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Selaʿ — The Rock of Edom / סלע אדום

אלי רז, טל רז, אלכסנדר אוצ'יטל, Eli Raz, Tal Raz and Alexander Uchitel
Cathedra: For the History of Eretz Israel and Its Yishuv / קתדרה: לתולדות ארץ ישראל ויישובה
חוברת‎ 101 (מר-חשוון תשס"ב / אוקטובר 2001), pp. 19-38
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23405114
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

Qalʿat Selaʿ in northern Edom and Umm el-Biara in the Petra region are two natural rock platforms surrounded by chasms, on both of which strongholds had been established. From the Bible (Kings II 14:7) we learn of 'The Rock' (Selaʿ in Hebrew) conquered by King Amaziah during his war against the Edomites. According to Hieronymus of Cardia, writing about 400 years after the event, a Greek army failed to take the Nabatean Rock (Petra in Greek). For many years both the Edomite 'Rock' and the Nabatean 'Rock' have intermittently been identified with either of these sites. A monumental rock relief, discovered not long ago at the top of a high cliff in Qalʿat Selaʿ, has been ascribed — based on the iconography — to Nabonidus, King of Babylon. A recently-deciphered segment of the relief reinforces this ascription, and is here published for the first time. It provides evidence of the presence of Nabonidus in Edom, an issue that has hitherto been open to debate; it also supports identifying the biblical Selaʿ with this site. A chain of other recently-discovered Edomite rock strongholds are consistent with the survival strategy of the Edomites as recorded in the prophetic literature of the time. Selaʿ, proximate to the capital of Edom, was the stronghold of last resort. Its fall to Amaziah was commemorated in the Bible, while its conquest by Nabonidus, about 200 years later, was apparently commemorated by the rock relief at the site.

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