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Dead Sea Area

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Dead Sea Area

At the very lowest point on earth, at about 1,410 feet (430 meters) below sea level, lies a natural wonder replete with its own unique ecosystem, breathtaking desert views, and mineral treasures that have attracted visitors for thousands of years. 

 

Because of its unique location, healing properties, geological and historical background, surrounding ecosystem, and the epic biblical events that have happened around it, the Dead Sea is an irresistible venue for tourists.

 
Location

 

1. The Dead Sea is a large salt lake located in the Judean desert of southern Israel. It's about  15 miles (25 km.) east of Jerusalem and is Israel's largest body of water within its borders. It also forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan, with Jordan being on the east side.

Historical Background & Info

 

1. The Dead Sea is one of the world's four saltiest bodies of water. These special conditions are an outcome of its extreme geomorphological structure alongside a harsh desert climate. These create constant dramatic changes that form a landscape different from any other in the world. The unique mineral content of the air, land, and water in the area is globally renowned for its therapeutic qualities. Even since the time of Herod the Great (37-4 BC), it has been a health resort. 

2. The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the lake, forming pools and quicksand pits along its edges. Today, after diversifying the waters from the Sea of Galilee in the 1960s, the only incoming water sources are from sulfur springs and wastewater, along with rare drizzles and flash floods.

3. The water level of the Dead Sea has been receding gradually, at an average yearly rate of about 3 feet (1 meter). This is causing large concern about the Dead Sea drying up. This drop in water level is caused by evaporation under the harsh desert sun, but also because little water is now flowing into the Dead Sea. 

 

4. Why is it called the Dead Sea? For several reasons.

 

  • Because it has 10 times more salt than other oceans. Because of this, fish and plant life cannot exist. There is absolutely no life whatsoever in the Dead Sea.

 

  • In various languages, the Dead Sea is referred to by different names, all reflective of its characteristics. The earliest known name is recorded in the Hebrew Bible, referred to as “the Salt Sea," due to its significantly high salt content. It was also called the "Sea of Arabah." It's called in Hebrew "Yam HaMelaẖ" (Salt Sea), and in Arabic "Al-Baḥr Al-Mayyit," (Sea of Death).

  • Salt was a highly valued commodity in the later Roman era – Roman soldiers were paid in salt rather than money! This is also the source of the Latin word “salary,” which comes from “salt.”

  • In a spiritual sense, some have likened it to being dead because water comes in but doesn't leave.  That's what happens to us. If we only receive but don't give, then we will also be spiritually dead.

 

5. The Dead Sea is globally renowned for the therapeutic effect of the minerals in its waters and mud, which are especially high in concentration. Dead Sea minerals in the water and mud have helped improve many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and acne.

6. Why is the Dead Sea so salty? It appears that after the Great Flood, this body of water was landlocked. Like the other oceans, this water had a certain level of salt. Then, over the years, its salt content was derived from the erosion of rocks on land, with their salt ions driven by rivers into the landlocked lake. Its extremely low elevation means that water cannot escape the Dead Sea once it enters, and exposed to the intense heat, the water evaporates more quickly, leading to an intense salinity.

Another reason it is so salty appears to be because God destroyed the area, as found in Genesis 19:23–29. Deuteronomy 29:23 mentions, "All its land is brimstone and salt, burned debris, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows on it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath."

7. Why do you float in the Dead Sea? Because of the high concentration of salt, the water is much denser than plain fresh water, meaning that our body weight is lighter – which causes us to float!

 

It's important not to say in the water for long periods as it can be dangerous. Be careful about getting water in your eyes or open cuts. It's best not to shave too soon before entering the water as this can cause burning and irritation. Lastly, it's best not to dunk your head under the water. 

8. The drop in the level of the water after 1960 or so, has changed the physical appearance of the Dead Sea. Most noticeably, the peninsula of Al-Lisan gradually extended eastward until a dry land strip separated the lake’s northern and southern basins. In addition, the southern basin was eventually subdivided into dozens of large evaporation pools (for the extraction of salt), so by the 21st century, it had essentially ceased to be a natural body of water. The northern basin—effectively now the actual Dead Sea—largely retained its overall dimensions despite its great loss of water, mainly because its shoreline plunged downward so steeply from the surrounding landscape.

 

9. The Dead Sea lies in a desert. Rainfall is scarce and irregular. It averages about 2.5 inches (65 mm) of rain a year.  Because of the lake’s extremely low elevation and sheltered location, winter temperatures are mild, averaging around 63 °F (17 °C) in the winter months. Freezing temperatures never occur. Summer is oppressively hot, averaging 93 °F (34 °C) in August, with a recorded maximum of 124 °F (51 °C). Evaporation of the lake’s waters often creates a thick mist above the lake. 

 

Places of Interest

 

1. Sodom

  • Lot’s Wife

  • Mount Sodom

 

2. Gomorrah

  • Sphinx

  • Pyramid

 

3. Zoar

 

4. Admah

 

5. Zeboiim

6. Jericho

7. Jordan River Crossing Site

 

8. Baptismal Site of Jesus (Qsar al-Yahud)

9. Judean Desert

10. Jordan River Inlet

11. Northern Beaches

12. Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls)

13. Avnat (Kidron Valley Drainage from Jerusalem)

14. En Gedi

15. Sink Holes

16. Masada

17. Southern Beaches

18. Dead Sea Mineral Factories

The Dead Sea in the Bible

 

There are many mentions of the Dead Sea in the Bible, and it has long been associated with mysticism, wonderment, and religious significance. 

1. It appears the area around the Dead Sea was lush and well-watered before God destroyed the area with fire and brimstone.

Genesis 13:10: Lot raised his eyes and saw all the vicinity of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt going toward Zoar.

2. It appears that after God destroyed the area, it changed to the state it is today, a dry, barren desert.

Deuteronomy 29:23: All its land is brimstone and salt, burned debris, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows on it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.

3. It is referenced often to describe the borders of Israel. 

Numbers 34:12: And the border shall go down to the Jordan, and its termination shall be at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land according to its borders on all sides.

4. It was a densely populated area during the time of Abraham before God destroyed the area.

Genesis 14:1-3: And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these kings came as allies to the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).

5. Sodom and Gomorrah, along with the other cities of the valley, were wicked, sinful people.

Genesis 18:20–21: And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

 

6. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 19:23–29: The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar [located south of Sodom and Gomorrah]. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 Thus, it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

7. The slopes of Mount Sodom are located in the southeast corner of the Dead Sea, and they feature salt formations that look like pillars – which are traditionally referred to as Lot’s wife. 

8. At the end of the Tribulation Period, when God judges the nations in the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat), the blood will flow from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea, and south. The drainage system from the Kidron Valley empties into the Dead Sea at Avnat.

Revelation 14:20: And the wine press was trampled outside the city [Jerusalem], and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of 1,600 stadia [185 miles, 300 km.].

The Kidron Stream is about 30 miles, 50 km., from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. This blood river will then flow south from Avnat for a distance of 150 miles, 241 km., to the Red Sea. 

9. During the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth after the Great Tribulation Period, a supernatural river will flow from Jerusalem, using the same Kidron Valley drainage system, and will change the Dead Sea area entirely.

Ezekiel 47:7-11: Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea [Dead Sea], being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

Zechariah 14:8-9: And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea [Dead Sea] and the other half toward the western sea [Mediterranean Sea]; it will be in summer as well as in winter. 9 And the Lord will be King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.

Faith Lesson from the Dead Sea Area

 

1. The main lesson we'll take from this area is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. The reason it was destroyed is a serious, sobering message we should allow to sink in deeply.

 

2. The primary sin for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality. However, they sinned in many other ways as well.

 

3. Sodom and Gomorrah are a foreshadow of what hell will be like.

 

4. Jesus talked about how His second coming would be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus also spoke more about hell than heaven. 

 

5. If God, the prophets, Christ, and the apostles used Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the eternal judgment in hell that awaits the ungodly, then we should do the same today as well.

 

6. God is a God of love and has done everything He can to save us, but for those who reject His offer of salvation, eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire awaits them (Rev. 20:10).

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