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The dead sea

The Dead Sea (Sea of Death in Arabic) is located 16 miles east of Jerusalem.  Its eastern shore belongs to Jordan and the rest belongs to Israel.  It is sixty miles long and ten miles wide.  The Dead Sea has several names in the ancient sources:

Arabah

Joshua 3:16 “the water from upstream stopped flowing.  It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off.  So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”

The Salt Sea

Joshua 18:19 “Then the border continued to the side of Beth-hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the southern border.”

The Eastern Sea

Zechariah 14:8 “And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.”

The Lake Asphaltites

The Antiquities of the Jews 15:6:2 “… he (Herod the Great) desired the Arabian governor to send to him some horsemen, who should receive him, and conduct him to the lake Asphaltites, which is from the bounds of Jerusalem three hundred furlongs …”

Why has the Dead Sea been a dire environment for marine life, plants and animals around it to flourish?  How has a “dead” sea become alive and is fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 47:8-10.  Let’s find out now!

The dead sea view

The Dead Sea is named because marine life, plants and animals around it have difficulty flourishing.

For marine life, for thousands of years, the Jordan River has carried water from the Sea of Galilee to the lowest point (-1,300 feet) on the earth, the Dead Sea, where once the water from the river enters the lake, there is no way for it to flow out.  In addition, the scourge of the desert sun causes the water in the sea to evaporate and intensifies the salinity level. Therefore, the water of the Dead Sea looks oily due to its high salinity and density.  Hence, marine life cannot live in the Dead Sea.

For the plants and animals, unproductive, thin, stony, and immature soils around the Dead Sea have become salty as well, causing most of the plants or animals to be unable to flourish around the Dead Sea.

Floating without Effort

The Dead Sea water contains many valuable minerals and salts.  Since its mineral content averages 35% by weight, it makes us float without having to know how to swim on our backs.

The Dead Sea Mud – This mud contains various minerals and salt combinations that are not found anywhere else in the world.  That’s why The Dead Sea mud is a blooming business especially for cosmetics products.  I was on the northern beach, which is full of mud; its mud is good for our skins.  I saw a lot of beachgoers put mud all over their bodies. 

The Dead Sea Salt – Salt from the sea was used to preserve meat.  Nowadays, its salt is found to be rich in zinc and bromide which help to reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation, and treat skin diseases. 

P.S. If you go “swimming” in the Dead Sea with a cut or a wound, the salt will make you scream!!!  Also do not let the water enter into your eyes because it could harm them. The beach has showers and you should wash your eyes immediately if the salt water enters them.

Receding

Recently, the Dead Sea is receding quickly because:

    • the Dead Sea contains valuable minerals and salt which generate a lot of businesses.  Both countries of Israel and Jordan have been extracting it enormously.  As a result, more than half a billion cubic meters of water are  pumped out from the Dead Sea every year for businesses.
    • the water in the Galilee and Jordan River are diverted to supply a growing population and agriculture.  These locations are the primary sources of the Dead Sea.

Receding in Progress in 1972

This picture of the Dead Sea was taken in 1972.

“All three images include a combination of near-infrared, red, and green wavelengths. Deep waters are blue or dark blue, while brighter blues indicate shallow waters or salt ponds (in the south). The pale pink and sand-colored regions are barren desert landscapes, while green indicates sparsely vegetated lands.  Denser vegetation appears bright red.  Near the center is the Lisan Peninsula, which forms a land bridge through the Dead Sea.”

Receding in Progress in 1989

As you can see in the picture, after 17 years since 1972, the Dead Sea is receding even more. Several proposals have been suggested such as to pump more treated sewage into the Dead Sea or to fill the Jordan River with desalinated seawater or The Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project signed in 2013 between Jordan and Israel.  None of them are working due to the political, environmental, and economic hurdles.

Receding in Progress in 2011

Compare this picture to the one which was taken in 1972.  Because less and less water has been flowing into the Dead Sea, its level has been receding and the whole southern end is almost dry or shallow water only.

The Prophecy

Although the Dead Sea is dying, the prophecy of Ezekiel has an opposite view.
Ezekiel 47:8-10 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become ]fresh. 9 And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many.”

The Dead Sea will have many fish and living creatures living around it.  How and when could it happen?  In fact, IT IS HAPPENING NOW!  And where do the life forms come from?  They come from the sinkholes.

 

How are sinkholes formed?

When the Dead Sea Water recedes, it leaves a thick underground layer of salt. When winter floods flow to the Dead Sea, the fresh water dissolves the salt and huge underground caverns form.  They eventually collapse and the sinkholes appear.  These sinkholes are part of giant cave systems that carry water underground between the sinkholes.  The underground spring water coming from the cliff Rouen and Jerusalem mount comes out to the sinkholes after floods.

Now some sinkholes and the freshwater ponds even have fish, more vegetation is growing, birds start migrating over there.  We are now experiencing and witnessing what Ezekiel’s prophecy said to the Dead Sea!

Other References:

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