Se'la (Heb. with the art. has-Se'la, הִסֶּלִע, the rock, as rendered in Jg 1:36; 2Ch 25:12; Ob 1:3; and by the Sept. [ἡ]πέτρα; A.V. "Selah" in 2Ki 14:7), the name given in the above passages, and (in the A.V.) in Isa 16:1, to the metropolis of the Edomites in Mount Seir. In the Jewish history it is recorded that Amaziah, king of Judah, "slew of Edom, in the valley of salt, ten thousand, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day" (2Ki 14:7). The parallel narrative of 2Ch 25:11-13 supplies fuller details. From it we learn that, having beaten the Edomitish army with a great slaughter in the "valley of salt" — the valley south of the Dead Sea —
Amaziah took those who were not slain to the cliff, and threw them headlong over it. This cliff is asserted by Eusebius (Onomast. Πέτρα) to be "a city of Edom, also called by the Assyrians Rekem," by which there is no doubt that he intends Petra (see ibid. ῾Ρεκέμ, and the quotations in Stanley's Sin. and Pal. p. 94, note). The title thus bestowed is said to have continued "unto this day." This, Keil remarks, is a proof that the history was nearly contemporary with the event, because Amaziah's conquest was lost again by Ahaz less than a century afterwards (2Ch 28:17). This latter name seems, however, to have passed away with the Hebrew rule over Edom, for no further trace of it is to be found; and it is still called by its original name by Isaiah (Isa 16:1). These are all the certain notices of the place in Scripture; for it may well be doubted whether it is designated in Jg 1:36 and Isa 42:11, as some suppose. On the ground of the sameness of signification, it is by common consent identified with the city later known as Petra, 500 Roman miles from Gaza (Pliny, 6, 32), the ruins of which, now called those of Wady Musa, are found about two days' journey north of the top of the Gulf of Akaba, and three or four south from Jericho. This place was in the midst of Mount Seir, in the neighborhood of Mount Hor (Josephus, Ant. 4, 4, 7), and therefore in Edomitish territory, but seems to have afterwards come under the dominion of Moab. In the end of the 4th century B.C. it appears as the headquarters of the Nabathaans, who successfully resisted the attacks of Antigonus (Diod. Sic. [ed. Hanov. 1604] 19, 731), and under them became one of the greatest stations for the approach of Eastern commerce to Rome (id. p. 94; Strabo, 16, 799; Apul. Flor. 1, 6). About B.C. 70 Petra appears as the residence of the Arab princes named Aretas (Josephus, Ant. 14, 1, 4; 5, 1, War, 1, 6, 2; 29, 3). It was by Trajan reduced to subjection to the Roman empire (Dion Cass. 68, 14), and from the next emperor received the name of Hadriana, as appears from the legend of a coin (Reland, Paloest. p. 931). Josephus (Ant. 4, 4, 7) gives the name of Arce (ςΑρκη) as an earlier synonym for Petra, where, however, it is probable that Α᾿ρκήμ or Α᾿ρκέμ (alleged by Eusebius, Onomast., as found in Josephus) should be read. The city Petra lay, though at a high level, in a hollow shut in by mountain cliff and approached only by a narrow ravine through which, and across the city's site, the river winds (Pliny, 6, 32; Strabo, 16, 779). SEE PETRA.