Valley of Salt

SALT, VALLEY OF. A valley in which great victories were won over the Edomites, first by the army of David (2Sam.8.13), and later by Amaziah king of Judah (2Kgs.14.7; 2Chr.25.11). It was between Jerusalem and Edom, but its exact site is uncertain.


SALT, VALLEY OF (גֵּיא־הַמֶּלַח). A valley in which two important victories of the Israelite armies over the Edomites occurred. The first was when David’s army slew 18,000 Edomites (2 Sam 8:13. KJV says “Syrians.” A suggested solution for inclusion of Syria in the battle is that the king of Syria rushed to the aid of Edom and thus both nations were involved in the defeat). 1 Chronicles 18:12 attributes this victory to Abishai and the title of Psalm 60 attributes it to Joab. The other victory occurred two centuries later when Amaziah, king of Judah, slew 10,000 Edomites there, captured and slew another ten thousand, and then took their capital Sela, changing its name to Jokthe-el (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chron 25:11), thus reversing the independence the Edomites had won upon the death of Jehoshaphat.

The exact location of the Valley of Salt is disputed. Wadi el-Milh (salt), E of Beer-sheba, which flows by the foot of Tell el-Milh, has been suggested because of the similarity of names. A more likely location is es-Sebkha, S of the Dead Sea, and a barren saline area.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The scene of battles, firstly, between David or his lieutenant Abishai and the Edomites (2Sa 8:13; 1Ch 18:12; Ps 60, title), and later between Amaziah and these same foes (2Ki 14:7; 2Ch 25:11). It is tempting to connect this "nodetitle" with es Sebkhah, the marshy, salt-impregnated plain which extends from the southern end of the Dead Sea to the foot of the cliffs, but in its present condition it is an almost impossible place for a battle of any sort. The ground is so soft and spongy that a wide detour around the edges has to be made by those wishing to get from one side to the other. It is, too, highly probable that in earlier times the whole of this low-lying area was covered by the waters of the Dead Sea. It is far more natural to identify ge’ ha-melach with the Wady el-Milch ("Valley of Salt"), one of the three valleys which unite at Beersheba to form the Wady ec-Ceba`. These valleys, el-Milch and ec-Ceba, together make a natural frontier to Canaan.