Monday, October 03, 2016

Salt (Matthew 5v13)

I have been speaking on "You are the salt of the earth" at this year's harvest services. I have followed what seems to be the majority of commentators in suggesting that Jesus' disciples out to "add flavour" to the world and "preserve" it, keep if from going bad.

If I'm honest, I think I have more work to do on the Old Testament mentions of salt, especially the role of salt in sacrifices. For myself I think there could be something in the idea that Jesus' people make the world acceptable / pleasing / "tasty" to God.

Anyway, for what it's worth, below are some jottings on salt in Mt 5:13 from the commentaries I happened to have on my shelves.

R T France, “Salt serves mainly to give flavour, and to prevent corruption. Disciples, if they are true to their calling, make the earth a purer and more palatable place.” (Tyndale, p112)

Cf. Bekhoroth 8b

The rabbis commonly used salt as an image for wisdom

Col 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Lost its taste actually means become foolish

 Aramaic ta_pe_l conveys both meanings

 France, NICNT

Sir 39:26 lists salt as one of the essentials of life – cf. Sop 15:8, “The world cannot endure without salt”

Davies and Allison list 11 possible usages / significances for salt

 Use of salt to make the earth more fertile? p174

 Carson – primarily a preservative, also flavour

Wright – Israel to keep the world from going bad – main function of salt – keep its distinctive flavour

 Stott – stop the spread of decay – condiment and preservative

Job 6:6 – “Is tasteless food eaten without salt?”

“The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that the Christian can make it less insipid (‘The thought of making the world palatable to God is quite impossible’ Lenski, p119), but that it is putrefying.” ­­ P59

Tasker, moral disinfectant

 Mk 9:50

 Schweizer – OT law referred to as salt and light / the covenant

 Small thing with big effect

 Lev 2:13; num 18:19; 2 chron 13v5; acts 1:4 – lit. the lord took salt with his disciples

 Purifying sacrifices – ex 30:35; ez 16:4; 43:24 or what is spoiled or polluted – 2 kings 2:20ff

Lk 14:34

Augsburger – salt à purity, preservation, flavour

 Salt – salary – Roman soldiers paid in salt

 Ryle – salt, peculiar taste of its own, flavour, preserves

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

“Salt has literally hundreds of uses.”

 Preserving qualities, symbolises permanent indissolubility of the covenant relationship between God and his people – Lev 2:13; Num 18:19; 2 Chron 13:5

 “salt is listed as a required addition to all burnt offerings because of its preserving qualities (Ezra 6:9)”

New born babies rubbed with salt – Ez 16:4 – separation / new beginning

 Judges 9:45 – spreading salt on a newly captured city as a curse, inhibited growth of crops, represented a break with the past

 2 Kings 2:21 – purifying the water, removing a curse, new beginning

 Death / destruction, desolation, despair, deserts Dt 29:23

 Jer 17:6

Contrast salt marshes with fertile fresh water – Ez 47:11

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