Salt, Part 2: Saltiness Is To Godliness
Salt was extraordinarily important in biblical times, and great power and wealth accrued to those who controlled the supply of salt. Wars were fought over salt and battles could be won or lost based on the ability of an army to procure salt and use it to preserve meat to feed the troops. During the last supper, Judas spills a bowl of salt, a precursor of the evil to come. Today, we superstitiously throw salt over our shoulder to ward off evil. As part of their pay, Roman soldiers earned a ration of salt called a ‘salarium’, the precursor to the English word ‘salary’. If the Roman soldier in question happened to be a not so good soldier, he ‘wasn’t worth his salt’. Jesus even referred to his disciples as the ‘salt of the earth’.
The ability to preserve meat with salt helped ensure survival when a harvest was lost or sources of protein were scarce. Maybe even more importantly, it allowed extended exploratory and military missions to be conducted in places where food was not so easy to find. Without salt to preserve traveling food, Columbus, Magellan and the other great explorers wouldn’t have ventured far from home.