A musical term which occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and is found also in Hab 3:3,9,13. It usually occurs at the end of a period or apostrophe, but sometimes at the end only of a clause. This difficult word, it is now generally believed, was a direction for a meditative pause in the singing of a psalm, during which perhaps there was an instrumental interlude.
a word frequently found in the Book of Psalms, and also in Hab 3:9,13, about seventy-four times in all in Scripture. Its meaning is doubtful. Some interpret it as meaning "silence" or "pause;" others, "end," "a louder strain," "piano," etc. The LXX. render the word by daplasma i.e., "a division."
Seventy-one times in the Psalms, three times in Habakkuk. From shelah, "rest." A music mark denoting a pause, during which the singers ceased to sing and only the instruments were heard. Septuagint diapsalma, a break in the psalm introduced where the sense requires a rest. It is a call to calm reflection on the preceding words. Hence, in Ps 9:16 it follows eeiggaion, "meditation." The selah reminds us that the psalm requires a peaceful and meditative soul which can apprehend what the Holy Spirit propounds. Thus it is most suggestive, and far from being, as Smith's Bible Dictionary alleges of this sense, "superfluous." Delitsseh takes it from saalal "to lift up," a musical forte, the piano singing then ceasing, and the instruments alone playing with execution an interlude after sentences of peculiar importance, so as to emphasize them.
A Heb. liturgical-musical term of uncertain meaning. It occurs (a) in the OT, (b) in the Psalms of Solomon, and (c) in the Jewish (Synagogue) Liturgy.
In the OT the term occurs 74 times altogether in the Heb. text, viz. 71 times in the Psalter, and 3 in the Prayer of Habakkuk (Hab 3). In the Gr. tr of the OT (the Septuagint) the Gr. equivalent (diapsalma) does not always appear in the same places as in the Heb. text; the number of occurrences is also rather larger in the Septuagint Possibly in some cases 'Selah' has fallen out of the Massoretic text accidentally. In the Psalms of Solomon 'Selah' occurs twice (17:31 and 18:10), and in the oldest parts of the Jewish Liturgy (apart from the canonical Psalms, which are incorporated in it) 5 times (3 in the 'Eighteen Blessings' and 2 in the morning Benedictions preceding the Shema').
Various explanations have been proposed as to the etymology and meaning of the term. Perhaps the least improbable of these is that which regards it as a liturgical direction intended to indicate the place for lifting up the voices in a doxology at the close of a section; such a doxology might have been sung at the end of a psalm or section of a psalm which liturgically was separated from the following (cf. the use of the 'Gloria' at the end of Psalms or [in the case of the 119th] at the end of sections of the Psalm in Christian worship). Or it may have been a direction to the orchestra
A term occurring in Hab 3:3,9,13, and many times in the Psalms. There have been various suggestions as to its meaning, but its signification is not really known. The Targum mostly renders the word 'for ever.' The LXX has ????????, denoting, as some think, 'a pause, a break or rest.' 'Pause, consider,' is perhaps its signification.
This word, which is found only in the poetical books of the Old Testament, occurs seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk. It is probably a term which had a meaning in the musical nomenclature of the Hebrews, though what that meaning may have been is now a matter of pure conjecture. (Gesenius and Ewald and others think it has much the same meaning as our interlude,--a pause in the voices singing, while the instruments perform alone.)
SELAH. This expression is found in the Psalms seventy-four times, and thrice in the Prophet Habakkuk. The interpreters Symmachus and Theodotion generally translate selah by diapsalma, which signifies "a rest" or "pause" in singing. Jerom and Aquila translate it "for ever." Some moderns pretend that selah has no signification, and that it is only a note of the ancient music, whose use is no longer known; and, indeed, selah may be taken away from all the places where it is found without interrupting the sense of the psalm. Calmet says it intimates the end, or a pause, and that is its proper signification; but as it is not always found at the conclusion of the sense, or of the psalm or song, so it is highly probable the ancient musicians put selah in the margin of their psalters, to show where a musical pause was to be made, or where the tune ended.