Selah


Selah

Selah (Hebrew: סלה) may be the most difficult word in the Hebrew Bible to translate. Selah is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like "stop and listen". The Psalms were sung accompanied by musical instruments and there are references to this in many chapters. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms with the caption "To the choir-master" include "Selah" so the musical context of selah is obvious. Selah notes a break in the song and as such is similar in purpose to Amen in that it stresses the importance of the preceding passage. Alternatively, Selah may mean "forever", as it does in some places in the liturgy (notably the second to last blessing of the Amidah). Another interpretation claims that Selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word [calah] which means 'to hang,' and by implication to measure (weigh). [cite web
url=http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/faq/selah.html
title=What Does Selah Mean
author=Tony Warren
publisher=The Mountain Retreat
accessdate=2008-09-13
] Also "Selah" is the name of a city from the time of David and Solomon. [cite web
url=http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/ancient_palestine_ref_1926.jpg
author=William R. Shepherd
title=Reference Map of Ancient Palestine
year=1923
accessdate=2008-09-13
]

Sela (Hebrew: סלע) means rock. [http://www.answers.com/%D7%A1%D7%9C%D7%A2 Answers translation]

In Islam and in Arabic generally, Selah means "prayer".

Etymology

Its etymology and precise meaning are unknown. This word occurs seventy-one times in thirty-nine of the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk 3. It is found at the end of Psalms 3, 24, and 46, and in most other cases at the end of a verse, the exceptions being Psalms 55:19, 57:3, and Hab. 3:3, 9.

The significance of this term was apparently not known even by ancient Biblical commentators. This can be seen by the variety of renderings given to it. The Septuagint, Symmachus, and Theodotion translate διάψαλμα — a word as enigmatical in Greek as is "Selah" in Hebrew. The Hexapla simply transliterates σελ. Aquila, Jerome, and the Targum translate it as "always". According to Hippolytus (De Lagarde, "Novæ Psalterii Græci Editionis Specimen" 10), the Greek term διάψαλμα signified a change in rhythm or melody at the places marked by the term, or a change in thought and theme. Against this explanation Baethgen ("Psalmen," p. 15, 1st ed. Göttingen, 1892) notes that "Selah" also occurs at the "end" of some psalms.

Modern ideas

It is generally held Fact|date=February 2007 that "Selah" has no grammatical connection. However, E. W. Bullinger believes "Selah" is a conjunction linking two verses (or thoughts, or Psalms together either in contrast, further explanation, or to mark a cause/effect relationship.

In keeping with this it has been assigned to the root, as an imperative that should properly have been vocalized , "Sollah" (Ewald, "Kritische Grammatik der Hebräischen Sprache,"p. 554; König, "Historisch-Kritisches Lehrgebäude der Hebräischen Sprache," ii., part i., p. 539). The meaning of this imperative is given as "Lift up," equivalent to "loud" or "fortissimo," a direction to the accompanying musicians to break in at the place marked with crash of cymbals and blare of trumpets, the orchestra playing an interlude while the singers' voices were hushed. The effect, as far as the singer was concerned, was to mark a pause. This significance, too, has been read into the expression or sign, "Selah" being held to be a variant of "shelah" (="pause"). But as the interchange of "shin" and "samek" is not usual in Biblical Hebrew, and as the meaning "pause" is not held to be applicable in the middle of a verse, or where a pause would interrupt the sequence of thought, this proposition has met with little favor.

Grätz argues that "Selah" introduces a new paragraph, and also in some instances a quotation (eg, psalms 57:8 et seq. from 108:2 et seq.) The fact that the term occurs four times at the end of a psalm would not weigh against this theory. The Psalms were meant to be read in sequence, and, moreover, many of them are fragments; indeed, psalm 9 is reckoned one with psalm 10 in the Septuagint, which omits διάψαλμα (diapsalma) also at the end of psalms 3, 24, and 46 B. Jacob (l.c.) concludes (1) that since no etymological explanation is possible, "Selah" signifies a pause in or for the Temple song; and (2) that its meaning was concealed lest the Temple privileges should be obtained by the synagogues or perhaps even by the churches.

"Selah" is also used in Iyaric (Rastafarian vocabulary); it can be heard at the end of spoken-word segments of some reggae songs. Its usage here, again, is to accentuate the magnitude and importance of what has been said, and often is a sort of substitute for Amen. The Iyaric term has also been said by folk etymology to signify "Seal up" as in, "may JAH seal up any inadvertent mistakes in what was said".

In Hunter S. Thompson's collected works "Songs of the Doomed" and "Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist " the word "Selah" is used frequently in letters and diatribes written from the 1960s to the 1990s. The word is used similarly to the word "Allora" in Italy. It is also akin to Kurt Vonnegut's use of the phrase "So it goes" in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

Furman Bisher, legendary former sports editor and current columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has for decades signed off his columns with "Selah."

ee also

*List of Jewish Prayers and Blessings
*Davening
*Selah (band)

References

*JewishEncyclopedia


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Selah — Selah, WA U.S. city in Washington Population (2000): 6310 Housing Units (2000): 2408 Land area (2000): 4.369241 sq. miles (11.316282 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.057074 sq. miles (0.147820 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.426315 sq. miles (11.464102… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Selah, WA — U.S. city in Washington Population (2000): 6310 Housing Units (2000): 2408 Land area (2000): 4.369241 sq. miles (11.316282 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.057074 sq. miles (0.147820 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.426315 sq. miles (11.464102 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Selah — Se lah, n. [Heb. sel[=a]h.] (Script.) A word of doubtful meaning, occuring frequently in the Psalms; by some, supposed to signify silence or a pause in the musical performance of the song. [1913 Webster] Beyond the fact that Selah is a musical… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Selah — Selah, gebirgige Landschaft im inneren Afrika, von Waday abhängig …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • SELAH — vox Hebraica, quae septuaginta tribus vicibus in Psalmis, ac semel in Prophetia Habacuc occurrens, quibusdam in aeternum, aliis idem quod Amen notat. Nonnullis pausae et quietis, vel elationis vocis signum, Rabbi Abraham Musica nota fuit, ut et… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • selah — 1520s, Hebrew word occurring frequently at the end of verse in Psalter. Supposed to be a liturgical direction, perhaps meaning pause, or perhaps a musical direction to raise the voice (Cf. Heb. base s l l to raise, lift ) …   Etymology dictionary

  • selah — [sē′lə, sē′lä΄; se lä′] n. [Heb sela] a Hebrew word of unknown meaning at the end of verses in the Psalms: perhaps a musical direction, but traditionally interpreted as a blessing meaning “forever” …   English World dictionary

  • Selah — 1 Original name in latin Selah Name in other language Gokce, Gke, Selah, Selakh, Selh State code TR Continent/City Europe/Istanbul longitude 37.205 latitude 40.69444 altitude 520 Population 4729 Date 2012 01 18 2 Original name in latin Selah Name …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • selah — interjection Etymology: Hebrew selāh Date: circa 1530 a term of uncertain meaning found in the Hebrew text of the Psalms and Habakkuk carried over untranslated into some English versions …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Selah — Sela auf einem Tympanon der Nikolaikirche in Stralsund Mit Sela (hebr. סֶלָה) wird ein öfter wiederkehrendes Tonzeichen in den Psalmen bezeichnet. Es wird interpretiert als Angabe eines Ruhepunktes im Gesang, bzw. als Schlusszeichen einer Strophe …   Deutsch Wikipedia