The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth with its shores some 1388 feet below MSL. [Making it low enough for me to do circuits in an aircraft completely below MSL!] It is known in hebrew as Yam ha Melah or sea of salt. It’s salinity is extraordinarily high, and is amongst the most salty lakes at 8.6x the concentration of normal sea water. Animals cannot survive in this environment, and so it is called the “dead” sea. It’s main tributary is the Jordan river from the north, but numerous other wadi drain into the east and western margins, the largest being the Arnon (Wadi Mujib) to the east. The sea is divided into two main segments by the Lisban peninsula, which in modern times has been subject to amazing sink-holes. The concentrated salts are harvested for numerous industries, particularly the cosmetic industry.
The endorheic sea (a basin with no further drainage) is the terminus for the once bubbling flows of the vital Jordan at it’s headwaters. By the time it arrives at the southern end of the river it is murky, brown and stagnant, and draining into a sea whose margins are marked by thick crystalline deposits. The natural flow of water down the Jordan river (the descender) is a parable of natural life. In the time of Joshua, the waters were to return to Adam, the origin of sin leading to consequent death. Josh 3:16 But it was near Adam where the waters returned that Solomon would later create vessels for the temple, and marked the location of crossing of David from his exile into the land again.
The area of the sea is mentioned as the vale of Siddim in Gen 14:2-4 The depth of the northern basin of the dead sea has no doubt connection with the catastrophic events of Sodom and Gomorrah, and a continuing reminder of the abhorrence of the behaviour of ungodly men. Whereas the area of the sea were once incorrectly considered a parallel between the garden of Yahweh (Eden) and the garden coming into Egypt at Zoar, they became sterile. Gen 13:10 Lot had this experience because of joining Abraham in his movement to Egypt Gen 12:9-20 and it seems significant that both Hagar was taken by Abraham from this same experience and that there is no mention of Lot’s wife until his sojourning in a city “like Egypt” 19:15 Abraham saw the place differently, marking the garden of Yahweh being the place to which he was journeying, and not lodging today.
The sea is given as the borders of several inheritances, and demonstrated that inheritance required the overcoming of death:
- The south-eastern border of the inheritance of Israel Num 34:3; 12
- The border of the tribe of Judah Joshua 15:3,5;
- and Benjamin Joshua 18:19
- God restored the borders of Israel under Jeroboam II 2Kings 14:25 according to the words of Jonah, the prophet of resurrection! during a time when Israel was shut up, and there was no helper for Israel
The sea is to undergo significant changes in the near future. The living waters that go from the temple in Jerusalem will flow into the northern basin of the dead sea Zech 14:8; Ezek 47:8,9 whereas the southern basin will remain as marshes. This living water was the water used in the removal of the taint of death by the offering of the red heifer Num 19. The living water was a vital ingredient of the formula, and was effective in removing the taint of human death in the following areas: Tents 19:14; vessels 19:15; those slain in battle 19:16 all repeated in the testimony of Zechariah:Plagues in tents 14:15 Pots no longer unclean 14:20 and Those redeemed from the plague in the day of Battle 14:2,3,12 It is in this context that living waters go out from Jerusalem 14:8 a fountain that was opened for the removal of sin and uncleanness 13:1 It is seen in a spirit “poured” onto the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem 14:10.
The object lesson of the dead sea then is that no flesh should glory in his presence 1Cor 1:29 But of all men who are in Christ, the perfect red (the ideas of ruddy, or living) heifer, God has made us wisdom, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, that we might glory in Adoni. 1Cor 1:30,31 This is achieved through the seeking of a good conscience, and faith that we have found a mediator! Job 33:23,24; Heb 9:12,13 whose (red) living blood and (red) living service compels a spiritual response of grace and supplication. Jer 31:9,11
The dead sea is famous in modern times for the discovery of the “dead sea scrolls” at Khirbet Qumran, on its NW shores. Included in these scrolls is segments of every book of the old testament except the book of Esther, and although significant time has passed between their writing and the writing of the modern bible, there are few variations between the records. A clear demonstration that God’s word is eternal Ps 119:89!