Alcalay's The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary translates the expression za·RA ma·kom me·lah (literally, "to sow a place with salt") as "to destroy completely." Such an action is described in Judges 9:45, where Abimelech destroys Shechem. Part of the destruction was sowing salt in the city.

The case of Lot's wife, who was destroyed when she disobeyed God's command and was turned into a "pillar of salt," is well known. It is probably as an allusion to this familiar incident that Isaiah 51:6 uses the root m-l-h in the sense of "destroy."