Years ago my daughter and I did a year-long study on references to salt in the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. What we discovered was fun and fascinating and had many metaphysical applications. This week's Bible on Substance includes the story of Elisha using salt to purify the waters in Jericho. I pulled out that notebook to look for deeper clues to the value of this incident and how it relates to true substance.
In our research we went back to Numbers where Moses' brother, Aaron, a high priest stipulates: "It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord unto thee and to thy seed with thee." Salt was considered symbolic of the binding nature of a covenant. We also looked in the New Testament and found this in the ninth chapter of Mark: "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt unto yourselves, and have peace with one another."
In his article, The salt of the covenant, Charles F. Southworth writes: "Right thinking, prudence in speech and action, a sense of kindliness and of the joy of life, constitute the salt that heals the troubled waters of dissension and strife. If we lack a desire to preserve peace and harmony in our covenants with men, then our salt has lost its saltness, and the opposite disturbing quality is worth only to cast out."
Salt is defined as a preservative, a symbol of incorruption. If one sat at table and ate salt as part of desert hospitality, one became more than a guest and must be treated with all consideration and peace.
So how does that relate to the story in II Kings? Elisha had just taken up Elijah's mantle to be the prophet of the people. This may have been the first test of his new role. It took place in Jericho where the women were unable to carry full term and the fields would not produce a crop. The people felt it was because the water was contaminated. Bad water. Impure. This might have been an indication of the mental atmosphere. They certainly were not teaching their children to be respectful of their elders. There is a surprising end to this healing, should you continue to read past II Kings 2:22, and what happens when Elisha leaves town.
But to return to the healing itself. Elisha calls for a new cruse and fills it with salt. The men would have been familiar with the reference to salt as the covenant with God from Numbers. Elisha goes to the place where the spring begins and cast in the salt. Metaphysically we can think of that as the place where they were in their thinking. They needed to be in accord with the covenant and be sure they were practicing right thinking. He tells them he has now purified the waters and there will be no more death or barrenness in the land.
If we think of salt as a preservative and a symbol of wholesomeness and purity we can see how important it is to be clear about our covenant with God as outlined in the Old Testament and with Jesus' new command in the New Testament. One God who is good, one creation, man made in His image and likeness. We are to honor and love Him with all our heart and actions. He will be our God, our good shepherd, our Father-Mother, cherishing and protecting us. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
If you seem to be stuck in a barren place with your job, your church, your relationships, maybe it is a good time to renew your covenant with God, to examine your right thinking and Truth knowing about Him, about our relationship with Him, and our love for our neighbors. Time to season one's life with the purifying salt of divine Love.