Hitchcock's Bible NamesSela
ATS Bible DictionarySela
The name of a place mentioned in 2 Kings 14:7, where it is said that Amaziah king of Judah slew ten thousand men of Edom, in the valley of Salt, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it JOKTHEEL, subdued by God. Sela, in Hebrew, signifies, a rock, and answers to the Greek word Petra; whence it has been reasonably inferred that the city bearing the name of Petra, and which was the celebrated capital of Arabia Petraea, is the place mentioned by the sacred historian. It is also mentioned in Isaiah 16:1, and may be intended by the word Sela, translated rock, in Jude 1:36 Isaiah 42:11. The ruins of this place were in modern times first visited by Burckhardt, 1812, and attest the splendor of the ancient city. He says, "At the distance of a two long days' journey northeast from Akabah, is a rivulet and valley in the Djebel Shera, on the east side of the Arabah, called Wady Mousa. This place is very interesting for its antiquities and the remains of an ancient city, which I conjecture to be Petra, the capital of Arabia Petraea, a place which, as far as I know, no European traveller has ever visited. In the red sandstone of the which the valley is composed are upwards of two hundred and fifty sepulchres, entirely cut out of the rock, the greater part of them with Grecian ornaments. There is a mausoleum in the shape of a temple, of colossal dimensions, likewise cut out of the rock, with all its apartments, its vestibule, peristyle, etc. It is a most beautiful specimen of Grecian architecture, and in perfect preservation. There are other mausolea with obelisks, apparently in the Egyptian style, a whole amphitheater cut out of the rock, with the remains of a palace and of several temples. Upon the summit of the mountains, which closes the narrow valley on its western side, (Mount Hor,) is the tomb of Haroun, or Aaron. It is held in great veneration by the Arabs." That this was indeed the ancient Sela or Petra is established by various concurring proofs; Josephus, Eusebius, and Jerome affirm that the location and ruins correspond with the notices given in the Bible, and by Pliny and Strabo.
Subsequent travellers, especially Laborde, have given minute and graphic description of this wonderful city, with drawings of the principal ruins. The valley of Petra, 2,200 feet above the great valley El-Arabah, is about a mile long from north to south, and half a mile wide, with numerous short ravines in its sides, making its whole circuit perhaps four miles. It is accessible through ravines at the north and the south; but the cliffs, which define it on the east and west, are precipitous, and vary from two hundred to one thousand feet in height. The main passage into the city is on the east, and begins between cliffs forty feet high and fifty yards apart, which soon become higher, nearer, and full of excavated tombs. This winding ravine is a mile long, and gives entrance to a small brook; its sides at one place are but twelve feet apart and two hundred and fifty feet high. At the termination of this narrow gorge you confront the most splendid of all the structures of Petra, el-Khusneh, the temple mentioned by Burckhardt, hewn out of the face of the opposite cliff. Here you enter a wider ravine, which leads northwest, passes the amphitheatre in a recess on the left, and at length opens on the great valley of the main city towards the west. The tombs excavated in these, and in all the side gorges, are without number, rising range above range; many of them are approached by steps cut in the rock, while others are inaccessible, at the height of nearly four hundred feet. The theatre was so large as to accommodate more than three thousand persons. The palace, called Pharaoh's house by the Arabs, is the chief structure not excavated in the mountain that survives in any good degree the ravages of time; it was evidently a gorgeous building. Most of the valley is strewn with the ruins of public edifices and with fragments of pottery. The brook flows through the valley towards the west, and passes off through a narrow gorge like that by which it entered. One of the finest temples, the Deir, stands high up in a ravine on the west side. It is hewn out of the solid rock, are eight feet in diameter. A singular charm is thrown over the whole by the beauty of the stone from which these various structures are wrought. It is fine and soft sandstone, variegated with almost every variety of hues, red, purple, black, white, azure, and yellow, the deepest crimson and the softest pink blending with each other, while high above the sculptured monuments the rocks rise in their native rudeness and majesty. The whole strange and beautiful scene leaves on the spectator's mind impressions, which nothing can efface.
Petra was an ancient city, a strong fortress, and for many ages an important commercial center. It was the chief city among scores, which once filled that region. Yet the prophets of God foretold its downfall, and its abandonment to solitude and desolation, in terms which strikingly agree with the facts. "Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord," Jeremiah 49:7-22. See also Isaiah 34:5-15 Ezekiel 35:1-15 Joel 3:19 Am 1:11,12 Obadiah 1:3-16. When its ruin took place we are not informed. There were Christian churches there in the fifth and sixth centuries, but after A. D. 536 no mention is made of it in history.
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaSELA
se'-la (sela`, ha-cela` (with the article); petra, he petra; the King James Version Selah (2 Kings 14:7)): English Versions of the Bible renders this as the name of a city in 2 Kings 14:7 Isaiah 16:1. In Judges 1:36 2 Chronicles 25:12; and Obadiah 1:3, it translates literally, "rock"; but the Revised Version margin in each case "Sela." It is impossible to assume with Hull (HD B, under the word) that this name, when it appears in Scripture, always refers to the capital of Edom, the great city in Wady Musa. In Judges 1:36 its association with the Ascent of Akrabbim shuts us up to a position toward the southwestern end of the Dead Sea. Probably in that case it does not denote a city, but some prominent crag. Moore ("Judges," ICC, 56), following Buhl, would identify it with es-Safieh, "a bare and dazzlingly white sandstone promontory 1,000 ft. high, East of the mud fiats of es-Sebkah, and 2 miles South of the Dead Sea." A more probable identification is a high cliff which commands the road leading from Wady el-Milh, "valley of Salt," to Edom, over the pass of Akrabbim. This was a position of strategic importance, and if fortified would be of great strength. (In this passage "Edomites" must be read for "Amorites.") The victory of Amaziah was won in the Valley of Salt. He would naturally turn his arms at once against this stronghold (2 Kings 14:7); and it may well be the rock from the top of which he hurled his prisoners (2 Chronicles 25:12). He called it Jokteel, a name the meaning of which is obscure. Possibly it is the same as Jekuthiel (1 Chronicles 4:18), and may mean "preservation of God" (OHL, under the word). No trace of this name has been found. The narratives in which the place is mentioned put identification with Petra out of the question.
"The rock" (the Revised Version margin "Sela") in Obadiah 1:3, in the phrase "thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock." is only a vivid and picturesque description of Mt. Edom. "The purple mountains into which the wild sons of Esau clambered run out from Syria upon the desert, some hundred miles by twenty, of porphyry and red sandstone. They are said to be the finest rock scenery in the world. `Salvator Rosa never conceived so savage and so suitable a haunt for banditti.'.... The interior is reached by defiles so narrow that two horsemen may scarcely ride abreast, and the sun is shut out by the overhanging rocks..... Little else than wild fowls' nests are, the villages: human eyries perched on high shelves or hidden away in caves at the ends of the deep gorges" (G. A. Smith. The Book of the Twelve Prophets. II. 178).
In Isaiah 16:1; Isaiah 42:11 the Revised Version (British and American), perhaps we have a reference to the great city of Petra. Josephus (Ant., IV, vii, 1) tells us that among the kings of the Midianites who fell before Moses was one Rekem, king of Rekem (akre, or rekeme), the city deriving its name from its founder. This he says was the Arabic name; the Greeks called it Petra. Eusebius, Onomasticon says Petra is a city of Arabia in the land of Edom. It is called Jechthoel; but the Syrians call it Rekem. Jokteel, as we have seen, must be sought elsewhere. There can be no doubt that Josephus intended the city in Wady Musa. Its Old Testament name was Bozrah (Amos 1:12, etc.). Wetzstein (Excursus in Delitzsch's Isaiah, 696;) hazards the conjecture that the complete ancient nine was Bozrat has-Sela, "Bozrah of the Rock."
This "rose-red city half as old as Time"
Sela was for long difficult of access, and the attempt to visit it was fraught with danger. In recent years, however, it has been seen by many tourists and exploring parties. Of the descriptions written the best is undoubtedly that of Professor Dalman of Jerusalem (Petra und seine Felsheiligtumer, Leipzig, 1908). An excellent account of this wonderful city, brightly and interestingly written, will be found in Libbey and Hoskins' book (The Jordan Valley and Petra, New York and London, 1905; see also National Geographic Magazine, May, 1907, Washington, D.C.). The ruins lie along the sides of a spacious hollow surrounded by the many-hued cliffs of Edom, just before they sink into the Arabah on the West. It is near the base of Jebel Harun, about 50 miles from the Dead Sea, and just North of the watershed between that sea and the Gulf of Akaba. The valley owes its modern name, Wady Musa, "Valley of Moses," to its connection with Moses in Mohammedan legends. While not wholly inaccessible from other directions, the two usual approaches are that from the Southwest by a rough path, partly artificial, and that from the East. The latter is by far the more important. The valley closes to the East, the only opening being through a deep and narrow defile, called the Sik, "shaft," about a mile in length. In the bottom of the Sik flows westward the stream that rises at `Ain Musa, East of the cleft is the village of Elji, an ancient site, corresponding to Gaia of Eusebius (Onomasticon). Passing this village, the road threads its way along the shadowy winding gorge, overhung by lofty cliffs. When the valley is reached, a sight of extraordinary beauty and impressiveness opens to the beholder. The temples, the tombs, theater, etc., hewn with great skill and infinite pains from the living rock, have defied to an astonishing degree the tooth of time, many of the carvings being as fresh as if they had been cut yesterday. An idea of the scale on which the work was done may be gathered from the size of theater, which furnished accommodation for no fewer than 3,000 spectators.
Such a position could not have been overlooked in ancient times; and we are safe to assume that a city of importance must always have existed here. It is under the Nabateans, however, that Petra begins to play a prominent part in history. This people took possession about the end of the 4th century B.C., and continued their sway until overcome by Hadrian, who gave his own name to the city-Hadriana. This name, however, soon disappeared. Under the Romans Petra saw the days of her greatest splendor.
According to old tradition Paul visited Petra when he went into Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Of this there is no certainty; but Christianity was early introduced, and the city became the seat of a bishopric. Under the Nabateans she was the center of the great caravan trade of that time. The merchandise of the East was brought hither; and hence, set out the caravans for the South, the West, and the North. The great highway across the desert to the Persian Gulf was practically in her hands. The fall of the Nabatean power gave Palmyra her chance; and her supremacy in the commerce of Northern Arabia dates from that time. Petra shared in the declining fortunes of Rome; and her death blow was dealt by the conquering Moslems, who desolated Arabia Petrea in 629-32 A.D. The place now furnishes a retreat for a few poor Bedawy families.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
=Se'lah, rock, the capital of Edom, situated in the great valley extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea (2 Kings 14:7
). It was near Mount Hor, close by the desert of Zin. It is called "the rock" (
Strong's Hebrew5555. Sela Hammachleqoth -- Sela-hammalekothSela
Hammachleqoth. << 5554, 5555. Sela
Hammachleqoth. 5556 >>. Sela
Hammachleqoth Phonetic Spelling ... /hebrew/5555.htm - 6k
5554. Sela -- a city in Edom
... << 5553, 5554. Sela. 5555 >>. a city in Edom. Transliteration: Sela Phonetic
Spelling: (seh'-lah) Short Definition: Sela. Word Origin ...
/hebrew/5554.htm - 6k
5553. sela -- a crag, cliff
... << 5552, 5553. sela. 5554 >>. a crag, cliff. Transliteration: sela Phonetic Spelling:
(seh'-lah) Short Definition: rock. ... << 5552, 5553. sela. 5554 >>. Strong's Numbers
/hebrew/5553.htm - 6k
5556. solam -- a locust
... locust. Word Origin probably from the same as sela Definition a locust NASB Word
Usage devastating locust (1). Consuming locust. Apparently ...
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