Is Pot Really in the Torah

By Claire and Roy Kaufmann | April 16, 2016 

Yes. Yes, it is.
You might be scratching your head wondering if the burning bush was more than it appeared ;).

Were the High Priests high? Was the Burning Bush a burning bowl? Many experts believe that the herb qaneh-bosm is indeed cannabis. Qaneh-bosm is mentioned five times in the Torah, most notably in the Book of Exodus, where it is listed as a key ingredient in the anointing oil of the High Priests.

In 1936, Sula Benet, a Polish etymologist from the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw, hypothesized that though the word cannabis was generally thought to be of Scythian origin, it likely had a much earlier origin in Semitic languages like Hebrew.

Benet wrote: “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 intoxicant.”

Benet showed that the word for cannabis is kaneh-bosm, also rendered in traditional Hebrew as kaneh or kannabus. The root kan in this construction means “reed” or “hemp”, while bosm means “aromatic.”

Indeed, it seems like Jews and weed enjoy a relationship of the ages, a romance older than summer camp!


Additional Resources:

  1. From the Forward, "Doctor Cannabis" -
  2. From "The Herb Museum" in Vancouver, Canada -
  3. From The Huffington Post, "Because the Bible Tells Us So" -
  4. From the Union for Reform Judaism - 2003 -