“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
As with so many of Jesus’s sayings, it is a bad idea to give them just one interpretation because there are so many ways to interpret these puzzled statements. Salt is of course a seasoning , with its own taste, and its own flavor. What can it be seasoned with? Chefs will rattle off a whole list of ways to make seasoned salts, with each one of them having their own niche in cooking. Yet, in all of them Salt remains the primary flavor and in cooking salt is used to bring out the flavor in foods. Salt can be seasoned and it also can be ruined with too many adulterants. As an allegory on society, a society can be flavored by many cultures, but if these competing cultures overpower the taste of the community they can lead to its ruin.
An interesting comparison also can be drawn from salt in its raw state, and ores such as gold ore. Salt in the environment often is not purified enough for everyday use. In sea salt it contains many impurities and the sea water itself. In mined salt it frequently is mixed with other minerals. To be of use salt must be refined much as gold. The refinement of gold is a frequent allegory used to describe Gods chosen people. In golds refinement, the ore is heated by fire until the minute quantities of the precious metal separates from the rock. With salt, the impure salt can be dissolved in water, and the minute impurities filtered out before the mineral is recrystallized. Gold is tried by fire, and fire is frequently hell. Salt is cleansed by water.
Salt and Gold have similarities and differences. They both have uses in society, one is abundant while the other rare. Both are refined, though in different ways. If we, like salt and gold, can be considered either “the salt of the earth” or ‘like fire tried gold”, what are the similarities and differences? If we are like “fire tried gold”, we are extremely rare and valued above all else because of our exclusivity. If we are “the salt of the earth”, we are common and easily separated from our minor impurities. With gold there kilograms of refuse for a few precious grams of a extravagant metal. If we are “the salt of the earth”, we have purpose. Salt flavors food and brings it to life, it preserves food for when food is not abundant. It has many uses and brings much to life, yet because of its abundance it is often overlooked. Gold though, at that time had few real uses. Its great property was that it was malleable, easily worked to be turned into idols(the golden calf), and because of its rarity it made some rich and powerful. While so much benefit to society came from salt, so much wrong came from gold. It was gold that made some men think they were gods and act as such. Might Jesus saying “You are the salt of the earth” been a way of drawing his listeners into this comparison between common salt and precious gold? It could be, but it is a bad idea to give Jesus’s statements just one interpretation because there are so many ways to interpret his puzzling statements.This is just one way to look at it.
“You are the salt of the earth.