Dead Sea

Dead Sea

(mare mortuum, Justin, 36:3, 6; θάλασσα ἡ νεκρά, Pausan. v. 7, 3; Galen. Simpl. Med. 4:20), a name applied since the second century to the Asphaltic Lake (ηΑ῾᾿σφαλτῖτις λίμνη, as Josephus, iodorus Siculus, and Ptolemy, v. 16, 3, call it; or simply ηΑ῾σφαλτῖτις, War, 4:8, 2; more distinctly λίμνη ἀσφαλτοφόρος, Ant. 17:6, 5; Pliny's Asphaltites lacus, or simply Asphaltites), from its supposed noxious properties. In the Bible it is called the SALT SEA (יָם הִמֶּלִח, Ge 14:3; Nu 34:12, etc.), the Sea of the Plain, or Arabah (יָם הָעֲרָבָה, De 3:17; De 4:49, etc.), or the Front (Eastern) Sea (הִיָּם הִקִּרמַוֹנַי, Eze 47:18; comp. ver. 8; Joe 2:20; Zec 14:8). By the Arabs it is termed Bahr Lut, "the Sea of Lot" (Abulfeda, Tab. Syr. p. 156). It is the remarkable lake or internal sea formed by the filling up of the old basin of the Vale of Siddim (Ge 14:3), on the south-east border of Palestine (Nu 34:3,12; De 3:17; comp. Jos 12:3), especially in the same quarter of the tribe of Judah (Jos 15:2,5) into which the Jordan empties (in, 16), 300 stadia from Jerusalem (Joseph. Ant. 15:6, 2). Josephus (War, 4:8, 4) gives its length as 580 stadia, or about 38 miles; its breadth as 150 stadia, or about 15 miles; and its circumference as 6 days' journey (see Setzeen in Zach's Monatl. Corresp. 18:440; the estimates of Pliny, v. 15, and Diod. Sic. 19:98, are erroneous). It is long and necked or sickle-form at the southern end, with a peninsula at the eastern side. SEE BAY. The east and west shores are steep with naked limestone, SEE ENGEDI, but the southern shore ends in a marsh. On the south-west is a range of salt hills, and on the southeast a considerable plain. SEE SALT, VALLEY OF. The water, which lies far below the level of the Mediterranean, is clear, but uncommonly salt and bitter, and of great density (Joseph. War, 4:8, 4; Jul. Afric. in Canisii Lection. Antiq. 2:1; Pliny, v. 15). It contains no living creature, neither fish, shells, nor seaplants, and when fishes from the Jordan get into it they die and float upon the surface (Diod. Sic. 2:48; 19:98; Jerome on Ezekiel 47:9; Cotovic. Itin. p. 312). The shore is covered with a dark offensive mud, upon which a strong saline incrustation forms, and is occasionally interspersed with lumps of bitumen, broken off from the cliffs or disgorged from the bottom (Burckhardt, 2:664). A pretty thick fog has been observed, especially in the morning, by travelers (Shaw, p. 297; Volney, 1:240), as enveloping the lake (comp. Wild. 10:7; Philo, Opp. 21:143); but, situated as it is in a deep caldron-like spot, the air is usually excessively sultry, and so filled with saline effluvia as to banish vegetation (Philo, Opp. 2:21); and although it is not so detrimental to animal life (Tacit. Hist. v. 6) as has sometimes been represented (Maundrell, p. 116), a solemn stillness reigns around, unbroken by wind, wave, or animated cry.' The marks of volcanic agency are strewn about (Felsecker, Palst. 2:353), which, with the warm springs on the shore, SEE CALLIRRHOE, the asphaltic vapors and floating substances (Strabo 16:764), give evidence of the plutonic catastrophe (comp. Ge 14:10) which covered the guilty cities of this plain (Genesis 19); and it is popularly believed that these ruins may still be discerned beneath its waters (Joseph. War, 4:8, 4), though now sunk below their former level (Reland, Paloest. p. 254 sq.). SEE SIDDIM. It was anciently believed that the immense volume of water poured in by the Jordan found an outlet by subterranean canals into the Mediterranean (Diod. Sic. 19:98); but it is now ascertained that this is impossible, and that evaporation is sufficient to account for the maintenance of the usual height in the lake (Bachiene, I, 1:121). See generally Fabri, Evagat. 2:155 sq.; Oedmann, Samml. 3, 125; Hamelsveld, 1:447; Busching, Erdbeschr. V, 1:322 sq.; Waihner, De Mari Asphalt. (Helmst. 1712); Michaelis in his Comment. 1758-62 oblat. (Brem. 1774), p. 61 sq.; Mannert, Geogr. VI, 1:332; Ritter, Erdkunde, 16:331 sq.; Schwarz, Palest. p. 41; Thomson, Land and Book, 2:449; Kelly's Syria, p. 393; J. Kempe, De indole Maris Mortui (Holm. 1751). SEE SEA.

Bible concordance for DEAD SEA.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.