Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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Naves Topical Bible Dictionary

salt Summary and Overview

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salt in Easton's Bible Dictionary

used to season food (Job 6:6), and mixed with the fodder of cattle (Isa. 30:24, "clean;" in marg. of R.V. "salted"). All meat-offerings were seasoned with salt (Lev. 2:13). To eat salt with one is to partake of his hospitality, to derive subsistence from him; and hence he who did so was bound to look after his host's interests (Ezra 4:14, "We have maintenance from the king's palace;" A.V. marg., "We are salted with the salt of the palace;" R.V., "We eat the salt of the palace"). A "covenant of salt" (Num. 18:19; 2 Chr. 13:5) was a covenant of perpetual obligation. New-born children were rubbed with salt (Ezek. 16:4). Disciples are likened unto salt, with reference to its cleansing and preserving uses (Matt. 5:13). When Abimelech took the city of Shechem, he sowed the place with salt, that it might always remain a barren soil (Judg. 9:45). Sir Lyon Playfair argues, on scientific grounds, that under the generic name of "salt," in certain passages, we are to understand petroleum or its residue asphalt. Thus in Gen. 19:26 he would read "pillar of asphalt;" and in Matt. 5:13, instead of "salt," "petroleum," which loses its essence by exposure, as salt does not, and becomes asphalt, with which pavements were made. The Jebel Usdum, to the south of the Dead Sea, is a mountain of rock salt about 7 miles long and from 2 to 3 miles wide and some hundreds of feet high.

salt in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Indispensable as salt is to ourselves, it was even more so to the Hebrews, being to them not only an appetizing condiment in the food both of man, #Job 11:6| and beset, #Isa 30:24| see margin, and a valuable antidote to the effects of the heat of the climate on animal food, but also entering largely into the religious services of the Jews as an accompaniment to the various offerings presented on the altar. #Le 2:13| They possessed an inexhaustible and ready supply of it on the southern shores of the Dead Sea. [SEA, THE SALT] There is one mountain here called Jebel Usdum, seven miles long and several hundred feet high, which is composed almost entirely of salt. The Jews appear to have distinguished between rock-salt and that which was gained by evaporation as the Talmudists particularize one species (probably the latter) as the "salt of Sodom." The salt-pits formed an important source of revenue to the rulers of the country, and Antiochus conferred a valuable boon on Jerusalem by presenting the city with 375 bushels of salt for the temple service. As one of the most essential articles of diet, salt symbolized hospitality; as an antiseptic, durability, fidelity and purity. Hence the expression "covenant of salt," #Le 2:13; Nu 18:19; 2Ch 13:5| as betokening an indissoluble alliance between friends; and again the expression "salted with the salt of the palace." #Ezr 4:14| not necessarily meaning that they had "maintenance from the palace," as Authorized Version has it, but that they were bound by sacred obligations fidelity to the king. So in the present day, "to eat bread and salt together" is an expression for a league of mutual amity. It was probably with a view to keep this idea prominently before the minds of the Jews that the use of salt was enjoined on the Israelites in their offerings to God.

salt in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

An appetizing seasoning of food to man and beast. In the East the vegetable food especially needs salt (Job 6:6; Isaiah 30:24, margin). An antidote to the effects of heat on animal food. A necessary accompaniment of the various altar offerings, bloody and unbloody (Leviticus 2:13, "the salt of the covenant of thy God"; Ezekiel 43:24; Mark 9:49-50). It signifies the imperishableness of Jehovah's love for His people; as an antiseptic salt implies durability, fidelity, purity. The opposite of leaven, the symbol of corruption. Covenants were cemented by feasts and hospitality, the viands of which were seasoned, as all foods, with salt. Hence, "a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord" is an indissoluble covenant (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5; Ezra 4:14, margin). An Arab who just before would have robbed and murdered you, once you taste his salt, would die to save you; "faithless to salt" is the Persian term for a traitor. So Jesus, cf6 "have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another" (Mark 9:50); as no sacrifice to God, and no food to man, is acceptable without salt, so prayers offered without "peace" of heart toward fellow men are savourless; a warning to the disciples who had just been disputing with one another, and judging, fellow men who used Jesus' name though not following the disciples (Mark 9:33-50). Being "salted with the salt of the (heavenly King's) palace," and bound to fidelity to Him, and brought into a covenant of salt with Him, they are called on to have a loving, imperishable savour toward one another and to all men. Colossians 4:6, "let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt," i.e. the savour of fresh spiritual wisdom excluding all "corrupt communication," and tasteless unprofitableness or insipidity (Matthew 5:13; Ephesians 4:29). Near Colosse was a salt lake, hence the image. The idea in Mark 9:49, cf6 "for every one shall be salted with fire, ,is: the reason why it is better for us to cut off offending members is that the work of every one, believer and unbeliever, shall be tried with fire; to believers "the Refiner's fire" (Malachi 3:3; Matthew 3:11), symbolizing God's searching purity; a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) to His foes, who nevertheless shall be imperishable in their doom (salt symbolizing preservation from decay), but purging out only the dross from His people (1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 4:12). The righteous can withstand the fire, for it is part of their present salting as "a living sacrifice" (Isaiah 33:14-15; Romans 12:1). Every offending member and offense must be removed, to enable us to withstand that testing fire and be found without dross unto glory and honour. The southern shore of the Salt Sea supplied, salt abundantly; compare "the valley of salt" (2 Samuel 8:13) near the mountain of fossil salt, five miles long, the chief source of the salt in the sea. The salt pits (a source of revenue; Josephus Ant. 13:4, section 9) were at the S. of the Dead Sea; the marshes here are coated with salt deposited periodically by the spring rising of the waters which in summer evaporate; and here were the pillars of salt traditionally represented as Lot's wife (Josephus Ant. 1:11, section 4; Apocr. Wisdom of Solomon 10:7). Inferior salt was used for manure (Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:35). Too much salt produced barrenness (Deuteronomy 29:23; Zephaniah 2:9). "Sowing with salt" doomed symbolically to barrenness a destroyed city and depopulated region (Judges 9:45; Psalm 107:34 margin). Salt as expressing purity was the outward sign Elisha used in healing the waters (2 Kings 2:20-21). The Israelites used to rub infants with salt to make the skin dense and firm, and for purification and dedication of them to God (Ezekiel 16:4).