In a New York Times article about frankincense, I found a quote that's supposedly from the Talmud, but I have been unable to confirm that it's a true quote or where exactly it occurs.

The study’s lead author ... said the findings resonated with prescriptions that go back to the Talmud, where it is written that “the prisoner condemned to death was given Boswellia in a cup of wine so as to benumb the senses.” (Boswellia is the genus to which frankincense trees belong.)

Can someone help me figure out where this quote is coming from, if it's real?

The article also says:

A leading medieval commentator, Rashi, explained that frankincense was given so that the convict would not worry.

Which might be helpful in determining the source.

1 Answer 1


Sanhedrin 43a

R. Chiya bar Rav Ashi taught that before killing someone, we give to him a cup of wine with frankincense inside (to befuddle him) - "Tenu Shechar l'Oved v'Yayin l'Marei Nafesh" Proverbs 31:6

אמר רב חסדא היוצא ליהרג משקין אותו קורט של לבונה בכוס של יין כדי שתטרף דעתו שנאמר (משלי לא, ו) תנו שכר לאובד ויין למרי נפש

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