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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Salt (2)

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Salt Sea or Dead Sea. Names. This sea is called in the Scriptures the "sea of the plain," R. V. "of the Arabah," Deuteronomy 4:49; 2 Kings 14:25; the "salt sea," Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3; the "east sea," Joel 2:20; Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8; and "the sea," Ezekiel 47:8. It also appears as the "vale of Siddim." Genesis 14:3. The title "Dead Sea" is not found in Jewish writers, but was introduced at an early period by the Greek authors. This remarkable sheet of water is of an elongated oval shape; but the regularity of the figure is broken by a large peninsula projecting from the eastern shore near to the southern end, dividing the whole into two reaches which communicate by a somewhat narrow channel. The extreme length is about 46 miles, the greatest breadth above ten miles. The superficial area has been estimated at about 300 square miles; but, as it would seem that the water does not constantly stand at the same level, that carried off by evaporation not always balancing that Drought in by streams, the dimensions of the lake are subject to not inconsiderable variation. A line of drift-wood encircles the lake, branches and limbs of trees, brought down by the Jordan and other torrents, and marking the highest level of the water. There is a salt and stony plain at the northeast corner, but the eastern side has been less explored. The Jordan, also, and various streams east and west empty themselves into it. And, as there is no outlet, the waters are intensely salt. Its specific gravity is therefore higher than that of the ocean, so that persons unable to swim elsewhere cannot sink in this lake. It was once imagined that life could not subsist above it. The waters were said to be almost motionless, and their steam pernicious. Birds and wild fowl are found on it, but no fish in it. The most extraordinary fact in regard to the Dead Sea is that it lies in so deep a cleft among its mountains that its surface is about 1293, or according to Lynch 1316, feet below the level of the Mediterranean. The Jordan flows through a sunken valley, the fall along its course being rapid and considerable, till it reaches its lowest point in this lake. Moreover, the depth of the water of the lake i& very great, 1310 feet at its deepest point towards the northern end; the southern end is shallow. The cities of the plain, which were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven," were near the Dead Sea. Genesis 19:24. The supposition, formerly most common was that these cities were submerged by the waters of the sea at the time of the great catastrophe—a theory which appears to be inconsistent with the geological and physical character of the region. See Sodom.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Salt (2)'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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