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Hemp in the Bible: 7 Surprising Examples

May 20, 2019

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Surveys taken in 2015 found that between 16 and 17% of people identify as non-religious. This means that at least 83% of the world believes in some form of a divine being.

Furthermore, the two largest religions are Christianity and Islam, which together make up over half of the world's population. This means that most of the people of the world believe there is some degree of truth in the New and Old Testaments of the Bible, and other holy books as well. 

A hot-button issue in politics right now is the legalization of marijuana, and with religion being important to so much of the population, it's worth knowing whether there's hemp in the bible, as well as cannabis or marijuana, and what the bible has to say about it.

1. Genesis 1: 29-30 and 9: 3

It may seem like cheating to use two verses in one spot of the list, but the verses are very similar. Genesis 1: 29 says "Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."

Genesis thirty repeats this sentiment, adding that all the animals that walk the earth are food sources for humans.

9:3 restates this, though it's a little more succinct. "Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

Some argue that this is proof that the Bible endorses marijuana use. Others say that this can't be taken as proof. After all, liquor comes from grains, and God is against getting drunk.

2. The Burning Bush

It's hard to interpret anything for sure out of Moses' encounter with the burning bush, but many theorize it may have been marijuana. They offer up a few facts to support their argument.

The first is that history attests to the use of cannabis as incense during religious ceremonies, including those of the Israelites. This may explain why Moses first communicates with God after approaching the plant. 

Opponents of this theory point out that this is all conjecture. The burning bush could be a form of incense, but the Israelites used a lot of incense for religious purposes, several of which were plant-based.

Plus, there's no proof that the burning bush has anything to do with incense. It could be a metaphor for something else.

3. Exodus 30: 23-25

In these verses of Exodus, God instructs Moses to make anointing oil from the following ingredients: 500 shekels of Cassia, 500 shekels of Myrrh, 250 shekels of cinnamon leaf and 250 shekels of calamus flowers—most believe this is a mistranslation of cannabis—and a hin of olive oil.

In modern terms, this means you're putting over 6 pounds of cannabis in less than two gallons of olive oil. So, is there any hemp in the Bible? Yes, quite a bit of it, in fact.

It has been argued that the translation might be correct since Calamus is also a fragrant plant, but this raises issues. First of all, Calamus is a poison which causes cancer and heart issues, among other issues. It's so poisonous, in fact, that one of its uses was as a pest control.

Also, hemp is mentioned in the earliest versions of the Old Testament, so the Israelites must have known about it. Plus, they also mention hemp as being a form of incense. 

You can find out more about the difference between hemp and marijuana by clicking the link.

4. Song of Solomon

Cannabis is mentioned in the Song of Solomon, though more in passing. Among the many compliments Solomon gives to one of his wives, he mentions that she smells like henna, nard, saffron, cannabis, and cinnamon.

Again, this gives us nothing definitive. It's likely that his wives have spent time worshipping in the temples, and might smell like some of the incenses used there. 

It's also possible that Solomon is exaggerating or being poetic. After all, he'd need a very good sense of smell to pick up 5 different, distinct smells on one person.

5. Isaiah 43: 24

In Isaiah 43 verse 24, God chastises His people, saying that "You have not brought any fragrant Calamus for me." Again, while it can't be proven, there's a lot of historical evidence that suggests this verse may refer to cannabis, not calamus.

6.  Jeremiah 6: 20

It is during the time of Jeremiah that the use of marijuana in Israelite culture starts to die down. The Lord says to his people, "What do I care about incense from Sheba (Potentially Southern Saudi-Arabia) or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me"

There are a few ways to interpret this. God could be condemning cannabis use outright. However, given that He speaks about the plant before criticizing His people for not doing what He says, it may just be that offerings aren't enough to make up for it.

7. Jeremiah 44: 15-23

This verse details the rejection of Jeremiah's orders to stop burning incense and worshipping a Canaanite goddess known as the Queen of Heaven.  Jeremiah continues to condemn the use of cannabis and the worship of the Queen of Heaven.

The importance of the story is that from then on, cannabis was no longer used in religious ceremonies, and the Queen of Heaven was no longer worshipped.

Marijuana and Hemp in the Bible

Are there any mentions of marijuana or hemp in the Bible? Evidence may suggest that there is.

This raises another question: does the Bible condone marijuana use? It depends on how you interpret it. Certain verses could be seen as a condemnation of marijuana. 

Another interpretation is that God says worshipping and leaving offerings means nothing if you don't heed my advice. Given the weight of this decision, it may be best to do more research on your own before committing to anything.

If you want to know more about religion and history, please visit our site. We can tell you all about why you should study the Hebrew names of God.