Parshat Vayera – Covenant of Salt
Covenant of Salt – (Genesis Chapters 18-22)
This week we read a few of the most important and fundamental stories in the bible and learn how things are interpreted in the light of the New Testament. We read about Abraham, who was known for his hospitality. He loved his guests so much that, according to t Jewish tradition, he interrupted his conversation with God in order to host three men (the angels) in his tent in Hebron and even invited them to wash their feet. Fast forward 1800 years later, Jesus similarly invited his disciples to the last supper and washed their feet in a gesture of humility.
In this chapter Isaac is also born to his two old parents – Abraham, a hundred year old man, and Sarah, a ninety years old woman who up until that point possessed a barren, and certainly old body. No wonder the child is named Isaac- which means “He will Laugh” in Hebrew. Here God gives life from death, what a joy, what a laugh! This is the essence of the New Testament – life from death, Infinite revival. So where will we visit this week that suits the content of this affair?
This week I want to take you to the Sea of Salt that is called in English the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth- 1300 feet below sea level. The water contains 33% salt and nothing can live in it. However, the salt has a very positive meaning and is a symbol of the eternal covenant between God and King David and his descendants- including Jesus, 2 Chronicles 13:5:
“Do not you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descenders forever by a covenant of salt?”
Next to the Dead Sea stood the city of Sodom, a city of villains, lowlifes who live in the lowest place on earth – geographically and morally. Abraham tried to convince God not to destroy Sodom if there were ten righteous men in it. But only Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was righteous enough – and so he and his family survived, and only his wife, who looked back, became a pillar of salt. Jesus also suffered in his life from many wicked people, the people of Nazareth, the city of his childhood, persecuted him and expelled him (Luke 4:29), and so did the people of Capernaum. For this he said: Matthew 11, 23-24: “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you”.
In the continuation of the portion, Abraham is faced with two very difficult tests – to expel his son Ishmael to the desert of Be’er Sheva and to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. In both cases, with great faith in God, Abraham prevailed and showed that his faith in God is greater than anything else. Years later- God Himself, with much grace to His creatures, sacrificed His Son Jesus to atone for the sins of mankind, to renew the eternal covenant with mankind, to open the gates of Eden again and to give eternal life as it was in Eden. We too must believe in our ability to be like Abraham: hospitable, humble, believing in the triumph of life over death, in the triumph of faith and repentance over heresy. And it all depends on us and our actions despite all the difficulties we must choose life over death according to the covenant of salt.
Itamar Ben David is a professional tour guide and educator. He is one of the most popular Travelujah guides providing valuable biblical, historical and modern day insight on the land of Israel to Jewish and Christian groups and exclusive private tours. He has guided famous media personalities such as Larry King, congressmen and other VIP clients. He and his wife live in Jerusalem.