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Apparently, Moses was High

Moses and the Israelites were on drugs, says Benny Shanon, an Israeli professor of cognitive philosophy.

Writing in the British Journal Time and Mind, he claims Moses was probably on psychedelic drugs when he received the Ten Commandments from God.

The assertions give a whole new meaning to Moses being “high” on Mount Sinai.

According to Shanon, a professor at Hebrew University, two naturally existing plants in the Sinai Peninsula have the same psychoactive components as ones found in the Amazon jungle and are well-known for their mind-altering capabilities. The drugs are usually combined in a drink called ayahuasca.

“As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effects of narcotics,” he told Israel Radio in an interview Tuesday.

The description in The Book of Exodus of thunder, lightening and a blaring trumpet, according to Shanon, are the classic imaginings of people under the influence of drugs.

As for the vision of the burning bush, well obviously that too was a drug-fueled hallucination, according to Shanon.

“In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation,” he wrote, “the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings.”

Shanon admits he took some of these drugs while in the Amazon in 1991. “I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations,” he said.

The initial reaction to this controversial theory from Israel’s religiously orthodox community and the powerful rabbis who lead it was less than enthusiastic.

Orthodox rabbi Yuval Sherlow, quoted by Reuters speaking on Israel radio, said: “The Bible is trying to convey a very profound event. We have to fear not for the fate of the biblical Moses, but for the fate of science.”


Okay. This is definitely the most interesting article I have read all day. There are two things I try not to really talk about too much: politics, and faith. Those conversations just never seem to go well. But I couldn’t resist posting this.

Now, allow me to preface these next few paragraphs by saying this: I was born and raised Protestant. I have my ups and downs with religion as we know it. Sometimes I’m not sure if I even really believe in God as he was taught to me. I am very confused about my own personal faith. So, I think a lot about possible alternatives.

One of my favorites, that ties in with this story, is this: Why do science and religion have to argue? Why does one have to be absolutely right? What if they’re both right? I think it makes more sense to believe that they’re both right. For instance!

Let’s say Moses was high. Ok… they like to say that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Maybe God chose to come to Moses while he was high, so that science could explain this vision, but the people that have faith would be able to exercise that faith by believing that God really did make himself and his will known to Moses. Science and Religion are both right.

What about The Big Bang theory? What if… maybe it’s crazy… but what if, when God created the Heavens and the Earth, he didn’t just will it into existence, but rather, was the cause of the Big Bang? Again, Science and Religion can both be right.

Maybe God uses science to his advantage. Maybe it’s his way of doing things so that us mere mortals can somewhat understand it. Maybe he wants us to be able to relate to him just a little bit. Maybe it was never meant to be Science verses Religion, and the two are supposed to work hand in hand to explain Existence.

… just a thought.

(now, before people start commenting, let me remind you of the comment policy, particularly rules 5 and 6. I mean it; I don’t tolerate immature fighting on my blog.)


  1. Melissa
    Melissa Mar 5, 2008

    I don’t know. It IS possible he was high though. I mean.. if you really sit down and think about it a lot of good things have come from drugs.

    I won’t go into great detail here because I don’t condone the use of drugs but I do realise that without them a lot of the things I love wouldn’t exist.

    Any classic rock lover will know that drugs had a major infulence on the music industry and that we wouldn’t have half of the hits we have today (or yesterday for that matter) if it weren’t for drugs.

    Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, James Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Scott Weiland.. Hell look at the song ana goda divita (spelling?) without drugs that song would have been ‘in the garden of eden’ and lord knows how different the music, lyrics and general length of that classic would be.

    I’m not saying it did happen and I’m not saying drugs are good but I will readily admit that drugs have done some good for our culture and most man-made drugs started out as pain killers for war victems. Heroine, cocaine, even opium. It isn’t the drugs that rot the human, more the human who rots themselves by using the drug in a negative manner.

    ^ does any of that make sense at all or am I a total goober?

  2. cybrpunk
    cybrpunk Mar 5, 2008

    Melissa, you are a goober.  Happy?

    As for the science/faith thing that Katie posits here, why not take it a step further.  Let’s imagine that there is a God with a capital G like the book says.  Now let’s imagine that he doesn’t use science to ‘do stuff’ but HAS to use science because this God is bound by the same fundamental laws as everything else.  Fundamental, hehe, play on words.  So you could in that case say that God IS Science which would make even more sense if your brain works that way.  Basically Science would the proof OF God instead of the nemesis of it as scientists and religious fanatics like to portray.

    Then again, maybe I’m a total goober too.

  3. yoshi
    yoshi Mar 6, 2008

    Sure, Moses could have been high. that might even make the story even more interesting.

    I say it doesn’t really matter if he was or not. Sometimes I think people want to disprove everything about everything in the past. But until someone builds a time machine or were actually there, you’re never gonna know for sure. We need to stop dwelling in the past and look to the future.

    But that’s just my point of view, and I’m pretty sure it don’t mean much to anyone else. :D

  4. Louise
    Louise Mar 6, 2008

    Moses being high, thats a new one… I saw this on digg. Made me chuckle though. But anything about the past we can only base on assumptions as there is no living proof. I say let them eat cake (no matter how daft it sounds)

  5. sir jorge
    sir jorge Mar 6, 2008

    so what if he was? who cares.

    He still wrote the commandments and had a beard.

  6. Kaylee
    Kaylee Mar 6, 2008

    It’s an interesting notion, but until the scientists have proof, then it’s just a belief of their own…

  7. Katili
    Katili Mar 7, 2008

    Cybr, that’s a cool theory too!

Comments are closed.