In the second devotional we listed the New Testament Scriptures on salt and established that salt was used (1) To Season. (2) To Preserve. (3) To Cure. (4) To Create Thirst.
Now we want to take this a little deeper over the next few devotionals. There is more to salt than meets the taste buds. Salt has been used in many cultures as a valuable commodity.
We work and we earn a salary. Have you ever studied the root of salary to discover where this word came from? The word salary comes from an ancient word meaning “salt-money,” referring to a Roman soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt. Someone who earns his pay is still said to be “worth his salt.”
Salt has also been used to express promises and friendship between people. It was even considered by the Greeks to be divine. Today in many Arab cultures, if two men partake of salt together they are sworn to protect one another, even if they had previously been enemies. In some cultures, people throw salt over their shoulders when they make a promise. Sailors who have spent most of their lives working at sea are called “old salts.” Who knew sodium chloride was so important?
In the ancient world, ingesting salt was a way to make an agreement legally binding. If two parties entered into an agreement, they would eat salt together in the presence of witnesses, and that act would bind their contract. King Abijah’s speech in 2 Chron.13:5 mentions just such a salt covenant: Here, Abijah refers to the strong, legally binding promise of God to give Israel to David and his sons forever.
2 Chronicles 13:5 ESV Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?
The Old Testament Law commands the use of salt in all meat offerings and makes clear that the “salt of the covenant” should not be missing from the meat offerings.
Leviticus 2:13 ESV You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Since the Levitical Priests did not have land of their own, God promised to provide for them by way of the sacrifices of the people. He called this promise of provision a “salt covenant.”
Numbers 18:19 ESV All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. It is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and for your offspring with you."
Salt has always been known for its preservative properties, and it is also possible that God instructed the use of salt so that the meat would last longer and taste better and thus be of more value to the priests who depended upon it for their daily food.