet, from whose dried leaves euphoric and hallucinogenic drugs are prepared. Therefore, calamos aromaticos and cannabis sativa are two different plants.

In conclusion, we could not expect that Elohim had commanded Mosheh to prepare euphoric and hallucinogenic drug for the High Priest for the Temple service.


May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days