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Topic: Anointing Oil, Ingredients

Ron Shaul from Tofino, British Columbia wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Do you know anything about the reference in Exodus 30:23 to one of the ingredients of the anointing oil. The English is translated as Sweet Calamus. However there seems to be a controversy as to its real name. In Hebrew it is Q’ana bos. Which sounds a lot like Cannabis or marijuana. My Hebrew dictionary defines Q’ana bos as hemp. Please let me know if you find anything as it would certainly create quite a stir if it could be proven that Moishe was pouring marijuana oil over the heads of Aaron & the High priests.

Dear Ron Shaul,

See Aryeh Kaplan’s translation of the Chumash called "The Living Torah." The Septuagint, Nachmanides, Saadya Gaon and Ibn Janach all identify it as sweet calamus, Acorus calamus. Maimonides identifies it as the Indian plant Cympopogan martini (which also sounds intoxicating). Others do indeed identify it as the hemp plant, or marijuana, although this is a minority opinion.

Even if it was hemp, it was mixed with many other ingredients, mostly oil, and therefore not potent enough to "get high."

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