Hemp in the Bible.

The Bible is a vast and complex collection of ancient texts that has shaped the beliefs and practices of billions of people for centuries. While the Bible is often seen as a primarily religious text, it also provides a rich tapestry of historical and cultural insights into the societies that produced it. One of the lesser-known aspects of the Bible is its connection to the plant hemp.

Hemp, a member of the Cannabis sativa family, has been cultivated and used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes, including as a source of food, fiber, and medicine. In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of hemp, particularly in the form of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in the plant.

As the debate over the legalization of hemp and its products continues, some have turned to the Bible for guidance. They argue that the Bible provides evidence that hemp was not only known but also valued in ancient times.

Hemp in the Old Testament

The Hebrew word “kaneh bosm” is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. This word is often translated as “calamus,” a sweet-smelling reed that was used as an incense. However, some scholars believe that “kaneh bosm” may actually refer to hemp.

For example, in Genesis 1:29, God tells Adam and Eve that they can eat “every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth.” This could be interpreted as including hemp.

In Exodus 30:22-33, we find a recipe for anointing oil that includes “kaneh bosm.” This oil was used in religious ceremonies and was considered to be sacred.

In Ezekiel 27:19, Tyre is described as importing “kaneh bosm” from Judah. This suggests that hemp was a valuable commodity in the ancient world.

Hemp in the New Testament

The word “kaneh bosm” does not appear in the New Testament. However, there are a few passages that some believe may refer to hemp.

For example, in Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds by asking them to show him a coin. When they hand him a denarius, he asks them, “Whose image and inscription is on it?” They reply, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus says, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Some believe that the image on the denarius may have been a hemp leaf. This would suggest that Jesus was aware of hemp and its importance in the Roman economy.

In another passage, in Revelation 22:1-2, we read about a tree that produces “leaves for the healing of the nations.” Some believe that this tree may be referring to hemp, as hemp has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.


The evidence for the use of hemp in the Bible is not conclusive. However, the fact that the plant is mentioned several times suggests that it was known and valued in ancient times. As the debate over the legalisation of hemp and its products continues, it is important to be aware of the plant’s long history and its potential benefits.


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