Updated: Aug 20, 2020
So.. our ancestors were a bunch of stoners. Well you probably knew that already since everyone in the Torah seems to be getting stoned for some reason or another. Blasphemous? Stone him. Idolatrous? Stone her. A goring ox? Stone it. Disrespectful to their parents? Stone them. Being a wizard? Kinda awesome but you are getting stoned too. Good thing the Torah was given in our area of the world. If God gave it to the Inuit, they would probably be dropping ice blocks or walruses on your head. Here there are stones everywhere just begging to be thrown. Fortunately, the rabbis made rulings that made capital punishment virtually unenforceable (a Sanhedrin - Jewish High Court - that sentenced one person to death in 70 years was considered to be a bloody court). Yet of course, that is not the kind of "getting stoned" that we are talking about today.
In a groundbreaking discovery, which may help to explain the ideas quoted by the prophet Isaiah (who lived at the time the discovery dates from) of "the house filled with smoke," cannabis resin has been found on an altar from the temple in Arad which dates back to the Kingdom of Judah some 2700 years ago. That's right. Our priests were 420 friendly.
“Arad provides the earliest evidence for the use of cannabis in the Ancient Near East. Hallucinogenic substances are known from various neighboring cultures, but this is the first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah,” the study said.
Fortunately, one does not need to go all the way to the desert city of Arad to see the Holy of Holies on which the residue was found as it sits in Jerusalem today in the Israel Museum. As a tour guide of Israel, I always make sure to include it in my highlights tour of the archaeology wing. And now I have a great new story to tell :)
The Temple in Arad was modeled after the Temple in Jerusalem and sat at the southern border of the Kingdom of Judah (with the Jerusalem Temple at the northern border). Perhaps this was akin to the rival Kingdom of Israel's altars at Dan and Beit El, in the north and south of the kingdom, with the idea of God enshrined above them. Perhaps Jerusalem was just too far away to make regular trips in ancient times. Either way, it points to the background of the Judean kings Hezekiah's and Josiah's Jerusalem-based religious centralization plans as mentioned in the Bible.
The question of course might be asked then, was cannabis used in the Temple in Jerusalem as well. Unfortunately, our ability to excavate there today is non-existent, but perhaps a clue appears in the text, when King Malchizedek, the Canaanite king of Shalem (Jerusalem) some 3800 years ago, met Abraham in the valley below where the Temple would be built 800 years later. Malchizedek was also a priest and he blessed Abram of God Most High. And there you have it.
For more information on this incredible discovery, check out the articles here:
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