[b-hebrew] What Does "salt sea" Mean at Genesis 14: 3?

joel at exc.com joel at exc.com
Tue Dec 2 09:00:13 EST 2008

>1.  Does the reference to ?salt sea? (yod-mem he-mem-lamed-heth/YM HMLX, 
>literally ?salt the sea?) at Genesis 14: 3 refer to the Dead Sea, or to the 
>Mediterranean Sea?

The Dead Sea.  It is a methodological mistake to look at the literal
meaning of the phrase ("sea of salt") to try to figure out which body
of water it refers to.  Of course the Mediterranean also has salt, but
that fact is irrelevant.

Consider a similar example: there are parts of the Atlantic Ocean that
are calm, but the "Pacific Ocean" can't ever mean the Atlantic Ocean.
For that matter, the Mediterranean is calmer that either one, but
"Pacific Ocean" doesn't mean "Mediterranean Sea," either.


Joel M. Hoffman, PhD

Director of Education
Temple Israel of Northern Westchester

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