“Two Salt Seas,” Friend, Apr. 1971, 10
The Sea of Galilee is often mentioned in writings about the life of Jesus. This fresh-water lake, containing many fish, is fourteen miles long and eight miles wide at its broadest point. On the hills around its shore Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. He quieted a raging storm upon the lake and walked upon its water.
From the Sea of Galilee to the spot where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea is only about sixty-five miles; but the river twists and turns, winding for one hundred and twenty miles through the valley before it reaches the Dead Sea.
The tiny town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, is about fourteen miles west of the Dead Sea. Nothing can live in this sea. The water is six times saltier than the ocean because it has no outlet.
Near Salt Lake City, Utah, there is a geographical formation similar to this one in the Holy Land. Utah Lake, a large body of fresh water, lies in a valley almost surrounded by mountains. It is twenty-five miles long and eight miles wide—the same width as the Sea of Galilee. Like the Sea of Galilee, it abounds in fish.
Another Jordan River, named after the stream in the Holy Land, flows northward out of Utah Lake. It travels about thirty miles to empty into Great Salt Lake.
Great Salt Lake is much larger than the Dead Sea and is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is seventy-five miles long and in places is fifty miles wide. The Dead Sea is only forty-eight miles long and a little more than nine miles wide.
Great Salt Lake is fed by other fresh water streams in addition to the Jordan River, but it is four to seven times saltier than the ocean. The amount of salt varies as the lake rises and falls with the change of seasons. About two hundred thousand tons of salt are taken from the lake each year. The brine is pumped through long conduits to ponds where the water is evaporated by the sun and the remaining salt purified.
Several islands in Great Salt Lake are breeding grounds for flocks of sea gulls, ducks, geese, and pelicans. Every spring thousands of sea gulls nest on one island, which is called Bird Island. The sea gull is the state bird of Utah and is protected by law. This is in memory of a miracle that happened to the Mormon pioneers in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. When crickets threatened the first crop of wheat planted by the pioneers, the sea gulls came from the Great Salt Lake and devoured the crickets.
Each area—in the Holy Land and in Utah—has a fresh water lake, a salt lake, and a river Jordan. And both have been background settings for miracles performed by the Lord for his faithful people.