A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Chapter Eleven Appendix: Jesus Saves

The Dead Sea

No archeological dig has ever unearthed Sodom or Gomorrah but where they were is a salty sea, the densest body of water in the world. This sea also covers the valley of Siddim mentioned in Genesis 14:3 where Lot originally lived before moving into Sodom, and where the battle of the kings took place. In that verse the area is identified as the Dead or Salt Sea.

This Sea is roughly 50 miles long by 10 miles wide and more than 1,300 feet deep in one area— still today the lowest point on earth! Cliffs composed mostly of limestone and devoid of vegetation line its east and west borders; its south shore is a ridge of salt, 11 miles long and 300 feet high, called the “Ridge of Sodom.” Lava beds, pumice stone, warm springs, sulfur and volcanic slag reveal the truth of the Bible’s account.1 But the volcanic fire came from heaven, not from beneath the earth. Scholars believe that earthquakes caused the remains of the cities to be covered by waters as the land shifted and became the lowest place in the world.

The Dead Sea has nine2 times as much salt as that in the ocean even though fed by the fresh waters of the Jordan which originate from clear water sources. This permits a human body to easily float on its surface and prevents any form of life from surviving in it, except for some brine shrimp.

In recent years many news sources have reported that less water from the Jordan is flowing into the Dead Sea because farmers on either side are using it to irrigate their fields. Therefore the Sea is getting lower. One idea for preventing its evaporation is to dig a channel to it from the Red Sea. The water would flow downhill and could be used to make electricity.

In July 2005, the World Bank approved a feasibility study for a plan to build a 200-kilometre (120-mile) canal to bring water from the Red Sea to replenish the Dead Sea. The two-year study by Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians would cost $15.5 million, and if initiated, the project would take five years to complete. However, in January 2006, Hamas, the militant Islamist party came into power, and Israel cut all contacts with the Palestinian Authority. There are other complications as well, having to do with differing opinions on the ecological balance if the salt waters of the Red Sea are added to the Salt Sea.3 Meanwhile, though its water level continues to drop, tourists still enjoy floating in the “un-drownable lake.”

The Salt Sea is in the news, and if you are reading this Bible Study online, you will need to do a search to find out the latest developments.

The north shore of the Dead Sea is notable for its caves that served as libraries and preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls for 2000 years. These scrolls have shed much light on Scripture as well as provoking conspiracies and controversies. They refute the beliefs of Islamists who live in the vicinity.

The prophet Ezekiel saw fresh waters flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem that transformed the Salt Sea into a fresh water lake teeming with fish of all kinds… “where the river flows, everything will live.” (Ez 47:9 NIV) Some see this as having a real fulfillment in a world to come; others believe that this portion of Ezekiel is symbolic. “Most interpreters agree that these waters signify the gospel of Christ, which went forth from Jerusalem, and spread itself into the countries about, and the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost which accompanied it, and by virtue of which it spread far and produced strange and blessed effects.”4

Salt purifies, but how much better to have the fresh waters of life, the message that Jesus Saves!

  1. From the American Peoples Encyclopedia, published and updated in the mid 1950s
  2. Some sources say 10.
  3. Breitbart.com, 4-17-06
  4. Matthew Henry Commentary on Ezekiel 47, on www.blueletterbible.com