The third graders at Roanoke Catholic and I were chatting about the various bodies of water that we hear about in the gospels. Among them, the Salt Sea, also known as the Dead Sea, certainly intrigues the nine-year-old mind. When the children learned that I myself have not only seen the Dead Sea, but have actually gone swimming in it, they sat speechless, mouths agape, eyes wide with wonder.
“Did you taste the water?” Honestly, I tried to avoid it. But I am not a dexterous swimmer, so I wound up with a mouthful, and it was disgusting. It takes the whole rest of the day, and multiple bottles of Deer Park, to get the foul salty savor out of your mouth.
Indeed, the salts of the Dead Sea are notoriously impure. The ancients appear to have had a process for purifying the salt of the Dead-Sea water. They dug large holes in the clayey sand on the shore and filled them up with seawater. Then they let the sun burn off some of the water, until the little pool was just five feet deep. At this point in the evaporation process, the most pure salt lay in a crust at the bottom of the pool. So they would wade in and dig the salt out with their feet.
Even after using this purification process, and subsequently washing the salt with fresh water, the salt of the Dead Sea still had to be used promptly, or it would go bad, decay, become insipid and useless as a preservative, or for flavor. We are accustomed to salt shakers sitting around indefinitely without any problems, because we have highly purified salt. But that could lead us into a fool’s paradise, when it comes to understanding the Lord Jesus’ little parable about insipid salt. Let me explain.