by Chris Bennett and Neil
"If God did not exist,
it would be necessary to invent
Here in the bi-millennial year of the most popular individual in
history, Jesus Christ, it is the perfect time to take an
honest and hard look at the book that pivoted him to popularity.
We say this is the perfect time for this
endeavor, not only because we likely won't be burnt at the stake or
imprisoned for doing so, but also because here in the "Age of
Information", access to the historical material that is relevant to
the subject, is unquestionably more available than ever before.
It is only by coming to understand the
world and time in which the Bible itself developed, that we can ever
understand the Bible itself.
The Holy Bible is by far the most widely known and circulated book
in the history of the world, and the stories it contains are held to
be literally Gospel truth by over a Billion faithful believers
around the globe. No matter where a person lives on this vast planet
we call home, they cannot help but be affected by its doctrine, and
moreover, by its faithful adherents, who have zealously propagated
the religion of Christianity the
The parent of Christianity, is for the most part, Judaism, a faith
that came from even more humble roots than its child.
Thus the Hebrew Torah, makes up much of
the first part of the Christian Old Testament, and as divided as
Jews and Christians have been throughout the many intervening
centuries, the Old Testament's earlier texts unite them both.
Only a few scant centuries after it had
begun, Christianity surpassed its parent in popularity because of
its open acceptance of almost anyone through conversion (whereas the
Hebraic religion, although open in its beginnings, had become
limited only to those who were born into 'the faith').
Originally, the Hebrew people were a small and insignificant clan of
desert nomads, who watched with envious awe, the more advanced and
sedentary agricultural towns that developed around them.
In order to maintain an identity amongst
the many larger kingdoms that came and went about them and not be
ancient Jews had to maintain a very strict
religious and cultural code, one that has survived into
A fact which makes them a particularly
interesting and at the same time sensitive group to study.
These severe attempts to separate themselves from other cultures
were only moderately successful. Even at its earliest beginnings,
Judaism, like the Christianity afterwards, was a composite religion
that came from longstanding Near Eastern theological beliefs.
Neither the religion nor the people
originated in a vacuum, but clearly developed out of preexisting
traditions and continually adopted new and foreign aspects to their
A fact acknowledged in the Bible itself,
through the words of Ezekiel concerning his fellow Israelites;
"Thy birth and thy nativity, is of
the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an
Indeed, such unavoidable elements of
foreign theological influences amongst the Hebrews lead to the birth
of their rebellious child, Christianity.
Elements such as,
a coming savior
the end of the world
Heaven and Hell,
...and many other so-called Christian
beliefs, first entered the Jewish psyche during the years of
Besides these strong elements of foreign influence, like all people,
the compilers of the Bible were strongly influenced by humanity's
basic struggle for survival and striving for fertility.
In line with this, and probably
surprising to most people, of the many influences that contributed
to the theological development of the Bible, and religion in
general, in the ancient world, the most profound were without a
doubt the three topics named in our title,
In sex, humanity can find what is widely considered its most
physically pleasurable experience.
Thus it is not surprising that sex was
at the very core of religious experience in the ancient world. As
humanity comprehended that it was sex which ensured through their
seed the continued propagation of their descendants, the act of
love-making became sacred, and its performance thought to magically
affect all sorts of areas of life, and even the movements of the
The Old Testament is rife with
references to such religio-erotic practices taking place in the
ancient Near East, not only with foreign cults and peoples such as
the Canaanites, but even amongst the Israelites themselves.
"History demonstrates that so far as
sex is concerned the so-called Chosen People were no
better nor worse than their detractors. They set the highest
moral example and stood among the lowest in amorality..."
Likewise with Christianity of the first
few centuries AD, where certain orgiastic practices were seen as
modes of worship among a variety of little remembered Christian
Curiously, the religio-erotic practices of the ancient Hebrews,
Christians and other Near Eastern peoples is seldom discussed in
modern biblical scholarship, and books on the ancient world in
general, a fact likely attributed to the surviving anti-sex
Christian bias of many academically trained scholars.
As shall be demonstrated, many of the
Biblical taboos concerning sexuality, have nothing to do with divine
edicts of good and evil. They developed out of prejudices against
foreign forms of worship, as a means of social control, and
interestingly, to combat the spread of venereal disease.
In our own time and through history, the Bible has been used to
justify the most archaic tribal beliefs and regulations about
sexuality, and these views have been forced on millions of unwilling
people, often by the most brutal means.
The homophobic, anti-women views of
Judaism, compounded by the even more anti-sex ideals of
Christianity, or more pointedly
Roman Catholicism, poisoned with sin what was once
a sacred and holy act for much of the ancient world.
Ironically, as we shall amply
demonstrate, the Bible itself is filled with more X-rated material
than any single book which the Biblical fundamentalist have
successfully had pulled off the school library's shelf.
The Old Testament is replete with
rape, prostitution, masturbation,
child-molestation, incest, adultery, orgies, anal-sex and
...further, many of these accounts
involving key biblical figures.
As well, many such events occur at
pivotal points in the Old Testament narrative, influencing beliefs
in the developing faith immensely.
Considering the Religious Right's fight against pornography, and its
stated motivation concerning censorship in general, as a means of
ensuring a moral society, it is interesting to note that,
"the most popular reading material
cited by sex killers as inspiring their crimes is never
mentioned by pro-censorship activists; that is, of course, the
Next only to sex, do drugs, as in psychoactive substances, play a
pivotal role in the development of religion, and the Bible is here
The importance of drugs in religion,
like that of sexuality, is often overlooked by researchers who have
been imprinted with our Christian influenced societies innate
prejudice against these substances.
Moreover, without personal experience of
power of psychoactive plants, many
researchers have failed to perceive the pivotal role that such
plants and preparations have played in religious thought the world
"All religions in which mysticism
and contact with the supernatural play an important part,
attribute a sacred character to an intoxicating drink or other
The Biblical references to wine,
which had become the blood of the savior by the Christian
period, clearly falls into this category.
The use of wine in the ancient world
"unquestionably due to its power to
stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually
crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the
Even more interestingly, as we shall
amply demonstrate on these pages, was the use of other intoxicants
amongst the Old Testament Israelites.
Despite the early marriage between
shamanism and psycho-active plants
that inspired the development of whole religions, naturally
occurring botanicals like the psilocybin mushroom, Indian hemp,
peyote cactus and similar substances have been condemned as
devil's potions and drugs by most religious groups of our modern
Historically, this situation is an
anomaly, not the norm.
Prior to the Common Era and throughout
the ancient world these magical plants had been seen as sacraments
and constituted a very important part of religious worship.
In the 1930's respected scholar W.E.
Budge commented that,
"Many of the ancient herbalists knew
that the juices of certain plants possessed properties which
produced extraordinary effects when introduced into the human
body, and that some might be used as aphrodisiacs, and others as
narcotics, and others as stimulants.
And the magicians when they were
acquainted with them naturally used them in lotions and philters
to produce both good and evil effects".
Some modern scholars have taken this
line of thought further, pointing out that,
the ancients considered these
substances to be the sacred food of the Gods, and a means of
communicating with the divine.
(Schultes and Hoffman 1979;
Mckenna 1992; Ott 1993, etc.)
Still other scholars suggest that
humanities drive to alter their consciousness is as innate as the
drives to fulfill sexual needs and hunger.
Harvard psychiatrist and marijuana
medical expert Dr. Lester Grinspoon holds the view that,
"humans have a need - perhaps even a
drive - to alter their state of consciousness from time to
Likewise, well-known health and drug
researcher Dr. Andrew Weil commented,
"There is not a shred of hope from
history or from cross-cultural studies to suggest that human
beings can live without psychoactive substances".
(A view that is discussed more
fully in Ronald K. Siegel's Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of
Etymologist and religious historian
John M. Allegro pointed out
that our ancestors believed these plants were living gateways to
other realms, and thought of them as angels. (The Greek and Hebrew
equivalent of the name angel literally means messenger
or workers of miracle).
The ancients interpreted the experiences
they received from these plant-angels as divine revelations, in much
the same way that shamans have done around the world before recorded
history, and are still doing in South America, Africa, Asia and even
North America today.
Although it is little known to most modern readers,
marijuana and other entheogens
played a very important role in ancient Hebrew culture and
originally appeared throughout the books that make up the Bible's
The Bible openly discusses the use of
mandrake, which is psychoactive, along with intoxication by wine and
strong drink so the Hebrews were more than familiar with altering
What will be surprising to most modern
readers, is the frequent use of
cannabis-sativa, by both the Hebrew
Priests and Kings.
Indicating, as anthropologist Vera
Rubin noted, that,
"cannabis 'appears' in the Old
Testament because of the ritual and sacred aspect of it".
The Old Testament use of cannabis
becomes less surprising when one considers that cannabis has been
popular at some point with virtually every culture that has
discovered its intoxicating properties.
"been smoked and ingested under
various names (hashish, charas, bhang, ganja, kif, marijuana) in
the Oriental countries, in Africa, and in the Caribbean area for
recreation, pleasure, healing and ritual purposes.
They have been important sacraments
for such diverse groups as the Indian Brahmans, several orders
of the Sufis, African natives, ancient Skythians, and the
Pointing out the wide spread religious
use of hemp throughout the ancient Near East, amongst the
Babylonians, Assyrians, Scythians and Hebrews, as well as the early
spread of its cultic use from northern Europe, to Siberian Asia,
China, India, Asia minor and Southeast Asia, the famed
anthropologist Weston La Barre, suggested that,
"cannabis was part of a religio-shamanic
complex of at least Mesolithic age, in parallel with an equally
old shamanic use of soma..."
(La Barre 1980)
A hypothesis that is further confirmed
by our own research.
For over a hundred and fifty years various researchers have been
trying to bring attention to the cannabis references within the Old
"Like the ancient Greeks, the Old
Testament Israelites were surrounded by marijuana-using peoples.
A British physician, Dr. C.
Creighton, concluded in 1903 that several references to
marijuana can be found in the Old Testament. Examples are the
'honeycomb' referred to in the Song of Solomon, 5:1, and the 'honeywood'
in I Samuel 14: 25-45".
(Consumer Reports 1972)
Creighton felt that in,
"the Old Testament there are some
half-dozen passages where cryptic references to hashish may be
But that word, which is the key to
the meaning, has been knowingly mistranslated in the Vulgate and
in the modern version, having been rendered by a variant also by
the LXX in one of the passages, and confessed as unintelligible
in the other by the use of a marginal Hebrew word in Greek
which is the disreputable intoxicant drug of the East... is of
It is known that the fiber of
hemp-plant, 'Cannabis sativa', was used for cordage in ancient
times; and it is therefore probable that the resinous exudation,
'honey' or 'dew', which is found upon its flowering tops on some
soils, or in certain climates (Cannabis Indica), was known for
its stimulant or intoxicant properties from an equally early
date... we may assume it to have been traditional among the
Semites from remote antiquity.
There are reasons, in the nature of
the case, why there should be no clear history.
All vices are veiled from view; they
rosa'; and that is true especially of the vices of
the East. Where they are alluded to at all, it is in cryptic,
subtle...and allegorical terms. Therefore if we are to discover
them, we must be prepared to look below the surface of the text.
Dr. Creighton is not alone in his view.
A few decades later the German
researcher Immanuel Low, in his Die Flora Der Juden,
(1926\1967) identified a number of ancient Hebrew references to
cannabis, here as an incense, food source, as well as cloth.
In more recent times Professor
Stanley Moore, chairman of the philosophy department of the
University of Wisconsin-Olatteville, has stated that Biblical
references to "aromatic herbs" and "smoke" could mean psycho-active
drugs used in religious observances that, Moore said are as old as
"Western Jews and Christians, who
shun psycho-active drugs in their faith practices, are the
exception, not the norm."
Of the historical material indicating
the Hebraic use of cannabis, the strongest and most profound piece
of evidence was established in 1936 by Sula Benet (aka Sara
Benetowa), a Polish etymologist from the Institute of
Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw.
Benet later stated that:
"In the original Hebrew text of the
Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense,
which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an
Through comparative etymological study,
Bennett documented that in the Old Testament and in its Aramaic
translation, the Targum Onculos, hemp is referred to as kaneh
bosm, which is also rendered in traditional Hebrew as
kannabos or kannabus.
The root "kan" in this construction
means "reed" or "hemp", while "bosm" means "aromatic".
This word appeared in,
Song of Songs 4:14.
In 1980 the Hebrew University in Israel
confirmed Benet's identification of Kaneh-Bosm as hemp, and the
respected anthropologist Weston La Barre (1980) referred to
the Biblical references in an essay on cannabis.
In that same year respected British
Journal New Scientist also ran a story that referred to the Hebrew
Old Testament references, (Malyon & Henman 1980).
A modern counterpart of the word is even
listed in Ben Yehudas Pocket Dictionary and other Hebrew
source books. Further, on line, the Internet's informative
Navigating the Bible, used by countless theological students, even
refers to the Exodus 30:23 reference as possibly designating
In 1995, with the publication of Green
Gold, the biblical references to cannabis were given their most
thorough examination up to that time, but unfortunately this
information is still not widely known by most modern day Jews,
Christians or religious scholars.
Further, the news of the cannabis
references is not always excepted with open minds. One Rabbi sent
the following emotional response to an article Chris Bennett
wrote discussing the references to hemp in the Old Testament:
"Incense (and smoke) are all
important parts of what the Jewish people did in the Desert as
part of serving God.
In fact, I'll even agree that
perhaps Cannabis was one of the constituent ingredients in the
incense. But there is no proof whatsoever that people were
Any objective Torah Scholar or Rabbi
who was asked about the total number of times getting high is
mentioned in the Bible, or in the Talmud or Midrash, would
Cannabis incense or blankets, maybe
- but getting high... remember the burden of proof is on you to
prove that this is in fact what the Bible is saying. Otherwise,
it's all conjecture. And let's face it, talk is cheap!"
One might comment that any believer of
holy scripture, especially a Rabbi or Priest, could hardly be
considered objective when it comes to discussing their faith.
If Moses and the prophets were high when
they were "talking" with God, this could challenge the
legitimacy of the so-called Holy Scripture.
The authors sincerely hope that this,
the most clear concise presentation of the information regarding the
use of cannabis as
an entheogen in the Old Testament,
will answer any questions on the matter once and for all!
As these pages shall clearly document, many of the Prophets of the
Bible were none other than the ancient Middle East counterparts and
predecessor of the "New World"
shamans that Christianized European explorers would later
encounter in their travels.
Sadly, with the so-called "discovery" of
such shaman lead groups, came Christian settlers and missionaries,
who would more than just frown upon indigenous religions. Whole
cultures that employed these entheogenic plant-drugs for shamanistic
ecstasy, or practiced ritual sexuality, have been decimated by
Bible preaching Christian missionaries, who did away with what
they considered the primitive and evil practices of the heathens.
In exchange the missionaries forced
these cultures to except their more civilized religion, the
true faith along with its burden of original sin (and we have
all seen what that cultural exchange has done for the aboriginal
peoples of the world).
As with the societal problems involved in sex and drugs, when
confronted with violence, we find the fundamentalist claiming that a
return to Biblical values as practiced in "the good old days" is
what is needed.
A questioning person might ask,
"When were those good old days?"
In the days of Catholic run boarding
schools, orphanages and Native Residential Schools?
All three renowned for cases of child
molestation, as well as the physical and emotional abuse of children
at the hands of priests and nuns. Or perhaps these "good old days"
were in the days of
Witch burnings and the Spanish Inquisition? Or
possibly they occurred at the commencement of the Dark Ages?
A look through history provides little
answers to this question.
The history of the Bible and the people
who have preached its words, is far more often than not, a history
of violence. A fact that is not all that surprising when one
considers the endless accounts of violence that fill the pages of
the Bible, especially the Old Testament.
When one comes to understand the historical origins of Judaism, as
described in the Torah and its English counterpart the first five
books of the Old Testament, the terrible
Holocaust of the "Chosen People" in
our own century, under the pagan like Nazi party and "Master Race"
of Hitler, takes on a grim undertone of irony.
Holocaust, or "Fire Offering", was
the Jews did to other cultures,
such as the pagan Canaanites, while overtaking the already inhabited
Promised Land (Canaan).
Not only were whole populations
decimated, men, women and children, but also every vestige of their
culture was to be given as a Fire-Offering to the
tribal god Yahweh.
That many Jewish people are currently at
the forefront of the fight to censor hate literature is also ironic,
as the texts which they claim as their holy books are in fact hate
literature themselves, calling distinctly for the murder not only of
different cultures, but also homosexuals, rebellious children,
unfaithful wives and others.
Likewise with Christianity, which as mentioned, for over a
millennium taught the love of Jesus with the fire and
the Roman Catholic Church.
It is estimated that over a million
people were tortured and burned for suspected witchcraft and
heresies by the church throughout the Dark Ages, and even up until a
few short centuries ago.
Despite the fact that to over 3 billion Christians, Jews and
Muslims, the Old Testament contains the 'true' story of Humanities
interaction with God, and they happily lay claim to its
heritage, these three groups have been at odds since they formed.
Countless wars have been fought throughout history by "devout
believers", all claiming the 'True Religion', resulting in
millions of deaths, and culminating in a modern situation
that has brought the world to the edge of a global war more than
Yet both religions claim to have a
devout belief in the books that make up the Old Testament, all claim
to be the descendants of Adam, Noah and Abraham.
In modern-day America during the Gulf War, President
George Bush rallied the troops
and people of the USA, claiming that God was on the side of
the US military, as leaders of countries going to war have always
done and claimed.
American Christian leaders prayed for
the troops and against Saddam Hussein and some even pointed
to the war as a sign of fulfillment of prophecies from the book of
Indeed the concept of a Jihad,
Holy war, or Armageddon is one that is shared by all
three of these faiths, and their collective belief in an
Apocalypse, brings us nearer to making this genocidal promise a
genuine reality and, what could possibly be more violent than that?
As that is the case, one could come to see the Bible as a
literary Time Bomb.
This book (Sex,
Drugs, Violence and the Bible) is written in an attempt
to diffuse the situation, by disarming the Bomb, or rather by
dissecting the Bible. And what better place to start than with the
three evils that the modern-day believer's finger is most often
pointed at: Sex, Drugs, and Violence.
As is often the case, we can only see
our own personal flaws, when we project them out on others; symbolic
of this, is that when you point your own finger out in judgment of
others, you end up having three fingers pointing back at yourself.
In this ground-breaking text the often
pointed finger of the Fundamentalist, finds its own three demons of
Sex, Drugs, and Violence, pointing back to the very source of their
illusory righteousness: The 'Holy' Bible
Although many of these scholars
may in fact be atheists themselves, they have, like us all,
been deeply influenced by the moralistic standards of
The modern New Testament is
derived from the official canon selected by the Roman
Catholic Church sometime in the fourth century, and was
selected from a number of earlier texts, some of them
contradicting the New Testament accounts.
Of course, intoxication was not
only done for the sake of mysticism, and numbers of biblical
figures are portrayed as getting drunk for purely hedonistic
reasons throughout the Bible
Taken from Time, Aug. 21, 1989.
Article "Do Humans Need to Get High"?
"The tomb of a shaman found
during the excavations of the New Stone age settlement from
the sixth millennium BC in Catal Huyuk in Turkey contained
plants that according to pollen analysis were specimens with
A term applied to powerful
psychoactive plant sacraments or sacred inebriants that are
capable of evoking a religious experience or vision, when
Entheogen scholar Jonathon
Ott, states that the Biblical strong drink [shekar] was,
"distinct from Wine; probably a Soporific or visionary
infusion...of one or many Psychoactive plants".
The first Western writer who
openly suggested cannabis was mentioned in the Old Testament
was Gerard de Nerval, a well known mid 19th century
French novelist, poet, world traveler and member of Paris's
infamous, Le Club des Hashishins.
In De Nerval's Journey to the
Orient, there is an account of Avicienna, a famous
medieval Arab alchemist commenting on a reference to hashish
in Solomon's Song of Songs - an identification that was
later verified by etymological research in our own time...
(Interestingly, De Nerval tied
his tale of hashish in with much of the mythos surrounding
the origins of Freemasonry - see Bennett et. al. 1995.)
E.M.Brecher and the Editors of
Consumer Reports, Licit and Illicit Drugs,(1972)-- one of
the best and most unbiased books on drugs in print.
In an article that appeared in
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Friday, March 26, 1993, page
2A, about a court case involving the Israel Zion Coptic
Church. Like the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, which they
grew out of, the Israel Zion Coptic's believe hemp is the
true Biblical Eucharist.
Benet wrote that the terms
kaneh and bosm, fused into the singular
kannabus in the Mishna (200 ce). Ben Yehudas Pocket
Dictionary, lists Hemp with the Modern Hebrew spelling right
to left, Quoph, Nun, Beth, Vau, Mem. Which roughly sounds
like; Quanbom, or Kanbon.
The actual Old Testament
spelling is Quoph, Nun, He', Beth, Shin, Mem, which has also
been translated as Q'aneh-Bosm rather than Kaneh-Bosm
suggested by Benet, a translation that would also be more in
tune with the ancient Assyrian term for cannabis incense
It should also be noted that the
"m' in "bosm", indicates a plural, and thus the singular
q'aneh-bos, or kaneh-bos, sounds almost identical to our
modern derivative cannabis.
Alongside the potential
candidates of calamus, cinnamon bark and the "Indian plant,
Cympopogan martini, which has the form of "red
straw", Navigating the Bible also comments that, "On the
basis of cognate pronunciation and Septuagint readings, some
identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis,
the hemp plant".
(Navigating the Bible 1996)
Green Gold the tree of Life -
Marijuana in Magic and Religion, (Access Unlimited 1995),
Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn and Judy Osburn.
Who will remain the nameless
Rabbi X, out of respect for the mutual friend who put us in
Rabbi X was kind enough to
include what he felt was a possible source for cannabis use
from the Talmud; "Rava (a great Torah master) said: wine and
fragrances have made me smart."
Not to mention the
millions of witches that were burned
at the stake in Europe for similar entheogenic
Although Muslims don't regard
the Bible as their Holy Book, the Arab race and the religion
of Islam are founded in the same cultural roots as the