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What is Sela?
        , and SE'LAH (rock), a celebrated city of Edom, the Greek name being "Petra," or "rock." It was so called from its remarkable situation, "the rock," for which the Hebrew word is "Sela," and the Greek is "Petra." Sela was situated about halfway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the northern end of the Gulf of Akabah. The city lay in a deep cleft of the range of Mount Seir, near the foot of Mount Hor, and in its situation and in its history was one of the most remarkable cities of antiquity. History. - Sela is only twice mentioned in the O.T. Amaziah captured it, and called it Joktheel -that is, "subdued of God." 2 Kgs 14:7. It was afterward a possession of Moab, and was then exhorted to send a tribute of sheep to Zion. Isa 16:1. In some other passages the word "rock" is supposed to refer to Sela, as in Jud 1:36; 2 Chr 25:11-12; Isa 42:11; Ob 3; but some of these seem to be indefinite, and cannot be referred to the city with any certainty. Sela is not mentioned in the N.T., but has a relation to a N.T. character, for the first wife of Herod Antipas, whom he divorced to take Herodias, Luke 3:19, was the daughter of Aretas, king of Petra, and this wickedness of Herod led to war. Aretas was the general name of the sovereigns of Arabia Petraea, a kingdom which gradually included the territory belonging to the ancient Edomites, who were driven out by the Nabatheans, an Arabian tribe descended from Nebajoth, the eldest son of Ishmael. Gen 25:13; Isa 60:7. In b.c. 301, Antigonus, one of Alexander's successors, sent two expeditions against them, but with slight success. Petra became an important trade centre. It is mentioned by Strabo, Pliny, Josephus, Eusebius, and Jerome. It became an ecclesiastical see, and its [image , -42, 276, 444, 19684] The Rock-Temples at Sela(Petra). (After a Photograph.) bishops are mentioned as late as a.d. 536. Afterward, Petra entirely disappeared from history, and remained unknown for thirteen hundred years. Since 1807 it has been visited and described by many travellers, of whom the most noted were Seetzen (1807), Burckhardt (1812), Irby and Mangles (1818). The reports of these early travellers seem almost as unreal as an Arabian tale, but later researches have shown that Petra was really one of the most wonderful cities of the earth. Robinson, Porter, Baedeker, and Stanley describe it fully. Present Appearance. - Petra is approached from the east through a remarkable and famous defile, the Sik, or "cleft," between rocks of red sandstone rising perpendicularly to the height of 100, 200, or 300 feet. This gorge is about a mile and a half in length. It is a dry torrent-bed, and is known among the Arabs as Wady Mousa, from the tradition of the Koran that this cleft was made by the rod of Moses when he brought the stream through into the valley beyond. The road through this cleft was once regularly paved like the Appian Way, and the pavement still remains in some places. The cliffs are of sandstone, and the rocks show beautifully-variegated colors of crimson, indigo, yellow, purple, etc. At the end of the defile, and fronting it, is a temple excavated from the rock. This is the so-called Khaznet Fir'aun, or "Treasury of Pharaoh." The façade is 85 feet in height; the sculpturing is in excellent preservation; five out of six columns are standing. The portal leads into a spacious chamber 12 yards square and 25 feet high. About 200 yards farther are the ruins of the magnificent amphitheatre, the chief boast of Petra. It is hewn entirely from the rock, and is 39 yards in diameter; thirty-three tiers of seats rise one above another, and the whole would probably accommodate from three thousand to four thousand spectators. Among the other principal objects of interest are the Kasr Fir'aun, or "Pharaoh's palace," the triumphal arch, several temples, and numerous tombs, some of very elaborate workmanship. The whole valley of Petra is about three-quarters of a mile long and from 250 to 500 yards wide. The situation of this city in the midst of the desert greatly enhances the impression made by the ruins. The complete destruction and desolation of the place fulfils the prophecy of Jeremiah. Jer 49:16-17.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'sela' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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