BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Marijuana Found at Ancient Temple in Israel

Judahite Shrine of Tel Arad from 8th century B.C.E. has residue of cannabis and of frankincense

Marijuana

A study published in Tel Aviv reveals that Marijuana residues were found at the shrine of Tel Arad. The residues from two altars were analyzed at two labs, revealing Frankincense and, on one altar, Marijuana mixed with dung. As authors Eran Arie, Baruch Rosen, and Dvory Namdar speculate, the animal dung was probably used to heat hashish (a dried resin of cannabis), enabling its effects to spread among worshippers. They conclude, “This is the first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah.”

Tel Arad was excavated in the 1960’s. As Miriam Aharoni, Ze’ev Herzog, and Anson F. Rainey noted in their 1987 article (“Arad—An Ancient Israelite Fortress with a Temple to Yahweh”, , March/April 1987), The Israelite fortress in Tel Arad contained the first Israelite temple ever discovered in an archaeological excavation. They discuss how Solomon probably built the first fortress on the site in the tenth century B.C.E.

Frankincense was known to be used as incense in ancient ritual practices, but not necessarily among the Yahweh worshippers at that time. Derived from a variety of African tree, it was a highly valued trade good. As Menahem Haran notes (“Altar-Ed States”, Bible Review, February, 1995) “Whether incense was used in the most ancient Israelite rituals has been debated in modern research.” He notes the expense and the extensive “incense route” frankincense would have had to travel to reach the ancient Israelites. The analysis of the residue on these altars is an indicator that frankincense was probably used religiously at Tel Arad.

The laboratory analysis of the residues revealed plants that were present in the shrine in the eighth century B.C.E., helping to enrich modern knowledge of the religious practices of the ancient Judahites.


Read more in Bible History Daily:

Ancient Bronze Marvels at Magdala  Excavations at Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, have uncovered a 2,000-year-old decorated bronze incense shovel and a bronze jug.

Frankincense and Other Resins Were Used in Roman Burials Across Britain  Archaeologists examining organic residues in Roman burials have for the first time confirmed the use of resins, including frankincense, in Roman funeral rites in Britain. In the Bible, frankincense was one of the gifts, along with gold and myrrh, the three magi presented to Jesus.

Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?  Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense.


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5 Responses

  1. Tracey says:

    Dung burns slowly with low heat which is what you want to use when you burn hashish. People all over the world use dung to cook their food as well, so yes, it’s likely used to burn incense too.

  2. charles coryn says:

    “As authors Eran Arie, Baruch Rosen, and Dvory Namdar speculate, the animal dung was probably used to heat hashish (a dried resin of cannabis), enabling its effects to spread among worshippers.”

    Hmmm…… I would seriously doubt that dung would have enough heat to cause the reaction you have mentioned……. Certainly not enough to reach an entire congregation. There must be another explanation………

    1. Joseph Grauman says:

      From the original article – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046 – on which this BAR article is based:
      “The temperature required for decarboxylation of the cannabis phytocannabinoids into their neutral and active form is mild, not exceeding 150°C. This could be achieved by burning of animal dung-cake (Kenoyer 1994, Shahack-Gross 2011).”

  3. Andrew Latham says:

    Am I understanding this correctly? “Frankincense was known to be used as incense in ancient ritual practices, but not necessarily among the Yahweh worshippers.” Are you saying that we didn’t know for sure Yahweh worshippers used frankincense in their worship? The recipe for the incense they used in the tabernacle is part of the law (e.g. Exodus 30:34, Lev. 2:1,2; 6:15…)

    1. Jonathan Laden says:

      Good clarifying question. From the study: “Until the present research, the only archaeological evidence of frankincense in the southern Levant was a small Persian period limestone altar found at Tel Lachish.”

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5 Responses

  1. Tracey says:

    Dung burns slowly with low heat which is what you want to use when you burn hashish. People all over the world use dung to cook their food as well, so yes, it’s likely used to burn incense too.

  2. charles coryn says:

    “As authors Eran Arie, Baruch Rosen, and Dvory Namdar speculate, the animal dung was probably used to heat hashish (a dried resin of cannabis), enabling its effects to spread among worshippers.”

    Hmmm…… I would seriously doubt that dung would have enough heat to cause the reaction you have mentioned……. Certainly not enough to reach an entire congregation. There must be another explanation………

    1. Joseph Grauman says:

      From the original article – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046 – on which this BAR article is based:
      “The temperature required for decarboxylation of the cannabis phytocannabinoids into their neutral and active form is mild, not exceeding 150°C. This could be achieved by burning of animal dung-cake (Kenoyer 1994, Shahack-Gross 2011).”

  3. Andrew Latham says:

    Am I understanding this correctly? “Frankincense was known to be used as incense in ancient ritual practices, but not necessarily among the Yahweh worshippers.” Are you saying that we didn’t know for sure Yahweh worshippers used frankincense in their worship? The recipe for the incense they used in the tabernacle is part of the law (e.g. Exodus 30:34, Lev. 2:1,2; 6:15…)

    1. Jonathan Laden says:

      Good clarifying question. From the study: “Until the present research, the only archaeological evidence of frankincense in the southern Levant was a small Persian period limestone altar found at Tel Lachish.”

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