“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. ESV
“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it. Good News Bible
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. NIV
In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the character of what people would be like as they became Kingdom of heaven people. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus next tells the disciples and the crowd on the mountainside what His followers would do and be in the world around them. By using salt as a metaphor, he related a common process that was essential to life, that portrays what would happen as his followers permeated society.
They knew the value and the many practical uses of salt in their lives.
Salt was a medium of trade that because of its essential need was more valuable than gold.
Salt is important for health, particularly in a hot climate. It is essential for normal interchange and retention of fluids within the cells of the body for humans as well as animals.
Salt was the only preservative in their climate they had to keep meat, fish and other foodstuffs from rotting. Any meat not eaten during a meal would be soaked in a strong solution of salt which prevented decay as well as the destruction caused by flies that hovered around both raw and cooked meat.
Salt also made a monotonous diet bearable for the common people, by heightening the flavor of their simple food.
Salt was well known to be an excellent sterilizer for wounds. Mixed with warm water, it was used to cleanse open sores and prevent infection.
Salt benefitted the livestock: oxen, camels and donkeys that did heavy work for the common people who worked the land. It was used for internal as well as external health for the animal.
Salt also would have reminded those who heard Jesus of how it represented the qualities of steadfastness, strength and trustworthiness.
Jesus also warned about salt that had lost its saltiness and grown weak in flavor and health giving strength. Even so, salt was used to eradicate, for instance, by being thrown out on pathways to sterilize the ground and keep weeds from growing (so people could walk on the path). Once that was done, the ground was useless for growing anything ever again.
A book I recommend that covers the Beatitudes and Matthew 5:13 is” Salt for Society, by W. Phillip Keller. published in 1981. It is available in paperback through a number of online used book stores. It explains more in-depth the uses and values of salt that still continue in impoverished parts of the world. It also conveys what it means to be disciples who, like salt, are health-giving to today’s society.
As you continue with us to pray the Lord’s Prayer, think about how salt relates to “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Also about salt and “daily bread”, salt and “forgiveness” and salt and being “[rescued] from temptation”.
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