Friday, 29 May 2020

Bible Authors May Have Been High on Cannabis

Iron Age Judahite shrine
New research reveals Cannabis and Frankincense at the Judahite Shrine of Biblical Arad.

Cannabis was used in early cultic ceremonies in the Iron Age kingdom of Judah, according to researchers from Tel Aviv University. This may explain some of the more bizarre stories and claims of revelations and experiences related in the Bible.

This comes from analysis of the material found on two Iron Age altars discovered at the entrance to the "holy of holies" of a shrine at Tel Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley, Israel, which were found to contain Cannabis and Frankincense.

The findings were published free access yesterday in Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

Two limestone monoliths, interpreted as altars, were found in the Judahite shrine at Tel Arad. Unidentified dark material preserved on their upper surfaces was submitted for organic residue analysis at two unrelated laboratories that used similar established extraction methods. On the smaller altar, residues of cannabinoids such as Δ9-teterahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) were detected, along with an assortment of terpenes and terpenoids, suggesting that cannabis inflorescences had been burnt on it. Organic residues attributed to animal dung were also found, suggesting that the cannabis resin had been mixed with dung to enable mild heating. The larger altar contained an assemblage of indicative triterpenes such as boswellic acid and norursatriene, which derives from frankincense. The additional presence of animal fat―in related compounds such as testosterone, androstene and cholesterol―suggests that resin was mixed with it to facilitate evaporation. These well-preserved residues shed new light on the use of 8th century Arad altars and on incense offerings in Judah during the Iron Age.

Eran Arie, Baruch Rosen & Dvory Namdar (2020)
Cannabis and Frankincense at the Judahite Shrine of Arad,
Tel Aviv
, 47:1, 5-28, DOI: 10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046

The shrine was discovered in the remains of an ancient fortress, from the 9th to 6th centuries BCE, that guarded the southern borders of the biblical Judah. The shrine itself has been dated to 750-715 BCE.

Although the authors don't say so, amongst the more bizarre accounts in the Bible that could well be hallucinations under the influence of mind-altering substances is this one:

And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:12-15

Then there is the impossible claim that the sun stood still in the sky for an entire day, also attributed to Joshua:

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

Joshua 10:12-13

And just take a look at the bizarre claims of Jonah!

It would seem that cannabis played no small part in the religious ceremonies of the priests and prophets of early Judah.

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