The Dead Sea, also known as the Sea of Salt, the Primordial Sea, and the Plains Sea, appears for the first time in Genesis when Abraham and Lot part ways. Lot searches for a place to live and chooses the area just north of the Dead Sea. “Lot looked up and saw the whole region of the Jordan. He noticed that all of it was well-watered (before the LORD obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, all the way to Zoar. “(Genesis 13:10)
Sodom was a metropolis surrounded by cities, at the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The area around the Jordan River and the Dead Sea was then rich and fertile. It appears that the “Sea of Salt” was full of salt and minerals then, as well, but the salt concentration was far less. It is possible that the Jordan River was quite large and overflowed often – irrigating the surrounding land. It is possible that many subsidiary streams from the center of Israel flowed with water and emptied into the Dead Sea, concurrently watering the banks and turning that area into “the garden of the Lord.” This was the place that Lot chose to live and ultimate escape to the neighboring mountains as God sent angels to destroy the Sodom metropolis.
Since that day, the area around the Dead Sea has lain desolate, a hot and dry desert. The Dead Sea itself began to lose water, and parts of the area were covered with natural tar pits “the Valley of Sidim” (Genesis 14:3). Overlooking the sea are the Judean hills, replete with caves in which King David hid from Saul, and later during the Greek period the Jewish sect of the Essenes wrote and stored the Dead Sea Scrolls, preserved by the arid climate of the region, and were discovered in those very caves thousands of years later in the mid 20th century.
Yet the Dead Sea, a sea which is believed that can support no life, holds a treasure of minerals such as potash, bromine, magnesium Sodium Chloride, and more which are produced by the Israeli Dead Sea Works Ltd. There is a huge tourist industry on the banks of the Dead Sea where people come to relax, enjoy and be healed by the natural minerals. The Dead Sea is anything but “dead”. Israel has learned to utilize all the treasures that have lied dormant within for centuries.
Eventually, says prophet Ezekiel, there is something more dramatic yet to transpire. In chapter 47 Ezekiel describes a vision of the “end of days” where a man shows him water flowing from the holy Temple eastward and southward through dry riverbeds. “He said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and flow down into the Arabah; when they enter the Dead Sea, where the sea is stagnant, the waters become fresh.” Further on the verses continue, “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” This spiritual process that the Dead Sea will undergo symbolizes a greater process that all of Israel will undergo, bringing peace and healing to the world.