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 Kaneh-Bosm in the Hebrew Bible: Exploring the Possible Cannabis Connection

Kelleen Peters

 Kaneh-Bosm in the Hebrew Bible: Exploring the Possible Cannabis Connection

 Kaneh-Bosm in the Hebrew Bible: Exploring the Possible Cannabis Connection


This paper examines the potential connection between cannabis and the term "kaneh-bosm" mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in the Old Testament. While cannabis is not explicitly named in the Bible, some researchers speculate that "kaneh-bosm" might refer to cannabis. The term appears in the original Hebrew text, particularly in the Book of Exodus, describing an ingredient used in anointing oil. However, this interpretation remains a subject of scholarly debate and requires careful examination.


The Hebrew Bible, a foundational text of Judaism and Christianity, does not explicitly mention cannabis. However, there are theories suggesting a potential link between certain terms in the original Hebrew text, such as "kaneh-bosm," and cannabis.

Kaneh-Bosm in the Hebrew Bible:

Linguistic Analysis:

  • The term "kaneh-bosm" appears in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 30:23), as an ingredient used in the anointing oil. "Kaneh" refers to a reed or cane, and "bosm" denotes aromatic or fragrant plant material.

Historical and Cultural Context:

  • Scholars highlight that "kaneh-bosm" could potentially refer to a plant that was aromatic and had spiritual significance, considering the anointing oil's ritualistic and sacred use in ancient times.

Interpretations and Speculations:

Cannabis as Kaneh-Bosm:

  • Some researchers and scholars propose that "kaneh-bosm" might refer to cannabis, given the plant's aromatic and psychoactive properties. They suggest that cannabis could have been one of the ingredients used in the anointing oil.

Alternative Interpretations:

  • Others argue that "kaneh-bosm" may refer to aromatic plants like calamus, cinnamon, or other fragrant materials common in the region. They propose that cannabis might not align with the intended meaning of the term.


While the Bible does not explicitly mention cannabis, the potential connection between "kaneh-bosm" and cannabis remains a matter of interpretation. Various scholars have presented contrasting viewpoints based on linguistic, historical, and cultural analyses. Understanding the linguistic nuances and historical context is crucial in interpreting ancient texts accurately. Further interdisciplinary research is needed to establish a more definitive understanding of whether "kaneh-bosm" indeed refers to cannabis or to other aromatic plants used in ancient rituals.

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