Dead Sea and Salt in Hebrew – ים המלח

In Hebrew, the “Dead Sea” is not dead! ים המלח is a construct chain that means “sea of the salt”.

It appears  a couple of times in the Hebrew Bible:

Genesis 14:3 – כָּל-אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל-עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח,

Numbers 34:12 – וְיָרַד הַגְּבוּל הַיַּרְדֵּנָה וְהָיוּ תוֹצְאֹתָיו יָם הַמֶּלַח זֹאת תִּהְיֶה לָכֶם הָאָרֶץ לִגְבֻלֹתֶיהָ סָבִיב,

Deuteronomy 3:17 – וְהָעֲרָבָה וְהַיַּרְדֵּן וּגְבֻל מִכִּנֶּרֶת וְעַד יָם הָעֲרָבָה יָם הַמֶּלַח תַּחַת אַשְׁדֹּת הַפִּסְגָּה מִזְרָחָה, and in the Book of Joshua.

In addition to this name, we also find ים הערבה “the Arabah Sea” (Deut 3:17) and הים הקדמוני “the Eastern Sea” (Ezekiel 47:18, Zachariah 14:8).

“From earliest times salt was indispensable to the Israelites for flavoring food. Having a copious supply in their own country, they could obtain it with little trouble. The Dead or “Salt” Sea (Gen. xiv. 3; Josh. iii. 16) holds in solution not less than 24.57 kg. of salt in 100 kg. of water, and after every flood, upon the evaporation of the water, a coarse-grained salt is left behind in the pools and ditches. Salt pits, in which salt was thus obtained, are mentioned in Zeph. ii. 9 (“mikreh melaḥ”).” (Jewish Encyclopedia “Salt”)

This entry was posted in Hebrew Vocabulary and Memory Retention, Hebrew Word Study. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.