(Mare Sodomiticum), a name once given in the Apocrypha (2 Esdr. 5:3) to the Dead Sea (q.v.). evidently from its supposed connection with the overthrow of Sodom. A striking illustration of this coincidence in name (which in some form has ever since clung to that lake) is found in the names of one or two natural features of that region. SEE SODOM.
(1.) At the southwest corner of the lake, below where the wadys Zuweirah and Mahauwat break down through the enclosing heights, the beach is encroached on by the salt mountain or ridge of Khashm Usdum. This remarkable object is hitherto but imperfectly known. It is said to be quite independent of the western mountains, lying in front of and separated from them by a considerable tract filled up with conical hills and short ridges of the soft, chalky, marly deposit just described. It is a level ridge or dike several miles long. Its northern portion runs south-southeast; but after more than half its length it makes, a sudden and decided bend to the right, and then runs southwest. It is from three to four hundred feet in height, of inconsiderable width. There is great uncertainty about its length. Dr. Robinson states it at five miles and "a considerable distance farther" (2, 107, 112). Van de Velde makes it ten miles (2, 113), or three and a half hours (p. 116). But when these dimensions are applied to the map they are much too large, and it is difficult to believe that it can be more than five miles in all. Dr. Anderson (p. 181) says it is about two and a half miles wide; but this appears to contradict Dr. Robinson's expressions (2, 107). The latter are corroborated by Mr. Clowes's party. They also noticed salt in large quantities among the rocks in regular strata some considerable distance back from the lake. The mountain consists of a body of crystallized rock salt, more or less solid, covered with a capping of chalky limestone and gypsum. The lower portion — the salt rock — rises abruptly from the glossy plain at its eastern base, sloping back at an angle of not more than 450, often less. It has a strangely dislocated, shattered look, and is all furrowed and worn into huge angular buttresses and ridges, from the face of which great fragments are occasionally detached by the action of the rains, and appear as "pillars of salt," advanced in front of the general mass. At the foot the ground is strewn with lumps and masses of salt, salt streams drain continually from it into the lake, and the whole of the beach is covered with salt — soft and sloppy, and of a pinkish hue in winter and spring, though during the heat of summer dried up into a shining, brilliant crust. An occasional patch of the Kali plant (Salicornioe, etc.) is the only vegetation to vary the monotony of this most monotonous spot. It is probable that from this mountain rather than from the lake itself was anciently procured the so called "salt of the Dead Sea," which was much in request for use in the Temple service. It was preferred before all other kinds for its reputed effect in hastening the combustion of the sacrifice, while it diminished the unpleasant smell of the burning flesh. Its deliquescent character (due to the chlorides of alkaline earths it contains) is also noticed in the Talmud (Menachoth, 21, 1; Jalkut). It was called "Sodom salt," but also went by the name of the "salt that does not rest" (מלח שאנןשובתת), because it was made on the Sabbath as on other days, like the "Sunday salt" of the English salt works. It is still much esteemed in Jerusalem. SEE SALT SEA.
(2.) Between the north end of Khashm Usdum and the lake is a mound covered with stones and bearing the name of um-Zoghal (Robinson, 2, 107). By De Saulcy the name is given Redjom el-Mezorrahl (the gh and rr are both attempts to represent the ghain). The "Pilgrim" in Athenoeum,
April 2, 1854, expressly states that his guide called it Rudjeim ez-Zogheir. It is about sixty feet in diameter and ten or twelve high, evidently artificial, and not improbably the remains of an ancient structure. A view of it, engraved from a photograph by Mr. James Graham, is given in Isaacs's Dead Sea (p. 21). This heap De Saulcy maintained to be a portion of the remains of Sodom. Its name is more suggestive of Zoar, but there are great obstacles to either identification. SEE ZOAR.