Indispensable as salt is to ourselves, it was even more so to the Hebrews, being to them not only an appetizing condiment in the food both of man, (Job 11:6) and beset, (Isaiah 30:24) see margin, and a valuable antidote to the effects of the heat of the climate on animal food, but also entering largely into the religious services of the Jews as an accompaniment to the various offerings presented on the altar. (Leviticus 2:13) They possessed an inexhaustible and ready supply of it on the southern shores of the Dead Sea. [Sea, The Salt, THE SALT] There is one mountain here called Jebel Usdum, seven miles long and several hundred feet high, which is composed almost entirely of salt. The Jews appear to have distinguished between rock-salt and that which was gained by evaporation as the Talmudists particularize one species (probably the latter) as the "salt of Sodom." The salt-pits formed an important source of revenue to the rulers of the country, and Antiochus conferred a valuable boon on Jerusalem by presenting the city with 375 bushels of salt for the temple service. As one of the most essential articles of diet, salt symbolized hospitality; as an antiseptic, durability, fidelity and purity. Hence the expression "covenant of salt," (Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5) as betokening an indissoluble alliance between friends; and again the expression "salted with the salt of the palace." (Ezra 4:14) not necessarily meaning that they had "maintenance from the palace," as Authorized Version has it, but that they were bound by sacred obligations fidelity to the king. So in the present day, "to eat bread and salt together" is an expression for a league of mutual amity. It was probably with a view to keep this idea prominently before the minds of the Jews that the use of salt was enjoined on the Israelites in their offerings to God.
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