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【The Valley of Salt】

The desolate valley that sits between two hills in the south of Dead Sea in Israel today could very well be the Valley of Salt mentioned in the Old Testament (Though some believe the valley is the region known as Judah’s Beersheba in Edom). According to 2 Chronicles 25:11-12, the Valley of Salt is located somewhere hillside between Judah and Edom.

The Scripture records that during Old Testament times, Israel fought two battles against Edom in the Valley of Salt. The first one occurred during the reign of King David (approximately 1010-970 B.C.) After conquering neighboring nations—Aram, Moab, Ammon, Philistine, and Amalek—David defeated eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt (2 Samuel 8:13).

Traditionally, Psalm 60 is believed to describe the scene and background of this battle, though without the mention of Edom. The psalm’s title, however, says that David “struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah…when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.” (The total number of people killed, 18,000, includes the number of Edomites defeated by Joab.)

This shows that Edom might have planned to invade Israel from the south when David was fighting nearby nations in the north, which might be why the battle between Israel and Edom broke out.

In 1 Chronicles 18:12, the Scripture tells the story of this battle where “Abishai son of Zeruiah killed eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.” Because both Joab and Abishai were the chief commanders in David’s army, it is written in 2 Samuel 8:13 that David killed eighteen thousand Edomites in the valley.

In Old Testament times, the Valley of Salt sits within Edom’s boundary lines. After David’s victory, Edom became Israel’s vassal state (2 Samuel 8:14), opening trade route between Judah and Ezion-geber, the harbor of Red Sea, which is today’s Gulf of Eilat, also known as the Gulf of Aqaba. The route has a critical place and function during King Solomon’s rule (approximately 970-931 B.C.) as recorded in 1 Kings 9:26-28.

The second battle in the Valley of Salt happened during Israel’s period of divided kingdoms. Joram was the king of Judah around 853-841 B.C. when Edom revolted against Judah and separated from its governance (2 Kings 8:20-22). Later, King Amaziah of Judah, who reigned between 796-781 B.C., attacked Edom and killed ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took over Sela of Edom (2 Kings 14:7 and 2 Chronicles 25:11-12)—temporarily restoring Judah’s dominance over parts of Edom (see 2 Chronicles 28:17).

 

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.——Zechariah 4:6

 

Reference:

白雲曉。 《聖經地名詞典》。北京中央編譯出版社。 2001.12。

馬自毅。 《聖經地理》。上海學林出版社。 2005.7。

梁天樞。 《簡明聖經史地圖解》。上海人民出版社。 2006.11。

蔡錦圖。 《聖經及教會歷史地圖集》。漢語聖經協會。

John H.Walton, Victor H.Matthews and Mark W.Chavalas.《舊約聖經背景註釋》。李永明、徐成德和黃楓皓譯。校園書房出版社。 2006.7。

John H.Walton.《舊約背景與年代表》(修訂及擴大版)。梁潔瓊譯。華神出版社。 1998 。

Holy Light Bible Geography:http://biblegeography.holylight.org.tw/

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