[b-hebrew] Selah??

Ben and Jo Crick ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Sat Aug 16 18:46:52 EDT 2003

On Fri 15 Aug 2003 (23:00:51), peterg45 at excite.com wrote:
> Selah is a word which God slipped into the Old Testament Scriptures to
> remind Hebrew scholars that they don't know everything.

 Yes, like He stuck the fossils into the rocks to confuse the
 anti-Creationists. 8-^)

 Baethgen and others have suggested that SeLaH is a Hebrew transcription of
 the Greek YALLE (where Y=Psi), "play". After all, the Greek word AFIKOMEN
 comes in the Haggadah of the Passover, so if the Psalter is the hymn book of
 the Second Temple, that's not as anachronistic as one might think. Many of the
 Bible's musical terms are Greek derived (compare Daniel 3:5, etc).

 Of the 74 occurrences of Selah, all but 4 are in pause with Silluq and Soph
 Pasuq: i.e. they are an extra "pause" at the end of a verse. To say that this
 is a cue to the musicians to strike up an interlude or a postlude is quite
 plausible. This is reinforced by Psalm 9:17 (16 in EVV) where we have
 HiGGaYoWN SeLaH, "play a stringed instrument(?)".

 The problem comes with the four instances where SeLaH occurs in the middle of
 a verse: i.e. Psalm 55:20 (19 in EVV) and 57:4 (5 in EVV); and in Habakkuk
 3:3 and 3:9.

 In Ps 57:4 SeLaH is in pause with Athnach; but even so, is an interlude
 needed in the middle of a sentence, stopping at a comma or a colon?  Likewise
 in Habakkuk 3:3, 9 SeLaH is in pause with Athnach in the middle of a verse. I
 suppose this is the strict meaning of "Inter-lude": something "played" in the
 "middle" of something?  Then SeLaH at the end of a verse would be a Postlude.

 The SeLaH in Psalm 55:20 (19) seems so out of place that Kittel offers an
 emendation "prps KuLLoH". My lexical resources don't run to this; the nearest
 word I can find is KaLLaH, daughter-in-law or spouse, which makes no sense in
 context. This verse is a difficult one to construe anyway...


 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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