As we read through the bible we notice that God chose to use salt in some of the strangest ways. I began to wonder what the significance of salt really means biblically speaking. These are just a few insights into scripture verses that I have located on the differing uses of salt in the bible.
We must remember that salt was a prized possession back in the day. Salt was used for so many different purposes that even the Romans used it as a form of currency when paying wages to their soldiers. Salt was not only used for seasoning food but for seasoning burnt offerings to the Lord.
God used salt as a punishment for Lot’s wife and it is perhaps one of the most recognizable salt scriptures in the bible. During the exodus from Sodom and Gomorrah, the wife of Lot disobeyed the command to not turn around and as she did look back she witnessed the city being destroyed. Genesis 19:26 describes what happened to her, “she became a pillar of salt.”
This nameless wife of Lot is mentioned again by Jesus himself in Luke 17:32 as Jesus is explaining to His disciples about the coming Kingdom of God. He warns his disciples that a day will come when everyone will be going about their daily lives. Suddenly and without warning, fire and sulfur will reign down from heaven such as it did in Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus tells them to leave everything behind and warns them to not look back on their lives. He warns them saying, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
In other words, Jesus is saying that they should remember the one who turned to look back at what she once had and was lost forever. In the process of looking back with regrets, Lot’s wife lost her life also. She became an actual pillar of salt whether you believe it to be salt as we know it, or the Hebrew translation of salt meaning vaporized.
Deuteronomy 29:23 uses salt to speak of the abandonment of the covenant and describes a land on the brink of extinction (much like Sodom and Gomorrah) and “a burning waste of salt and sulfur.” Zephaniah 2:9 mentions the salt pits and wasteland of Moab. Likewise in Judges 9:45, Abimelek destroys a city and scatters salt over it. From these verses we associate salt with destruction.
In Leviticus 2:13 we read that all grain offerings should be seasoned with salt. It is even referred to as the “covenant of salt.” This covenant of salt is referred to in two other passages, Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5.
Job 6:6 mentions salt as a necessary additive for enhancing the taste of food. 2 Kings 2:21 mentions that Elisha the Prophet threw salt into a spring to purify the water.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches His followers that they are to be “salt and light” in a dark world. This theme is reinforced throughout the remaining chapters of the New Testament. Colossians 4:6 tells us to keep our conversations full of grace and seasoned with salt. The Book of Luke talks about the cost of discipleship and loosing the “saltiness” in the process of reaching others. Perhaps a bit of the world mixed in with the salt of discipleship waters it down.
As you can see from the above mentioned passages of scripture, salt is a four letter word that can express many different meanings. Therefore, we should be careful in reading an entire passage of scripture and not just assume that it can be taken with a grain of salt.