FISH UNLUCKY enough to land in the Dead Sea will—within moments—show why it’s called the Dead Sea.
They’ll go belly up.
At least four times saltier than the ocean—higher by some recent measurements—Dead Sea water is one-quarter mineral. That’s partly because it’s a giant evaporation tank at the lowest spot on the face of the earth.
That makes it the drainage pit of the Middle East.
It stretches roughly 50 miles long and 10 miles wide (80 x 16 km). Its beachfront lies about a quarter of a mile below sea level (1,294 feet; 394 meters).
In ancient times, people valued it for its salt and for the occasional giant blobs of asphalt that popped to the top. People would row out in boats, hack the tarbergs into hunks, and sell them as waterproofing and mortar.
Today, an Israeli mining company extracts minerals for sale—especially potassium compounds used in making fertilizer.
Doctors also recommend the water and mud for treating certain skin disorders. That has spawned a health resort boom along the shores. Some guests cake themselves in the mineral-rich black mud. Others soak in the water—which is too buoyant to let them sink.
Ezekiel predicted a day when a mysterious river flowing eastward from a Jerusalem temple would empty into the Dead Sea, turning it into a freshwater lake swarming with life.
“Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh” (Ezekiel 47:9, NLT).
Some interpret that literally. Others read it as a metaphor for better days ahead, since Ezekiel was writing when the Jews were exiled from their homeland and living in what is now Iraq.
From Stephen M. Miller’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, coming in April, 2013
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