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Holman Bible Dictionary

Dead Sea

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Inland lake at the end of the Jordan Valley on the southeastern border of Canaan with no outlets for water it receives; known in the Bible as Salt Sea, Sea of the Plain, and Eastern Sea. Its current English name was applied to it through writings after A.D. 100. It is about fifty miles long and ten miles wide at its widest point. The surface of the sea Isaiah 1292 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. At its deepest point the lake Isaiah 1300 deep. At its most shallow it is only ten to fifteen feet deep.

The main source of water for the sea is the Jordan River, but other smaller rivers empty into the sea also. The Jordan River empties an average of six million tons of water every twenty-four hours into the sea. Despite this and the fact that the sea has no outlet, the surface does not rise more than ten to fifteen feet. The reason for this lies in the rapid evaporation of the water because of the heat and acidness of its location below sea level.

This plus other geographical factors gives it a salt content which is approximately five times the concentration of the ocean. This makes it one of the world's saltiest. It also causes a condition where no form of marine life can live even though some fish have reportedly been found in adjacent less salty pools. The surrounding land area can support vegetation and life, however. These features of the Dead Sea plus its location in an hot and arid area inspired the biblical writers to use it as an example of a life apart from the law of God.

Bob Sheffield

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Dead Sea'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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Dead Sea Scrolls
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