The story of the Dead Sea is one of destruction and renewal. The Torah first describes this location as lush and fruitful:
וַיִּשָּׂא לוֹט אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת כׇּל כִּכַּר הַיַּרְדֵּן כִּי כֻלָּהּ מַשְׁקֶה לִפְנֵי שַׁחֵת ה׳ אֶת סְדֹם וְאֶת־עֲמֹרָה כְּגַן ה׳ כְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בֹּאֲכָה צֹעַר׃
Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the whole plain of the Jordan, all of it—this was before Hashem had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—all the way to Zoar, like the garden of Hashem, like the land of Egypt.
- Genesis 13:10
Because of the unethical and destructive actions of the population living there, the “well-watered plain of the Jordan” was rendered desolate, hostile to life, and filled with uninhabitable salty waters.
Yet the prophets spoke of a time when the area of the Dead Sea would once again bloom with life:
וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי הַמַּיִם הָאֵלֶּה יוֹצְאִים אֶל־הַגְּלִילָה הַקַּדְמוֹנָה וְיָרְדוּ עַל־הָעֲרָבָה וּבָאוּ הַיָּמָּה אֶל־הַיָּמָּה הַמּוּצָאִים וְנִרְפּאוּ הַמָּיִם׃ וְהָיָה (יעמדו) [עָמְדוּ] עָלָיו דַּוָּגִים מֵעֵין גֶּדִי וְעַד־עֵין עֶגְלַיִם מִשְׁטוֹחַ לַחֲרָמִים יִהְיוּ לְמִינָה תִּהְיֶה דְגָתָם כִּדְגַת הַיָּם הַגָּדוֹל רַבָּה מְאֹד׃
This water, He told me, “runs out to the eastern region, and flows into the Arabah; and when it comes into the sea, into the sea of foul waters, the water will become wholesome... Fishermen shall stand beside it all the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it shall be a place for drying nets; and the fish will be of various kinds [and] most plentiful, like the fish of the Great Sea.
- Ezekiel 47:8,10
We are seeing this prophecy come to life with our own eyes now. The waters are just as salty, but people now make fruitful use of minerals extracted from them for skin care, medical treatments and soil fertilization around the world. Driving along the Dead Sea, you see beautiful resorts, magnificent palm tree farms and amazing vistas unlike any other place on earth.
The Dead Sea manifests a great story of destruction and renewal, and can teach us about ourselves as well.
מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ ה׃
From the depths I call to you, Hashem.
- Psalms 130:1
When we feel low, distant from the Creator and from ourselves, the story of the lowest place on earth can inspire us to call out, yearn, and strive for new, different, and even greater revitalization.
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