Was Moses a junkie? According to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem he was. According to Shanon Moses experiences on Mount Sinai were the result of taking psychedelic drugs made from concoctions drawn from the acacia tree which is frequently mentione din the Bible.
Acacia wood is mentioned 29 times in the Bible never in relation to a strange brew. In fact 26 times it is mentioned in relation to making furniture.
Again we find pseudo science masquerading as scholarship in relation to the Bible and capturing headlines. Shanon’s case is made on the basis of his experiences in the Amazon and have nothing to do with any kind of biblical research. Or for that matter any kind of proper research. He says Moses experiences cannot be based on a divine human encounter. Is this because of some empirical research? No, its because ‘I don’t believe [it]! Clearly no bias in his research then.
It would be interesting to know if Shanon knows of other instances where psychedelic experience have led to the construction of a highly sophisticated moral and legal system. Or why Shanon thinks Moses was angry at the idolatrous revelers in the camp in Exodus 32. For Shanon the whole Pentateuch and the subsequent history of Israel rests on a bad trip.
That this work should merit serious discussion or be given publicity is shameful and yet again demonstrates not the purity of science but how easily it is corrupted.