Covenant of Salt
Bearpecs at aol.com
Bearpecs at aol.com
Thu Jul 5 21:26:57 EDT 2001
In a message dated 7/4/01 10:00:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
myronkauk at iolky.com writes:
> Anybody have any insight on the "Covenant of Salt" in Num 18:19,
_Leviticus 1-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary_ by
Jacob Milgrom (Anchor Bible vol. 3), pp. 191-192 [on Lev 2:13]:
The idiom melah berit 'eloqeka is used again to refer to the binding
character of the priestly perquisites (Num 18:19) and of the Davidic dynasty
(2 Chr 13:5). Salt was the preservative par excellence in antiquity (see
Philo, Laws 1, 289; Theophylact. in Luc. 14:34; Diog. Laert. Pythag.
19[8.35], Pliny H.N. 31.9 ). A figurative extension of its preservative
properties is the reference to the apostles as "the salt of the earth" (Matt
5:17), in other words, teachers who guard the world against moral decay.
Moreover, its preservative qualitites made it the ideal symbol of the
perdurability of a covenant (Tg. Ps.-J.). A neo-Babylonian letter speaks of
"all who tasted the salt of the Jakin tribe" (ABL 747, r.6), referring to the
tribe's covenantal allies. Loyalty to the Persian monarch is described as
having tasted "the salt of the palace" (Ezra 4:14). Arab. milhat, a
derivative of malaha 'to salt', means "a treaty" (G.B. Gray 1903:232).
"There is salt between us" implies among Arab bedouin a treaty stipulating
mutual aid and defense (R. Smith 1927:270). The Greeks likewise salted their
covenant meals and referred to salt as "holy" (Iliad 9.214; Heliod. 4.16).
Thus it is likely that in Israel as well salt played a central role at the
solemn meal that sealed a covenant (e.g., Gen 26:30; 31:54; Exod 24:11).
Salt was deemed so essential in Ezekiel's vision of the restoration that he
makes room for marshes and swamps in his otherwise fertile land in order to
provide salt (Ezek 47:11).
Why is this injunction to salt all sacrifices inserted here with the cereal
offering rather than with any of the clearly more important blood sacrifices?
Abravanel suggest that because bread normally contains flour, leaven, and
salt, the question would naturally arise: if leaven is forbidden in the
cereal offering, should not salt also be forbidden?
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