A tour guide was exploring a cave deep in Mount Sodom on the shores of the Dead Sea when he discovered a plant growing in the ultra-saline rocky soil and total darkness. Researchers are still investigating, but the tour guide sees the plant as just another sign that the prophesied revitalization of the Dead Sea is happening right now.
On Sunday, Y-Net reported that a new type of plant had been discovered in a cave in Mount Sodom on the shores of the Dead Sea. The plant was discovered by Shlomi Lobaton, a 45-year-old caving and abseiling guide, as he led a group through the cave. Deep underground, Lobaton discovered strands he thought had been washed into the cave by recent rains. When he tugged at the strands, he was surprised to discover that the strands were rooted into the rocks.
“I suddenly realized that I had found something that was alive, a plant that was rooted in the walls of the cave,” Lobaton said. He immediately notified scientists at Hebrew University and told them of his discovery.
The discovery was surprising for several reasons. The surface soil of Mount Sodom is made of more than 95% salt so it was believed that no plant could grow on, or in, the mountain. In addition, the cave was in total darkness, meaning the plant would need to be able to survive without photosynthesis.
The Ynet reported on an expedition in which Lobaton led Prof. Zach Adam, a senior botanist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, deep into the cave. The professor took a sample of the find and is currently investigating.
“It is still being investigated,” Lobaton said. “They are still unsure of what it is.”
Lobaton is an expert tour guide who specializes in caves and the Dead sea region. While he says that he does not currently live a religious lifestyle, he learned in yeshiva as a young man and holds the Bible in high regard, seeing prophecy unfolding in the land.
“Israel is the holy land,” he said. “I see that whenever I tour the land. I see fish in ponds on the shore of the Dead Sea. I found a plant in total darkness. The Crusaders couldn’t see the sanctity of the land so they named it the Dead Sea. The Bible calls it the Sea of Salt. I want to show people that the sea is not dead. It used to be full of life and it will be again. This process is happening today.”
The Bible confirms Lobaton’s assessment of the Dead Sea. When Lot looked out on the valley where the Dead Sea is now, he saw an incredibly fertile and well-watered region.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before Hashem destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of Hashem. Genesis 13:10
The Bible relates that the landscape changed when the fire and brimstone destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah turned the valley into a wasteland. Indeed, people who visit the Dead Sea today would find it difficult to envision a garden in the arid region.
Indeed, the revitalization of the Dead Sea figures prominently in prophecy which describes water flowing east from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea. According to the Prophet Ezekiel, in the end of days, the Dead sea will be teeming with life.
Then said he unto me: ‘These waters issue forth toward the eastern region and shall go down into the Arabah; and when they shall enter into the sea into the sea of the putrid waters the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass that every living creature wherewith it swarmeth whithersoever the rivers shall come shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters are come thither that all things be healed and may live whithersoever the river cometh. Ezekiel 47:8-9 (The Israel Bible)
Lobaton’s discoveries have also been covered by Aline, a blogger who addresses the community of Brazilian evangelical Christians. She has made documentaries in Portuguese about the prophetic implications of Lobaton’s discoveries.
Lobaton was also featured in a documentary produced by Aline describing a scroll found at Masada that contained the Dry Bones Prophecy of Ezekiel. The prophecy describes dry bones coming back to life to praise God. A date seed was also found at the site. Researchers succeeded in reviving the seed and a date palm grew from the 2,000-year-old seed in K.Letura near Eilat.
“This was about how Ezekiel’s prophecy was manifesting today,” Lobaton said. “That species of date palm no longer exists. But now it has returned to life.”