Are there any sources from chazal explaining the significance of the Dead Sea in Israel.

(what is it doing here and why)

The Dead Sea is a very unusual phenomena worldwide. it also happens to be the lowest point on earth.

  • You just gave out 34 Generalist badges with this question, the 201st to be tagged eretz-yisrael. You can come celebrate in chat. :) – Scimonster Jun 13 '15 at 19:14
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    @DanF how many places in the world on this scale? you can count them with one hand. "some place has to be the lowest place" - dont understand your point. the name in the torah is "salt sea" - so what? – ray Jun 14 '15 at 4:57
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    @DanF question is as it says - fluke chance or some message/significance – ray Jun 14 '15 at 18:14
  • @Scimonster getting a crazy spike of upvotes. is that related? – ray Jun 15 '15 at 21:18
  • Probably not. It's all gone now anyways. – Scimonster Jun 16 '15 at 4:59

The Midrash Tanchuma in Parshas Lech L'cha (8) writes:

עָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה אֶת בֶּרַע, שֶׁהָיָה רַע לַשָּׁמַיִם וְלַבְּרִיּוֹת. בִּרְשַׁע, שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה רָשָׁע. שִׁנְאָב, שֶׁהָיָה שׂוֹנֵא לָאָב שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם. שֶׁמְאֵבֶר, שֶׁאָמַר אֶעֱלֶה בָּאֵבֶר עַל בָּמֳתֵי עָב. כָּל אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים, שֶׁהָיְתָה מְנִיקָה אוֹתָן כְּשֵׁם שֶׁשָּׁדַיִם מְנִיקִין אֶת הַתִּינוֹק. הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח, שֶׁבַּעֲוֹנָם נַעֲשָׂה אוֹתוֹ עֵמֶק לְמַיִם מְלוּחִים. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: אֶרֶץ פְּרִי לִמְלֵחָה (תהלים קז, לד), לָמָּה? מֵרָעַת יוֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ (תהלים קז, לד) וכו

That is, the Sea of Salt (i.e. the Dead Sea) became a valley for salt due to the sins of the 4 kings.

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    interesting. like an ir hanidachat? – ray Jun 15 '15 at 5:18
  • @ray in what regard? one common denominator would be the need to thoroughly root out evil. – mevaqesh Jun 15 '15 at 5:21
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    some kind of monument. if it's just to root out evil a good plague would suffice. – ray Jun 15 '15 at 5:23

It is mentioned in the Torah (Bereishis 14:3) כָּל אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח: All these joined in the valley of Siddim, which is the Dead Sea.

There, Rashi comments that the Dead Sea wasn't part of the original creation, but the sea flowed into it later. He also quotes a Midrash that the rocks split and rivers flowed into it.

הוא ים המלח: לאחר זמן נמשך הים לתוכו ונעשה ים המלח. ומדרש אגדה אומר שנתבקעו הצורים סביבותיו ונמשכו יאורים לתוכו:

For other sources of Chazal, see here

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