10 March 2008

Was Moses a doper?

Who or what inspired the ten commandments? God. you say. You may believe so, but Benny Shanon of Jerusalem's Hebrew University suggests it may have been ayahuasca.

According to Shanon, when Moses and his fellow travellers spent 40 years crossing the Sinai, a good part of the time they were stoned. Psychedelic drugs, Shanon claims, formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times. Conveniently, plants in the Sinai peninsula contain the hallucinogenic drug from which the brew ayahuasca is made, a substance still used today by Amazonians in Brazil for religious rituals.

Thus is explained the voice of God emanating from Mount Sinai, the ten commandments, and the burning bush. According to Shanon, "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 effect of narcotics."

Needless to say, rabbis and other religious figures take issue with Shanon's theory. On the other hand, Karl Marx may have been more right than he realized when he said religion is the opiate of the people.

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