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Seasoned With Salt

by Tim O'Hearn

And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. (Lev 2:13)

Every grain offering had to be accompanied by salt. This was the rule under the Law of Moses for every sacrifice that did not involve blood. Some people get confused by the King James Version’s use of the word “meat” in this passage. We now think of meat as flesh, but in Jacobean times it was any food, and particularly any food that was not flesh. The minchah offering (to use the Hebrew word in the passage) was any offering not accompanied by blood. This makes sense. Salt is used to kosher meat. It draws out the blood, so that as much as can be removed from the flesh is removed. This would not be appropriate when making a blood sacrifice. It would negate the whole point of the sacrifice.

God calls the salt that accompanies the grain offering “the salt of the covenant.” Why is the covenant accompanied by salt? To understand that, we have to change our cultural point of view. Today salt is so common as to be of little value. In fact, in America we have a near epidemic of over-salting. Don’t eat frozen dinners because they are so full of salt. Check your labels for sodium content. My father used to bring home potassium salt from the potash refinery where he worked, and mom would cut the salt from the store with that to reduce our sodium intake. To a salt-saturated society, a covenant of salt is virtually meaningless.

Today we think of the Dead Sea. To the ancients it was the Salt Sea. It was a source of a valuable commodity. Salt was so rare, and so valued, that Roman soldiers were paid in salt—literally a salary. Salt’s preservative, flavoring, and healing properties made it valuable. Therefore, a covenant of salt would be an agreement paid for with real value. It is not a throw-away contract. When God told David that the throne of Israel would belong to him and his descendants forever, he verified it as a “covenant of salt.” (2 Chron 13:5)

God does not take salt lightly. The sacrifices, and his promise to David, were valuable. One was an offering to God because of his covenant; the other was an offering to David because of his faith. Both were held in high esteem by God.

Although offerings are no longer brought to the Temple, there is still an offering that God wants from us as a salt-verified offering. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Col 4:6) Our words and our dealings with our fellow men are our offering with salt today.

We have to be careful, though, how we speak. When I was in the Navy, I knew people who seasoned their language with “salty” language. Most of the time they didn’t even realize what words were coming out of their mouths. This isn’t the salt that Paul meant. Such salty language is worthless, and sometimes graceless. Instead our language to others should be of a pleasant flavor and a preserving influence. It is with language that we converse. It is with language that we forge positive relationships. That is why our words are an offering with salt to the Lord. We want to be able to answer in a positive way, in God’s way. Our speech should be worth something, for then we can answer in God’s way.