Word Study:  SELA / SELAH / PETRA



The word is connected to both the city of Petra and to music.


Used throughout the Book of Psalms and two other places in scripture.

Used in modern references as another name for the city of Petra, Jordan.



Strongs Concordance #



5553 “cela” root word for the others


To be lofty, a craggy rock.  A

fortress or stronghold.


Example: To say “God is my rock”.  Would use this word.



5554 “Cela” – derived from #5553


Proper name. Physical location.


This is used only twice in scripture: “Sela” in Isaiah 16:1 and “Selah” in 2 Kings 14:7


The rock city of Idumaea (Iduma)


“Iduma” = Greek name for the land of Edom


Edom = south and east of Dead Sea. Modern day Israel and Jordan. Also can be found back in Genesis referenced as the “hill country of Seir”.


Tidbits:  Herod the Great was from Iduma.  Tradition labels the area as that where Moses struck the rock for water. City of Petra has a Mountain of Aaron with a mosque built on it that supposedly has the body of Aaron.



5542 “celah” - to pause, suspension in Music.  Used in all the verses (74x) in Psalms


Bozrah and Petra


Petra has become a city of wonder. It’s popularity boomed with the beginning of the Internet when pictures were able to circulate.


The Bible makes references using phrases similar to this: “the place of the rock”.  Many commentators have always attributed this phrase to meaning “Petra”.

Therefore they are assuming the actual city of Petra.


There is also the name “Bozrah” used by scripture that is not talked about.  One time referred to as “Bozrah of the Rock”.

Isaiah 34:5-6; 63:1-5; Jeremiah 48:24; 49:13 and 22; Amos 1:12


Bozrah was home to the king of Edom in Genesis 36 and was Esau’s (Jacob’s brother) homeland.


It is south east of the Dead Sea and capital of Edom. Petra city laying further south.  (See maps below)


The entire area is mountainous range (Mount Seir) in what was also known as “Idumea” by the Romans. This term “Idumea” can also be found in the Bible; Ezekiel 36:5 and the New Testament in Mark 3:8. Mount Seir is also listed throughout the chronicles of the Jewish people.


Second Kings 14 details King Amaziah of Judah attacking Edom and after capturing Sela, renaming it “Joktheel”.  Honoring God with name which means “subdued by God”.  Read the story and you will see that Amaziah’s humility did not last.


The importance of which location it will be; comes down to the simple fact that Edom will have an important role in the End Times. See studies on Book of Isaiah and Revelation.  Which location does not really matter, the entire region of what was known as Edom WILL be home to the Jewish people for 3 ˝ years during which the Anti-christ is attempting to exterminate them and God.  He will not be able to do so!  According to Isaiah, Edom will also experience first hand the physical return of Christ at the Second Advent.


Whether “Sela” - “the rock” – “Petra” – “Bozrah”… One thing that can be counted on; is that God WILL PROVIDE for His children!



Map showing the Kingdoms surrounding Israel and Judah

Map showing the cities of Bozrah and Petra

Kingdoms around Israel and Judah

Bozrah to Petra in Edom (now Jordan)


(Map source: Richardprins - Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map - Creative Commons license - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10876701)