Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the current scholarly opinion on the possible translations for "Selah" (סֶלָה‎) as used in the Psalms?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Per Strong's, the word itself means to lift up, exalt.

However, when we see it used in Psalms (per the question), it's accepted that this is a musical term used to accentuate the passage, pause or show interruption. (Again, this is per Strong's.)

Psalms 3:1-2 (NASB)
1 O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.”

Gesenius's Lexicon shows that this term is probably used for rest or silence:

enter image description here

Wikipedia has a much longer discussion about this one word (including many different opinions).

share|improve this answer

Perhaps, an answer of sorts would exist in other musical/ poetic traditions of the middle east in general. It's highly likely there may be a trace of the art/tech of its usage evident in other musical traditions of area. Contemplative poetry is I believe still a high cultural value in the middle east in general....? (Coleman Barks may be best example of this for westerners?) Also, music that provokes religious feeling is a technology that combines the use of both halves of brain. A pause may be for processing to take place. A good musician... Sensitive to his / her audience would pause for feedback from audience? Not being a musician of that sort I can only imagine it would be a very subtle art?

share|improve this answer
Welcome to our Biblical Hermeneutics site, Phil! I can't help but notice you raise more questions than the question itself. ;-) We're looking for more complete answers (such as Richard's), so this is more of a comment than a real answer. If you'd like, I can convert it for you or, if you'd prefer, you could edit it some more to fill out a complete answer. Please see How to Answer. – Jon Ericson Jul 24 '12 at 17:12

I did a word study on Selah over the past few dozen months.

In summary, for me it means to "Lift up" the scripture it is referenced next to. The Jews still raise the Torah before it is read - and these Selah passages are noted for even higher lifting. There is a transformation in the heart of the inspired Psalmists - if you look closely.

For details, see the full write up.

share|improve this answer
Hello, Jerry, and thanks for your post - as noted, if you could provide us more information so that your contribution can "stand on its own feet." If you just provide us your views, then anyone can assume that you derived your ideas from just watching television. If you could provide us some connections to the text so that your views do not become your views so to speak, but the apparent views of the Biblical Texts. Thanks! – Joseph Oct 12 '14 at 0:54
Thanks for the feedback. Joseph - please see the link for how I derived my understanding of the word.… – Jerry Maday Dec 22 '14 at 3:18

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.