Dead Sea & Bethany
Located in the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea is the remains of a giant inland lake. Lake Lisan was 200 kilometers long and approximately 200 meters deeper than the current level of the Dead Sea. As it contracted, it left Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea, which at 405 meters below sea level is the lowest point on earth.
The salt content of the sea is 20%, eight times the level of the world's oceans. This concentration contributes to the amazing buoyancy of the water and is a legacy of years of evaporation. The only life forms left in the Dead Sea are eleven species of bacteria. The waters are rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, bromine, iodine, and bitumen. All these have healing properties that can alleviate or ease allergies, skin rashes, bronchial irritations or glandular conditions.
Bethany is recorded in the New Testament as the home of the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as that of Simon the Leper. Jesus is reported to have lodged there after his entry into Jerusalem, and it could be from Bethany that he parted from his disciples at the Ascension.
Bethany has traditionally been identified with the present-day West Bank city of al-Eizariya ("place of Lazarus"), site of the reputed Tomb of Lazarus, located about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the east of Jerusalem on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The oldest house in present-day al-Eizariya, a 2,000-year-old dwelling reputed to have been (or which at least serves as a reminder of) the House of Martha and Mary, is also a popular pilgrimage site.