5 Facts You Didn’t Know about the Dead Sea

Pastor DaronCrossLife Blog

Look at a map of Israel and it’s hard to miss the Dead Sea. This body of water is the largest geographical feature of the Holy Land. It dominates the southern section, and is actually not a sea at all but a big lake. 45 miles long and 10 miles wide. 

The freshwater that runs into it from the Jordan River and other streams has no outlet, and evaporates quickly in the hot, dry climate. This leaves behind salt and other minerals. Its waters are so salty (8 times saltier than most oceans of the world) that only microscopic forms of life can live in it, thus its name the “Dead Sea.”

The Bible refers to it by other names, as well, such as Salt Sea, Sea of the Plain, and East Sea. Jewish historian Josephus called it the Sea of Sodom and Arabs refer to it as the Sea of Lot. 

These last two names associate the Dead Sea with the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, escaped from Sodom when the Lord destroyed the cities for their wickedness. Lot’s wife, however, disobeyed the Lord and turned to look back, so she turned into a pillar of … salt. 

No trace of these two cities, historically located on the southwestern corner of the Dead Sea, has ever been found. Some suggest that the cities, leveled by God raining down burning sulfur (Genesis 19:24), were then flooded with the waters of the Dead Sea.

Two of the most well known believers in the Old Testament spent a lot of time near the Dead Sea in this southern region of the Holy Land—Abraham journeyed through it and David fled to it as he was chased by King Saul.

Perhaps the greatest significance of the Dead Sea in Bible times was its geographic position. God prescribed it as the southern boundary of the land that he promised to the Israelites. “Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea. This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side” (Numbers 34:12). 

Today, the waters of the Dead Sea are utilized for irrigation in the area. Visitors also flock to its beaches and love to float in its saline waters, much more buoyant because of the high salt content. Spas and treatment centers for physical disorders are popular in the area, featuring the mineral rich waters and mud for nourishment and recovery. 

I know, I’ve listed more than 5 facts (here’s another one: the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth at 1,400 feet below sea level) but I’m figuring you may know a few of them already. If not, then you got some bonus facts for the day to share with your friends!

All in all, the Dead Sea is not dead at all, but a living, enduring creation of God significant in biblical history. And a site to see (and swim) today.

PRAYER: Creator God, you made the seas and dry land, forming bodies of water that still exist today. May the wonders of your world lead people to know you, glorify you, and search for you as Savior of all. Amen.

YOU ARE INVITED: Come with me to the Dead Sea! Yes, I’m leading a tour group there February 27 – March 8, 2023. We will explore the Holy Land, including a stop at the Dead Sea. Check out our itinerary and let me know if you’re interested!