[b-hebrew] SELAH??

Jim West jwest at highland.net
Fri Aug 15 12:14:20 EDT 2003

At 08:58 AM 8/15/03 -0700, you wrote:
>This has bothered me for some time now and I know you guys have the answer!
>What in the world does SELAH mean?

Its a musical term.  Peter Craigie discusses the meaning in an excursus in
his commentary on the Psalms in the Word Biblical Commentary (vol 19), pp.
76-77.  He says it occurs 71 times in Psalms and 3 times in Hab. The meaning
is still not positively certain.  Possibilities are:
a) "rest" (the LXX uses diaspsalma)
b) "for ever" (this is how the Targum understands it)
c) as an indicator that the congregation is to prostrate itself at that
point in the singing.

Since the etymology of the word is uncertain, certainty of meaning cannot be
acquired.  It possibly stems from "salal", to raise, lift up.  (implying
that one should sing louder).  

So, take your pick.  Personally I think it marks a pause in the music (like
an interlude) intended to offer the singer/hearer an opportunity to reflect
on what has been said- hence it means something like "pause a minute and
think about this".



>i.e. Ps 9:20 "Put them in fear,oh LORD:[that] the nations may know
>themselves [to be but] men. SELAH"
>this is one verse among many and I'm verycurious of it's meaning.
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

Jim West
Quartz Hill School of Theology
Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies

Biblical Studies Resources

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