MARIJUANA AND THE BIBLE
The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church
OFFERINGS OF DEVOTION
With offerings of devotion, ships from the isles will meet to pour the wealth of the nations and bring tribute to his feet. The Coptic Church believes fully the teachings of the Bible, and as such we have our daily obligations, and offer our sacrifices, made by fire unto our God with chants and Psalms and spiritual hymns, lifting up holy hands and making melody in our hearts.
Herb (marijuana) is a Godly creation from the beginning of the world. It is known as the weed of wisdom, angel's food, the tree of life and even the "Wicked Old Ganja Tree". Its purpose in creation is as a fiery sacrifice to be offered to our Redeemer during obligations. The political worldwide organizations have framed mischief on it and called it drugs. To show that it is not a dangerous drug, let me inform my readers that it is used as food for mankind, and as a medicinal cure for diverse diseases. Ganja is not for commerce; yet because of the oppression of the people, it was raised up as the only liberator of the people, and the only peacemaker among the entire generation. Ganja is the sacramental rights of every man worldwide and any law against it is only the organized conspiracy of the United Nations and the political governments who assist in maintaining this conspiracy.
The Coptic Church is not politically originated, and this was firmly expressed when we met with the political directorate of the land during the period of pre-incorporation. We support no political organization, pagan religion, or commercial institution, seeing that religion, politics, and commerce are the three unclean spirits which separate the people from their God. Because of our non-political stand, the church has received tremendous opposition from the politicians, who do not want the eyes of the people to be opened. Through its agency, the police force, the church has been severely harassed, victimized, and discriminated. Our members have passed through several acts of police brutality, our legal properties maliciously destroyed, members falsely imprisoned, divine services broken up and all these atrocities performed upon the Church, under the name of political laws and their justice.
Walter Wells -- Elder Priest of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church of Jamaica, West Indies
THE USE OF MARIJUANA IN ANCIENT TIMES
The use of marijuana is as old as the history of man and dates to the prehistoric period. Marijuana is closely connected with the history and development of some of the oldest nations on earth.
It has played a significant role in the religions and cultures of Africa, the Middle East, India, and China Richard E. Schultes, a prominent researcher in the field of psychoactive plants, said in an article he wrote entitled "Man and Marijuana":
"...that early man experimented with all plant materials that he could chew and could not have avoided discovering the properties of cannabis (marijuana), for in his quest for seeds and oil, he certainly ate the sticky tops of the plant. Upon eating hemp the euphoric, ecstatic and hallucinatory aspects may have introduced man to an other-worldly plane from which emerged religious beliefs, perhaps even the concept of deity.
The plant became accepted as a special gift of the gods, a sacred medium for communion with the spiritual world and as such it has remained in some cultures to the present."
The effects of marijuana was proof to the ancients that the spirit and power of the god(s) existed in this plant and that it was literally a messenger (angel) or actually the Flesh and Blood and/or Bread of the god(s) and was and continues to be a holy sacrament. Considered to be sacred, marijuana has been used in religious worship from before recorded history.
According to William A. Embolden in his book Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L, p. 235:
"Shamanistic traditions of great antiquity in Asia and the Near East has as one of their most important elements the attempt to find God without a vale of tears; that cannabis played a role in this, at least in some areas, is born out in the philology surrounding the ritualistic use of the plant. Whereas Western religious traditions generally stress sin, repentance, and mortification of the flesh, certain older non-Western religious cults seem to have employed Cannabis as a euphoriant, which allowed the participant a joyous path to the Ultimate; hence such appellations as "heavenly guide".
According to "Licit and Illicit Drugs" by the Consumer Union, page 397-398:
"Ashurbanipal lived about 650 B.C., but the cuneiform descriptions of marijuana in his library "are generally regarded as obvious copies of much older texts." Says Dr. Robert P. Walton, an American physician and authority on marijuana, "This evidence serves to project the origin of hashish back to the earliest beginnings of history."
THE USE OF MARIJUANA AS INCENSE
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica: "Pharmacological Cults"
"...the ceremonial use of incense in contemporary ritual is most likely a relic of the time when the psychoactive properties of incense brought the ancient worshipper in touch with supernatural forces."
In the temples of the ancient world, the main sacrifice was the inhalation of incense. Incense is defined as the perfume or smoke from spices and gums when burned in celebrating religious rites or as an offering to a deity. Bronze and gold incense burners were cast very early in history and their forms were often inspired by cosmological themes representing the harmonious nature of the universe.
The following piece was taken from "Licit and Illicit Drugs", page 31.
"In the Judaic world, the vapors from burnt spices and aromatic gums were considered part of the pleasurable act of worship. In proverbs (27:9) it is said that 'Ointment and perfumes rejoice the heart.' Perfumes were widely used in Egyptian worship. Stone altars have been unearthed in Babylon and Palestine, which have been used for burning incense made of aromatic wood and spices. While the casual readers today may interpret such practices as mere satisfaction of the desire for pleasant odors, this is almost certainly an error; in many or most cases, a psychoactive drug was being inhaled. In the islands of the Mediterranean 2,500 years ago and in Africa hundreds of years ago, for example leaves and flowers of a particular plant were often thrown upon bonfires and the smoke inhaled; the plant was marijuana."
(Edward Preble and Gabriel V. Laurey, Plastic Cement: The Ten Cent Hallucinogen, International Journal of the Addictions, 2 (Fall 2967): 271-272.
"The earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia brewed intoxicating beer of barley more than 5,000 years ago; is it too much to assume that even earlier cultures experienced euphoria, accidentally or deliberately, through inhalation of the resinous smoke of Cannabis?"
(Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L, p. 216.)
"It is said that the Assyrians used hemp (marijuana) as incense in the seventh or eighth century before Christ and called it 'Qunubu', a term apparently borrowed from an old East Iranian word 'Konaba', the same as the Scythian name 'cannabis'." (Plants of the Gods - Origin of Hallucinogenic Use by Richard E. Schultes and Albert Hoffman)
"It is recorded that the Chinese Taoist recommended the addition of cannabis to their incense burners in the 1st century as a means of achieving immortality."
(Marijuana, the First Twelve Thousand Years by Earnest Abel, page 5)
"There is a classic Greek term, cannabeizein, which means to smoke cannabis. Cannabeizein frequently took the form of inhaling vapors from an incense burner in which these resins were mixed with other resins, such as myrrh, balsam, frankincense, and perfumes." (Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L)
"Herodotus in the fifth century B.C. observed the Scythians throwing hemp on heated stone to create smoke and observed them inhaling this smoke. Although he does not identify them, Herodotus states that when they "have parties and sit around a fire, they throw some of it into the flames. As it burns, it smokes like incense, and the smell of it makes them drunk, just as wine does us. As more fruit is thrown on, they get more and more intoxicated until finally they jump up and start dancing and singing." (Herodotus, Histories 1.202.)
EVIDENCE INDICATING THE SEMITIC ORIGIN OF CANNABIS
The name cannabis is generally thought to be of Scythian origin. Sula Benet in Cannabis and Culture argues that it has a much earlier origin in Semitic languages like Hebrew, occurring several times in the Old Testament. He states that in Exodus 30:23 that God commands Moses to make a holy anointing oil of myrrh, sweet cinnamon, kaneh bosm, and kassia. He continues that the word kaneh bosm is also rendered in the traditional Hebrew as kannabos or kannabus and that the root "kan" in this construction means "reed" or "hemp", while "bosm" means "aromatic". He states that in the earliest Greek translations of the old testament "kan" was rendered as "reed", leading to such erroneous English translations as "sweet calamus" (Exodus 30:23), sweet cane (Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20) and "calamus" (Ezekiel 27:19; Song of Songs 4:14).
Benet argues from the linguistic evidence that cannabis was known in Old Testament times at least for its aromatic properties and that the word for it passed from the Semitic language to the Scythians, i.e. the Ashkenaz of the Old Testament. Sara Benetowa of the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw is quoted in the Book of Grass as saying: "The astonishing resemblance between the Semitic 'kanbos' and the Scythian 'cannabis' leads me to suppose that the Scythian word was of Semitic origin. These etymological discussions run parallel to arguments drawn from history.
The Iranian Scythians were probably related to the Medes, who were neighbors of the semites and could easily have assimilated the word for hemp. The Semites could also have spread the word during their migrations through Asia Minor.
Taking into account the matriarchal element of Semitic culture, one is led to believe that Asia Minor was the original point of expansion for both the society based on the matriarchal circle and the mass use of hashish."
The Ancient Israelites were a Semitic people. Abraham, the father of the Israelite nation, came from Ur, a city of Babylonia located in mesopotamia. The Israelites migrated throughout Asia Minor and could easily have spread the religious use of marijuana.
THE ISRAELITE USE OF INCENSE
It was said that Moses, at the direction of Almighty God, first brought in the use of incense in public worship, and that the other nations of antiquity copied the practice from him. It was however a practice that began with Adam. The "Book of Jubilees", an Apocryphal book, (the Apocrypha was considered canonical by the early church and is to this day by the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church) states that "on the day when Adam went forth from the Garden of Eden, he offered as a sweet savour an offering of frankincense, galbanum, and stacte, and spices, in the morning with the rising of the sun, from the day when he covered his shame." And of Enoch we read that "he burnt the incense of the sanctuary, even sweet spices, acceptable before the Lord, on the Mount."
Incense was assigned miraculous powers by the Israelites. It was burned in golden bowls or cauldrons placed on or beside the altar. It was also burned in hand-held censers. In the Blessing of Moses, a poem belonging to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and written about 760 B.C., the sacrificial smoke is offered to the God of Israel.
Let them teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; Let them offer sacrificial smoke to thy nostrils, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thy altar.
Throughout the Bible the ancient patriarchs were brought into communion with God through smoking incense and at Mt. Sinai God talked to Moses out of a bush that burned with fire (Exodus 3:1- 12). After Moses brought the Israelite people out of Egypt he returned to Mt. Sinai at which time God made a covenant with Moses in which the Ten Commandments were revealed. Exodus 19:8 describes the conditions at the time of this covenant.
Exodus 19:8 "And Mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
The Mysterious smoke mentioned in the covenant on Mt. Sinai is also referred to as a cloud. Exodus 24:15 "And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the clouds and the smoke are related to the burning of incense. Exodus 40:26 describes Moses burning incense, a cloud covering the tent of the congregation and the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle.
Leviticus 16:2-13 describes how God appeared in a cloud and refers to it as the clouds of incense. Numbers 16:17-19 describes how every man of the congregation had a censer full of burning incense and that the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the congregation.
Isaiah 6:4 describes how Ezekial saw God in a smoke-filled inner court. Numbers 11:25 describes how God was revealed to Moses and the seventy elders in a cloud; that the spirit rested upon them and that they prophesied and ceased not.
The Book of Grass by Andrew and Vinkenoog includes a section on Ancient Scythia and Iran by Mircea Eliade, one of the foremost experts on the history of religions. On pages 11 and 12 is the following:
"On one document appears to indicate the existence of a Getic shamanism: It is Straho's account of the Myssian KAPNOBATAI, a name that has been translated, by analogy with Aristophanes' AEROBATES, as 'those who walk in clouds'; but it should be translated as 'those who walk in smoke'! Presumably the smoke is hemp smoke, a rudimentary means of ecstasy known to both the Tracians and the Scythians..."
This passage should be carefully noted. Biblical passages make it abundantly clear that the ancient Isrealites also walked in clouds and in smoke. In fact it was in the clouds of smoke that God was revealed to the ancient Isrealites. The words "smoke" and "smoking" appear fifty times in the King James Version of the Bible and two separate times the Bible says of the Lord, "There went up a smoke out of his nostrils." II Samuel 22:9, Psalms 18:8.
There are numerous other places in the Bible that mention the burning of incense, the mysterious cloud, and smoke. This common thread is found throughout the Bible, including the New Testament. St. Matthew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the Earth morn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory."
Revelations 1:7 "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
Revelations 8:3 "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the Angel's hand."
Revelations 15:8 "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power."
THE SYMBOLISM OF FIRE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The word "fire" is mentioned several hundred times in the King James version of the Bible. The sacrifice of the Lord is made by fire (Exodus 29:18, 25; Leviticus 2:10-11; Leviticus 6:13; Numbers 28:6; Deuteronomy 4:33; Joshua 13:14; I Samuel 2:28; II Chronicles 2:4; Isaiah 24:15; Matthew 3:11; Luke 1:9; Revelations 8:4-5)
Abraham, the father of the Israelite nation, came from Ur which was a city of Ancient Sumer in South Babylonia. For the Babylonians, fire was essential to sacrifice and all oblations were conveyed to the gods by the fire god Girru-Nusku, whose presence as an intermediary between the gods and man was indispensable. Girru-Nusku, as the messenger of the gods, bore the essence of the offerings upward to them in the smoke of sacrificial fire.
At Babylon: "The glorious gods smell the incense, noble food of heaven; pure wine which no hand has touched do they enjoy." (L. Jeremias, in Encyclopedia Biblica, i.v. 4119, quoting Rawlinson, Cuneif. Inscrip. IV, 19 (59).)
The most important of the ancient Indian gods was Agni, the god of fire, who like the Babylonian god Girru-Nusku acted as a messenger between men and the gods. The fire (Agni) upon the altar was regarded as a messenger, their invoker.
"...For thou, O sage, goest wisely between these two creations like a friendly messenger between two hamlets."
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the section on "mysticism":
"The Vedas (Hindu sacred writings) are hymns to the mystic fire and the inner sense of sacrifice, burning forever on the 'altar Mind'. Hence the abundance of solar and fire images: birds of fire, the fire of the sun, and the isles of fire. The symbol system of the world's religions and mysticisms are profound illuminations of the human-divine mystery. Be it the cave of the heart or the lotus of the heart, 'the dwelling place of that which is the Essence of the Universe, "the third eye", or the eye of wisdom' - the symbols all refer back to wisdom entering the aspiring soul on its way to progressive self-understanding. 'I saw the Lord with the Eye of the Heart. I said, "Who art thou?" and he answered, "Thou"'."
The ancient Indian mystics said, "...that in the ecstasy of bhang (marijuana) the spark of the Eternal in man turns into light the murkiness of matter or illusion and the self is lost in the central soul fire. Raising man out of himself and above mean individual worries, bhang makes him one with the divine force of nature and the mystery 'I am he' grew plain. (Taken from the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report which was written at the turn of the twentieth century.)
The concept of spiritual or inner light was found throughout the ancient world. As we shall see that spiritual light was directly related to the burning of incense. According to Lucie Lamy in "Egyptian Mysteries", page 24: "The Pharaonic word for light is akh. This word, often translated as 'transfigured', designated transcendental light as well as all aspects of physical light; and in the funerary text it denotes the state of ultimate sublimation.
"The word akh, first of all, is written with a glyph showing a crested ibis, ibis comata. This bird - the name of which was also akh -- lived in the southern part of the Arabian side of the Red Sea (near Al Qunfidhah) and migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) during the winter. Both these places are near the regions from which sacred incense came, and were called the "Divine Land". The bird's crest, together with its dark green plumage shot with glittering metallic specks justifies the meanings 'to shine', 'to be resplendent', 'to irradiate'; of the root akh in the hieroglyphic writing. "Akh indeed expresses all notions of light, both literally and figuratively, from the Light which comes forth from Darkness to the transcendental light of transfiguration. It is also used to designate the 'third eye', the ureaeus, related in old tradition to the pineal body and to the spirit."
In the next chapter we will see that the sacred cloud of incense was instrumental in the transfiguration of Christ. Note that Ethiopia was referred to as the "Divine Land" and that it was the source for the sacred incense. The ancients also referred to Ethiopia as the "Land of God".
The ancient Egyptians believed that they had received their divinities from Ethiopia and have always held to the ancient and honored tradition of their southern origin. Ethiopia is so important in ancient history that it is mentioned as being in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:12).
The ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote: "The Ethiopians conceived themselves to be of greater antiquity than any other nation; and it is probable that, born under the sun's path, its warmth may have ripened them earlier than other men. They supposed themselves to be the inventors of worship, of festivals, of solemn assemblies, of sacrifice, and every religious practice."
Check the rest of the 38 page booklet at http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/potbible.htm