It defies reason why people would bathe in the Dead Sea and seek healing from its water, salt and sulphur, when the Lake of Lot became deadly to living creatures after a severe punishment afflicted the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah in the immediate vicinity.
The Torah relays the consequences of even a glance in the direction of the horrible destruction that took place as a result of the towns’ perversions. Yet, mankind sunk to new lows in September, when thousands of Israelis gathered, stripped bare, and were photographed en masse at the site.
This dreadful work was organized by one Spencer Tunick for the purposes of bringing attention to the Dead Sea, in his hopes of the lake being dubbed as one of the natural wonders of the world. On November 11, contest winners for a new set of the Seven Wonders of Nature will be announced.
Only a few people spoke out against the pornographic stunt and the irony of moral depravity taking place at the exact location where morally depraved towns were destroyed. MK Zevulun Orlev called the photography event "Sodom and Gomorrah" itself, and an obvious offense to public decency.
Blessing or curse?
Access to the site, whether clothed or no, is regarded in some quarters as somewhat of a blessing.
At the end of the month, Orthodox rabbis announced with glee a partition along a section of the beach that will allow orthodox men and women to swim in the Sea, separately, while preserving their modesty. As reported by Haaretz, the Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, Silvan Shalom, acknowledged at the dedication ceremony: "We are at the place where, in Sodom, humanity faced one of its most difficult hours, morally speaking." It was a time, Shalom said, "when some of the most horrific things that one could imagine happened, and precisely here, at the lowest spot on earth, we are rising up. We are helping many people to be able to come here."
Indeed, people of all faiths and cultures tour the Dead Sea and attend its spas. Products are sold claiming to be therapeutic and beautifying --products manufactured from the mud and salts of the Dead Sea which contain the dissolved minerals from the sulphuric brimstone* that assisted in the destruction of the cities. Dead Sea shampoo, mineral soap and bath salts are purchased worldwide.
Yet, the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism are in agreement that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the wrath of God for their flagrant debauchery. Moreover, in the Bible, God’s Messenger Lot was told to leave the environs and not to look back. In the Qur’an, it is said “Verily, you pass by them in the morning. And at night; will you not then reflect,” meaning, `will you not learn a lesson from them [while travelling past it] how Allah destroyed them,’ according to Tafsir Ibn Kathir. The area is intended as a sign to mankind to refrain from wrongdoing. The events that obliterated the cities should make it obvious that this is not an area in which to frolic.
There is more Biblical evidence as well. Genesis of the Old Testament (19:24-25) states: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”
And in Islam, again quoting from the traditional book of commentary on the Qur’an, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Surah Qamar is evidenced:
“Allah the Exalted states that the people of [God’s Holy Messenger Lot, peace be upon him] Lut defied and denied their Messenger and committed sodomy, the awful immoral sin that no people in the history of mankind had committed before. This is why Allah destroyed them with a type of torment that He never inflicted upon any nation before them. Allah the Exalted commanded Jibril [the Angel Gabriel], peace be upon him, to raise their cities to the sky and then turn them upside down over them, followed by stones made of marked Sijjil [stones like baked clay or brimstone].
…[Allah the Exalted] made their vicinity a foul, stinking lake which is on a well-travelled route where people pass by night and day (i.e., the Dead Sea), which lays close to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah on the highway between Arabia and Syria.”
The water in the Dead Sea is deadly to most living things. One Dead Sea bath care product company says that while humans are merely advised to keep their faces above the extremely salted water, “Fish accidentally swimming into the waters from one of the several freshwater streams that feed the Sea are killed instantly. Their bodies are quickly coated with a preserving layer of salt crystals and then tossed onto shore by the wind and waves.”
With the awareness of the Dead Sea’s moral, spiritual and physical ills, what could be the eventual effects upon human beings who revel in it?
It is rather a natural wonder why people would choose to bathe in the Dead Sea at all, or even use its products. It appears to some as a blessing, when in reality it is a curse.
*For more information about the mineral content of the brimstone still extant in the Sodom and Gomorrah area, please access the work of Christian archaeologist and researcher Ron Wyatt at www.arkdiscovery.com