Covenant of Salt

solt (berith melach; halas, classical Greek hals): As salt was regarded as a necessary ingredient of the daily food, and so of all sacrifices offered to Yahweh (Le 2:13), it became an easy step to the very close connection between salt and covenant-making. When men ate together they became friends. Compare the Arabic expression, "There is salt between us"; "He has eaten of my salt," which means partaking of hospitality which cemented friendship; compare "eat the salt of the palace" (Ezr 4:14). Covenants were generally confirmed by sacrificial meals and salt was always present. Since, too, salt is a preservative, it would easily become symbolic of an enduring covenant. So offerings to Yahweh were to be by a statute forever, "a covenant of salt for ever before Yahweh" (Nu 18:19). David received his kingdom forever from Yahweh by a "covenant of salt" (2Ch 13:5). In the light of these conceptions the remark of our Lord becomes the more significant: "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another" (Mr 9:50).

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

Edward Bagby Pollard

 
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