Impact

Salt

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50 NET)

Dead Sea Salt
III:2: Nor shall you allow salt to be lacking:” Since the word for “be lacking” uses the same consonants as those in the word Sabbath, the meaning is: produce salt that has no Sabbath but is produced winter and summer, and what is that? It is salt from Sodom. (XIV)

According to the Babylonian Talmud, the salt used in the service of the temple must come from Sodom (i.e., the Dead Sea area):

You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. (Leviticus 2:13 ESV)
You will present them before the Lord, and the priests will scatter salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the Lord. (Ezekiel 43:24 NET)

All offerings of fire were required to have salt added to them. (See “Offerings and Sacrifices of the Old Covenant” below)

Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant

Salt has the following characteristics:

Salt Preserves

Salt stands for permanence and incorruptibility. Since salt was regarded in the ancient Near East as not being destructible by fire, “a covenant of salt” refers to an eternal, irrevocable covenant (cf. 2 Chronicles 13:5). (XIII)

All the raised offerings of the holy things that the Israelites offer to the Lord, I have given to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual ordinance. It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord for you and for your descendants with you.” (Numbers 18:19 NET) 

Thus when salt is used in a “covenant of salt,” it always signifies an everlasting covenant, with the salt being an emblem or symbol of perpetuity. The use of salt in an offering would therefore signify the everlasting relation between God and His people—they everlastingly belong to Him, and He everlastingly belongs to them. For this reason, salt and permanence were always associated in a covenant; 2 Chronicles 13:5 states: “Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” (XV)

Many of the disciples Jesus called were fishermen and were well aware of the ability of salt to preserve caught fish and thus keep them from spoiling.

As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.”They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16–20 NET)

Salt Flavors

Salt is added to food to bring out its flavor. Salt can turn bland food into savory!

Can food that is tasteless be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (Job 6:6 NET)

Salt Heals

In Biblical times salt was rubbed on newborn babies due to salt’s antiseptic properties.

As for your birth, on the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water; you were certainly not rubbed down with salt, nor wrapped with blankets. (Ezekiel 16:4 NET)

In Biblical times salt was used by God to miraculously purify water.

The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, the city has a good location, as our master can see. But the water is bad and the land doesn’t produce crops.”Elisha said, “Get me a new jar and put some salt in it.” So they got it. He went out to the spring and threw the salt in. Then he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or fail to produce crops.”The water has been pure to this very day, just as Elisha prophesied. (2 Kings 2:19–22 NET)

Salt Penetrates

A small amount of salt in a bottle of water will be nearly instantly salty throughout.

Again, salt represented the permanence of the covenant that the Israelites had just entered into with the Lord (Exod. 20–24). By requiring the Israelites to add salt to their offerings, the Lord provided a way for them constantly to affirm their covenant relationship with him. This affirmation would have greatly encouraged the people by reminding them of the Lord’s steadfast commitment to being their covenant, King. They especially needed this encouragement as they prepared to enter the Promised Land and establish God’s kingdom there. Only the presence of their covenant King in their midst could give them confidence in the success of their mission. (III)

It is no different for the Christian today; this is no doubt why Jesus assures us of his presence when giving us our covenant mission, Matt. 28:18–20.

As well as being an encouragement, the requirement of the salt of the covenant served to remind the Israelites of their covenant obligations. The Lord had chosen them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod. 19:6), and the covenant laws he had given them had to be followed to show to the nations the Lord’s wisdom, righteousness, and holiness (1) (Lev. 20:24b–26; Deut. 4:5–8). (III)

Jesus picks up on the same principle when he tells his disciples, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew. 5:16). To follow the King’s commands is to reflect the King’s character. Believers are to do this in such a radical way that people end up knowing the King’s character by seeing how his servants live. (III)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NET)
Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25 NET)
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50 NET)

Furthermore, Jesus equates being “salted with fire” with the growth in the fruit of the Spirit resulting from effectively suffering (1) for the Gospel’s sake.

Everyone will be salted with fire. (Mark 9:49 NET)
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. (1 Peter 4:12–15 NET)


Shalom
(Peace, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 2 NET)



(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.

(I)  Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 742). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

(II) Malda, B. D. (Ed.). (2015). Come and Worship: Ways to Worship from the Hebrew Scriptures (p. 62). Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books: a division of Messianic Jewish Publishers.

(III) Sklar, J. (2013). Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 101). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

(IV) Masterman, E. W. G. (1915). Barley. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 405). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

(V) Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 212). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.

(VI) Eisenberg, R. L. (2004). The JPS guide to Jewish traditions (1st ed., p. 670). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

(VII) Hannah, J. D. (1985). Exodus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 153). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

(VIII) Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

 (IX) Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 9, p. 568). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.

(X) Hamilton, M. W. (2000). Elevation Offering. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

(XI)  (2016). The Lexham Figurative Language of the New Testament Dataset. In J. R. Westbury, J. Thompson, K. A. Lyle, & J. Parks (Eds.), Lexham Figurative Language of the Bible Glossary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(XII) Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 331). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(XIII) Lindsey, F. D. (1985). Leviticus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 177). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

(XIV) Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 19, p. 617). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

(XV) Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 143). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

(XVI) Wuest, K. S. (1961). The New Testament: an expanded translation (1 Co 5:6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

(XVII) Thompson, J. A. (1974). Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 5, p. 147). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

(XVIII) Keach, B. (1858). An Exposition of the Parables and Express Similitudes of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ(pp. 239–240). London: Aylott and Co.

(XIX) Beis Hamikdash Topics – Tour of the Temple: Class 10, The Altar

(XX) C. S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: HarperCollins, 1974), pp. 236–37. 

(XXI) Hall, K. D. (2000). Libation. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 807). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans. 

(XXII)  Rogers, A. (2017). Back to Bethel. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Ge 35). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

Hal has been teaching the Bible for over three decades. Presently, He desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.

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