What does Selah Mean?

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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
This is not a passage to pass over lightly as just a simple narrative. Here is wisdom and spiritual understanding. Whenever we see this word in scripture, we should understand that the Lord is exhorting us to 'weigh' these things thoughtfully, and to reflect and consider in good sense judgment, what is 'really' being said.


And despite claims to the contrary, there is no substantive Biblical evidence that Selah is an interrupter to pause the music while voices continue, nor is there sound evidence that it is for the pausing of voices while the music continues. These ideas are based upon the conjecture and theories of it being a music stop. It is a presupposition rather an well researched conclusion. But what we do know is that it is a word which means to weigh or measure. And in these contexts, to weigh the preceding Word of God and wisely consider them. It is a signature exhortation from God for our thoughtful reflection and weighing of what we have just read.

L I N K

Does this sound right?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I can't say at all, but, personally (and contextually), I think of the word as a combination of a longing sigh and an acknowledgement that the things contemplated are too wonderful for me. Not quite anguish and not quite an "amen." But hints of both.

Maybe "weighing" is as good a description as any.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
I always thought of it as a musical interlude during which we are to meditate on what was just written.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I think the man (in the link) makes a decent argument, but his anti-"expert" attitude is a perfect example of the very arrogance that he presumes to decry. He doesn't even bother offering any notes as to other "experts" who concur with him, nothing. No references, not even to a Strong's concordance. Are we to believe this fellow is the foremost Hebrew scholar alive, and this is all the fruit of his own brain?

Seriously, are we to suppose that NONE of the "experts" have considered, or even favored this argument? How ridiculous is that? Far more likely is that the "experts" are divided on the question, therefore they refrain from the kind of haughty proclamation this guy gives out. Notice that our "lay-expert" gives us none of the other arguments, or what might be lacking in any of them. Nor does he offer counter-arguments to his position, and some humble answers of his own to those. He merely states his own EXPERT OPINION as though "all sane people agree with me. And never mind what other opinions there might be. They aren't humble students of the Bible like me!"

Bottom line, the argument sounds good to me, but remember Prov 18:17,
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
So how about a little grace and humility and respect?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
This is standard Tony Warren.

Interestingly enough, not only does HALOT not mention such a meaning, but the Septuagint translation is virtually synonymous with a musical interlude: διάψαλμα.

I think the man (in the link) makes a decent argument, but his anti-"expert" attitude is a perfect example of the very arrogance that he presumes to decry. He doesn't even bother offering any notes as to other "experts" who concur with him, nothing. No references, not even to a Strong's concordance. Are we to believe this fellow is the foremost Hebrew scholar alive, and this is all the fruit of his own brain?

Seriously, are we to suppose that NONE of the "experts" have considered, or even favored this argument? How ridiculous is that? Far more likely is that the "experts" are divided on the question, therefore they refrain from the kind of haughty proclamation this guy gives out. Notice that our "lay-expert" gives us none of the other arguments, or what might be lacking in any of them. Nor does he offer counter-arguments to his position, and some humble answers of his own to those. He merely states his own EXPERT OPINION as though "all sane people agree with me. And never mind what other opinions there might be. They aren't humble students of the Bible like me!"

Bottom line, the argument sounds good to me, but remember Prov 18:17,
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
So how about a little grace and humility and respect?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
This is standard Tony Warren.

Interestingly enough, not only does HALOT not mention such a meaning, but the Septuagint translation is virtually synonymous with a musical interlude: διάψαλμα.

Thanks, Fred! I never bothered to look that up. Interesting.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Far more likely is that the "experts" are divided on the question, therefore they refrain from the kind of haughty proclamation this guy gives out. Notice that our "lay-expert" gives us none of the other arguments, or what might be lacking in any of them. Nor does he offer counter-arguments to his position, and some humble answers of his own to those. He merely states his own EXPERT OPINION as though "all sane people agree with me. And never mind what other opinions there might be. They aren't humble students of the Bible like me!"
I haven't visited Tony Warren's site in years, but use to participate on his online forum. It seemed the majority at the forum was going the "Camping route" (encouraging people to leave churches), so I stopped posting.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anybody knew anything about Tony Warren's background. I didn't realize he was a "lay-expert". Was he at one time a pastor or something? He writes very authoritatively. I was just curious where he got his training from.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
more to think about...

What Does Selah Mean?
by Chuck Missler


Q: In Psalms, we frequently encounter the word, Selah. What does it mean?

A: Selah means to lift up, or exalt. The word selah is from two roots: s_lah, to praise; and s_lal, to lift up. It is commonly assumed that this can also refer to a technical musical term showing accentuation, pause, or interruption, as the Psalms were, indeed, the hymnbook of Israel.1

Selah does connect the end of one strophe with the beginning of the next; and, in four cases it connects the end of one Psalm with the beginning of the next, thus uniting the two Psalms (Ps 3 with 4; 9 with 10; 24 with 25; and 46 with 47). Selah is, thus, a connector: it connects the two passages between which it is placed. However, it appears that selah is to connect with subject matter, not with music; with truth, not tunes. It is a "thought-link" which bids us to look back at what has been said and to mark its connection with what is to follow, or to some additional consequent teaching.2 It is neither the pausing on one subject nor the passing on from one subject to another, but it is the connecting of the two subjects together. Sometimes it is the structures that are connected. Sometimes it is synthetic, and adds a development of thought by connecting a prayer with that which forms the basis for it. Sometimes it is antithetic, and adds a contrast. And sometimes it connects a cause with an effect, or an effect with a cause.

Thus, if it be derived from salah, "to pause," it is not the instruments of music which are to pause while voices continue to sing; but it is our hearts which are to pause and to note the connection of precious truths. If it is derived from salal, "to lift up," then it is not the instruments which are to lift up their sound in louder degree, but our hearts which are to be lifted up to consider more solemnly the two truths which are thus connected.

another

by Norm Olson

Q. What does the word “Selah” mean in the book of Psalms? I’ve noticed that in church, during Scripture readings in unison, people don’t know whether to say it or not.

A. The word “Selah” is one of a number of musical terms in psalm superscriptions. These terms designate types of songs, names of melodies, or other things. The word appears about seventy times in the book of Psalms and three times in the book of Habakkuk.


There are differences of opinion as to exactly what the word refers to. Some believe that the Hebrew root means “to lift up.” To them it signals the lifting up of the music in a benediction, either in voice or in instrument. It may have been like our rest sign in music. Various students of the Word have thought of “Selah” as an indication of prayer or as a notation of something significant, something to be observed carefully before going on to the next item. In other words, it indicates a pause.

If the word itself is a puzzle to us today, we can still pause to consider what God has to say to us whenever we see the word. It can serve as a reminder to us.

from a Rabbi

Q: In our liturgy and in the Psalms the word SELAH appears frequently, and although i looked it up the is no real translation. Can you help explain what does it mean. I know about the explanation that it might have been used as a musical punctuation, but it's not very clear. Are there any other explanations?


A: You have asked a most delightful question!!!

Many are the conjectures as to its meaning, but nothing certain is known. This question has been the subject of great historical speculation. This word occurs 71 times in the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk (3:3, 9,13.). The word also occurs in the postcanonical Psalms of Solomon (17.29 [31]; 18.9 [10]).

It is possible that the word Selah comes from the Akkadian word 'sullu' which means to lift up the voice or possibly the hands. Our present day body language during prayer is considerably different than what it use to be. In ancient times, people use to lift up their hands Heavenward during prayer. "Lifting" is an important metaphor in much of the Tenach: when used, it denotes a directing our vision and being towards Heaven [Isa 49:18]

Some would take a different approach, and would argue that Selah is related to an Aramaic root sl, to bow, and so interpret it as directing the worshipper at this point to prostrate himself.

The Targum of Aquila and the Latin Vulgate render Selah by phrases implying for ever, and make it a cry of worship like Amen and Hallelujah This view is also expressed in the Talmudic tractate Eruvin 54"It was taught at the school of R. Eliezer b. Jacob: Wherever [in Scripture] the expression of nezah, selah or va'ed occurs it denotes that which will never cease Nezah " [This view is also cited by M. Jastrow in his Sefer Hamilim]. The Septuagint translated Selah into Greek as diapsalma, which may mean interlude.

Kimchi, the great 13th century Jewish grammarian, in his Sefer HaShoreshim s.v. sal, cites Ibn Ezra who suggests Selah may mean "truth" but Kimchi was not convinced. Kimchi concludes that Selah is nothing more than a musical notation, and the proof is " you will never find this words used in any other context in the Tenach other than in association with song and melody. Selah may indicate a shift in mood. In Psalm 60:4, for an example the position of the Selah indicates that the change from lament to praise.

Some have speculated that it is a muscial notation, a pause for singing, or instrumental accompaniment. Selah may also be the ancient way of saying "OOOPS, I broke another string!"

Copyright (c) 1999 by Rabbi Dr. Michael Samuel. All Rights Reserved.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I haven't visited Tony Warren's site in years, but use to participate on his online forum. It seemed the majority at the forum was going the "Camping route" (encouraging people to leave churches), so I stopped posting.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anybody knew anything about Tony Warren's background. I didn't realize he was a "lay-expert". Was he at one time a pastor or something? He writes very authoritatively. I was just curious where he got his training from.
I have no idea what Mr. Warren's background or training is. I doubt that if he has an earned doctorate that he'd be denigrating "the experts".

In this context, I would consider myself little more than a lay-expert. I don't mind speaking out, speaking my mind, giving my reasoned opinions, and I don't mind if others do the same, including this guy.

However, he starts out dinging well-(I'm guessing better-)educated men, even conservatives, because they have another opinion? He's a "Bible-only", "me-and-my-Bible" kind of guy, "Just like you can be! and together we will show up all those smartypants who study irrelevant cognate languages, extrabiblical literature, WASTING TIME! Just listen to me. Just agree with me."

I now cannot lose the mental image of the genius from "Princess Bride":
Ever hear of Aritotle? Plato? MORONS!
 
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